Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Bell Biv Devoe

  • Poison [MCA, 1990] B+
  • Hootie Mack [MCA, 1993] C+

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Poison [MCA, 1990]
Because the new jack thing is supposed to be a "pop" move, softening rap's male-bonded "rock" ethos with sweet beats and romantic lies, their misogyny is more alarming than usual. Scared shitless of how much they need the one thing on their minds, they dis the girls who give it to them. "I had to prove my manhood/Show her that the B-I-V was damn good," but he's sure it isn't just him who makes her hot: "She's like that every day." You might say they'd have a shot at a decent sex life if they'd stop obsessing on every "sexy X-rated video queen." But that's the symptom, not the cure--a cure the slick, juicy polyrhythms of Dr. Freeze and the Shocklee-Sadler crew make me wish they'd find. Sure it's possible they're just shaking off their New Edition image. It's also possible they're mean bastards. B+

Hootie Mack [MCA, 1993]
Fame is fleeting in the mack daddy bizness, which is why they rushed out their remix rip, and why this long-awaited-by-their-accountants follow-up barely eked out its 500 thou before going south. To prove they're still down with the profitable, they lead off with a simulated toke, and instead of slandering honeydips behind their backs, they insult them to their faces--or their butts, if it makes any difference. To no avail. They've been outflanked smooth and nasty, and they don't have a clue how to reposition themselves. Which until they trip over another "Poison"--in their dreams, if they're real good to their mommies and daddies--will be no loss to anyone. Except their accountants. C+