In characteristic accelerated Assault fashion, Jefferson Ave. throws a smorgasbord of hyper-speed beats, laid-back raps and wildcards into the air, watches them fall perfectly into place, shrugs its shoulders and deems it funky. This perceived nonformula is just what made DJ Assault’s past work so irresistible — those rushed simple rhymes, that crude production, that perception of unintentional brilliance.
On Jefferson Ave., DJ Assault (aka Craig Adams) appears to have lifted the bar in terms of quality. There are only 20 tracks on this one. And they’re all originals; it’s not a continuous mix like last year’s unbelievably infectious Off the Chain for the Y2K. Adams also introduces his serious side on the CD, street narrator Craig Diamonds. This inclusion offers a sense of maturity and acceptance of responsibility only assumed in previous work. Assumed in the sense that his lyrical content was so beyond offensive that it made the offensiveness appear absolutely ridiculous, kind of giving it an opposite effect. Of course, a portion of his audience probably absorbs the raunchiness in a 100 percent literal sense and assumes that he intended them to do so. Another portion probably assumes that he’s simple-minded. With that stupid assumption, here’s where the dumb-ass analytical theorizing ends. Because Adam’s apparent attempt to develop is really the album’s only fault, no matter how inevitable development in general is.
In charge of writing, producing, programming and mixing on his own, perhaps he was looking to prove he’s not a novelty act. But where he might pick up a few more fans who think quality is of great importance, he loses a little bit of that spontaneous magic that fueled saucy dance floor numbers such as “Fuck You Hoe” or any of the other 80-odd tracks on Off The Chain. At times it seems like he’s trying to re-create the magic; however, hearing women fake orgasms just isn’t shocking anymore, and even comes off a little tired.
But will it make the ladies in the house bounce and the fellas holla? It sure will.
There are plenty of tracks likely to gain the anthem status of “Ass-N-Titties.” “Ass-N-Titties 2001” for example. Or “Nipples-N-Clits,” where one of the album’s most shining moments occurs — the title lyric mimicking the melody from a Kibbles ’n’ Bits dog food commercial. “Bounce” and “G-String” are two other highlights.
One of the positive results of the development is Assault’s venturing into new sound realms. Jefferson Ave.’s first song has ghoulish Pubah-esque MCing, “They Clown You” has ’80s gospel-tinged soul-cheese organ-curls and vocals running throughout and a few of the tracks feature that sort of revamped Kraftwerk sound that’s quite popular these days.
It’s impossible not to notice Assault’s influence — “Get Ur Freak On” — on mainstream hip hop with his clever mixing and matching of electronic stylings with hip hop. Jefferson Ave. proves he’s a good listener as well.
Melissa Giannini is the Metro Times staff music writer. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.