When the Beatnuts first dropped the Intoxicated Demons EP in 1993, it was instantly certified classic, but it was almost completely overshadowed by Wu-Tang, Dr. Dre and Snoop. More than a decade later, their seventh album, Milk Me, marks the return of their Latin-funk-driven production. All the while, the Beatnuts have remained dependable, guaranteed to provide club bangers to make even the most rhythmically disadvantaged get their eagle on.
The main draw of any Beatnuts album is the production of JuJu and Psycho Les, but funk-inspired tracks don’t move asses, or units, like they used to. Love it or hate it, right now hip-hop production is all about that crunk juice. So the Beatnuts are at a crossroads: Do they choose the southern-fried route or stick to their guns and maintain their classic sound? Seems the Beatnuts refused to alter their script and fold to industry pressures, but Milk Me fails to innovate and meet the high standards they’ve previously set.
Still, it ain’t a proper Beatnuts album without a bass-thumping lead single, this time the appropriately titled “Hot.” Here, the Beatnuts reunite with Greg Nice, who flips a simple yet infectious hook. On “Find Us (In the Back of the Club),” R&B crooner Akon joins the Beatnuts on a beat that is best described as combination of the Jefferson‘s theme song and Busta Rhymes’s “Make it Clap.” But these tracks are the standouts; the rest of the album fails to leave a lasting impression.
Established groups like the Beatnuts are left with a tough choice: remain true to their roots or progressively adapt their style to fit trends. My hope is that Milk Me is just a minor bump in the road, not a signal of a downward trend.