As Nasty As They Wanna Be
Luke Records, 1989
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/05/1997
I remember the first time I ever heard one of the most controversial albums ever released - 2 Live Crew's As Nasty As They Wanna Be. I was working in college radio, and a friend of mine who was on the air brought it in as a goof. I asked to borrow it, because I wanted to see what all the hoopla was about.
One spin in the production studio's CD player, and I was on the ground laughing - who would take this shit seriously? I thought it was hilarious.
But now, almost ten years since its release, the album may still be somewhat controversial, but it's nothing that will stand the test of time. In a genre that features some of the finest poetry put to music, this is the equivalent of children who have just learned a new dirty word. After a couple days of uninterrupted use with the right crowd, it gets boring.
Luther Campbell acts more as a ringleader to his crew of rappers (Mr. Mixx, Brother Marquis and Fresh Kid Ice), though he occasionally takes a turn at the mike, mostly to scream obscenities into it. And while some of the raps are halfway decent, constantly being hit over the head with swear words kind of has the effect of constant nudity in Showgirls - after a while, you fail to notice it, and it becomes boring.
What is scary on As Nasty As They Wanna Be is not the graphic description of sexual acts, or even the obscenities. It is the depiction of women in the lyrics. Brother Marquis is more interested in keeping track of who is his woman of the day in "My Seven Bizzos," one of the better tracks on the album. This is the only negative image kids could learn from this album - women as "objects."
And while I am no prude, some of the graphical sexual images are, well, a little sick. I'd go into detail, but seeing that we have occasional visitors from Disney here on the site (oh, boy, I hope it's Mickey - my daughter would be impressed), I think we'll not spread the images. But while the raps are the best on songs like "C'mon Babe," where they are faster and more fluent, the band hardly is on the cutting edge of rap.
One of the funniest tracks on the album is "Get The F___ Out Of My House," where Campbell hopes that as a former lover is leaving, "Let the doorknob hit you / where the dog should have bit you." Again, it's no masterpiece of the genre, but I just find it funny. "Dirty Nursery Rhymes" is also very humorous, though I don't think I'll replace my daughter's Mother Goose book with any of these.
Other songs just are a waste. Campbell's mindless rap on "If You Believe In Having Sex" is one incredible waste of time, while "Reggae Joint" probably had Bob Marley spinning in his grave. The dissing continues on "Fraternity Record," which summarized what many of us spoke in the dorm hallways about those sheep who joined fraternities or sororities.
I occasionally dig this one out of the Pierce Memorial Archives (23 days until moving day) just to get a good laugh, but As Nasty As They Wanna Be is hardly the ideal of the first rap record someone should buy. Instead, check out groups like Public Enemy, Digital Underground, Lil' 1/2 Dead, or even 2Pac. And if the lyrics tend to bother you, just relax - in a few more years, I don't think anyone will remember this album.