Review: Peanut Butter Wolf presents “Chrome Children”

Peanut Butter Wolf presents
Chrome Children
Stones Throw

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

There are many things in this world that you can only understand if you’re, well, really high. The Friday series might be one of them. James Joyce would be another. And, judging from the product reviews on — many of which use descriptive terms like “blunted” — Stones Throw albums seem to make a lot more sense if you’ve smoked a couple joints before you listen to them. The label’s new compilation, Chrome Children, is no exception.

The latest in a spate of albums sponsored by Adult Swim, Chrome Children comprises 19 original tracks, and is (fortunately) void of the quirky, product-placement-oriented cartoons that kept popping up on Danger Doom’s The Mouse and the Mask. Surprisingly, it coheres as an album. All Stones Throw emcees have a dribbly, stream-of-consciousness rhyme style that makes them seem frighteningly smart and intimidatingly cool, so that when they occasionally devolve into sexy-thug caricature (i.e., when Guilty Simpson carps about his paper chase and that pretty chick with the bubble booty on “Clap Your Hands,” and when MED gabs about busting a nut with his whole dick in her throat on “All I Know”) it seems like a joke. Even the phrase “bust a nut” sounds self-consciously ironic and glib. The beats on Chrome Children are, for the most part, as tough, jagged and percussive as the rappers’ vocals. Whenever the sounds come together to form a solid lick or idea, it seems like an accident.

Granted, Stones Throw artists aren’t pretty enough to convert the uninitiated. Although Oh No’s skronky “Oh Zone”; J Dilla’s psychedelic, Grateful Dead-oriented “Nothing Like This”; and Georgia Ann Muldrow’s mawkish “Simply a Joy” (a valiant attempt at neo-soul) manage to shore up a little sentimentality, the rest of the album is geared towards people who gravitate to dark, incomprehensible and atonal music. Or stoners.

— Rachel Swan

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