You've got to wonder if the major labels that signed eccentric, unorthodox new-school rap groups like Rumpletilskinz did so as mere tax write-offs, without ever intending to promote them properly, because with a little publicity push, What Is a Rumpletilskin? could have captured many of the same imaginations as the artists who were a part of the Native Tongues diaspora, not to mention commercially successful crews from a couple years down the road like Roc-A-Fella and Busta Rhymes' Flipmode Squad, both of which sound, in retrospect, as if they had carefully cribbed notes from the foursome. As it is, the album vanished from circulation almost before anyone had an opportunity to answer the title question, and it turned out to be the only recording by the Skinz. It's a shame on both counts. Close associates of Leaders of the New School -- the group's three MCs were featured on "Sound of the Zeekers" from LONS' debut outing, A Future Without a Past... -- Rumpletilskinz were, in fact, very much in the same mold as that foursome, zestfully trading off verses like the restless, grown-up nephews of original rap crews like the Furious Five and Funky Four Plus One. They can be just as zany as LONS, too, as each MC brings his own distinctive flavor: the Remedy Man (aka Shanow), loquaciousness carried by a windy, high-pitched whine; Jeranimo and his manic, proto-Ritalin breathlessness, the obvious neurotic id of the group; and The Capital L.S., its raw-throated linchpin. But Rumpletilskinz also projected some of Onyx's menacing, in-your-face smart-mouthing, perfectly exemplified by the larynx-throttling verbal throw-down "Mad M.F.'s," not coincidentally helmed by Onyx producer Chyskills. And with other equally blistering songs like "Attitudes," the buggy "Mushroom Talk," and "Hi Volume," this album deserved much more than its strictly cult reputation.
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AllMusic Review by Stanton Swihart