Pounding codeine, seeing strippers, checkin' hos, and twerkin': Bay Area heavyweights E-40 and Too $hort are back with a new two-album collaboration, History: Mob Music and Function Music. Both albums offer the characteristic brooding synths, trunk-rattling bass, and West Coast hyphy sound that made the rappers legends. However, perhaps seeking to appeal to a wider audience, the two albums — Function Music for the new era and Mob Music for the old-school fans — inherently point to E-40 and Too-$hort's inability to use their combined fifty years of hip-hop knowledge to create something worthy of two releases.
It is ironically the duo's attempt to do something fresh on Function Music that sounds the most stale. "Say I" is the fun, sugary-pop club drop that's bound to make it to Top 40 radio. "Slide Through" is minimal but catchy, mixing mid-tempo, ass-popping bass with a freestyling mixtape feel. These tracks notwithstanding, the rest of the album is filled with missteps — unimaginative hooks; one-dimensional, tinny beats; and stilted cadences.
Mob Music, however, is a rich, dirty throwback and the better half of the two albums. "Ride with Me" and "Do You Remember?" restore old-school values — clever verses, booming kicks, stoned synths — to new hip-hop beats. Too-$hort's laid-back, organic flow is cream to E-40's black coffee of frenetic, rapid-fire verses. It's all the banging bass, lyrical stamina, and retro G-funk beats expected from these two.
Ultimately, History: Mob Music and Function Music suffers from the same problem that plagues most double albums: It's loose and unedited, but could have been pared down into something truly great. Mob Music, although solid, serves as a reminder that history repeats itself. And Function becomes exactly what it professes to be: history. (Heavy on the Grind/EMI)
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