Redman : Malpractice

New York rapper battles reality

By now the Redman album formula is clear. A starry guestlist, including inevitable partner in rhyme Method Man and co-producer Erick Sermon. A hefty bushel of weed references, some wincing comedy skits, a few X-rated fantasies and plenty of juvenile sexism. We’d love to inform you that Reggie Noble’s fifth solo effort fucks with the formula but it’s as conservative and predictable as the last Adam Sandler movie – and the next one. If it ain’t broke, this album will roll up a fat joint and command you to suck its dick. Bitch.

On good form, Noble is terrific. Like on swooshy disco groove ‘Dat Bitch’, featuring Missy Elliott returning the favour for Red and Method Man duetting on her album. Or the relatively sparse, straight-talking, down-home shuffle of ‘Bricks Two’. Or the oddly atmospheric ‘Doggz II’, whose stuttering digital rhythms allow room for a looser, more creative flow. There’s even a bizarre recurring skit about a haunted rollercoaster ride run by a foul-mouthed Cockernee geezer which, with a bit more effort, might have put an interesting, Stephen King-style spin on proceedings.

Alas, that would take some kind of overall concept and quality control: two factors crucially missing from this hugely uneven, 23-track sprawl of an album. Because, for every boomingly cinematic slab of gothic gangsta ultra-violence like ‘Let’s Get Dirty (I Can’t Get In Da Club)’, there are two or three plain mediocre jams. The comedy skits are something else again. Feeble Jerry Springer piss-takes, laugh-free radio snippets and the self-explanatory ‘Who Wants To Fuck A Millionaire (Skit)’. The running ‘joke’ that women are just groupies, gold-diggers or nagging jealous bitches also wears thin after about, ooh, five seconds. OK, sometimes the ingrained misogyny of rap makes sense on humour/irony/role-playing grounds, but this is just witless bollocks.

Between the namechecks for weed and Cristal, Red proudly booms [I]”I’m on Ecstasy”[/I] over the ’70s bump-and-grind bassline of ‘Da Bullshit’. But there is no euphoria on ‘Malpractice’, just an air of functional, take-it-or-leave-it disinterest. Noble needs an editor to sift out his good ideas from his lame ones. He has the rhymes and the beats – but no vision.

Stephen Dalton