Trick or Trash

Trashman dresses as himself for Halloween

Vanilla's battleship coif and cheekbone glory of the early '90s whitewashed the suburban perception of rap and took Vanilla from novelty chart-topper to laughingstock nostalgia after "Ice, Ice, Baby" was the first rap single to top the Billboard pop charts. Hence, Vanilla was found guilty of, among other things, taking a black sound and making scads of dough. Big deal, though, 'cause couldn't the same be said of the Stones after they nicked their shtick from old blues cats, or the Clash after they adopted a patented Caribbean skank?

Really, Vanilla's Icarus drop had more to do with the fact that he wished to be black so hard he fabricated a poor black upbringing, both in his bio and in his interviews. In reality Vanilla did time in porcelain white upper-middle-class burbs. And when the fib got out, the white folks, of course, just couldn't swing with a pop-star white guy wishing he were black, and the black kids just hated him more because the rap world trades on credibility. What's a rich white boy to do?

With Hard to Swallow, Vanilla had a chance at redemption, a chance to come clean with the "honest" release; a similar career impasse opportunity utilized by the Monkees with Headquarters and Joan Jett with her post-Runaways debut Bad Reputation. Of course, he blew it.

What is mostly wrong with this mess of current alterna-fave cops is not that Sir Ice simply props himself in front of the firing squad with an ease akin to the next Ratt release; no, it is that he attaches a "nothing posed," "no more image," "nothing made up" posture. Korn/Limp Bizkit/Sepultura producer Russ Robinson and Vanilla made a record that sounds just like Korn/Limp Bizkit/Sepultura; it's all posed, it's all image, and it's 100 percent derived.

The songs plod along in feigned masculine nonsense, one indistinguishable sludge fest after another, incorporating the all-important heavy low end, from-the-side-of-the-mouth garbled rhymes and overprocessed guitar hysterics. One song ("Too Cold") even has the gall to reprise "Ice, Ice, Baby" with all the intent of a right-of-the-dial alternative hard-rock no-hoper. And it's all played by inconsequential yes-men with zero presence who have nothing better to do than ride Vanilla's coattails. And we ask ourselves, what coattails?

Various artists
Bride of Chucky:
Music From and Inspired by the Motion Picture
(CMC International)

JESUS FUCKING CHRIST! NOT ANOTHER HAPLESS AND PERFUNCTORY SOUNDTRACK FULL OF FUTURE WHATEVER-HAPPENED-TOS, FUTURE MUSIC-STORE EMPLOYEES AND REUNION-TOUR SPECIALISTS! NO, PLEASE!

Just take a gander at the cast on this latest CMC foul-line wallet-packer: a Halford-free Judas Priest, Monster Magnet, Bruce Dickinson, Graeme Revell, Type O Negative, Slayer, Stabbing Westward, Powerman 5000, Static-X, Coal Chamber, the Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies, White Zombie . . . a veritable accumulation of all things zilch, the things which, by definition, DO NOT ROCK.

What does rock, however, is doll-part Jennifer Tilly, bottle blonde, curvy and pouty in the film's lead role. She slithers with the grace of Venus and offers dialogue in a girlish rasp of a voice that conjures simultaneous goose bumps and boners; enough even to forget about the horrors passed off as tunes in the film. (Though Motsrhead makes a shocking appearance here with the anti-wuss raunch of "Love for Sale," a song which, by definition, DOES ROCK.)

Contact Bill Blake at his online address: nttrash@yahoo.com

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