Reviews

Fannypack

The Brooklyn-based trio Fannypack -- 16-year-old Belinda, 17-year-old Jessibel, and 21-year-old Cat -- is already hitting "media darling" status and drawing comparisons to Salt-N-Pepa, J.J. Fad, L'Trimm, and other bass-loving ladies of Eighties funk. Discovered while rhyming on the street and subsequently ushered into the studio by producers Fancy and Matt "Big Black" Goias, Fannypack does possess a bit of the manufactured air of so many great pop groups. But their songs are so guiltily infectious and their in-control, self-aware hoochie vibe is so tight that you don't really care how it all came together. You simply stand aside and applaud the effort.

Fancy and Big Black's beats on So Stylistic recall an era when producers weren't afraid to make uptempo jams. The first single, an ode to female frontal wedgies they call "Cameltoe," might be the album's most comedic moment, but it's only one of many noteworthy cuts. "Hey Mami," where electro bounce meets a Tinker Toy rendition of a stereotypical Latin melody, is a lighthearted piss-take on those oh-so-intellectual pickup lines they hear from men on the street: "Hey mami, you sexy/Hey mami, you beautiful." "System Boomin'" is reminiscent of a time when the term "hip-house" wasn't taboo. And the scrub-chastising "Do It To It" is a pure descendant of Miami bass with its repetitive hooks, vocal whelps, and bleepy keys. Meanwhile Belinda, Jessibel, and Cat are versatile enough to hang with their mentors' range of musical styles, switching up from rapping to respectable singing to plain talking depending on the tempo.

So Stylistic is undoubtedly a chick's record through and through and only the most cynical of women will be immune to its sassy charm. We only wish we were that hot and clever in high school (or now, for that matter). It is therefore obligatory listening during top-down cruising on a sunny day and a requirement for any astute DJ who knows that getting the ladies excited on the dance floor is the key to any good club night. Granted, the music does wear thin with repeated listening -- even a bright spot like "Hey Mami" does ultimately have a shelf life -- or when played in a quieter, more introspective environment. It might be best to put it in the boombox for social occasions, where it can always keep the mood lively.

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Tamara Palmer