BLESTeNATION – F*ck a Mixtape Volume Four
Hip-hop / Rap / Rock
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I first heard about BLESTeNATION on the 1999 Ming & FS album, Hell’s Kitchen, where they’re featured on the effervescently funky “UN I SON”, which appears amid a sea of drum and bass and 2-step. They’ve been keeping a relatively low profile since then, with only one readily available album in 2001’s Zombie Slave County, though they’ve released numerous remixes and mixtapes. In preparation for their upcoming album, MBugout City, the group has put together F*ck a Mixtape Volume Four, in order to showcase their skills and get away with sample robbery.
“FAM F.O.R. Intro” features a savvy sample of Cream’s “White Room”, segueing into “The Way It Is” (featuring Travis Barker), which has the same hard-edged, guitar-driven energy as Jay-Z’s Rick Rubin-produced cover of “99 Problems”. Emcees Werdplay (who was also featured alone on another song from Hell’s Kitchen) and Various trade barbs, with respective flows at times reminding this scrivener of Slug of Atmosphere and one of the guys from Kottonmouth Kings. Hot 97’s DJ Cipha Sounds makes a quick appearance at the end of that track, and his buddy Kardinal Offishall shows up in “Save the Music”, which is one of the best of the entire album.
DJ Fafu slows down the beat from Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing” on “Here That Their”, and after the novelty wears off (about 15 seconds into it) one realizes that it sounds a bit awkward. Such as also the case with “In the City of MBug” (the mythical, pot-laden MBugout City is an ongoing theme within the group’s material), which features a slowed-down sample of “Sunshine of Your Life”, as Fafu apparently really likes Cream. And that’s the great thing about mixtapesâ€”they’re usually independently released and distributed as promotional items, so any samples (or artists) appearing on them usually come without the high royalty price tag. I’m all for dodging copyright laws, but the chopped and screwed rape of Faith No More’s “Epic” (with the same exact title) boggles the mind as it manages to be both shameless (the sample) and shameful (the song itself). If Mike Patton were dead, he’d be rolling in his grave right about now. Ditto for The Demon of Screamin’â€”who might actually really be dead and just reanimated for public appearancesâ€”on “Sweet Emo Shun”, as this is really starting get a bit out of hand.
R.A. the Rugged Man makes an appearance on “Just Wanna F*ck”, which luckily doesn’t use any shameless samples, but the beat is a little boring, featuring not much more than a throbbing bass drum. I was slightly amused by the Green JellÃ¶ sample on “I Don’t Wanna Know”, which is just esoteric enough where only certain people will get a smile out of it, but it’s good, and worth it for what it is.
More original-sounding tracks like “Institutionalized”, “Superfiendz” and “Tales” (which features a decent sample of the theme from Tales from the Crypt) emanate the style of Kottonmouth Kings (complete with the relatively boring beats), and fans of that group should like BLESTeNATION not only for their musical style but also for their appreciation of pot. I’d put them slightly above Kottonmouth Kings just because of the cameos by legitimate hip-hop artists (where Kottonmouth Kings albums feature people like Twiztid and Insane Clown Posse), but it’s still not really anything that’s going to save hip-hop. However, this music certainly has a target demographic that will eat it up like a family-size bag of Cheetos on a late-night munchie run.