Together with "Baby Got Back," Wreckx-N-Effect's "Rump Shaker" helped to blur the line between decency and debauchery that, in the early '90s at least, was allegedly still intact. But unlike Sir Mix-A-Lot, who capitalized on his 1991 monster hit with a seemingly endless cache of goofy double entendres, lurid song ideas, and bombastic productions, W-N-E was unable to reprocess the elements of its single into additional hits. Nothing on Hard or Smooth is as infectious as the single, mainly because Markell Riley and Aqil Davidson repeatedly exaggerate particular parts of that song without applying anything very interesting around the pieces. Davidson is appropriately jocular on "Knock-N-Boots," but the song's gang vocals are identical to those of "Rump Shaker," without its addictive beat. "Wreckx Shop" features effective production, but the lyrics are raunchy without being particularly inventive. Additionally, the album's irritating habit of naming songs after portions of the W-N-E moniker doesn't help matters any, either. Despite these faults, when its songs expand on the sonic and lyrical themes of its single, Hard or Smooth is able to make some progress. "New Jack Swing II" employs an over-used sample, but Davidson and Riley's intertwining flow turns the song into a success. "My Cutie"'s lighter beat and hints of soul give the MCs some much-needed breathing room. But the album's dominating, insistent tempo returns with "Wreckx-N-Effect," and continues through the final three tracks. This gritty, grinding percussion definitely helps Hard or Smooth succeed as a party album. But it's also where it falls short, since the permeating beat and interwoven samples only suggest "Rump Shaker" without really complementing or bettering it.
Hard or Smooth Review
by Johnny Loftus