O.C. : Bon Appetit

O.C. : Bon Appetit

Score

Hiphop heavyweight's treading water on disappointing third album...

If O.C. were a baby-fresh lyrical spitfire boasting his first claims to the rap crown ‘Bon Appetit’ would be more of a palatable pill to swallow. Yet, as a third effort from a once-promised magi of hiphop’s realist kingdom, ‘Bon Appetit’ simply lacks “the minerals and vitamins” to be much more than a thinly-cut boast session without much meat or sonic pleasure – especially considering his first two albums never lived up to his breakout masterpiece of glaring street-wit ‘Times Up’. After 4 years believers turned off by the more accessible, watered-down flow of his 1997 sophomore album ‘Jewelz’ will not find much of a reprieve here.

Sure, there are hopeful moments such as the vengeful ‘Doin, Dirt’ and the upbeat funk of ‘Soul To Keep’. Yet ultimately it’s the pre-knowledge of O.C.’s consummate gift for raw imagery, cadence and resilient street wisdom so avoided and watered down here in favor of thuggish chants and endless rants that leave his greatest fans so starved.

Opening lines such as [I]”As a young lad I used to eat my Mush/now I’m older baby paw so they call me Mush/come step up in my face get straight up mush”[/I] simply don’t quench a thirst for O.C.’s latent ability to take names and leave no prisoners. Buckwild’s sonic output on most of this release leaves us equally void with thoughts of recent production triumphs such as Black Rob’s undeniable club creeper ‘Whoa!’ In the end much of ‘Bon Appetit’ comes off unevenly like Beanie Sigel’s first record without the savory sauce of Sigel’s southern-inflected Philly slang.

There’s little doubt O.C. and Buckwild alike have more to give, proven by the inspired and cathartic ode to hip-hop’s tragic lost soldier and O.C.’s crew member Big L on the brilliantly laconic ‘Psalm 23’. Unfortunately much like Nas, O.C. needs to let himself loose to explore his world convincingly with insight and swagger more often rather than merely sitting back and talking tough.

‘Times Up’ exposed in cinematic detail the image of the phoney tough guy new-jack claiming to bag women and drop bodies city wide for nothing but a momma’s boy spending time in church pews, defining the notion of keeping things real in the early ’90s along the way. Yet if O.C.’s reality is now this monolithic and two dimensional maybe we need Disney more than we know. A lesson could be learned here from Allen Iverson’s recent exploits in the NBA finals in that though you might not win the whole show you can go far with a passionate heart in connecting with people. O.C. once evoked true youthful emotion, curiosity and hiphop hunger. On ‘Bon Appetit’, like a mid-career Kane or Cool J, he sounds a bit too well fed.

Tom Constabile