The Autobiography Of Mistachuck

Chuck D

Mercury Records, 1996

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


Twenty-year anniversary events haven't shocked me as much as I thought this past year. I'm old enough to remember seeing Star Wars in the theater. I'm old enough to remember hearing Rumours on the record player when I was playing with my Darth Vader and Chewbacca dolls. It's the ten-year anniversary announcements that shock the living shit out of me. It's a quicker reminder of how fast time has flown. Case in point, remember seeing Top Gun or Aliens in the theaters? Remember buying Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet?

Listen up people...that was only TEN fuckin' years ago! And about that time, in 1987 (shit, those movies were already on video) Public Enemy was putting their final touches on the Sargeant Pepper of rap, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back.

Well, like I said, a lot can happen in ten years. The once feared Public Enemy, though still dangerous, are no longer Public Enemy number one to the public safety. The East and West rap wars have brought us artists who have taken their rivalries to bloody extremes on both sides. So, it isn't a surprise that what opens up Chuck D's first solo album, The Autobiography Of Mistachuck is a discussion. Taken from Spike Lee's great film Clockers, it's a discussion about if Chuck D is still the world's hardest rapper.

The album then kicks in with "Mistachuck". Sadly, the first three tracks have Chuck D playing a position that he's not used to - defensive. "No" and "Generation Wrekked" have the laid back California sound that has come to define that area of the rap music world in the 90s. While it's cool to see Chuck D branch out and try some new styles, the first three songs seem more like catering to the new taste in music, rather than a genuine take on the sound.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Chuck D functions best when he's on the offense, even when he's on the defensive. As in the best material of Public Enemy, Chuck D fired off his complex rants with rapid stacatto fury. He regains the title of "The Hard Rhymer" with "Niggativity...Do I Dare Disturb The Universe". Gary G-Wiz quickens the tempo for this song as Chuck D lays down some of the best lyrics of last year. "What good is talking about the hood/ when you get mutherfuckin' madness/am I ringin those senses/brothers drinking worse shit/then they're pourin in their benzes," moments like this can make you focus more on what is being said than the beat accompanying it.

Chuck D manages to keep the pace going with "Free Big Willie" and the short "Horizontal Heroin". Midway through the album, it's evident that Chuck D did not release this solo album to prove anything to the rap world and the music world in general. Being an artist that always has something to say in his albums can be a weighty task however, as in the case of "Talk Show Created The Fool". Basically an update of "She Watches Channel Zero" from It Takes A Nation Of Millions, Chuck learns that if you're going to be political, you're bound to repeat yourself from time to time. Hell, even a lyric in the song says "lookin at channel zero for hell".

Songs like "The Underdog" and "Endonesia" once again reaffirm Chuck D's strengths as a rapper. What he has to say usually sounds better at a faster tempo. When he slows down for a laid back, fuck oriented beat you feel like he's holding back, as in "The Pride".

Chuck D recruited Isaac Hayes to help co-produce "But Can You Kill The Nigger In You?" Hayes gives the keyboards a depth all of their own in the song, but the song isn't one of the standouts on the album. Still, it's good to see the styles of two old school masters fit reasonably well with each other.

While most of Public Enemy's "Bomb Squad" appears on this album (even Professor Griff drops in for a guest vocal spot), the lyrics are what wins out on Autobiography. In the liner notes and in interviews, Chuck D promises a new Public Enemy album soon. While groups like Wu-Tang-Clan may have denser beats and Snoop Doggy Dogg may raise the hair on parents' necks more, at least Chuck D and Public Enemy still have something to say.

The Autobiography of Mistachuck isn't Chuck D's best work nor is it a lame attempt at staying in a music field that no longer has room for him. The experiments that fail on Mistachuck even shine, proving that Chuck D has not rested on his laurels. He even adds a bonus track on the CD, after "Paid" has faded...just hit the fast foreward button, on hell, figure it out for yourselves. The Autobiography Of Mistachuck is a good side marker of an artist who isn't about to call it quits.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 1997 Sean McCarthy 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 Mercury Records, and is used for informational purposes only.