Crash Thursday: The Lonely Island - Turtleneck & Chain
Genre: Comedy Rap
Origin: Berkeley, CA; based in New York City, NY
Well, their appendages are still in a box and on a boat, at least for a little while longer. That's because the Saturday Night Live viral video gangsters known as The Lonely Island are back with their second LP, the handsomely titled Turtleneck & Chain. Their first standard recording, Incredibad, gave consistent viewers a chance to grab a hold of their music sans the audience laugh track, and even though that album may have had its ups and downs, Turtleneck & Chain doesn't really change the game. That's a good thing, however, considering these guys just want to have loads of fun, and I mean loads of fun.
Like Incredibad, The Lonely Island try to up their rap ante by bringing in many musical guests, with mostly good results. The title track with Snoop Dogg has some pretty nice beats going for it (no doubt influenced by the guest himself), and Snoop Dogg makes the most of his appearance toward the end of the song. Justin Timberlake on "Motherlover" is reminiscent of his work on "Dick in a Box," and Santigold provides some pretty cool choral work on the dubstep-laced "After Party."
Perhaps the most stunning of all is just hearing Michael Bolton feature on "Jack Sparrow." It's an absolute riot listening to him shoot off guns and interrupt much better music, and his appearance clearly eclipses that of Nicki Minaj on "The Creep," whose vocals are mostly snores making their way through lyrics better suited for an artist that would give it more breadth. Even Akon, whose influence is pretty ubiquitous on "I Just Had Sex" from the bright synths to the Auto-Tune, has a much better sense of how to approach a song with such a title. Let's just say the consequences of that track might actually produce better results.
Though those like myself who are familiar with the SNL Digital Shorts, there's the underlying feeling that this troupe is always best when they release their "singles" and accompanying videos. The visuals help to greatly exaggerate their already outrageous raps. Take the Rihanna-featured "Shy Ronnie 2: Ronnie & Clyde" for example, whose lyrical nature really requires a visual target for the empty spaces in between the vocals. Otherwise, you have a rather silly concept that's unsure of where it's going on its own. The quick visual edits of "Threw It On The Ground" are also somewhat lost in the translation, leaving oneself wondering how they can obtain the video on Hulu to rewatch it again and again.
There are some greats and not-so greats, but would you have expected any more from any album by these guys? Those that are familiar with the Digital Shorts probably already know what to expect upon release, and there's no reason to deny their listening to this album in order to find their favorites. Fact of the matter is, The Lonely Island know what they're doing and they're having the time of their lives doing it. Don't expect Turtleneck & Chain to be some kind of accomplishment by any means, but it's hard to resist the sprinkled charm of The Lonely Island and their heightened sense of body part awareness.
The Lonely Island - Jack Sparrow (feat. Michael Bolton)
The Lonely Island - Turtleneck & Chain (feat. Snoop Dogg)
Turtleneck & Chain is available on Universal Republic.