Light Poles and Pine Trees
Disturbing Tha Peace/Geffen, 2006
For fans of: Ludacris, Outkast, similes, music with the shelf life of overripe peaches.
Here's some back story on this album - evidently these boys came out with two fairly well-received, more countrified albums a few years ago. Frustrated by their lack to break into a larger audience, they took a few years off, signed to Ludacris' Disturbing Tha Peace imprint, and released a fairly successful single on a recent comp from said imprint. Backed by the awesome power of Ludacris, the familial connection to Ciara, and a thirst to make it, the boys hit the studio and came up with this album.
It’s not quite the masterpiece they were aiming for, but they did manage to come up with some funny, hip-pop goodness that will no doubt get them plenty of airplay. Their first single, the breezy, wafer-thin yet enjoyable "So What" has a cheesy club beat and features Ciara’s vocals. The other gem on this album is "The Blacker the Berry", a celebration of being dark skinned. It’s both funny and heartfelt, and makes the best use of their goofy flow. Because goofy their flow is. They are a mix of Ludacris, Andre 3000, and Bob Dylan if he was a young black rapper who yelled more. No, really: Their delivery constantly reminded me of Bob’s "flow" on "Blonde on Blonde" and "Blood on the Tracks". Kind of "Buh buh BUHHH ba buh buh BUHHH." Only less nasally, nyamean?
I started out liking this disc, but it wore out its welcome fairly quickly. If their flow weren’t irritating enough, their rhymes make it a double whammy. These boys LOVE similes. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and they do have some zingers. "Acting like you was a hood in the state pen, when really you were a nerd at Penn State!" or "y’all like where I get my DVDs at, y’all some Blockbusters." But see, combined with their exaggerated presentation, these overly colorful comparisons are obvious attempts at cleverness, which makes them seem not so very clever at all. Better MCs manage to put their little twists in their rhymes subtle-like, so it’s only after the fact that you’re like "oh snap! He just said that he was like cocaine straight from Bolivia!!" With the Field Mob, they pretty much telegraph "I’m about to say something funny!!!" every time.
What really killed my goodwill towards them was the unbearable "I Hate You", which features some local Linkin Park soundalike shouting "I hate you so much right now" in that whiney, affected anger so popular with the suburban angst crowd. It was at that point that I decided that while I liked parts of the album, I hated it more. Worst still is the fact that their songs are both annoying AND catchy, which means I have them stuck in my fucking head even though I dinnae like them.
I don’t mean to be too harsh on Field Mob: They do provide several fun tracks, and "the Blacker the Berry" is a pretty great song. They aren’t really any worse than, say, Slim Thug or half the other kids with a record contract because they happen to have a Southern zip code and drawl. And honestly, I find Outkast really fucking annoying, and they are critically acclaimed and have sold a billion records.
Still, I doubt this album is going to be remembered as a classic from the 00s, and I’m gonna go sell this back to Amoeba this week so that I can actually get some money for it. I guarantee that by next summer there will be ten of them in the used bin for $7.95.
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