Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Fat Boys

  • Fat Boys [Sutra, 1984] A-
  • The Fat Boys Are Back [Sutra, 1985] C+
  • Big and Beautiful [Sutra, 1986] B+
  • The Best Part of the Fat Boys [Sutra, 1987] A-
  • Crushin' [Tin Pan Apple/Polydor, 1987] B
  • Coming Back Hard Again [Tin Pan Apple, 1988] C+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Fat Boys [Sutra, 1984]
These prize porkers parody insatiability--long after the break of dawn (long after you're limp, Dick), they'll still be stuffing it. They won't ever be great rappers technically, though Prince Markie Dee has the poise and clarity to get close and the bass-kazoo hums and belchlike aspirations of the Human Beat Box show rhythmic instinct and sonic imagination. But their shambling, cheerful fat-boy dance is a party for kids of all ages. I love the hooks on "Fat Boys" and the barks on "Don't You Dog Me," and if "Jail House Rap" is no "Message" or "Hustler's Convention," neither is it a trivialization--at least as silly and serious as Lee Dorsey in the coal mine or Sam Cooke on the chain gang. A-

The Fat Boys Are Back [Sutra, 1985]
Novelty moves never stay fresh for long, but the Run-D.M.C. rip here is pretty extreme--"Don't Be Stupid" is a gimpy copy of the stalwart "You're Blind," "Hard Core Reggae" a lame copy of the gimpy "Roots, Rap, Reggae," "Rock-n-Roll" a paraplegic copy of the powerhouse "Rock Box." The only sparks come off their surviving novelty moves--Human Beat Box and gluttony boasts. C+

Big and Beautiful [Sutra, 1986]
Just by announcing a "stupid def side," they reaffirm their timeless message: stupid is def, def is stupid, all is one. Former sideman Dave Ogrin updates their beats without trying to tackle Rick Rubin head on. Their run-in with the Russkies is as meaningful a cultural exchange as "Rapp Symphony (In C-Minor)." And even more than their moving rendition of "Sex Machine," the title track sits all over rap's serious macho heavies. It may even get these jumbo gigolos something good to eat. B+

The Best Part of the Fat Boys [Sutra, 1987]
A label-changing ceremony that cannibalizes half their debut, it also spices up leftovers from their depressing gold follow-up--who would have thunk their ersatz reggae would outlast Run-D.M.C.'s? A musical commodity in which personality pokes through packaging as much as it does in good Ray Parker or Go-Go's, say--and more than it does in good Thompson Twins or Kool and the Gang. A-

Crushin' [Tin Pan Apple/Polydor, 1987]
Rap's longest-running cartoon has all the street credibility of a DONT WALK sign, but that doesn't mean the anticrack and procondom messages won't make an impression with the home viewing audience. Doesn't mean the boys don't crush, either. Once a homemade music starts fulfilling its fantasies in the studio, it can also be manufactured there. B

Coming Back Hard Again [Tin Pan Apple, 1988]
Where's the fat? "Bit Man" says they're bigshots. They eat "Jellyroll" only in the Bessie Smith sense. So when they start going on about "ain't no joke," you know the junk food has finally gone to their heads. C+