Music News

Mannie Fresh

Skits have been endemic on hip-hop CDs since the days when flattops were a fashion statement, yet they're almost always lame -- which explains why the between-songs material that peppers the debut by Cash Money co-founder Fresh is so surprising. Astonishingly enough, several of the routines stand as highlights of the disc.

Not that Mind is a terrible waste. Fresh's average-guy voice isn't incredibly dynamic, but he's able to convey the fun he's having in songs such as "Conversation," a sassy point-counterpoint with Tateeze. As a bonus, the likes of "How We Ride," with David Banner, sport lighter-than-crunk Southern grooves that keep the party going even when the verbiage gets predictable -- and the skits fulfill the same function. The foul-mouthed "Pussy Power" wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable if it weren't preceded by a snippet in which a peeved-sounding Fresh orders his nasty cohorts to "play somethin' beautiful for the ladies -- somethin' they're gonna understand." Likewise, "Shake That Ass" gets an important boost from its introduction by a bland-voiced announcer, who confesses, "We couldn't afford Keith Sweat, but we've got Sweaty Keith..."

That's keeping things Fresh.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts