By Jason Fierstein
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Persona Non Grata
Urban Dance Squad
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? No, probably more like an Onyx/Fishbone hybrid dud with imitation lyrics. That's what summarizes Urban Dance Squad's newest Virgin Records release, Persona Non Grata.
This Dutch rap-meets-metal foursome try too hard to cater to American audiences and never really seem to excel despite their only breakthrough single, 1989's "Deeper Shade of Soul," off of UDS' debut Mental Floss for the Globe. The Dutchman, Rude Boy, Tres Manos, Magic Stick and Sil, have what it takes to be a great poseur band.
Remember old school rap back in the days when rappers made reference to just about everything from actors to politicians to reference their machismo? Rude Boy, a.k.a. Patrick Tilon, is caught in that old school paradigm. He tries way too hard to reference his lyrical "mastery" to other real successfuls, like the Beastie Boys, Guns 'n' Roses, Wes Craven, Charlie Brown and Snapple. Snapple? And that's just a sampler taken from the first two tracks, "Demagogue" and "Good Grief!". Tilon gets trigger-happy with the use of metaphors and similes. Rude Boy is not as bad-ass as his name implies but tries to be in most of the tracks on Persona Non Grata.
The riffs are hard but Tres Manos (Rene van Barneveld) sounds strikingly like now-defunct Living Color's guitarist Vernon Reid. Manos' guitar is actually not bad, but overlapped with the Rude's vocals, gets shafted.
Track four on UDS' Persona Non Grata, "Alienated" is a sleeper, literally. I would try to empathize with the loner Rude Boy if only I had some clue in the world as to what the hell Rude Boy was sobbing about. "Alienated, alienated/People got me wrong, man, I'm alienated/So complicated, so frustrated, I'm alienated," pleads Rude Boy on the chorus of "Alienated."
The majority of UDS' style has been taken from outside sources, including Living Color, Onyx, 24-7 Spyz, Rollins Band, and Fishbone. UDS uses the five-finger shopping approach to Persona Non Grata. They just steal creativity.
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