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 411mania » Music » Columns

Under the Scalpel 2.12.09: Crooked X, Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy & Nas
Posted by Mark Ingoldsby on 02.12.2009

"Under the Scalpel: Dissecting Pop Culture One Song at a Time" is a weekly column written by Mark Ingoldsby, songwriter and guitarist for the hard rock band A Simple Complex. For three free tracks that will rock your panties off, check out www.asimplecomplex.com

Crooked X – Adrenaline
Youth Gone Wild

Crooked X has performed with Kiss, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, Black Stone Cherry, and Theory of a Deadman. The band's debut album landed at #6 on Billboard's Top Heatseakers this week. They've been featured on MTV and the CBS Early Morning show.

Oh, and each member will celebrate their fifteenth birthday later this year.

Now I don't know about you, but when I was 14, I was still struggling with Twisted Sister's elementary, three-chord rocker, "We're Not Gonna Take It," and its not-so-blistering six-note guitar solo. These high school freshmen recently played for 35,000 in Stockholm opening for Kiss.

It helps that the family of Crooked X guitarist, Jesse Cooper, is friendly with a concert promoter who knows Spencer Proffer, a man who has a joint business venture with Doc McGhee. McGhee is the man largely responsible for launching the careers of Motley Crue and Bon Jovi in the early 1980s. However, despite this connection, the band was obviously still able to prove to experienced ears that they truly are good enough to play with the big boys. And now they are.

Had somebody told me that the band's single "Adrenaline" was released in 1991, I would've fallen hook, line and sinker. After a simple, but solid, intro, lead vocalist, Forrest French lets out a couple screams that one would expect from a 25-year-old chain smoker on the Whiskey-a-Go-Go stage circa 1990. And French not only sounds the part, he looks like a young Sammy Hagar with an added James Hetfield glare and Kip Winger grin.

The song's music feels a bit like Shotgun Messiah's "Heartbreak Blvd" or Metallica's "Fuel." It's a straight-forward, guitar-driven power rock anthem that's catchy right out of the gate. It doesn't break any new ground with its two chord verses and simplistic chorus structure that scream, "Yeah, I've heard this before!" However, it still packs a hefty punch, offering a good balance between slow and chunky metal riffing and head bobbing upbeat rocking. During the chorus, Cooper adds some simple fills opposite French's vocals to give the track a little flair.

French's voice is a dead-on emulation of Sebastian Bach's lower register, as heard in Skid Row songs like "Piece of Me" and "Monkey Business." Although the lyrics are fairly generic, they work well enough as a rousing soundtrack for anybody who likes to go balls-to-the-wall in extreme sports.

"Gonna take this bad bull by the horns,
Even if I wind up tossed and torn,
I'm gonna do it to it all the way...
If it's the end of me, notify my next of kin,
Fifteen hundred pounds of adrenaline."

If a group of hair band has-beens dropped a song like this, I'd give it a the three star stamp of "Meh, it's all right." But, I'm willing to give these guys an extra star for being badass kids who are rocking full speed ahead before even being old enough to apply for a driver's permit. I'm impressed.

So, I say to hell with playing classical music for your kids while they're in the womb. Try some Motley Crue instead. And when he turns 13, hand him a guitar and say, "Knock 'em dead, kid!"

Until then, be sure to read more about my early years as an undedicated, teenaged guitar slacker in my upcoming autobiography, tentatively titled Memoirs of a Stupid Kid: Why I Should Have Been Playing More Guitar and Less Dungeons and Dragons.

For fans of: Metallica (1991-1998), Ozzy, Shotgun Messiah, Quiet Riot, Skid Row, Whitesnake.
Rating **** (4 out of 5)

Lil Wayne – Prom Queen
Bad Song Is Wayne's Best

When I noticed that my favorite punching bag, Lil Wayne, had a new song on Billboard's Hot 100, I told myself I would stand down and not review it. But like a kid hearing that the neighbor's house is on fire over his father's police scanner, I couldn't help but rush to check it out. When I was done listening, I had to admit – this is Wayne's best song yet.

Of course, that's akin to saying "this is the best tasting pile of dog crap I've ever eaten." Just because it's the best of its kind, that doesn't make it good. It's just the least bad.

