Independent (April 26, 2011)
Review by Ahnon Knomis
Hotdoggin is Playdough’s first official solo album in 5 years, although he has been steadily dropping mixtapes to cover the void. This charismatic mic personality is half sarcastic comedian half emcee affluent in his wordplay. A combination that layered with the right sound is an explosive listening experience… or should I say party? With lines like “Me, David Blane and Gandolf had a stand off” it doesn’t take much effort to get the contrary position which many of the mainstream artists take today of ego-stroking. In fact, Playdough doesn’t take himself too seriously and that’s what I like about his persona. In fact, I think he probably likes to leave the critique up to his peers and listening audience who have given his music high marks and credit Playdough with raising the bar on projects he’s been associated with.
Hotdoggin has it’s share of hits and those not withstanding it was actually Playdough’s Bible Bus mixtape that first caught my attention. The style of gritty breakbeat and boom-bap production and southern soulfulness had what I thought was the perfect mix of Playdough’s persona over the right soundscape to let loose. Ironically it was that same combination which makes Hotdoggin an eager listen.
I find myself coming back to this album again and again. From the 70’s disco era cover art showing a hot dog street vendor to the complex and heavily layered yet still transparent production value… Playdough both entertains and enlighten you. Walk away from a listen comes with something uplifting and this is something I’m not shy to play even for my secular friends at a high volume out of your car speakers on a Friday night out. Few can make that transition between Spiritually based music and music that is just quality which transcends boundaries. Playdough is unique in that way along with a select few who can go from rocking a youth group to making a crowd of underground club regulars move to the beat and feel the energy of his music and punch lines. Again, I think it’s Playdough’s willingness to not take everything so seriously that helps but also his anti-formulaic approach that gets him props. Some of his songs sound like anything but a rap record, and others you can’t help but bust out laughing about… In one instance he raps about changing the World just as he’s about to pass on and has one request that’s something to effect of a righteous nature… then switches it up and comes back with a great line about.. “actually I have two requests somebody please smack Nelly in his face!!” HA HA!! It’s stuff like that which you don’t hear coming that makes this album so intriguing to listen to and contrasting to everything else out there.
A few of the key highlights on the album are “Rhymer Reason” with it’s catchy hook, infectious beat and effortless delivery. The humility of the message is in a nutshell a simple “Thank you”. I also thought “No Angel” was a tight track. Reminiscent of something I’ve heard chart topping on the pop charts from Smash Mouth some years ago, Playdough still keeps your attention from start to finish and this one is best played as loud as your speakers and ears will allow. “Say Sumn” is a strong attitude track and a more in-your-face approach where Playdough definitely show’s off his hot doggin’ skills blended with his message of a mic calling. Also dug the old school references in the hook “May-I- kick a lil something for the G’s- and- liven up these sucka emcee’s- and- bolt thee electric shock 1 point 21 jigga watts”… a little throw back lyrics getting remixed there. If you’ve ever heard a Playdough record before and have been around hip-hop for many years then you’ll catch these similar references all through-out his albums. I like that. It shows he hasn’t ignored the classics and pays homage.
Although there’s plenty of solid material on the album I have to say that some of it like any criticism is subjective to the listeners personal tastes. Whereas the tracks above that I mentioned are more my personal likes… some of Playdough’s themes and music choices were a bit out of range of what I might gravitate towards. “The Business” for example was a bit slow on the beat and the chronic chants of “you know what it is… give ya the business” references killed it for me. The term “the business” itself I’ve just never been crazy about so the whole theme of playing off that phrase along with the monotonous beat just shut it down for me.
One of the hottest tracks on the album was “Singleminded Female” that reminded me allot of Braille’s “Slow to Anger” song off the un-officially released Scatter Brain album. On that song Braille talked about how he would go out with his (at that time) wife and guys would constantly try to holler at her. The result would obviously be Braille getting upset and used the track to strike back with a verbal assault. Playdough’s track on the other hand took a more humorous and confident approach. His message in fact could be summed up with the awesome and rememberable hook “everybody wants to take my lady, like they really got a chance in hades / I think you must be crazy, because she already had my ba-bay, ba-bay!” ha ha! Alright Play… that’s a smooth line! There’s actually a ton of hot lines that stick with you long after your listen is through and that to me determines if an album is hot or hits the shelf collecting dust.
My advise? If your looking for something fun to listen to and hot with the punchlines that will make you smile and bop your head…. I highly suggest picking up this Summer banger for your beach drive and repeated listens at high volume! Playdough, Hot dog son… you have a hit on your hands with this one.
For fans of: Deepspace5, Othello, Move Merchants, Ohmega Watts, Braille, Theory Hazit, Sivion, CookBook, LA Symphony, Pigeon John, Scribbling Idiots