In rap, the ways in which to offend the unassuming listener are plentiful and lurid - sexploitation rhymes, homicidal gangsta hustling, expletive- heavy braggadocio - you name it, from the east coast to the west coast of America, hip hop has revelled in it. Trouble is, some of the worst offenders are the most compelling artists - a fact that comes to mind when delving into Likwidation, the third album of Los Angeles trio Tha Alkaholiks. Make no mistake, they are bit-part players in the rap game, but the skits that run through the album - comedy sketches featuring band members slurring their way through Alcoholics Anonymous meetings - make you chuckle despite your better judgement. It seems to be one of the top commandments of hip hop to collect those "Parental Guidance" stickers as if they were stamps of worth, and The 'Liks follow in this tradition. They come on like delinquent Beastie Boys for the hip hop world, especially as they have picked the pornography obsessive from Wu Tang Clan in the shape of Ol' Dirty Bastard to make a guest appearance on Liquidation track, "Hip Hop Drunkies".
But, of course, Tha Alkaholiks' existence isn't one long boozathon. They are a testament to both the lazy and the healthy in rap. On the slacker side, like the Sean "Puffy" Combs of this world, they churn out tracks based around old-school classics, reincarnating the song and adding a party vibe to the crucial hooks. While this pop-reworking business is a live-crowd pleaser, the whiff of karaoke cheesiness doesn't induce great respect. To get that, Tha Alkaholiks take themselves very seriously in other ways. They book their own gigs, which hopefully means they won't cancel because of some unnecessary hitch - something which afflicts rap gigs announced in London with frustrating frequency. Also, they are picking up on hip-hop fledglings with their label Likwit Records. Meanwhile, one member called J-Ro runs his own radio show, Likwit Sports; E-Swift has produced other artists like Xzibit and Heltah Skeltah, and third member, Tash, is working on a debut album.
As they have seen fit to grace us with their presence in Christmas week, the beer and wine will doubtless flow even more freely than usual. E-Swift and J-Ro even have a special message for their London fans: "When you're hearing some of our joints and you fool around like spraying us with some Ol' English Cider, feel free - we don't hold back. Take your umbrellas, especially the front row, expect to get wet!" Let that serve as a warning to you.
22 December, Subterania, Ladbroke Grove W10 (0171-344 0044)Reuse content