On Disc: Baby Elephant

Album: Turn My Teeth Up!

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Turn My Teeth Up! by Baby Elephant

Baby Elephant
Turn My Teeth Up!
Godforsaken Music

4 stars

Alternative rap innovator Prince Paul teams up with frequent collaborator Newkirk and Bernie Worrell (of Parliament- Funk and Talking Heads fame) to create Baby Elephant.

In their debut album, Paul and Newkirk alternate music with skits in which they seek out Worrell to discover the secrets of funk. Half of these skits are hilarious original dialogue, but the other half are just sound bytes sampled from Worrell’s DVD. Rather than continuing the story, these clips act like a “We’re Not Worthy” shout-out to Worrell’s illustrious past.

Refusing to keep to just one style, Turn My Teeth Up! is an eclectic mix of hip-hop, reggae, and, of course, funk. While the transitions between genres are sometimes jagged and non-sensical, nearly every track is immensely enjoyable.

Another of the album’s highlights is the presence of so many guest collaborators. Reggie Watts, Yellowman, and Nona Hendryx, who has a beautiful song called “Crack Addicts in Love,” all make great use of their chance to shine.

Even George Clinton gets in on the action, although his tracks are among the few disappointments on this disc. You have to be doing something right if the worst you have to offer is George Clinton.

More than anything, Turn My Teeth Up! has a great tone and refuses to take itself seriously. It’s bound to be a fun album when, after imparting the secrets of funk, Worrell asks the others if they could do him a favour and “clean up the dog’s shit.”

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