Dem Chiclet Boyz – Album Review
Let it be known, American audiences are among the most fickle in the world. How many fantastic talents reach phenomenal levels of critical praise the world over, crossing over countless markets and language barriers, only to fail miserably in the States because we’re too busy listening to the sounds of our gaping jowls scarfing through another bag of Sausage McGriddles? Well, I cant give you an exact number because said McGriddles are 2 for $3.00 this month and are required sustenance for me to perform at the top level of our country’s standards. On occasion, the rare talent breaks through to become a truly worldwide sensation, like Eiffel 65 whose music becomes the soundtrack to our lives to such a degree that it’s only fair to refer to their genre as biorhythm & blues. Being fickle enough as it is, it’s only logical that our attitude toward sub-genres is about as substantial as a subleased subpar submarine. One need look no further for forgotten underground wunderkinds* Dem Chiclet Boyz.
Our story beings in 2005 AD. One year before Nas declared Hip Hop is Dead**, the genre was going through an odd transitional year. Lil Jon’s minimalist shift sparked the ‘Snap Hop’ trend, the rise of Young Jeezy ushered in the era of ‘Trap Hop’ and indie rap labels had finally successfully penetrated the mainstream marketplace and media. The planets alligned and a shockwave of similie-heavy subsonic sound was ready to slaughter the solar system. That sound was Boston’s Dem Chiclet Boyz. Part of the second-wave of east-coast underground tough-guy rappers, they gained notoriety for picking up where their punchline heavy forefathers left off and mixing “I grab the mic like a writer grabs a pen” sensibilities with the cocaine-heavy Trap Hop aesthetics of the time, infusing their sound with a “Best of Both Worlds” accessibility that would have been seen as pandering had it not been so honest.
Comprised of Lil Smokey and Young Newport, the two gained an incredible following through, as they put it, “word of mouth like a smile.” Soon links to their self-titled debut flooded rap messageboards across the internet as fans showed their support by going as far as to replace their MySpace profile pictures with the unforgettable cover of their auspicious debut. A one-of-a-kind release, Dem Chiclet Boyz struck many as what would happen if Phil Spector produced a rap album for Captain Beefheart. From the first track “Introfunction” that later reappears as the album’s second and fifth track, the two exchange rhymes such as “I’m like a drug dealer for how I’m selling dope” in between a bevy of clicks and whistles. The guest appearances are few and far between, most notably Juelz Santana on “Crackity Cracker Jacks” and Benzino who inexplicably lends an eight bar introduction to the Benzino dis track “Benzino Sux (We Ain’t Playin’).” The album culminates in the ode to marijuana “Puff that Weed in Bongs,” a reworking of Joe Cocker’s “Up Where We Belong,” which hit #378 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart and got the duo featured on the soundtrack of the Ryan Reynolds mega-hit Just Friends. But like many of their contemporaries, the duo lost their way when they postponed a follow-up album in favor of something they believed was much bigger.
Re-emerging in 2007, the two only slightly resembled the “Chicset” of old. Following Lil Smokey’s conversion to Islam and Young Newport returning to his family’s roots of devout Zoroastrianism, they quickly disowned their previous work promising to never again make “music without a message.” It seemed the success of their debut drove the pair to reading the first half of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War opening them up to an entire world of literature. Like most rappers, they found the greatest path to enlightenment through conspiracy websites. After being thrown out of a New Haven Applebee’s for attempting to turn an autograph signing into a fundraiser for the PM Truth Movement, the followers of the belief that PM Dawn was behind the September 11th attacks, they became abnormally reclusive and spent two months only contacting with the outside world through chatroom freestyles with Canadian rapper and messageboard enthusiast Admiral Crumple and Wu-Tang Affiliate-affiliate Bomshot. The four formed a bond that resulted in the polarizing but promising mixtape Chic$et4Life. While their label The New No Limit/Babygrande/RC Cola/The Even Newer No Limit was readily behind the release, Bomshot’s incarceration lead to a tidal wave of bad press, inhibiting the group from promoting it. Having spent a fortune on guest appearances from Lil Wayne, Paul Wall, Method Man and Van Halen’s David Lee Roth, their inability to recoup the tremendous recording costs (including the unheard of act of clearing all the mixtape’s samples, even ones they didn’t use) caused a rift in the group that they would never recover from. Bomshot later addressed the fall out in-between a flurry of prank calls on UndergroundHipHop.com’s call-in radio show:
Dem Chiclet Boyz’s sophomore album Chiclet Sized Diamonds wound up being shelved indefinitely as the two left Hip-Hop to pursue other interests. Young Newport became an ardent Ron Paul supporter during the 2008 election, directing one of Paul’s most seen commercials. Lil Smokey on the other hand is currently finding success in the world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and had an impressive showing on the most recent UFC Pay-Per-View. While their music has become somewhat of an after-afterthought subject to internet lore and messageboard myth, Dem Chiclet Boyz proved that there is life after Hip-Hop. Even now at the death of an industry, they’re still Chic$et4Life.
We give Dem Chiclet Boyz a Five Out of Five.
You can download both Dem Chiclet Boyz and Chic$et4Life by clicking HERE.
So until next time…let’s agree to agree!
*German for “Wonderkids” and, oddly enough, Bulgarian for “Platypus.”
**Bear in mind this is the same Nas who denies evolution and once released a song named “Oochie Wally.”