This cd is part of my collection for two reason: One, I remember the Afros making a cameo on a Run-DMC song (“Pause”), which alone must give them an inkling of street cred. Second and more importantly, it was only 99 cents at my local pawn shop. Money talks a lot louder than street cred, son.
The group name was the brainchild of Jam Master Jay and the Beastie Boys deejay, DJ Hurricane. The
gimmick concept for the group came about after Jay and Hurricane watched Robert Townsend’s movie Hollywood Shuffle (a comedy film that satirizes the racial stereotypes of blacks in film and television), and decided that all members involved would rock afro wigs to mimic seventies blaxploitation movies and to represent all Afro-Americans and Black Power. There are different thoughts and theories on who is and who isn’t an official member of the Afro crew, but we do know the three core members of the group consisted of Hurricane, Cool-T, and DJ Kippy-O. As far as me naming who is who on the album cover? Don’t get me to lying.
The Afros were the first artist to release an album on Jam Master Jay’s JMJ Records label (a label best known for discovering and signing Onyx) Kickin Afrolistics in 1990. Jay and Hurricane would handle all production duties for the album. While Hurricane would go on to release several solo albums, this was the groups only release as a whole.
And maybe there’s a reason for that.
Afro Like A Mutha – This is nothing more than an intro that annoyingly repeats the song title over an over again for nearly a minute over a simple instrumental that goes nowhere.
Better Luck Next Time – This one consist of three verses with three different stories: Cool T talks about a rap contest in verse one, while Hurricane uses the second verse to describe an interesting visit to the bank. Cool T handles the final verse which is about a Knicks/Sixers game (his mention of “Barkley and Oakley fighting for position on the inside” reminds you just how old this song is). The instrumental was cool and the verses were mildly entertaining, making this a solid opening song.
Feel It – I’m pretty sure this was the groups first and only single from the album. Hurricane and Cool T explain to the listening audience why they wear their afro wigs and other random nonsense. Overall this was pretty forgettable. Nothing to see here folks, keep it moving.
Coolin’ With The Fros – This is The Afros ode to the hoes, because what would a hip-hop album be without one? The instrumental was garbage and both rappers (specifically Cool T) sound like they’re just going through the motions. I hope this isn’t the start to a steady downward spiral.
Hoe Cakes – Fittingly, if you keep hoes in stock like The Afros did, eventually they’ll ask to be fed (because in the immortal words of Doughboy: “hoes gotta eat too”). This is Hurricane’s high-pitched alter ego’s solo joint and its a complete mess and waste of time.
On The Fro Farm – Um, yeah.
This Jams For You – This song is all kinds of terrible. The instrumental is struggling with an identity Crisis as it attempts to combine reggae, hip-hop, and…folk? By this point in the album all both rappers lack of skill on the mic has completely been exposed, and to add insult to injury whoever is singing on the hook sounds like a poor man’s poor man’s Keith Sweat. Ironically, the message in the song is uplifting while everything else about this song is depressing. It ends on a bright note, as the last minute or so has a pretty smooth instrumental that they choose to talk about absolutely nothing over. I guess the talking works better than them actually rapping.
Causin’ Destruction – Wait a minute. Did these clowns really just use an exert from a Malcolm X speech to introduce one of their songs? Blasphemy! Don’t be fooled by the Malcolm X speech and the song title: there is no message in this song. Surprisingly, the hard instrumental is nice. Too bad there weren’t more talented rappers utilizing it. I think Chuck D would have brutalized this one.
Afros In The House – Useless interlude that goes on way too long.
Why Do I Wear My Fro – I mentioned Chuck D in the last song, and ironically this sounds like a amateur version of something PE would have done back in the day. Oh, and they never bother to answer the question asked in the song title.
Afros And Afrettes – Interlude…
Jump – Before Mack Daddy and Daddy Mack made you “Jump”, The Afros attempted to make you do the same. I guess there is no debate to which one of the two of those gimmicks were more successful.
Smokin’ – Although the beat is not “smokin'” as the Fros proclaim throughout the song, it is decent, and easily one of the better songs on the album, which isn’t much of a feat compared to the rest of the garbage I’ve endured up this point.
Federal Offense – The Afros spin a crime tale that starts as a car theft and then turns into all kinds of random ramblings that will leave you wondering what in the world are they talking about. Slick Rick they are not. The instrumental was smooth and enjoyable and even though Hurricane and Cool T’s story sucked, their approach and delivery was decent.
Straight From The Penial – Federal Offense then segway into this. Not sure if this a parody of all the “macho gangsta” rap that was popular at the time or if the Afros expected us to forget all the tomfoolery and soft attempts at pop dance hits prior to this song and believe they were actually hardcore. Either way it doesn’t work as the instrumental is way to soft for the subject manner to even partially be believable.
Kickin’ Afrolistics – The fros save the title song for the final song on the album. The instrumental is actually decent but Cool T and Hurricane still don’t have anything worth saying or listening to.
In the title song Hurricane states “a lot of people think its comical but it’s very realistic”. He’s wrong twice: it’s definitely not real nor is this shit funny. Kickin Afrolistics would be best described as an undirected hot mess of a gimmick. The album has no cohesiveness and the Afros clearly had no idea who they wanted to be as artists (and I use that term very loosely). There were a few serviceable moments on Kickin Afrolistics but not serviceable enough to forgive the rest of the album’s iniquities.