The Lonely Island's third studio disc presents an unlikely problem: Nearly eight years after they attained instant comedy-rap stardom with "Lazy Sunday," these "Saturday Night Live" veterans have become better rappers than comedians.
On "The Wack Album," Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone rhyme with impressive style and sharp detail over tracks that sound virtually indistinguishable from those on records by Rick Ross, T.I. or any number of other A-list hip-hop acts. Sometimes they're actually rapping alongside A-list hip-hop acts: "YOLO" features a verse by L.A.'s Kendrick Lamar, and the Bay Area trailblazer Too Short shows up in "The Compliments."
Other guests include Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake and, in "I Run NY," Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong doing a not-bad impression of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
But with songs about nerdy white people ("Hugs"), gastrointestinal distress ("Perfect Saturday") and fraught sexual relations with older women (a slow jam featuring T-Pain that has an unprintable title), "The Wack Album" feels awfully short on fresh ideas. And though it's churlish to complain about a tune in which Hugh Jackman debases himself so gamely, the raunchy "You've Got the Look" is a painfully obvious retread of Michael Bolton's self-effacing turn in the Lonely Island's 2011 viral hit "Jack Sparrow."
The Lonely Island
"The Wack Album"
Two stars (out of four)