The recording is terrible – the song sounds like it was made in someone's living room using Garageband – and the music is awful.

Unsurprisingly, the song's structure is elementary and the guitar work is dull. I heard better rock songs performed at a high school ‘battle of the bands' last year. As usual, Wayne has his voice autotuned to the point that it's as goofy-sounding as Biz Markie when he taps his throat while singing. Plus, he sounds like a constipated Prince with his ridiculous forced groans and moans.

The song does, however, have two redeeming qualities that are noteworthy.

Wayne is not only making sense for the first time ever, abandoning his typical nonsense of "I'm a venereal disease like a menstrual bleed" and "I be the shit, now you got loose bowels," but he finally has something to say that's worth listening to. He relates a seemingly genuine story about love, loss, remorse and comeuppance. Amazingly, there's even a hint of emotion stuffed in there.

Wayne tells a story of the girl in his classroom that turns him down to go hang out with the "cooler" guys, the ones that care more about her sexy underwear than being able to remember her name.

"She had it all figured out,
But she left me with a broken heart,
Fucked around and turned me down,
‘Cause she didn't think I could play the part,
But now the prom queen,
The prom queen is crying,
Sittin' outside of my door."

To say that opinions about Wayne's attempt at rock are mixed would be a gross understatement. I've seen everything on ‘teh interwebs' from "I think it's awesome of Wayne to show how versatile he is" to "This is an utter failure," and everything in between like, "This is the type of song that you will end up liking in a few weeks" and "I love Wayne, and I love his stuff. But I'm not feeling this style." There is also a fair amount of "I don't know what to think about this."

However, the best comments I've seen yet are as follows:

The truth says: "white people gonna love this"
White people says: "no, we won't."

Although this song is not very good, I'm astonished that Wayne has, in fact, made something that I can tolerate. There's no need to run out and buy this track, but if you end up being subjected to it, you won't need to ram number 2 pencils in your ears like when "A Milli" starts playing.

And that's a refreshing thought.

For Fans Of: Jay Z, Kanye West.
Rating: ** (2 out of 5)

Young Jeezy & Nas – My President
Song Celebrating Obama's Victory An Embarrassment

In November 2008, America voted in its first black President. Many people from around the world expressed their sentiments with profound, moving statements directed towards Barack Obama and his campaign staff to celebrate this momentous event.

"Your election marks a new chapter in the remarkable history of the United States." – Yousaf Raza Gilani, Pakistani Prime Minister

"Barack Obama, to me, is a herald of the Messiah. ... A black man with a white mother could turn out to be one who can lift America from her fall." – Farrakhan, National Representative of the Nation of Islam

"In this case, hope has won over prejudice." – Celso Amorim, Brazilian Foreign Minister

"This'll be the realest shit you ever quote... My president is black, my [Lamborghini's] blue, and I'll be Goddamned if my rims ain't too... I motivate thugs, right? You motivate us, homie. That's what it is. This is a hands-off policy. Y'all touch him, we ridin', nigga. Yeah, first black president." – Young Jeezy

Wait, what?

"History. Black history. No President ever did shit for me. Had to hit the streets, had to flip some keys so a nigga won't go broke. Then they put us in jail, now a nigga can't go vote. So I spend dough on these ho's. It's strippin'. She ain't a politician; honey's a pole-itician." – Nas

Oh… kay?

"My President is black. I'm important too though. My Lambo's blue. I was the first nigga to ride through my hood in a Lamborghini." – Young Jeezy


What these two need a huge helping of Bill Cosby's pound cake. Granted, Jeezy and Nas aren't saying that they want to cut Obama's nuts out or anything, like a certain someone did last year. But, still. I mean, come on. WTF?

I feel the way Chris Rock does when he says, "I love rap music, but I'm tired of defending it. … In the old days, it was easy to defend rap music... on an intellectual level... why Grandmaster Flash was art, why Run DMC was art... I love all the rappers today but it's hard to defend this shit."

I can't imagine trying to defend this song.

"My President" spent one week on Billboard's Hot 100 last November at #53. Last week, it resurfaced at #92. This week, it sits at #54.

Lord help us all.

For Fans Of: (utter stupidity)
Rating: (0 out of 5)


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