Goldie Lookin Chain - Asbo 4 Life (1983)
06 May 2009
"singles don't kill rappers, albums do..."; release - '09
Singles don't kill rappers, albums do. For all their quirky charm, I have to say that novelty singles such as 'Guns Don't Kill People Rappers Do' and 'Your Mothers Got A Penis' don't really cut the mustard when you've got 14 tracks to play with. I'm sure you'll be as surprised as I was to find out that this is actually GLC's 4th studio album. 2008's Under The Counter went some what under the radar, failing to live up to their debut Greatest Hits or 2005's Safe As F**k, which probably indicates why 2009's Asbo 4 Life has been put together so sharpishly.
The truth is that when their first album dropped, they occupied a niche for quirky, accessible Hip Hop that had an original flavour to it. And since then, the popularity for the genre has flourished with the continued boom of the internet increasing the level of exposure. Examples include long serving comic genius Weird Al finally getting some of the commercial credit he deserves with his take on Chamillionaire's 'Ridin', as well as American spoof band Lonely Island managing to pull in the support of mainstream urban heavy weights Justin Timberlake and T Pain. Not to mention a wave of underground artists bubbling just below the surface, including south London's master of wit, Example. All of a sudden your favourite Welsh rap group might have to dig a bit deeper if they're going to keep up to speed with the competition and maintain their fan base.
Despite my scepticism, I was surprised with how fresh some of the new material sounded and found the corners of my mouth curling up on more than one occasion. 'Everybody Is A DJ' is a great stab at the way DJing has evolved from a duty out of reach to most echelons of society into an unskilled job applicable to your average party goer. It hits the nail on the head, holding the three magic elements present in GLC's success stories - 1) the lyrics are genuinely very funny, 2) everybody who has something that even resembles a social life can relate to them and, 3) there's the potential for an absolutely cracking video. The album holds another couple of gems like this; 'Unemployed And Overdrawn' stands out as an obvious single, making light of the economic crisis from the everyday man's perspective, ushered along by a catchy guitar line.
However, let's not get carried away here, as a full body of work Asbo 4 Life isn't likely to pick up many awards. Their experimentation with electronic influences on 'Rollin and Strobe Lights' come across as a painfully obvious attempt to appeal to a wider audience and are better left forgotten about. The album has all the hallmarks of a group desperately scared that recently they've been dropping out of the public eye. Their desperation creates a double edged sword, at points forcing them to perfect what they're great at, at others forcing them to experiment with new elements that simply don't work. As an album, it's not one that I'll be rushing out to buy, but as a set of singles it's definitely something to keep your eye on - there's a few good laughs left in these boys yet.