Picks and Pans Review: On a Mission
Can white boys rap? Disregard for the moment those freaks of nature (and everything else), the Beastie Boys. Do young Caucasians possess the requisite faculties for good rhythm and bad poetry? The Bronx-born Boy White, 25, is a former high school teacher (real name: Steve Lewis). Apparently he spent more time soaking up the atmosphere and lingo in the student cafeteria than he did in the teachers' lounge. His songs, particularly Meet My Beat and There Goes the Neighborhood, are inventive within rap's strictures. However, his diction tends to be thick, and his emphasis is often a shade behind the beat on the simple, good-natured party couplets that predominate. He only gets nasty on the cruising-for-a-bruising What U Lookin' At. The title track of Do We Connect (RCA) is the one song that uses a slamming rock guitar accompaniment. Meanwhile, the White Boys' On A Mission (Tin Pan Apple) uses much more conventional rock firepower in songs like This Is Hardcore...and We Live to Rock. These three guys from North Carolina clearly love rap, but they don't have a true feel for its urban spirit. Producer Marley Marl invests Running the Show with a buoyant mood, and Human Race has a smart Jamaican flavor. But most of the songs ramble without developing beyond the initial riff. Neither the White Boys nor Boy White indulges in rap's usual boastful one-upmanship, which is probably just as well. In different ways, both groups are diverting, but they won't keep Run-DMC awake nights. For that matter, they won't even disturb the Beasties, who are still (gulp!) the great white hopes of rap.