6 Sep 2007
Thursday MP3s: Da Lench Mob
This week’s album is “Guerillas In Tha Mist” (1992), by Da Lench Mob. They were, of course, associates of the legendary Ice Cube, who produced “Guerillas” (before going on to star in family-friendly comic films).
Readers, I think “Guerillas In Tha Mist” might be the most underrated rap album of all time. Its consistency is almost unheard-of by rap-album standards. Why it’s not firmly entrenched in the rap canon alongside Nas’s “Illmatic” (1994) and Scarface’s “The Diary” (1994) is a mystery to me. The fact that it languished in the bargain bins before going out of print and ending up in semi-obscurity is mind-blowing.
The symmetrical structure (you will see how track 1, “Capital Punishment In America,” is matched by the final track, “Inside Tha Mind Of A Black Man”), the lyrical wordplay, the characteristic West Coast beats — there’s not much wrong with this album. There is some very militant stuff on here, and it’s not for the faint of heart. A lot of anger and passion made it into these songs. If it doesn’t offend you, it will blow you away.
I bought this record when it first came out fifteen years ago, and I’ve listened to it a lot over the years, enough to be all too aware of its flaws. I have to admit that “Guerillas” falls short of perfection, readers, both musically and philosophically, twice:
1. Musically, I think the instrumental track “Lenchmob Also In Tha Group” is a pointless bit of filler. I think it’s meant to cleanse your aural palate, as it were, like a bit of pickled ginger with sushi, but it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the album, and let’s face it, it’s just plain wack. Its only merit is its brevity. One of this album’s many strengths is its admirable economy and punch. We all know that most rap albums are bloated out to extended runtimes with twenty minutes (or more) of asinine “skits” and pointless misfires. If it weren’t for “Lenchmob Also In Tha Group,” this album would have been completely filler-free.
2. Musically and philosophically, I think “Ain’t Got No Class” (which features a phoned-in performance by B-Real of Cypress Hill), a nasty jeering rant about female crack addicts, is an absolutely grotesque lapse. What were they thinking? Its mocking tone is completely at odds with the militant anger and energy that drives the rest of the album. Instead of being sympathetic to the “crackheads,” this track chooses to laugh at them. It’s a frustrating misfire, and a serious flaw.
Still, I think this is one of the very best rap albums of all time, and I recommend you give it a listen. It comes with my highest recommendation.
- Capital Punishment In America
- Buck Tha Devil
- Lost In Tha System
- You & Your Heroes
- All On My Nut Sac
- Guerillas In Tha Mist
- Lenchmob Also In Tha Group
- Ain’t Got No Class
- Freedom Got An A.K.
- Ankle Blues
- Who Ya Gonna Shoot Wit That
- Lord Have Mercy
- Inside Tha Head Of A Black Man