Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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  • F.U. Don't Take It Personal [Jive, 1992] A-
  • Nervous Breakdown [Jive, 1994] A-
  • Greatest Hits [Jive, 1996] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

F.U. Don't Take It Personal [Jive, 1992]
No, not "Asiatic," and not "Asian" either. "Oriental," as in the kung FU movies where these black Brooklynites learned the warrior's way. 'Cept FU also ciphers to For Unity, and they watch a lot of TV, and headman Chip FU's dancehall stylee goes by so fast you'll have trouble keeping up on the lyric sheet, especially when he throws in exextra syllallables or semyhr sdrawkcab. Armchair zucchinis with dreams of multiculti deconstruction have been on the lookout for these guys--rappers whose visions of fun, agape, and aural conquest remain open-ended, playful, and, face it, silly. Hope their ideals and/or illusions don't evaporate upon contact with the outside world. A-

Nervous Breakdown [Jive, 1994]
You want an inkling of how grim things are for black kids right now, try and find another current rap record that manages to mean a damn thing without slipping into gangsta suicide or Afrocentric cryptoracism. Since this one sank faster than Public Enemy, maybe it doesn't mean much either, but to me the East Flatbush trio radiates the hope hip hop was full of not so long ago. There's deep pleasure in their vocal tradeoffs and hard, wryly textured tracks. There's wordwise grace in rhymes that balance B-movie fantasy against everyday brutality without denial or despair. And there's joy in the nonpareil skills of reformed backward rapper Chip Fu. He coughs, he hiccups, he snorts, he stutters; he whinnies, wheezes, wows, and flutters. A-

Greatest Hits [Jive, 1996]
I'd say buy the real albums--there're only two--except that I already did and you didn't, gold single with Shaq notwithstanding. So maybe you'll try four from CD A and four from CD B, including the pace-setting "La Schmoove" and the impossible "Sum Dum Monkey," a speed-rapped run of sonic laugh lines so virtuosic it rockets beyond double-dare-you into a realm of ludic delight where few dare follow. The previously uncollecteds, a soundtrack track plus three new ones, pretend FU-revels are a dancehall offshoot, which bodes poorly and will convince no one. These guys obviously came from nowhere, whence they will now return--for natural comedians, a tragic end. A-