Artist: The Lonely Island
Album: The Wack Album
Genre: Joke Rap
Label: Universal Republic Records
The Lonely Island have never been a group that shies away from challenges, like convincing Michael Bolton to dress up as Captain Jack Sparrow or making a hit song about jizzing in one’s pants. But with The Wack Album, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, and Andy Samberg set out on their most difficult quest yet: staying sharp and hilarious on their third joke-rap album in just four years.
The Wack Album has all the trappings of the Lonely Island’s funniest work: aggressive club beats, goofy interludes, and guest spots from celebs ranging from JT to Billie Joe Armstrong to Kendrick Lamar. Some of the album’s best tracks – like “YOLO” and “Semi-Colon” – are perfectly located at the intersection between vulgarity and social commentary. And “I Run New York,” a rap from NYC’s “mayor” addressing what a pain it is to actually run the city from a bureaucratic standpoint, has some of the funniest wordplay that the Lonely Island have ever written. (“I double-literally run New York, I run the marathon/plus I organize it so I double-run the marathon.”)
But while The Wack Album is full of clever little gems, they’re less frequent and not nearly as bright as the tracks that made Incredibad and Turtleneck and Chain so much fun to listen to. Some of the songs seem kind of funny in concept, but hardly merit more than one listen. “Spell it Out,” which finds Andy Samberg spelling, letter-by-letter, “Dude that has sex with pigs for money but only as a side thing right now, I’m short on cash and have irons in the fire but in this economy it’ll have to do. My name is Lenny,” is one such track. “I’m a Hustler” and “Meet the Crew” are so lyrically bland that both derive their humor entirely from the use of weird voices (which actually does make the songs seem funnier), while other tracks on the record just seem tired. T-Pain reunites with the gang for “I Fucked My Aunt,” a song that pales in comparison to his previous Lonely Island collaboration “I’m On A Boat.” “3-Way” – featuring Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake – is as hilarious as when it debuted on SNL more than two years ago, but it still debuted more than two years ago, and “We Are A Crowd” is definitely retreading the path that The Lonely Island blazed with 2008’s “We Like Sportz.”
Of course, any 20-track album is going to have its clunkers. The Wack Album isn’t a bad record, it’s just going to warrant more frequent track-skipping than the thoroughly funny full-lengths that came before it. Hey, at least their music videos are still great.
Review written by: Em Cassel – follow her on Twitter