Too hot for TV is just too hot
Who would have thought it? With the release of Too Hot for TV, entertainment mogul Puff Daddy's choreographed, synthesized and scripted da Band has managed to produce a debut album that surpasses my expectations and the expectations of everyone else, I'm sure. Just three seasons after being selected out of a pool of 40,000 on MTV's hit show, Making the Band (Part II), this group of six very different people has come together over some very nice tracks and made Puffy quite a bit of money, selling over 500,000 records.
Undoubtedly the most diverse rap group out today, da Band provides a new twist for listeners. Personally, I am excited to hear so many different styles and influences crammed into one round disc. I've been waiting for a CD like this for a very long time. The way I see it, Too Hot for TV is like a mix without the jumble and confusion. In their own words, da Band fuses the styles of "Babs from Brooklyn…Chopper City straight outta New Orleans…the infamous Freddy P. from the Mia…Sarah Stokes with that Midwest swing…Dylan Dillinger and…E. Ness, that Philly cat," to create one of the most interesting CDs I've ever heard.
Meet da Band
Babs Bunny of Brooklyn imparts the most surprising performance of all, doing everything from singing on "I Like Your Style" to the grittiest of rapping just about everywhere else. Her vocals are on point and better; she has to be the first female rapper I've ever heard who comes across on the same lyrical level (maybe higher) as her male counterparts. Babs is "what's up, doc!"
Chopper City is everyone's favorite kid from the show. On the CD, he brings more southern flavor than Popeye's. His style is nothing new really, but the effect created when that distinctive style is mixed with everyone else's sounds new and makes Choppa' a valuable component.
Plainly, we need more from Dylan. Without any exaggeration, he has to be one of the best dancehall talents out there. Why isn't he in every song? Just hearing this guy's voice drives listeners to a whole "nutha level." I found myself doing the running man in Latin class one day, right after he exploded into my headphones on "Tonight." His confinement to singing hooks and short three line verses leaves listeners in great want of more.
Freddy is probably the most unique character on the album. While he doesn't stand out lyrically, his voice is one of the most distinctive I've ever heard. He manipulates his "uhhs" and "yeaahs" to the point where I find myself trying to imitate. Unfortunately, his voice is made for it when mine isn't. Frederick serves up his words with just an extra bit of garnish, something that distinguished him on the show as well.
Singer Sarah Stokes provides the smoothness that counters Fred's gravelly delivery. Though not extraordinary, her singing is precise and expressive. Most importantly, her singing displays progress. Ever since she was first introduced on the show, her voice and her technique have improved dramatically and continue to do so. Watch out for her.
Eliot Ness is the lyricist. Diddy considers him the leader of the group, probably because he reminds him of his late friend, the Notorious BIG. Ness is relaxed in his delivery yet focused with his lyrics, presenting words that are clever and insightful. In the intro song, "My Life," he writes "white-collar criminals climb the corporate ladder/while [guys] like me gotta sell coke to crackers/risking my freedom/boxed up, missing a season/it's a setup, hypothetically speaking." Realistically speaking, he is a skillful writer with the full potential to climb up the corporate ladder himself.
Meet the Man
As their producer, Puff Daddy's importance to the band is undeniable, but his presence on the CD is a bit much. On average, Puffy can be heard every second song, singing his own praises and promoting the band, even though he neither raps nor sings. In fact, he is so vocal, I found myself wondering whether he might have actually said more, word-wise, than Dylan over the course of the album.
Go Get It!
Besides the numerous tantalizing beats, which boast producers like Wyclef Jean, Tony Dofat and Trackmasters, the album features numerous songs with original concepts. One track, entitled "Cheers to Me, Mr. Bentley," features Puff Daddy's personal assistant, Mr. Bentley, the unlikeliest of rappers, rapping. What really distinguishes this song though is Bentley's uncharacteristic rapping style, which comes across more as a rhythmic monologue than anything else.
Another creative song, "Do You Know," features all six members of the band acting out a dialogue in song format, a technique that I've never seen attempted (on a rap CD anyway) with so many people. The attempt comes off beautifully, and, under the musical guidance of Wyclef Jean, the track turns out neither jumbled nor inconsistent.
Overall, Too Hot for T.V. is worth the money you push over the counter for it. A mixture of high-quality instrumentals and creative concepts create a polished and effective album. Honestly, I don't blame Puffy for wanting to put his voice on this CD; it's just as hot as the title warns.
Kedamai Fisseha. Kedamai Fisseha sorely misses the computer lab where Silver Chips was born and is daily reborn. He is currently living and writing from London, England where he is glad for the chance to continue his participation in the organization. More »