Uncle Luke

Twice over the course of what purportedly will be his last album, Something Nasty, Luke rants against the bad press he expects the disc will get. In his parting shot he complains, "You know a lot of niggas gonna be critics and shit. A lot of these motherfuckin' magazine niggas gonna have a whole lot of bad shit to write about this motherfuckin' album, but personally I don't give a fuck, because I do my motherfuckin' music for me."

You can hardly blame him. He's been on the defensive legally, financially, and, occasionally, artistically since first gaining national prominence in 1989 with the 2 Live Crew record As Nasty as They Wanna Be. But this time around, his paranoia is largely unfounded. This magazine nigga at least doesn't hear much to whine about on this varied, well-produced longplayer. Something Nasty is a fitting swan song for the pioneering rap entrepreneur and Miami bass founder, if it indeed proves to be his last musical word (his series of booty-fetish videos will continue).

The first third or so of its 77 minutes packs the most commercial punch. "Roll Wit Luke," "Holla," "Suck This Dick," "Hoes," and "Lollipop" all could conceivably garner radio play with some heavy clean-up editing. Modeled on the Dirty South's languid bass hits and flitting, double-time cymbals, these numbers are meant for fans of current mainstream rap, not the die-hard bass fans who have been Luke's bread and butter for the past decade and a half. As such, Luke leaves the rhyming for the most part to guests like Lil Zane, Sporty G, Camron, Snoop, Daz, Kurrupt, and newcomer Pitbull, a Cuban-born MC with a suitably nasty tongue. Then, on track nine, he declares he's "gonna go back, way back" and launches into three unadulterated call-and-response bass classics. He's clearly much more comfortable spitting over the uptempo subsonic waves of the traditional Jeep-bumping formula, and he handles mike responsibilities himself -- and surprisingly well at that. For "The Show" DJ Smurf submits a blistering "Planet Rock" throwback instrumental, complete with soaring Kraftwerk synth lines and sinister 808 quakes. If this is Luke's last show, it's easily one of the mightiest bass cuts in years.

The last stretch is more uneven. There's the misguided quiet drizzle "Could It Be" and the seriously left-field metal-bass hybrid "Save Me from the Devil." For "We Want Big Dick," 2 Live Crew producer Mr. Mixx joins Luke for the first time since that band broke up with a brilliant beat that fuses the infamous Amen break with bits of "Tainted Love." There is no instantly memorable club jam like "Me So Horny" on Something Nasty, but what it lacks in one-shot platinum appeal it makes up for in all-the-way-through listenability and diversity.


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