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Return of The Bumpasaurus

Sir Mix-A-Lot is an absolute genius. How else could he have come up with such a perfect metaphor to use for his newest LP, Return of the Bumpasaurus? The record is dinosaur-like in every way: small-brained, slow-moving, and, not least of all, extinct.

Return of the Bumpasaurus, as much as any of Mix’s recent offerings, reeks of Velveeta pop platinum. The only way I could categorize these tracks as hip-hop would be in the area of bad parody.

The song “Mob Style” should carry a ‘contents under pressure’ warning sticker for all the clichés and stereotypes that have been mercilessly crammed together. Mix uses the Sugarhill Gang’s “Jump on It” to simultaneously kiss asses in at least two dozen states across the U.S. (Yes, he did use this same idea in “Square Dance Rap” almost ten years ago-it’s not just your imagination.) Don’t worry, the lifted Kraftwerk-/Miami-bass-style beat is here just like on every other Mix record. Disses, put-downs, and egomania run amok throughout the entire album.

This wouldn’t be so bad if Mix were 18 or 19 years old and not pushing 35. It would take a city as recycling crazy as Seattle to produce an album that is so blatantly reused. The only points I can give Mix are for letting my man Funk Daddy rumble things up on the track “Top Ten List,” reminding me of skills like the track “Yo Flow” on Funk’s album Tha Source. It’s easy to see why so many artists are clamoring for Funk Daddy’s keyboard and production talents. As for Mix-A-Lot, extinction looms baby. (This review originally appeared in The Rocket and was written by Novocaine132.)

Here’s another take:

In 1996 I was a young writer at The Rocket, and this CD showed up in my mailbox. I was busy at work on a cover story based on Tribal Music Inc. for the November 20th issue. I was definitely a contrarian, and I remember having a friendly argument with Strath in front of the Showbox the following year about the best recent rap album, he picked ATLiens by Outkast, I picked Sex Style by Kool Keith. The pull of the underground ‘backpack rap’ movement appealed to me, and soon I held contempt for anything even remotely mainstream.

So anyway, I decided to screw up my courage and write a harsh negative review for Return Of The Bumpasaurus. I guess you could compare my feelings at the time to a young prison inmate who needs to prove himself, so he goes out on his first day and punches the baddest boss in the yard, hoping to gain respect for being so daring. I totally forgot about my responsibility to The Rocket and its readers, and I blasted out this total attack piece. As it turned out, The Rocket’s editor Charles Cross was not amused, and after reading it he confronted me on the wide stairs inside the entrance to the Belltown office, clearly unhappy that I had attempted to torch the more than ten-year friendly relationship between Mix and the paper.

Now that I am older and hopefully a tiny bit wiser, I would write a very different review of this album. In fact, I could still use the dinosaur metaphor but I would remind readers that, due to his stratospheric, Grammy-winning success, Mix had become the de facto Tyrannosaurus Rex of the Seattle hip-hop scene. He could crush ten rappers just by rolling over in his sleep.

With twenty seven years of daylight between these two write-ups, my biggest observation is that the T-Rex went extinct, but Mix sure didn’t. Boy, was I wrong. Mix reinvented himself many more times, dropping his final studio album Daddy’s Home in 2003 with its lead single, “Big Johnson.” In 2010 Mix released his single “Carz,” dangling the possibility of a new album called Dun 4got About Mix. (Could this be Seattle’s Detox?) In 2014, he collaborated with The Seattle Symphony, which according to the New York Times, “was viewed with envy by some for the way it brought the symphony to a broad audience on the web, and derided by others as a cringe-worthy gimmick.” From 2017 to 2019, Mix-A-Lot was a DJ and personality for the popular Hot 103 hip-hop radio station. And who knows what his future holds… Written by Novocaine132

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Rollin' with Number One

The debut full-length from “teenage lady killer” Kid Sensation dropped in 1990, while Kid was, indeed, still a teenager. He and Sir Mix-A-Lot originally met back when pre-success, mid-80s Mix was a popular recurring DJ at Boys and Girls Club parties and events. Kid was a teen who’d linger after the set and help Mix put away his gear.

The backside of Rollin’ with Number One has all the best songs, like “Two Minutes,” where he shows us how it’s done by spitting verses for two minutes straight with barely a breath. The drums on standout “Legal” pierce your synapses at unexpectedly pleasant times. This one tune was co-produced by Mix-A-Lot—whose shadow looms large over the whole record—but it’s very much Kid Sensation who’s the star here, making all the beats and dominating 10 tracks with a smooth, speedy bullet train cadence.

Side B opener “Flowin’” is a great example of Kid Sensation’s dual threats of production and rapping. “I’m impossible,” he says at one point, adding, “Sucker emcees can’t comprehend because they’re too slow.” Kid then lays down a ground cover of drums, samples, and vocal wordplay, demonstrating his impressive skills, letting you know he’s “cutting you down like grass in a mower.”

The song is yet another NastyMix tune that incorporates elements of “Posse on Broadway.” (That’s 4, for anyone keeping count…) I’d love to know if there’s a larger story here.

Deft samples include movie lasers, a heart-rate monitor, and the infamous “funky drummer.”

The jacket will have you plotting your next beach fire at Golden Gardens. Listen closely to the lyrics and you’ll hear references to Rainier and Seward and other Town locales. This one is on Spotify so you can go bump it right now.

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Back 2 Boom

The b-side cut on Kid Sensation’s solo debut is a song called, “I S.P.I.T.” Kid is rapping about his lyrical abilities and shouting out the whole Mix crew. “The Pacific timezone is on the attack.” The song includes uncredited feature verses from the whole posse: Attitude Adjuster, Maharaji, and Mix-A-Lot himself. There’s also a new voice, Greg B, aka Funk Daddy. The beats here are all about the drop. At one point, Kid raps “I merge with Mix to make a masterpiece,” and that’s a pretty great description of this whole EP.

Someone recently described the Mix-A-Lot and Kid Sensation relationship like Batman and Robin: It’s apt: Mix was 26 and Kid was only 18 when this single dropped.

Mix’s mentoring hand (and production) is evident throughout the title track, “Back 2 Boom,” which makes the song all the more curious. It starts by liberally sampling and referencing “Posse on Broadway,” Kid is driving down Rainier… The tune play like many of Mix’s early rapid-fire, Electro hits, hyping up the crowd even higher. It’s so referential to Mix’s other work and apes his style, you start to wonder, is this a parody track?

Two minutes in, everything shifts. Kid drops the beat to half speed like it’s some early chopped-n-screwed experiment, and the song lingers here for the duration. This is the “boom” … Kid changes up the verses, he and the posse are trashing stop signs, tearing shit apart, blowing up Broadway.

And then the verses are spoken backward. And then you remember how Kid Sensation is a talented beatboxer, and you realize the beats have been his voice all along. Everything eventually drifts away like a car crash in slow motion.

So arrives the debut of Mix-A-Lot protégé Kid Sensation. BOOM!

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