Parody rap has a place in the marketplace (see: Lonely Island). On the surface, The White Mandingos would suggest it is a project in the same vein. Comprised of L.A. indie rap hero Murs, Bad Brains guitarist Daryl Jenifer and ego trip co-founder and writer Sacha Jenkins, the oxymoronic name the trio have chosen as their name suggests a lighthearted, off-the-wall approach. In some ways, it is that, but in other ways, The Ghetto Is Tryna Kill Me is a mash-up between the militant raps of Public Enemy in its heyday and the social commentary of Gil Scott-Heron.
Underpinning White Mandingos are Jenifer’s throbbing punk rock guitar riffs – with the occasional Sublime-esque ska sound – and Murs’ direct, every-man delivery and basic cadence that doesn’t mince the message. (Stream The Ghetto Is Tryna Kill Me ahead of its June 11 release over at HipHopDX.com). Their tongue-in-cheek clowning of “swag” rappers on the title track serves as the alarm, and the rest of the 15 tracks are nearly impossible to snooze. On “Black N White Revised,” Murs airs out detractors so forcefully that hate is all but preempted. The trio switch to the mosh-pit-ready “Warn A Brotha” and the energy continues to build into a grimy b-boy/punk track “King Of New York.” Murs is at his brashest here, rapping “F*ck Guliani, f*ck Bloomberg/the tourists come to see me, not your herbs/I put the shine on the concrete, I’m the only reason there’s cops on the beat.”
The White Mandingos make an honest effort of including a sentimental track about the opposite sex with the bare and poetic “Black Girl Toof”, but it lacks genuine emotion as Murs’ straight-forward delivery doesn’t leave much room for that; and neither does the uptempo, beat-you-over-the-head “I Don’t Understand,” which attempts to psychoanalyze a female only for Murs to conclude “what she wanted was a white mandingo/ big black d**k with a mindset of a gringo.”
The refreshing – and very much, redeeming – quality about The Ghetto Is Tryna Kill Me is the punk rock edge that Daryl Jennifer provides. It works well with Murs’ straight-forward rhymes and it’s unlike anything that has been released this year. The White Mandingos are not hipster rap, but they address hipster and swag rappers and their fans. The album manages to have fun and entertain while carrying serious undertones and covering topics that most rappers simply wouldn’t be able to approach. Suffice it to say, it’s one of the better projects to surface this year.