Reviewed on this page:
Funkdafied - Anuthatantrum - Unrestricted
- Limelite, Luv and Niteclubz
Chicago rapper Da Brat has a commanding vocal presence, but not much to say: her only themes are how great she is, how great
her crew is, and (secondarily) how great pot is. She has a very limited vocabulary,
constantly reusing rhymes and never coming up with an original one.
She's basically MC Lyte without the brains.
But because Da Brat's producer, Jermaine Dupri, is so talented, much of her work is really solid anyway.
Da Brat has had a rough decade, running into legal trouble (I believe she's now in the clink after pleading guilty to assault), popping up on train-wreck "reality" shows and completing only a couple of sub-par albums. (DBW)
On her debut, Da Brat is at her least polished and least interesting ("Da Shit Ya Can't Fuc Wit"),
quoting from hip hop landmarks so often she crossed the line from history-minded to just plain ripoff artist.
but it doesn't matter, because Jermaine Dupri has made the great
lost electrofunk album. Ignoring slow, squeaky G-Funk and 70s nostalgia, Dupri revives the fat, sleazy synth
lines and crashing snares of 80s acts like the Dazz Band and the Gap Band,
without relying on samples. The result is marvelous dance tracks like "Fa All Y'all"
and "Ain't No Thang" - Dupri even hauls out a Roger-style voice box on the ballad "Give It 2 U."
(The title song, an 11-week rap chart-topper, is actually one of the weaker cuts.) The beats are varied and powerful, the melodic hooks and
chants are catchy ("May Da Funk Be Wit Cha") - just tune out the hackneyed raps and enjoy the show. (DBW)
More of the same potty-mouthed self-promotion, possibly even more single-minded ("Let's All Get High," featuring Krayzie Bone) -
though at least she's not borrowing as many couplets from other rappers.
But again Dupri saves the day, this time conjuring up mellow pop confections, often based on piano ("My Beliefs") or acoustic guitar (the title track, which samples Sting).
The enjoyable love song "Ghetto Love," with the hook sung by T-Boz, is based on "All This Love" by AM regulars DeBarge.
Even the occasional funk numbers are slowed down ("Lyrical Molestation" with George Clinton;
"Sittin' On Top Of The World," with the bass line from Rick James's "Mary Jane").
Dupri adds lots of nice touches like Rhodes swirls, lightly used strings and voice box ("Make It Happen"), though he does lean too heavily on familiar samples
("Keep It Live" recycles the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive").
Also this year, Da Brat contributed a rap to a remix of Mariah Carey's "Always Be My Baby."
In 1997, Da Brat appeared on Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott's Supa Dupa Fly and a remix of Carey's "Honey." (DBW)
In 1998, she guested on Dupri's Life In 1472. (DBW)
In 1999, Da Brat was on Elliott's Da Real World and a remix of Carey's "Heartbreaker." (DBW)
Mostly produced by Dupri again, but this time he uses a boring faux-Timbaland palette of synth vamps, insistent
drum loops and samples
Da Brat's come a long way as a rapper, from incompetence to mediocrity with flashes of brilliance (the high-speed couplets on "What'chu
Like"), but that only makes the disc more ordinary.
The two best tracks were produced by Aaron Pittman: the soulful "Runnin' Out Of Time" featuring Kelly Price, and the bouncy guitar/bass
groove "Breeve On Em" featuring 22;
Kanye West contributes the routine "Chi Town."
Other guests include Lil' Jon ("We Ready"), Tyrese ("What'chu Like"), ("Runnin' Out Of Time"), Ja Rule ("Back Up") and
Debra Killings ("Pink Lemonade").
The disc also recycles the "Heartbreaker" remix.
In 2001, Da Brat contributed a rap to still another Carey tune, "Loverboy" (also acting in the accompanying film, Glitter) and also guested on a remix of Destiny's Child's
Limelite, Luv and Niteclubz (2003)
Dupri produced four tracks this time ("World Premiere"), with the rest by L.T. Hutton and Da Brat, and it's even more
hermetic than the last record. Just programmed drums, synth bass, hardly any horns, strings or samples: when a rhythm guitar
hook appears on the closing "Gushy Wushy," it's almost shocking. At album length the sameness, exacerbated by Da Brat's lyrical
monomania ("Boom (I Fucked Your Boyfriend)"), is excruciating, but there are a couple of great songs:
the single "In Love Wit Chu" is a luscious, bouncy love song with creamy backup vocals from Cherish, and "Chuch" makes good
use of backing vocals from Cee-Lo, who seems to be channeling Sugarfoot.
Other guest vocalists include Carey (subdued to the point of anonymity on "Gotta Thing For You")
Anthony Hamilton, and Keisha Jackson ("Get Somebody") - she's Millie's daughter, and sounds it.