Jungle Brothers, V.I.P. (2000)
Thanks to producer Alex Gifford, a member of the Propellerheads, the Jungle Brothers have been effectively neutered. Their routines, placed over backing tracks that bear an uncanny resemblance to Sublime and Third Eye Blind, sound anachronistic. What would lead the Afrika “Baby Bam” and Mike G to work with Gifford? Perhaps Urban Takeover’s successful remix of their single “Jungle Brother,” one of several Jungle Brothers’ reconstructions to flood the dance market, led them to embrace bland approximations of swing, ska, and other misbegotten pop genres. Or perhaps they hope to become the next Lou Bega. Whatever the case, V.I.P. is a hackneyed attempt at crossover success, whether it be the corny “I Remember” or “The Brothers.” Even “Get Down,” one of the few attempts at house found here, is plodding and awkward. The duo’s rap performances are solid enough, but the Jungle Brothers were never known for exceptional MC’ing. As a charismatic, forward-thinking group, they fathered the epochal Native Tongues clique with De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest. On past albums like Straight Out The Jungle they syncopated African drums with bizarre funk samples into Afrocentric glory. V.I.P. is a pale imitation of those achievements. This was one of the most unpleasantly bizarre pop experiments of the 2000s, and largely intended for the Jungle Brothers’ European fans. Gee Street/V2 Records.