From day one, Red has understood something that Hunter S. Thompson once knew: he would always be a far more interesting character than anyone he was writing about. So when you listen to a Redman album, you don’t expect the character sketches of Ghostface, the faux-West Coast gangster mythologizing of the Game, the bleak prophecies of Pharoahe Monch, you expect to hear punch-line filled songs full of weed slang, shit-talking, and “Supaman Lovas'” served over soulful Erick Sermon produced (or creatively indebted) beats. With the occasional visit from Dr. Gonzo. Or Method Man as they refer to him in Staten Island.

Except Hunter S. Thompson certainly hadn’t ever been to Redman’s mom’s squalid apartment, a dirty dingy dimly lit apartment in Newark, that Red chose to show when asked be on MTV Cribs. In probably the best Cribs ever, Red distilled his essence better than any song could’ve. Something that no amount of Deodorant commercials or failed Fox sitcoms could ever obliterate, as a show filled with images of cartoonishly opulent mansions and cars featured Red stoned in his old room, eyes like bright red tomatoes, sitting cross-legged on the floor, playing his PS2. It’s this image that runs through the entirety of Red Gone Wild, his first record in six years, as Redman presents yet another successful edition of the Redman character that has been in place since he taught a nation of impressionable teenagers “how to roll a blunt in 1992.”

We Were On the Edge of the Sofa, When The Drugs Began To Kick In

Perhaps the most fun hip-hop record released this year, Red Gone Wild sounds remarkably untouched by anything that’s happened in hip-hop since 1998. Fine, it does have a Scott Storch beat which to quote Wayne Campbell is “both sad and lame,” but the song is called “Freestyle Freestyle” and Redman sounds vicious and swaggering over the beat’s hiccuping “Drop It Likes It’s Hot” minimalism.

Besides, there’s little time to waste lamenting the fact that Scott Storch named his yacht Stochavelli, when Method Man and Red are trading verses on “Blow Treez,” 2007’s early year favorite for stoner hip-hop anthem of the year. Over the song’s squealing melodicas and reggae drone, Red and Meth unleash their best collabo since “Da Rockwilder” nearly a decade ago. “Pimp Nuts” overcomes the shortcoming of being named “Pimp Nuts” as Red’s wild but controlled flow overpowers the beat’s spry bouncing funk. Hell, Red even has a West Coast, G-Funk era sounding collabo with Snoop and Nate Dogg, called “Merry Jane.” Which to put it blunt (pun sadly intended), made me feel 14 again for at least two, maybe three bong rips.

Of course, it’s a Redman album made after 2000, so predictably it has several flaws. It features some useless guest spots from the Gilla House Crew (though it does feature a Keith Murray appearance, proving once and for all, that Keith Murray isn’t actually dead) and there are the predictably superfluous skits (which are still better than anyone else’s). But while it never hits the heights of Muddy Waters, its easily Redman’s best solo since. Another colorful chapter of Fear and Loathing in Newark.

Rating: B+

Download:
MP3: Redman ft, Method Man-“Blow Treez”
MP3: Redman ft. Snoop Dogg & Nate Dogg-“Merry Jane”

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