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Hawthorne’s Most Wanted
Artist: RedCloud
Label: Syntax records
Time: 15 tracks/59:29
 
You might have some reservations about Chicano/Native American Hip-hop (much like I had ‘reservations’ about putting such a blatant pun in the opening sentence), but RedCloud’s newest effort, Hawthorne’s Most Wanted, will definitely work its way into your inner turntable, given the chance. As with most albums in this genre, you won’t hear soaring melodies, complex chord changes, and instrumental jams:  no shoe-gazing here, folks – this isn’t Creed. RedCloud, working closely with his tour-mate Pigeon John, orchestrates a CD of hip-hop tunes full of bouncy rhythms, samples, scratching, spoken interludes, and, of course, plenty of rapping by the unique RC himself, as well as guest-rappers such as the afore-mentioned Pigeon John, Jayo-Felony, Eek-A-Mouse & Tonex, Lord Zen & Dannu (of Visionaries), Karupt (of Tha Dogg Pound), and Def Shepard: enough guest rappers to burn out your spell-checker. 
 
Although RedCloud’s messages are serious, he approaches them with a healthy dose of humor most of the time. Indeed, the tone of Hawthorne’ Most Wanted is often comical, despite the fact that it deals with autobiographical issues that were less-than ideal for this street-wise performer. Perhaps the humor is necessary to offset the personal pain, looking back on a time that involved abandonment and gang-life: RedCloud has found a better message than the bitterness that pervades some of the darker aspects of hip-hop and rap - he’s about spreading the message of Jesus as the answer to the hatred and destruction of his violent early years growing up in Hawthorne, California - the neighborhood referred to in the album’s title. The more serious tracks, like the historical-rap, “Little Big Horn,” which recounts the famous battle of the same name, are reserved not for himself, but for his people, who suffered (and still do) with oppression in both spiritual and social realms, and who, RedCloud knows, need the answers that he’s found.
 
This project will grow on you – even if you don’t want it to – after a few listens. This is not to say that there aren’t some problems with Hawthorne’s Most Wanted. For one thing, I would be happy with less guests and more RedCloud.  It’s hard not to like the unusual, impish, but somehow hypnotic sound of RedCloud’s rapping – the timbre of his voice is somehow sinister, comical and trustworthy all at the same time. Another issue for me was the almost intrusive over-use of what sounds like scratching (manually rotating a disc back and forth, rhythmically, on the turntable – didn’t we get enough of that from ‘the beat-box guy’ on American Idol? It got tired fast there, too) that shows up all too often on the disc, and not always used very well. It seemed like the new toy in the studio… Another aspect of the album that got old fast was the mock-radio show segments (why do I feel like Pigeon John was mostly behind this idea?) that were neither very funny nor original. The running gag seemed to be: “OK – here’s a white DJ who’s got no soul, and his audience is made up of blacks and Chicanos!” …too many times, and too long. Oh – and there’s a ‘hidden’ bonus track that might’ve been better off left that way.
 
On balance, there’s a lot of good, bouncy street-level music on this disc. “Guns and Roses” gets your head bopping up and down, with just the right combination of styles and textures mixed into the beats, eventually getting into a pretty hilarious ‘Jamaican’ chant. “Boulevard Knights,” is an autobiographical piece that’s one of the more revealing and interestingly-structured songs here. The title song will have you bouncing to the beat and pulling for RedCloud as he details his trek through the mean streets of L.A.  “Songs They Sing (Sang?)” will have you laughing and dancing as RedCloud manages to incorporate lyrics from “Rock Around the Clock” into a song that also includes some speed-rap, fifties schlock-jazz vocals and what I can only describe as RedCloud half singing/half chanting like some bizarre Rabbi from a nineteen-thirties Fleischer cartoon. Please trust me – that’s entertainment! 
 
I’ve grown to really enjoy this CD and I think you will, too. You can skip through the ‘radio’ spots if you want to (then again – you might enjoy them more than I do), but there’s some very good hip-hop and some just-plain-entertaining sounds on Hawthorne’s Most Wanted. This RedCloud has a silver lining.
 

By Bert Saraco 
www.myspace.com/expressimage
expressimagephoto.tripod.com 
 
  (If you dig the mock-radio thing, add half a tock)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
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