The Church Of Me
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Kissing in the churchyard, I know a righteous woman

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

I suspect that the Neptunes were looking for their own Bubba Sparxx. They may do just one thing, but they still do it well enough to merit my indulgence. From Virginia they present the collapsed Clipse, the duo of Pusha T and Malice, who set to work in their rural destruction factory on their debut album Lord Willin'.

While they narrate a perhaps over-familiar tale, the Neptunes dutifully run through their haversack of tricks. We get the honking baritone sax of Beenie Man's "Ola" making a return on "Young Boy," the slide-whistle from the now three-year-old "Caught Right Out" on "Ma, I Don't Love Her" (i.e. "I buy her whips and shit" with Faith Evans as Kelis), the psychedelic wooze of "Bobby James" on "Gangsta Lean." They grew up, drugs were manufactured, they continue to "deal herb in front of your house" yet still insist that they are not rappers ("I'm Not You") against the dying Seal of an '80s synth. What are they and why are they? You may not have the patience to ascertain for yourself. "Let's Talk About It" featuring Jermaine Dupri, is the bastard cousin of N*Sync's "Girlfriend." "Virginia" does do some nice things with its post-Loveless guitar swoons, but the real standout on this record is "Grindin'" - so much of a standout, in fact, that we get three versions of it here with various celebrity cameos from NORE to Sean Paul. Certainly the percussive car-door slams (think Test Dept stranded in a barrio without water) bring a welcome edge to the proceedings. The three versions evoke a picture of the kids stamping on the car until it is spent; the final Selection Remix pushes the synth blips to the fore, reminding us of Rammellzee vs K Rob's "Beat Bop" paid for with food stamps rather than a National Endowment grant.

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