Kottonmouth Kings – Greatest Highs
Suburban Noize (1/15/08)
Rock / Rap / Metal / Punk / Other
For those of you who like the music of the Kottonmouth Kings and their labelmates, I could say that this is the worst album in the history of the world, and you would still buy it. You would probably also try to send me an inflammatory email from an address like “firstname.lastname@example.org”, but you wouldn’t finish it because your Hot Pockets would be ready as you were typing and you’d forget that you started to write the email, instead falling asleep in front of the TV after eating your Hot Pockets, right in the middle of Super Troopers, yet again. Damn those Hot Pockets. But seriously, folks, I can respect that kind of power that a band like this can have over its fans.
And yes, I did recycle some of this material from an earlier article, but then again, the Kottonmouth Kings recycled a bunch of past material and wrapped it into an album here—after having released their last album less than 6 months ago. But I digress… Greatest Highs is a career-spanning greatest-hits package and should be treated as such.
While a true career-spanning collection would have had to include at least one cut from the group’s debut EP, Stoners Reeking Havoc, there are quite few tracks from their 1998 full-length debut, Royal Highness, which was probably the most ubiquitous release in terms of its mainstream exposure. Radio singles “Suburban Life” (which was featured in Scream 2) and dub-laden guilty pleasure “Dog’s Life” are here, as are the energetic “Bump”, “So High” and “Life Ain’t What It Seems”—all from Royal Highness. And we do get a few tracks from the group’s latest effort, Cloud Nine, though unfortunately one of them is the mediocre “Think 4 Yourself” (featuring the Insane Clown Posse), when the B-Real track “Ridin’ High”, from the same album, would have been ten times better to include here in its stead. It was probably not included because (a) “Put It Down”, with Cypress Hill, is already on here, and (b) there’s no reason why they shouldn’t try and get Juggalos (another contingent of blindly faithful fans) to buy this album.
All things considered, the Kottonmouth Kings are interesting in that they can’t really be pigeonholed into one particular genre. While most of the music would either fall under rap-rock (what the guys themselves tout as “rip-hop”, they also have been known to delve into straight-up punk (as with “Full Throttle”, “Sub-Noize-Rats” and “Outcast”) and dub (“Peace of Mind”) tracks. The opening track of the collection, “Where’s the Weed At?”, from the 2006 Koast II Koast release, is essentially a Cash Money Millionaires track, which is dark, dreary creative pit into which the group fell sometime in the middle of the past decade. This collection has quite a few of these (including “Everybody Move” and “SRH”), as with the equally dreadful “King Klick”. Yes, the rhymes are slightly better than those of, say, Juvenile or Soulja Boy (yes, I know he’s not Cash Money, but he still sucks all the same), but the song as whole is not a particularly stellar way to open up the set. And in the past they’ve made some fairly decent hip-hop cuts, as with “Fire It Up” and “Tell Me Why”, and it’s perplexing to see why a bunch of otherwise seemingly free thinkers would have ever decided to jump on the crap-rap bandwagon.
A few genre-bending tracks like “Bad Habits” and “Dying Daze” and some ballad-type ditties like “Rest of My Life”, “Positive Vibes”, “RIp the Night Away” and “Float Away” are good for breaking up the doldrums, and Greatest Highs does feature two EXCLUSIVE tracks for the group’s die-hard fans. Fortunately for said die-hard fans, they are die-hards and therefore they won’t really care that “Can Anybody Hear Me” and “No Future” are both forgettable and held up by crappy tech-rap beats.
Greatest Highs does have its high points (again, that pun was not intended), most of it is adequate at best, while the Cash Money-type stuff (with everything from the beat to the rhymes to the subject matter screaming Southern rap) really weighs the thing down. It’s somewhat frustrating as someone who’s not one of their die-hard fans but who sees that they do have flashes of greatness here and there for their direction to be heading full-steam from Southern California straight to ATL.
And as I’ve said before, the whole pot thing is lame. I understand that you like the stuff, and it’s more or less your gimmick, but it’s getting incredibly tired after over a decade. Sure, Luciano Pavarotti loved to eat spaghetti, but he never sang about it. Then again, if the same formula keeps on working for selling albums and packing venues, who are we to fault the artists?