La Coka Nostra – A Brand You Can Trust

La Coka Nostra – A Brand You Can Trust (Uncle Howie)

la coka nostra

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.

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “La Coka Nostra – A Brand You Can Trust

  1. Jim

    Has this mutha fucker even heard this album? Hollywood mop-up? I would hardly call these cats hollywood. Lazy ass review from a cynical peice of shit. Go back and listen to Lil Wayne, you faggot.

  2. popmusicology

    Jim,

    thanks for your comments.

    As far as calling them ‘Hollywood’, it’s more of a resemblence in posture than a direct adjective. Apologies if that didn’t come across.

    My supposed laziness is not the issue here. It’s by-the-by that I spent, as I do with all reviews, a long time thinking about the lyrics and making the odd constructive note before fleshing anything out too quickly. Simply because it disagrees with your opinion does not make it a lazy review.

    And I’m far from cynical – just realistic, and tired of being spoonfed tales of over-wrought rebellion and cliched sentiments. I’d argue (as above) that LCN, on this album, don’t have the narrative ‘bounce’ of, say, The Wu Tang Clan or the lyrical inventiveness of K-The-I???. Again, just an example.

    Lil’ Wayne’s not for me.

    Thanks again for your comment!

    • Jim

      No problem, thanks for your response. I apologise for my language previously i was just pissed off. Finally we have some cats willing to put out some raw non bubble-gum ringtone shit and it gets slated.
      As for the appearance of Snoop, these guys still have to make money so a single with a commercial edge was always on the cards.

  3. Alvin

    If he has heard it he wasn´t listening, one thing is for sure this faggot should not be reweiving hip hop rekcords(the sad motherf%&cker is probably still waiting for the backstreet boys comeback lol) this is one of the best if not the best hip hop reckords i’ve heard in years, i’ve been waiting 4 this album 4 about 2 years now and it doesen’t disapoint me in no way, that´s rare after sutch a long wait, anyways my point is if you gona rewieve hip hop you should understand the music… yo Lil’ Wayne is 2 hardcore 4 this piece of shit fairry he’s still tripping over vanilla ice first album, claiming it as the album of the century hehe… yo i’m out piece, straight outta iceland. Alvin P.

  4. popmusicology

    Alvin,

    Thanks for commenting. I hope Iceland finds you well.

    To address your first point, I’d argue I’m as qualified as anyone to ‘reweive’ hip-hop records. I’ve a long-standing enthusiasm for the genre, and I’m reasonably up-to-date with it.

    Didn’t the Backstreet Boys already come back? I thought they did, anyway. Not really my area.

    I’ll admit, though, that I wasn’t aware of the anticipation of this record among many H.O.P. fans. Conversely, I think this makes for a more balanced consideration of the record itself – detached from any mis-placed affections.

    I’ve not heard Vanilla Ice’s records in full. That’s a ridiculous statement – so what if I did think one of them was the greatest opus of modern times? If I could back it up with reasonable intellect and as little fanboy-ism as possible, why shouldn’t I potentially consider anything to be a work of genius?

    And I don’t know why Lil’ Wayne keeps on being brought up.

    Thanks again for your comments, I’m looking forward to your response.

    “Straight outta Bow, East London”, I suppose.

    PM x

  5. You are bang on the money. I’m a huge fan of Ill Bill/Non-Phixion and was really excited about this one. But aside from “I’m an American” I’m not getting stoked for much on this.

    You can hear where the album went astray – on the 12 tracks which have Everlast singing hooks. It’s way too much and his forced raspy-voice with convoluted imagery and logic really make the album on a whole confused about what it is trying to say.

    And what was with “That’s Coke”? They replaced the best sample with a watered down version of the original. Not sure if they couldn’t get clearance or what but it is clearly different from the video version. Sort of sums up the album – took way too long to produce and in the end had way too many conflicting influences to make any sort of lasting statement.

    Thnks for the review. It tells it like it is.

    Medium Seen

    • popmusicology

      Thanks for your comments, Medium Seen. Proof, as if it were needed, that healthy debate exists and every coin has two sides.

