Thursday, June 11, 2015

Throwback Thursday Review: Crazy Town's "The Gift of Game" (1999)

Crazy Town - The Gift of Game (1999, USA)
Rating: 3.5/5
Favorite Tracks: Darkside, Butterfly, Hollywood Babylon, Lollypop Porn

I wasn't always super into rock music like I am now. It took years of cultivation and indulging for me to get to this point. I believe somewhere around 7th or 8th grade, I became more interested in the rock genre. Sure, I casually liked a few rock songs from various rock bands, but I want to give credit to Linkin Park for keeping me there. I'll probably bring this up again (more than once) in better detail, but the reason I'm bringing this up is because Crazy Town came into the scene around this time with a well known single by the name of "Butterfly". Most people just know them for that one song and nothing else, so I want to give them some spotlight in this Throwback Thursday post and review their debut album, The Gift of Game.

"Intro" is an odd introduction to the album with some people talking in a studio, but it's a fairly short track. "Toxic" is an interesting choice of a first track to start the album, but it's not a bad song at all. It's kind of a dark sounding song with some warped guitar playing that sounds like it's coming from an underwater tunnel. The chorus is very loud, aggressive, and full of energy which balances out the verses that are a little calmer and have a more conversive delivery. The extra vocals are a little distracting, but I like the back and forth of singing and rapping between Epic and Shifty Shellshock. "Think Fast" starts off pretty hard with some in your face guitar playing. The lyrical delivery kinda goes along with the title of the song, going by quickly along with the drums. It's a song that I either casually listen to or skip completely. "Darkside" mixes rock and electronics in all the right places. It's like a more aggressive rock version of Orgy from high school. It has a cocky delivery in the verses, then lets loose in the chorus, yelling out against whoever the song is for and has a fun more synth sound to it. I like the slightly opposing sounds between the verse and chorus and the transitions of vocal styles in each section. "Black Cloud" slows things down and gives the listener a break from the aggressive sounds of the previous tracks. I really like hearing this vulnerability and diversity in the band, especially Epic and Shifty's vocals. I really like listening to the lyrics of the song as they're pretty clever, especially when they mention various types of superstitions.

Now for the song that everyone knows about, "Butterfly"! Released in 2001, it was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and for a very good reason. Of course, around that time, there were many rock bands fusing hip-hop and rock, but some of them seemed a little off and met with very little success. Sure, you could probably lump this band as one of those little success stories, but I think there was more to them than a lot of the bands back then. The video was pretty cheap looking, mostly in the wardrobe department, but the visuals were a fantastical drug induced dream that fit perfectly for Crazy Town. It was simple and the song had a good sound with a guitar melody that sticks with you forever. It had a good balance of rap, but stuck more to a modest flirtation of rock. It was a good introduction to what the band was about, giving a little taste of their overall sound and lyrical content if listeners delved into their album. "Only When I'm Drunk" continues this lighter rock sound, having fun with a basic rock sound that everyone is familiar with. The lyrics are humorous and even makes a reference to an older song. Maybe you'll catch it. It's a silly song, but what do you expect from a song about getting drunk. "Hollywood Babylon" is a song I remember jamming to quite often on my portable CD player. It returns to that harder rock sound that you could lightly headbang to or just nod along. It just sounds like a fun audience participation type song that just gets you hyped along with them. "Face the Music" almost has the same melody as "Hollywood Babylon", but the lyrical delivery is a little lacking...even the content is meh. Sure, it has that same high energy, but misses that punch that the previous track has. "Lollypop Porn" was another song I remember listening to a few times as well. It breaks up the monotony of the last two tracks. It has a similar vibe to it, but mixes the mood of "Butterfly" and "Darkside". Bringing in light electronic and hip-hop sounds with rock while contemplating sex, partying, and just the whole good and evil game. It's a reoccuring theme in this album of demons and angels, but it's not heavy handed. It's a pretty smooth song and it's hard to resist not nodding along with this track.

I honestly don't remember ever seeing the video to "Revolving Door" until now. It's not as appealing as "Butterfly", but I suppose it goes along with the whole revolving door of women. It's a cheesy song and concept and tries to imitate similar effects from "Butterfly", like Shifty's tattoos flying out the window. Visually, I would've left this to a "real" rapper to deliver, then fade off like many rappers of that time. Listening to it was never a song I listened to that much. Honestly, I skipped this track. The lyrical content and music isn't bad in the least, like the video. It's actually a nice change to have such a chill melody for bragging about how many women these guys get. It's almost bittersweet in places, but not everything is bad. "Players (Only Love You When They're Playing)" continues that revolving door concept. Y'know...getting all the ladies, but in this track, it really does brag about sexing all the ladies. I do like this song a little more. It has more of hip-hop vibe than a rock one, which is interesting. I like the fun vibe of the music and the cockiness definitely runs through and through in the vocal delivery. Surprisingly, I'm not bothered by the female vocals in the song...except for the additional moans toward the end of the chorus. I get sex sex, but ugh! It's awkward to listen to out loud and in your headphones. Nonetheless, it's a decent song. "B-Boy 2000" announces that this is the last track...which it is. As I write this review and listen to the track, I honestly don't even remember this song at all. Strange. It's a very rock song. It's not all that aggressive like the beginning of the album or anything. It's more like 2000s rock sound I's hard to explain. The track features the legendary KRS-ONE, which is pretty cool. It's a fun track and a great one to end the album on, for sure. If you don't listening to any other track on this album, including "Butterfly" because everyone loves that one, you should definitely give this one a listen. There is a strange "Outro" track to close off the album. It's more electronic sounds more than anything else. Also, if you skip to track 32, there's a hidden track in there, but it's really nothing worth taking the time to listen to.

The Gift of Game was a pretty good album for its time. It showed off the aggressive, the cocky, and the vulnerable sides of Crazy Town. Although there were other bands out there around that time that used the rap/rock "gimmick" like Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, and I'm sure others, they still had their own style that made them stand out from the lower pack (those bands I can't remember the names of). Back then, I really played the hell out of this CD and when I found out they released a second album, Darkhorse, I started to lean more towards their rock sound. This album is still enjoyable to this day and the tracks that I liked back then, I still like now. They definitely evolved in their second album and I'm not sure if I'll be reviewing it in another Throwback Thursday post, but it is worth checking out, if you're curious what happened to the "Butterfly Boys". According to Wikipedia, the band has reunited and is working on releasing a third album in August 2015. I'm looking forward to what they might put out in this current day and age, since rock (or just music in general) has changed so much since 1999/2000.

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