THA DOGG POUND
* * * 1/2
Back in the '70s, many members of Richard Pryor's early audiences weren't prepared for the comic's incendiary mix of profanity, social commentary and raunchy sex. While his critics couldn't get past the bristling words, millions of fans embraced his liberating approach, which is now a pop culture staple--felt everywhere from Roseanne to rappers like Tha Dogg Pound.
The latest entry from Death Row Records, whose hard-core themes contributed to Time Warner's severing ties with Interscope Records, the Los Angeles rap duo pulls no punches in its formal album debut--a record so awaited in the pop world that it is likely to enter the national charts at No. 1.
Some listeners will be turned off by the relentless profanity, but the language and themes are seen in the rap world as in the tradition of Pryor's no-holds-barred manner of expressing street-life reality--the tension, the humor and the tragedy.
But it's the rapping style and the music, not the individual words, that are at the heart of the artistry of the Pound's Daz and Kurupt.
The themes are familiar, but the music and delivery are wild and bold. Funk, low-running and hard-thumping, is the secret ingredient that gives "Dogg Food" its scrumptious flavor.
From the mid-tempo "Smooth" to the minimalist "Do What I Feel," Tha Dogg Pound--bolstered by dazzling production, mostly by Daz, and Dr. Dre's expert sonic mixes--adds further to Death Row's position as the premier force in rap.