Rap and hip-hop have become the media spokes-vehicles of urban life. Here are two albums capitalizing on the beat-heavy styles.
FUN-DA-MENTAL; "Seize the Time" (Atlantic/Mammoth). * * 1/2In keeping with the grooving militant rap spirit, Fun-Da-Mental's new album, "Seize the Time," features heavy bottom beats, sampling and angry voices. That's no surprise, since the group mentions Public Enemy as its No. 1 influence.
Still, there's something fresh about this group's sound. By mixing bits of live drums and fashion-show techno beats, Fun-Da-Mental nixes the run-of-the-mill rap sound. Instead, it taps into a listener-friendly hip-hop vein.
"Dog Tribe" and most of the songs here take jabs at the socioeconomic and racial state of the nation, while "President Pro-pi-ganda" combines Eastern-exotic sitars and Muslim chanting with rolling, dance-easy beats. "Bubbleman" takes on a world-music angle with a techno-feel.
Fun-Da-Mental drives each song's point home with haunting effectiveness. And, with the exception of three or four places, the profanity found on so many urban-set arrangements is absent. In fact, the warning label reads "Warning: Contains the Truth."
G. & T. (GANGSTAS & THUGS); "Just Another Day" (MCA). * *
From the looks of the cover, this album appears to be another run-for-the-money, hard-core gangsta rap album. The surprise comes when the music starts.
Instead of angry youth spouting off about the pains and tribulations of gangsta life, a smooth hip-hop ballad "Endonesia" echoes Motown-like grooves. Don't be fooled, though. The song is about a certain sense-altering weed found in Indonesia.
That pretty much sets the precedent for the entire album, although there is an edgy rap called "Gat" that melts the staple genre cliche with a harmonious chorus.
If you like easy urban sounds hiding suggestive lyrics, or suggestive lyrics in general, this may be the album for you. If not, avoid it.