Deadly Venoms, Pretty Thugs (2000)
Deadly Venoms first burst onto the scene as Venom, a female quartet consisting of four industry veterans – N-Tyce (who once rapped with Method Man on “Hush Hush Tip”), J-Boo, Finesse (formerly of Finesse and Synquis), and Champ. Their 1998 single, “Bomb Threat,” found them chilling in a video with Cappadonna. Since then they’ve weathered a bad label deal and an image jacking by five better known MCs for a Sprite commercial. Pretty Thugs, whether or not Dreamworks manages to give it a proper release, is redemption. The album is a compendium of several 12-inches (minus “Bomb Threat”) they’ve released over the years, promotional records that clutter cut-out bins at record stores. Despite the disrespect from DJs, however, Pretty Thugs has several joints worth checking for. “Don’t Give Up” bobs and weaves with a smooth bounce; “Party Chedda,” though hobbled by a perfunctory chorus, chills with a mellow ease. On “Sunrise,” J-Boo raps, “A juvenile, peer pressure had me going insane/I gave birth to my son to escape the pain.” Storm, for his part, exhibits his Wu-Tang roots, from dusty samples to the echoing, reverberating soul singers on tracks like “Venom Everywhere.” If Pretty Thugs falls short, it’s due to intangibles like awkward choruses that don’t work and beats that don’t leave a memorable impression. Still, it’s a shame that Pretty Thugs seems destined to fall through the cracks. None of the four women are scantily clad, they don’t rap about sucking dick, and their music isn’t club-friendly. Deadly Venoms are simply four MCs working out their art. That’s how it should be, but that isn’t exactly what the people want. Unfortunately, this review’s prediction held true. Dreamworks canceled the release of Pretty Thugs, and the original promo CD has become a collector’s item.