1 January, 2001@12:00 am
In 1993, Jam Master Jay protegees, Onyx, temporarily locked down the East Coast’s thug market. Onyx’s grimy debut, Bacdafucup, aided by the energetic “Slam”, and the anthemic “Throw Your Gunz In Da Air” officially ushered in the “bald-head invasion”; the group’s two respective follow-up’s, Shut Em Down, and All We Got Iz Us proved that this invasion was indeed a fleeting one, as Onyx’s status eventually fizzled.
While Onyx was a four-man crew, two of their members made immediate, and lasting impressions, Fredro Starr, and the people’s favorite bald-head Sticky Fingaz. Though Sticky has been MIA for a minute, his unmistakable gruff voice has surfaced recently, as he parlayed his close ties to Dr. Dre’s camp, into high-profile guest-shots on the good Doctor’s comeback vehicle 2001, Snoop’s Topp Dogg and Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP.
Sticky’s oft-delayed solo debut, Black Trash: The Autobiography of Kirk Jones, is a bold conceptual endeavor that loosely follows the same format Prince Paul implemented on his hip-hopopera Prince Among Thieves. Scripted to fit the silver-screen, Black Trash, chronicles the trials, and tribulations of Kirk Jones, a down on his luck knucklehead who always manages to find trouble. Playing out like a lyrical collage, Black Trash is an emotional roller-coaster that tackles the quintessential tale of good vs. evil. The dramatic ebb and flow of Black Trash is the LP’s saving grace, as the running dialogue (contributed by Omar Epps), and frequent skits depicts the life of crime that Kirk is eager to pursue, and ingeniously captures the many complexities that makeup his persona— a gun/money hungry thug with a superman complex, and the regrettable choices he makes along the way (killing his best friend, beating his wife); being an absentee father, and poor role model for his baby brother.
Though highly-imaginative, like most Hollywood blockbusters, Black Trash, fights bouts of long-windedness (this is particularly evident towards the LP’s conclusion). Yet, there is still plenty to chew on in between. Sticky has some fun with the race-card on the amusing “What If I Was White”, but all of the fun does not solely come at the Caucasian’s expense, as “Ghetto” is a retort that is equally comedic. And though Sticky has fun interpolating Louie Armstrong’s classic “What A Wonderful World”, he weaves a saddening tale (delivered in a coarse falsetto), that starkly contrasts the feel good images Mr. Armstrong envisioned. While Sticky’s energy is relentless on “What You Want” f/X-1, and “Get It Up” f/Fredro Starr. He displays a lyrical diversity that his stint with Onyx rarely suggested, exemplified by the audio transcripts of the court-room heater “State Vs. Kirk Jones” f/ Redman, Canibus, Rah Digga, and Superb, the selfish “Why” f/X-1, and the devilish “Cheatin” (yes, the ladies do their thing too). Yet, Sticky’s transformation is most evident on the thought provoking “Oh My God”, where in a maniacal state he questions God’s existence, only to have his questions answered, and “Money Talks” f/ Raekwon, as Sticky speaks in third-person as a dollar bill, and incorporates a profound moral message – “I’m the root to evil, I don’t grow on trees, I’m called by different names, chips, scrilla, cream, and I’m always green, getting your hands on me is the American dream, I’m more powerful then God, amazingly, cause when you pray to God nigga, you pray for me.” Examines all aspects of life, and while it at times glorifies the thug mentality, he digs deeper and asks more relevant questions. Shows the good and bad with equal fervor, plays both sides of the fence, and offers insightful commentary. Sticky serves up many profound/moral messages; the material possessions we strive to own, eventually end up owning us.
While Black Trash is conceptually engaging, the execution of this premise is not without problems. There is far too much R&B crooning, and the hodge-podge of producers that Sticky enlists offer tracks that occasionally border on generic. Also, while Sticky, and guests dazzle with us with their character development, it is hard to feel sympathetic for Sticky/Kirk Jones, as he is a man who thru the course of this LP shows little regard for human life, kills his best friend, beats his wife, and deserts his child. Yet, similar to James Gandolfini’s portrayal of Tony Soprano, Sticky convincingly brings Kirk Jones to life, and he is such an enigmatic character that you can’t help but root for him, even though he does not deserve us too.
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