Global Mayhem

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The extra "m" in Mayhemm could be for misery, which loves company, and plenty of record companies loved misery right back. That was the rationale behind West Coast gangsta rap: The darker the narrative, the more compelling the product, the more likely that music fans would tune in to live the gangster life vicariously. At its best, gangsta rap is poetry borne from pain, delivered with a braggadocio that resonates with the invincible youth it's aimed at. At its not-so-best, you get bands like Mayhemm, who try to get by on heart rather than art and instead end up selling the medium short. Global Mayhem has its moments, striding large down dangerous streets for tracks like "Mr. Failure," "Deadliest Brothas," and "Psychos With Clips." But this music works best when the "rep" precedes the rap -- remember, even the earliest outlaws like Jesse James and Billy the Kid owed their national reputations to the media. Mayhemm did at least get some good producers behind them, including MC Eiht, Prodeje, DJ Slip, and Ant Banks. And the disc starts out good, setting the horror-show stage with the eerie "Mayhemm Introduction," similar to the video-game-gone-bad soundtrack that Bushwick Bill favored, which reappears on "Menace 2 the Neighborhood." For all the smart production, however, the raps rarely rise to the occasion. Graphic accounts of gangsta life can hide weak rhymes and good raps can replace the need for shock-value imagery, but if both those cylinders are firing on half strength (as they are here), the result can seem mean and mediocre. "Raw on delivery" is a fine motto if you're selling sushi, but not if you're selling music. Unless you're a hardcore fan of the West Coast scene, you can skip over Global Mayhem as a regional curiosity.

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