Writer/producer/multi-personality rapper Deric Angelettie made an unforgettable impression as the hilarious Madd Rapper on the Notorious B.I.G.'s Life After Death. His talk-show-style grandstanding for a record deal spoke for every artist who's found himself frustrated with the industry machine. Angelettie's alter egos -- D-Dot, an articulate player, and the Madd Rapper, a relatively inarticulate everyman -- promise some wonderful opportunities to skewer music-industry hypocrisy and rail against its crapshoot injustice. Unfortunately, now that the Madd Rapper has a record deal, he seems timid to complain about anything of significance; the joke's on him when the best he can come up with is the lack of fruit at his recording sessions and a sound engineer who doesn't speak English.
Still, Tell 'em Why U Madd succeeds in a more fundamental way, in part because the contrast between D-Dot's smooth-talking persona and the Madd Rapper's crude interjections can be laugh-out-loud funny. It's really a party album, with D-Dot (the producer of Biggie's "Hypnotize") working up one infectious jam after another. When the recording does take more serious turns -- such as on the haunting rap reflection "You're All Alone" or the R&B slow jam "Ghetto" -- the grooves are smooth enough for a tight slow dance. The welcome result is an album that's a worthy extension of Angelettie's best work as an MC/producer for Bad Boy Entertainment, but the premise of a loose-lipped critic running around behind the scenes at Columbia turns out to be lots of bark with little bite.