The Seventh Deadly Sin
(Coroner Records/Atomic Pop)
You'll learn more about the seven deadly sins watching Gilligan's Island than listening to Ice-T's latest sloth-ass mess. Consider this: Each episode of G's follies features a gluttonous Skipper who gobbles everything in sight, a short-fused Thurston Howell III who blows his wrathful stack like clockwork (he and the greedy Lovey hold all the island's mega-cheddar), a lustful, skoochie Ginger who bumps and grinds most nastily (while sweet, envious Mary Ann sits and pouts), and the proud Professor, a fool clown too busy inventing crazy, useless shit to see the forest for the palm trees. Which leaves the ever-hammock-bound monkey boy Gilligan himself -- fast asleep in sailor's motley -- to round out the predictably stupid morality tale.
Meanwhile, with 13 years' worth of experience under his money belt, today's old jack should know better. Whetting our collective appetite for something large and conceptual, Sin comes off as nothing more than homeboy gimmickry (leftovers are slated for the next album, Eighth Wonder). Guest speakers outnumber non-"interlude" tracks on this farce by nearly two to one. The long list of rappers/proppers includes JayZ, Marc Live, Brother Marquis, C.J. Mac, Sondoobiest, among others, and -- yes, yes, y'all -- it makes for one tiresome litany of inside jokes and braggadocio. The obligatory salute to Biggie and Tupac comes nearly two years too late, making Ice's sign-off of "I'm as real as you" during "Exodus" sound all the more empty and self-serving. Worst of all, any phat beats of yore now sound thin as soup in a boardinghouse, while Mr. Tracy Marrow continues drawing inspiration from guns, misogyny and Bhorror movie soundtracks.
Ice also stretches his questionable acting talents, alternating between stale personae like T the Hustla, T the Betrayed, T the Seen-It-Before Avenger. A revealing moment comes during "Valuable Game," when he declares, "I'm paid, I don't need rap no more, fool/I'm makin' movies," which brings into question his true motives as gangsta-hobbyist. With a career in motion pictures, it's evident that Hollywood's been good to Iceberg Slim. So why bother with beats?
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The lyrics of "Don't Hate the Playa" ("You lookin' for a record deal?/Bow down/On second thought, punk bitch, kneel") suggest that, taking a pointer from Public Enemy, T's releasing this and future work on an MP3 Internet label (www.coronerrecords.com) in an attempt to eliminate the parasitic middleman. Bully for that! Necessity always was the motherfucker of invention. And though the grandiloquent swagger about 40s, bitches and Glocks is noxious and tired at best, gangsta rap lives on -- something Ice-T can feel proud about, listening to all that distant gunfire from his gated community.