Release Date: Sep 27, 2011
Record label: Bad Blood Records
Genre(s): Electronic, Rap, Club/Dance, Underground Rap, Party Rap, Neo-Electro
Early on his new album, this Baltimore rapper name-checks scholar Cornel West – just after roughly a half- dozen lines about dry-humping over a speaker cabinet. Duality is Spank Rock’s genius on a hook-loaded, avant-garde dance record that admits what’s on its mind: sex, dancing, failing schools, a "post-black personality crisis," partying, war and sex. (Yes, he's like many of us.) He's a provocateur à la Odd Future’s Tyler, the Creator – "Shake it till my dick turn racist," he instructs in "Race Riot." But if there's a guiding spirit here, it's 1980s Prince: wildly funky pop music led by an impressive creative hard-on.
Spank Rock's YoYoYoYoYo was far and away the best rap debut of 2005, but six long years later, they'd never equaled it and, what's worse, not even released another album. Frontman Naeem Juwan had fallen out with Spank Rock's production phenom, XXXChange, and then he had switched labels, and then he switched labels again to his own Bad Blood Records. Finally, Everything Is Boring & Everyone Is a F---ing Liar arrived in September of 2011 and immediately delivered on all the drama.
Popular culture hit a singular nadir earlier this year when Snoop Dogg hired landfill trance house and generally objectionable French producer David Guetta to produce a track for him. I’ll spare the exact details, suffice to say it was not a great advert for hip-hop’s latest productive fetish for ‘dance’ music. Thus, the news that Naeem Juwon, better known as the mouthier half of Spank Rock, had hired Berlin electro titan Boys Noize to handle the majority of production work on his long awaited second record, may have prompted many an involuntary shudder.
In music time, especially thanks to Twitter and the ever-expanding blogosphere, six years ago seems like an extremely long time ago. But six years has always been a drastically long time in hip-hop no matter which scene you subscribe to—you can generally follow the zeitgeist from Native Tongues to Wu-Tang to Rawkus to Roc-A-Fella to Mixtape Ubiquity on neat little four-to-six year arcs—and so a new Spank Rock album arrives to decidedly mixed anticipation. It’s been a long time since the Baltimore club scene led by artists like Spank Rock, Diplo and Amanda Blank felt like it was the future, let alone the then-burgeoning sub-genre of club-stink sex rap that Spank Rock’s YoYoYoYoYo so perfectly encapsulated.
[a]Spank Rock[/a]’s 2006 debut ‘[b]YoYoYoYoYo[/b]’ was a frisky little number, crackling with whip-smart booty bass beats, gurning Game Boy riffs and dumb but dextrous rhymes about partying and pussy. It even managed to put a smile on the face of renowned rock grump [a]Thom Yorke[/a], who named it his album of the year alongside [a]Liars[/a]’ ‘[b]Drum’s Not Dead[/b]’. But potty-mouthed hipster rappers have a notoriously short shelf life, as Princess Superstar or Fannypack will tell you next time they’re stamping your Starbucks card.
Remember when everyone was having panic-attack cred-spasms over skinny-jeans rap? Thinkpieces about indie appropriation, flame wars about "real hip-hop," stock insults hefted toward Billyburg trusties-- good times, right? Well, not every pioneer goes unrewarded. Five years after the Diplo-sanctioned fuck-bass shtick of Spank Rock's YoYoYoYoYo set critics' brows furrowing, there's a lucrative boom in party music that turns the once-communal dancefloor/club experience into overblown swag-level competitions between Red Bull-addled alpha males. And if you push hyperactive pussy-popping anthems to enough well-meaning lefty skeptics who are otherwise hesitant to buy into strip-club chic, eventually that noise will ricochet its way toward the mainstream.