La Coka Nostra – A Brand You Can Trust (Uncle Howie)
For all its claims at independent non-conformity, for all the posturing that screams authenticity and for all the turns of phrase that rhyme one too many words in succession to engender dazzlement, A Brand You Can Trust feels lightly peppered with easiness. Rather than actively seek to document events, or even to tell stories, this Hollywood mop-up of the likes of Ill Bill, Slaine and even DJ Lethal from House Of Pain instead gives the impression of lives lived, and philosophise the album away. It’s clear that the confusion and lack of immediate clarity automatically discounts this debut as totally loveable – few bonds can be made between artist and listener if either party is unsure what the other’s reaction will be.
There are requisite plumps for the Wu Tang school of alienation and violence, but little of the wit. The funereal Cousin Of Death has heavy-handed ‘rapper’s sorrow’ liberally soaking it – the saccharine piano and guitar interplays are winsome but dead, and the raps themselves attempt rumination on the existential problems of getting fucking shot, but end up merely cataloguing bad experiences and paraphrasing Neil Young. Cloudy over-emotion and faux-bad-assery don’t scare or fool anyone. This collective may wander the mean streets, but they certainly don’t go looking for trouble in the way the genre used to.
The creeping suspicion that commercial shortcuts might be being taken to keep it listener-friendly does the record no favours either. Hardcore Chemical Soldier’s Story, which features a throaty contribution from Sick Jacken, affirms La Coka Nostra’s inability to focus, sloganeering and desperately trying to find the World’s Largest Hook in the process. Apparently this story is “too graphic for you born-again faggots”, and totally dislocates itself from any kind of enjoyable listen. No matter how fiercely this record’s chief influences might have stated their cases, they at least involved the audience and challenged them. The strange appearance of Snoop Dogg on Bang Bang goes some way to summing up A Brand You Can Trust – with sales in the crosshairs and little to bring to the table, save for odd moments of inspiration, the listener is left with little to work with, tall tales or not.
This comes out in early July or something. Enjoy some bravado and not much original thought here.