Crown Royal


Arista Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Carlos Santana, what have you wrought? Given the success of your comeback album Supernatural, you've almost made it a prerequisite that any artist who has been out of the public spotlight for X amount of years needs to make their return felt by enlisting the help of nearly the entire remainder of the music industry.

We could argue until the cows come home about whether Supernatural was a good album or not - but one can't deny that it did put Santana back into the public eye. Now, rappers Run-DMC are trying the same thing with their first album in eight years - Crown Royal.

They should have waited longer - say, for an album of real material.

You know you're in trouble when one-third of the group - in this case, DMC - only appears on two tracks, and all but dismisses the album in the press. The sad fact is that Run-DMC finds themselves in the unenviable position of playing a game of musical catch-up... the problem being that they're stuck in the halcyon days of the '80s. Remember that time, when they literally saved Aerosmith's ass?my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The plethora of guests who dirty the hands of Run-DMC do more harm than good on Crown Royal. Unlike Supernatural, these cameos don't do anything but distract from the rather weak repertoire of songs that the group offers. Stephan Jenkins, I think I'm going to make fellow reviewer Jason Warburg's day when I say: You're no Steven Tyler. "Rock Show" proves it. As for Sugar Ray (who appear on "Here We Go 2001"), aren't your 15 minutes of fame up yet?

Wait, it gets worse. Everlast tries to do his best Steve Miller impression on "Take The Money And Run," but the re-written lyrics do nothing for the song. (That's more of Run-DMC's fault, though.) And as for Fred Durst ("Them Girls") and Kid Rock ("The School Of Old"), the less said about these tracks, the better.

Even when rappers and singers from the soul genre are brought into the fracas, Crown Royal finds Run-DMC shooting themselves in the foot. Tracks like "It's Over" (featuring Jermaine Dupri), "Queens Day" (featuring Nas & Prodigy of Mobb Deep) and "Let's Stay Together (Together Forever)" (featuring Jagged Edge) all prove that without good songwriting, cameos don't mean shit. (Someone better call Al Green and beg for his forgiveness for butchering his classic song.)

Yet there are two signs of life right at the end of Crown Royal. "Ay Papi" (featuring Fat Joe) is the first suggestion that someone in Run-DMC's camp had done their homework since Down With The King, while "Simmons Incorporated" (featuring Method Man) - well, I can't tell if this one is a boast or a good old-fashioned pimp slap. In any case, it is the best way to end the album.

Make no mistake, I happen to like Run-DMC, and there's nothing more I'd like to see than them put out an album that would live up to the standards of something like Raising Hell without trying to capture the vibe of over 15 years ago. As for Crown Royal, maybe it would have sounded fresher in 1999, when it was originally scheduled to be released. But we have to live in the here and now with the product in front of us. All I can say is this: when you name an album Crown Royal, you'd better not offer your listeners the musical equivalent of Thunderbird.

Rating: D+

User Rating: C-



© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Arista Records, and is used for informational purposes only.