Before the environmentalist movement was cool, and tree huggers became an enviable identity, Kottonmouth Kings has been feeling mother-earth-love for over a decade. Never mind they preferred to smoke it than save it; through the years, they have evolved and their sound has followed suit. But has it evolved enough to make it palpable to the common listener?
Kottonmouth Kings have been dumbfounding critics and mainstream music lovers for the last twelve years. A preliminary look at their work may lead one to believe they were your average freedom-chasing, reefer-smoking, anti-mainstream musicians who performed to their own tune, and shirked the endless shackles of the industry to follow their own destiny. You may be onto something.
Kottonmouth Kings give us their tenth, full-length album, The Green Album, produced by lead vocalist, Daddy X, Kumagai & Patrick "P-Nice" Shevelin. Thematically, "Daddy X" himself states, "we called this album The Green Album because the whole world is starting to wake-up to the realities of living out of balance with nature… the one common thread that we have with each other is that we live on planet earth…no matter what borders surround you or what God you worship or don't worship, we all inhabit this planet together..." I am a little confused as to what he means by way of universality and bonding and what he is driving at with a collective consciousness based on the lyrics of his chosen tracks but hey, whatever. If you can pull some type of a unity between saving mother earth and smoking, drinking, and getting laid, you got more from this album than I did.
"Legacy" is a short, bold little number, full of flighty refrains that leads into "Blaze of Glory", where a personal narrative ensues, and a slow, deliberate rhythm underlies the tongue-in-cheek lyrics. It is a clean production, however, heavily layered with instrumentals and vocals but blended and mixed warmly. Imagine taking a shot of Hennessy, a bit of a sting going down but the aftermath is a delicious warmth rolling around your mouth. "Rock Like Us" falls prey to the clubster/hipster lyricism with that turf-challenge that occurs between musicians. A little disappointing and overly mixed. The vocals are a key element that work well together as far as harmony goes, but the track itself is fairly empty and trite. "Trippin" had a funky beginning to it, a catchy beat, and a memorable refrain. Some strange effects laced throughout the track but overall a good impression. "We Don't Give a F*ck" isn't particularly daring or groundbreaking, rather, it has a sense of being written and recorded by amateurs, a surprising finding based on their long history of recording. Lyrics like, "we don't give a f*ck pry that will/ "… we don't give a f*ck, I told you before, we don't give a f*ck , now gimme gimme gimme give me some more" leave me wondering where the prolific songwriter of the group went off to.
Track eight, "Happy" boasts lyrics like, "we like p*ssy and weed/ we like smoking and drinking and doing our thing"; which about sums up for this album. Unless you are sixteen, you may find these lyrics tired, overused, and generally uninspiring. The saving grace to the album, should they sell many, is that a percentage of the proceeds from their signature tenth album will go to environmental causes. Perhaps it will be more than reefer plantations. Based on the title tracks, "Blaze of Glory", "Pack Your Bowls", "Puff N Tuff" "Green Grass", and "Plant a Seed", I can see skepticism rearing its ugly little head.
I had high hopes for this album, and I am sorry to say that my expectations were not met.
Kottommouth Kings' newest album seems to fall into the trap of commercializing music for marketing gain, and not making music for actual entertainment, evidenced by the list of ring tone tracks available plastered on the back cover of the album itself. I am a bit skeptical regarding their self-proclaimed anti-mainstreamed attitude. It appears to me they have embraced consumerism full on.
After twelve years of recording, Kottonmouth Kings remind us that music has an obligation to talk about the times we live in. Musicians are our modern-day scribes, our poets, detailing the world as they see it for future generations to come to understand their ancestors. This album challenges us to think about where we are, and what we are leaving behind. And if this is any indication, we are indeed in need of change in a bad way.
Info and Links
Kottonmouth Kings - The Green Album