Convicts

Convicts

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With lackluster production, simple beats, and the pedestrian rhyming skills of Big Mike and 3-2, the self-titled debut from Houston gangstas the Convicts is hardly revolutionary. However, the duo is fearless when it comes to antisocial subject matter, with a willingness to go above and beyond the limits of taste that makes this record a peculiar achievement. Nearly matching the extreme wordsmithing of hometown pals the Geto Boys (who ended up drafting Big Mike as a member in 1993), the Convicts spew invective at a variety of sacred cows with witless aggression and specious insight. They proudly position themselves as advocates of violence against women in the astounding "Woop Her Ass," a track that takes the rampant misogyny of hardcore rap to startling heights. When the Convicts blast penitentiary life as a dastardly plot of the white man to control African-Americans, their arguments are rendered moot by bloodthirsty boasts of street murder and crack sales; these are not men who have been wrongfully accused. Such half-baked attempts at racial commentary culminate with "Illegal Aliens," a virulent, ugly attack on Mexicans, Iranians, Asians, and even native Africans ("Go back to swinging on vines and wearing strings up your ass"). "1-900-Dial-A-Crook" explicitly details the best ways to steal a Cadillac and prepare cocaine for street sale; it also features a cameo from the Geto Boys, who offer helpful advice on how to assassinate Saddam Hussein (perhaps the political landscape of the Middle East would have changed dramatically if President Bush had been a hip-hop fan). The rest of the album is packed with vulgar bathroom humor and pornographic sex rhymes that are sure to raise guffaws in the right company. Both rappers are deft in their delivery, with a savage charisma and authentic anger that suggests that the opinions expressed are heartfelt. Without the social awareness and political smarts of their more successful peers, however, the Convicts simply wallow in crass shock value and twisted logic.

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