Except for the ease with which I can shop thereafter, reading Top 5/10/25/50/100 lists gives me the willies. Although I did bump into one set last week that included lists like “Top 10 pastas of 2008: 10. Lasagna; 9. Penne”, I have almost lost hope that Tops lists are more than a consumer’s to-do list. Until, that is, I ran into the A.V. Club’s “Least Essential Albums of 2008” list. It would be hard to do it justice here, so here’s just a two-fer teaser:
Vanilla Ice, Vanilla Ice Is Back!: Hip Hop ClassicsAs one of the first, and worst, white rappers, Vanilla Ice nearly smothered the art form in its crib, and since then, he’s spent much of his career attempting to finish the job. Ice Is Back: Hip-Hop Classics features the nth comeback attempt by the now 41-year-old Rob Van Winkle, and it’s far and away the most unforgivable thing he’s ever done, far surpassing other crimes against humanity like Cool As Ice, “Ninja Rap,” and Hard To Swallow. This time out, he does wretched covers of classic rap songs, including “You Gots To Chill,” “Insane In The Brain,” and in an extended middle finger to the entirety of black culture, “Fight The Power” and “Buffalo Soldier.” Although it claims to be produced by someone named Adam Hamilton, Vanilla Ice Is Back! features beats and sounds straight out of a karaoke machine, and as if to absolutely cement the dismal amateurishness of it all, the retro-ish cover looks like it was incompetently Photoshopped by a friend of Van Winkle’s who works at a copy shop. It’s irony from someone who doesn’t get irony.
Rocko, Self-MadeA perfect example of hip-hop’s Peter Principle in action, Atlanta-based rapper Rocko did fairly well as a producer and lyricist before deciding to step into the spotlight himself. After releasing a decent, guest-star-filled mix-tape in 2007, he convinced Island to give him a record deal, and the result was Self-Made, the work of a man who had truly risen to the level of his incompetence. Featuring one catchy, albeit moronic, hit in “Umma Do Me,” the rest of the album was a flowless, weak-beat monstrosity that showcased Rocko’s amazing ability to feature one clever rhyme for every 11 or so wack ones. Self-Made sold well for about a week, and the whole rest of the year, the only attention Rocko received was for buying a failing Maryland meat-packing plant and coming out with his own brand of “Rockoges” sausage, a smoked chorizo concoction which, unlike his album, is widely available.
I am tempted to make the next post a “recipe edition.”