There's a lot of crunk slang and Southern-fried spirit on El Pus' debut, but these rappers rock like Atlanta is the new Los Angeles. With its lyrics about tricked-out bikes, crunk partying, and an OutKast-ish techno-psychedelic-booty-funk stance, Hoodlum Rock, Vol. 1 has true Southern street cred. Put a beatbox and turntable behind these rhymes and you might think Big Boi and Dré are reminiscing about their teen years, but add the power chords and crystal-clean production and you're talking L.A. smart goofiness like Sugar Ray with more of an edge, Fishbone when they really brought the funk, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers with a little less bravado but the same ambition. What keeps El Pus from being an overly thought-out and merely clever combination of these influences are rappers/multi-instrumentalists/founding members Cufi and Cosmo. The duo can mispronounce and twist words like "Marlboro" and "Mozart" to their advantage, their songwriting is genuine and on point, and their cool delivery is charismatic as they come. The band responds perfectly, chugging ahead like a rock & roll train but able to turn on a dime and wring every last drop of funk out of the slow burners. Virgin chose "Suburb Thuggin'" as the kickoff single, and while the kids down at the skate park and anyone who ever pumped a fist in the air are going to be feeling it, the track doesn't represent how unique El Pus can kick it. "Thing Thing" is a classic "do what'cha like" number with both hippie and hardcore baller appeal, "Girl" is a micro-techno meeting of Bootsy Collins and Adam Sandler with a heartache, and "Days of the BKs" is a reflective, cheeba-puffing masterpiece. Bummer that there's only 35 minutes of the quirky and delicious pop-metal-rap with a poet's heart -- and that's including the hidden track -- but at least Hoodlum Rock, Vol. 1 is as fat free in its entirety as Cufi and Cosmo are with their songwriting. A kick-ass, concise debut and one of the most accomplished marriages of rock and rap ever.
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
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