      I have to agree about the confusion in what the album is trying to say. On the whole, it seems that LCN have tried to hammer home some interesting points, but haven’t quite had the confidence to abandon established cliches entirely. It would’ve been a far stronger album had they expelled any vestige of exisiting lyrical templates. People don’t want to hear it any more.

      Thanks again,

      PM

  6. Joglen

    Hey everyone just reading the comments and wanted to add my 2 cents. I’ve been a Everlast/HOP fan since the begining, so when I heard a few years back that they were getting back together with Ill Bill and Slaine, I was like a kid awaiting to open presents at Christmas, anticipating what i’ll get.
    Picked up the album and I was impressed. Could be that the past ten years I’ve lost interest in rap/hiphop, felt all the artists were saying the same old thing, look at my bling/car/house/women. I personally feel these guys are a throw back to when I enjoyed the genre, they say what they gotta say over some great beats and enjoy. The people that’ll like this will be hardcore fans I believe and those looking to escape the bubble gum watered down crap we’ve been force fed. I too notice alot of people dissing Lil Wayne, what the hell is a Lil Wayne, sounds itchy!

  7. I had a lengthy reply…But for real this has been beat into the ground already. So what I can say is LCN started as a mix tape collabo between a collective of like minded individual artists, it wasn’t supposed to drop internationally or even nationally as such it spoke to it’s core audience: true Hip Hop fans…

    I don’t understand why everyone attacked our ever popular host/critic…what do you expect? Underground is underground for a reason…because most people don’t understand it. I agree the critic seems like he listened to a different LCN than I know of, if he listened to it at all…as his “critique” was more of an indictment of indy/underground Hip Hop than it was a review of A Brand You Can Trust.

    LCN could have easily come out under the House of Pain banner, got signed by a major label, draped themselves in diamonds, ed hardy shit, and released an entire album of club bangers…they didn’t they are signed to a medium size hardcore/punk/indy label and are doing shit that appeals to the street.

    I do have to say that while most guests on the album were appreciated if not expected(B Real) the addition of Snoop was some wtf’ery…still don’t get the Snoop appearance but Snoop is a small price to pay when the rest of the album is puro coka!

  8. Slapnutz Malone

    Everlast singing and rapping and doing neither particularly well. Revisiting the House that Pain built and the connections that the House had back in the day reminds you of visiting a house you used to live in long ago…there are reasons to reminisce but the memories, like the House, are faded.

    And that will be the ultimate story to this album. Bravado without punch. The old days are gone and will never return and you can never go home.

    I sat through most thinking how unimaginative it was. “Bang Bang” has Everlast spitting one of the worst flows of his career:

    The whole world sold out/you all got spoiled
    I spit that flame/I spark that fire

    Sold out? Who’s the one with Snoop doing a cameo…and only doing the hook? This whole verse is choppy and uninspired. Come on…really! How many times is someone gonna say they “spit flames”?

    The real disappointment was B-Real. I’ve always dug B-Real and he’s never came half assed on track…until now. I’m not saying his verse was complete garbage, I just expected more. Once again, his delivery didn’t have that punch it used to have. Lyrically, still ill…well the first half was. It became painfully apparent that there was a “message” about halfway through and then it seemed forced.

    Listen to his verse again. After he says “living life like a predator”, it’s like he stops trying to spit. It’s like he meant it when he wrote it, but he’s not feeling it when he’s spitting it. He lost that edge and it is fucking disappointing!

    I guarantee I will never listen to any of these tracks again…and that is the definition of a lack luster performance.

  9. Terrible review by an obviously pompous, self-absorbed dictionary jockey.

    And this is not because I don’t agree with the negative review (which I don’t; the album is easily a highlight of ’09, as was LCN at Rock the Bells), just the excessive wordiness for the sake of wordiness with no real substantive analysis.

    I whole-heartedly agree there are big flaws on the album, but certain claims of this review are just outlandish. Definitely not going to be using this particular reviewer as a measuring stick for my album purchases.

  10. benito

    the album was a huge disapointment for me.

    everlast got corny, slaine is still a kid, and dj lethal sucks dick.

    ill bill was the only promise on this shit

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