I was driving to a party with some friends one night and Spank Rock’s “Coke and Wet” started playing. The following conversation transpired:
Passenger #1: Who is this? I kinda like it.
Me: Spank Rock
Passenger #1: Huh? Think Tank?
Me: No. Spank Rock.
Passenger #2: Coke and Wet bitchgunsniggaholla?
Passenger #3: [Giggles audibly]
At that moment, I thought about trying to explain the highly ironic nature of Spank Rock’s debut, YoYoYoYoYo; how Naeem Juwan, a.k.a. MC Spank Rock, took pride in his likeness to Steve Urkel and why they should not be taken too seriously. But my passengers were fairly intoxicated, and doing so would have been a wasted and laborious effort. I ended up wishing I had skipped to a Ghostface track.
This is the middle ground that Spank Rock exists in. Those who aren’t familiar with the duo take it too literally, or they treat the group as a gimmick. Only a small few have moved past that initial urge to pigeonhole Spank Rock and have found a group that is more than just a bunch of posers or nerds. Spank Rock is all about fun, no doubt. At the same time, the members’ songs of drunken debauchery are not completely mindless. Spank Rock welcome witty and intricate wordplay with open arms. And the beats, courtesy of XXXChange, are ready for the clubs, but they’re far from simple.
Spank Rock seems to have all the tools for success on this album: sexual innuendo, genre-bending, irony, a contradictory complexity. But like the great athlete who can never manage to win the elusive championship, Spank Rock comes up just short with YoYoYoYoYo. Songs such as “Backyard Betty” and “What It Look Like” sound great at the beginning. Chaotic drums, blips and bleeps, and an emcee who can ride a beat fill the songs. However, they never quite build up past the initial setup of the song, and by the end it feels stale. “Screwville U.S.A.” is an amazing interpretation of the Houston style by two East Coasters. But within the context of the album’s upbeat electronic feel, this slow, drawling song stands out like a fish out of water.
The best manifestation of Spank Rock occurs when the members don’t try to extend too far over to the dance genre but instead incorporate very distinct elements of electronica into a more faithful style of hip-hop. “Touch Me” and “Coke and Wet” are perfect examples. The disjointed blipping is still there, but in moderation. “Touch Me” has MC Spank Rock spitting over a Miami bass track that has more slump than listeners could imagine. The aforementioned “Coke and Wet” sounds like something Kool G Rap and Big Daddy Kane would trade verses over. These still have the club vibe without alienating the hip-hop or electronic audiences.
Regardless, YoYoYoYoYo is a solid debut that should get asses shaking. Sure, it’s occasionally unfocused. Attribute that to a lack of identity regarding what type of album the members of Spank Rock want it to be. Ultimately, I commend the members of Spank Rock for trying to merge hip-hop and electronic in a commercially viable way that few before them have tried.Streaming audio