Release Date: 06.25.99
Record label: Sony / Work
Time in the Stolen Sun
by: michael r. smith
In a year where cleverness overshadowed true creativity, the Canadian outfit simply called Len, has to be the guiltiest culprits of all. Though I won't hold it against them, because their heavily sampled debut album You Can't Stop the Bumrush is one of the most effervescent releases I have laid my ears on in a long time. As a matter of fact, Len will be on my year-end best list for their song "Steal My Sunshine" as well as the album as a whole.
It seems amazing to me that a song can reach the Billboard Top 10 chart without ever being released as a single. But that's exactly what "Steal My Sunshine" did (in addition to another favorite of mine "Mambo #5" by Lou Bega). Could the new millennium see the death of the single format altogether? It could happen, though I would like to see the lingering cassette go out along with it. Albums are finally being recognized in lieu of individual tracks, which must certainly be music to the artists' ears. I guess Casey Kasem and other top 40 d.j.'s also have their days numbered and start looking for alternative careers.
The revolutionary atmosphere of the 90's music industry is one that I myself can admit to being a little hesitant in embracing. The 60's decade was radical too, but at least it stood for something. It causes me to wonder if all the current anarchy and rebellion by much of the MTV generation (as evidenced by the last Woodstock fiasco) is to gain nothing more than attention. Attention it may garner, but it might not be the kind of attention they are seeking. Like Madonna has come to realize, "Now that I have everyone's attention, what do I have to say?"
Whenever I can, I try to find artists truly worth reviewing. Ones that either have a message to send through their artistic statement or who at least try to be something for everyone to appreciate. Len is one act that sees the forest for the trees and it shows in their energetic and diverse approach. With lines like "everybody's stoned, nobody gives a shit...these guys are making so much bread it doesn't matter what they do", I was convinced that Len knows exactly what is going on today in the music biz. They even manage to rise above the chaotic fray and thank their audience in "Cold Chillin" for keeping it peaceful. Flower children who rap indeed...
I praise Len also for their quirky and fun amalgamation of rock, old school rap and soul, classical and gospel even! This is one hell of a party album. I would give it a good review just for Shar's delivery and animated album cover alone. The kids may have to shield their parents from the one of the few ballads on Bum Rush, "Big Meanie" with its casual use of profanity. But it's a guilty pleasure that even a prude like myself found stuck in my head long afterward. If you're looking for hooks, this one has more than a fisherman's tackle box. (Can you tell I'm a Cape Codder by now?)
While the Beastie Boys still might not have nothing to fear, Len is one white-rap outfit that certainly shows great potential in giving them a healthy run for the money...oh sorry...bread...at least. Note to self...must get street lingo down so that someday I can be down with the homies too.