Doc Box & B. Fresh

Music With a Hard

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    3
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This album showed quite a bit of promise on the opening track, but, unfortunately, maintains that promise only very sporadically thereafter. The opening track, "Time to Get Smart," is a fine chunky rap number about black unity. It's also unfortunately the last good thing you hear for a while as you're assaulted with "Doc's Dope Jam," which never gels and only irritates, and "Slow Love," which is a mix of dopey rap ballad, sexual brag, and halfway decent arrangement. "Nu Jack," with its Philly-flavored jam, picks things up a bit and the following track, "I'm a Survivor," holds the groove right there for another six minutes, which isn't too bad, although a little more overall adventure might be fun to hear -- too often rap artists are unwilling to venture beyond the parameters established in the early days of the form. From this high point, it's back into a slump for the next two tracks, only returning to any sort of interesting level when it gets to "Darlene," which has a goofy rhythm and an odd bass track that refers as much to Kraftwerk on a silly day as it does anything else. The track has a similarly off-center attitude that's very welcome. This slightly loony mood extends into "A Mission Impossible," which borrows Lalo Schifrin's music and turns it into a rap James Bond excursion that seems to indicate that Doc Box & B. Fresh would rather go off in the direction of DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince than, say, Public Enemy. Given a chance to pursue that avenue and develop what they're doing, this pair could turn into something to watch. This album, however, is just too easily forgotten.