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Wednesday December 6, 2000

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Car Fulla White Boys


Grade: C

Attention, gangsta rappers: Cut it out.

Sure, misty-eyed reminiscence recalls a time in the late 80s and early 90s where an angry young man and his menacing synth beat sounded fresh, even dangerous - but that heady time is far distant. Our memories of relevant gangstas have been diluted by the continued presence of ridiculous self-parodists like Master P.

Straight outta Nashville comes Haystak, a Caucasian with a bad attitude and what doctors call a little bit of a weight problem. It may be nearly a decade after gangsta's heyday, but nobody told Haystak - Car Fulla White Boys sounds like a time machine set for 1992, just after The Chronic dropped and everybody was scrambling to imitate its whiny synths and rough, blunted atmosphere.

While the album is a throwback, that's not an entirely bad thing - Haystak is pretty good at recreating the sound and feel of vintage gangsta, and is a talented rapper. His flows are fast, tightly metered and often funny, burnished with a vocal asperity similar to Everlast. His wordplay - including shout-outs to the Waffle House and his SUV - keeps the tracks interesting, even if the subject matter doesn't stray too far from standard ghetto bravado.

And therein lies Haystak's biggest problem. A big, fat white kid from Nashville is an unlikely ghetto supastar, and his perfunctory pretensions to flossing and urban menace ring accordingly hollow. No matter how good or funny a rapper someone is, no matter how hard his beats are, no matter his street credentials, no one on the planet is going to sound tough calling out "It's on for tonight, boy/Car fulla white boys." Makes me say, "Ugh."

- Ian Caruth