Maybe there was something in his blunt.
Otherwise, what the hell was A-Plus thinking? The Oakland rapper -- a member of the celebrated alternative hip-hop crews Souls of Mischief and Hieroglyphics -- just went and dropped a tribute EP called Pepper Spray. The problem: It's in tribute to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The idea, it seems, is to honor various Chili Peppers hits by sampling them, turning them into hip-hop beats, and then rapping over them. And the last part, at least, goes okay: Whole world knows A-Plus can run his mouth like a hyperactive sprinter. He and his guests (which include Del) drop smooth, forceful rhymes throughout this EP.
Our issue is with the concept. For one, having a street-hugging Oakland hip-hop crew pay homage to one of the most bloated and overexposed jock-rock bands of the last 25 years feels wrong. Sure, R.H.C.P. has some semidecent songs. But any nondeaf people who've come within a continent of F.M. radio in their lifetimes has heard all of them. Does anyone -- much less a bunch of underdog rappers -- really need to throw another twig on the sky-scraping bonfire of Chili Peppers fandom? Can't they leave that to Rolling Stone?
Listening to the EP, it's not clear what A-Plus seeks to accomplish. Yep, we've heard those samples before. Looping a John Frusciante guitar lick over and over doesn't give us any particularly new insights about it. (On the "Give It Away" tribute, it's actually quite annoying.) And it's not like the Chili Peppers' ability to drop a fat groove has gone underappreciated in the band's interminable career. Turning the pectoralis funk of "Can't Stop" into a stuttering boom-bap is hardly a mind-blowing production move.
Then there are the curious rhymes: At best, A-Plus' rapping -- which cribs randomly from the original songs' lyrics -- feels uncomfortably tethered to the hits it salutes. At worst, this project sounds like a mashup between one song you've heard way too many times and another you haven't heard at all.
Unfortunately, this R.H.C.P. tribute is just the first in a series of free tribute EPs A-Plus has planned for this year. Future efforts will celebrate the previously overlooked efforts of Rage Against the Machine, the White Stripes, and Nirvana. Next up, we hear he's planning to remix the love songs of a little-known Irish group called U2.
Hear and download the Pepper Spray EP here.