Album Review: West Coast Bad Boyz – High Fo’ Xmas


Year: 1994

Label: No Limit Records/Solar Music Group

Track Listing:

  1. High Fo’ Xmas
  2. Intro
  3. Lock Up Fo’ Xmas
  4. Talk
  5. Jacking Fo Da Holidays
  6. Chillin’ N Da Game
  7. Ghetto Nite
  8. Christmas In Da Ghetto
  9. Hood Carols
  10. Rev. Do Wrong Xmas Party
  11. No Limit Party

So now I am continuing with my Christmas/holiday special. I held on to my promise to do the compilation of “High Fo’ Xmas” from West Coast Bad Boyz. This is a No Limit album, by the way, and unlike “Christmas On Death Row,” this isn’t a traditional holiday album and I will admit that I bought this album as kind of a counter to the Death Row album. I saw that this wasn’t a family-friendly Christmas album to begin with.

If anything I bought this as a joke on my part. It wouldn’t be the first time that I heard some Christmas rap song that isn’t really appropriate to listen to. “Merry Muthaphuckkin Xmas” from Eazy-E is a rather humorous song that spoofs Christmas songs. Some songs on here are similar to that, and then you also have songs that didn’t need to be on this album to begin with.

I will note that this album came out in the days when No Limit still represented the West Coast, particularly the Bay Area. This was before they became a more south-based label when they had those gaudy Pen & Pixel album covers. Hence why this was a West Coast Bad Boyz compilation.

One thing that really got me about this album was that it had the intro as the second track, when the intro is often the first track of the album.

Anyway, a lot of the tracks on this album varied and mentioned Christmas and the holidays in passing, but there weren’t that many tracks that were about Christmas. For example, the opening track, which was also the title track, talks about getting high around the holidays in one of the verses, but then the rest has little reference to the holidays. Not a bad track. It has a laid-back beat that has the feel of a stoner song. Hence the name.

“Lock Up Fo Xmas” was similar in that it talked about being locked up during Christmastime but then went into the struggles of being locked up. King George, a rapper who I am really unfamiliar with, actually had good verses in this song. So this was actually a decent track. I will say the same thing, or maybe that this song was better, when thinking of “Jacking Fo Da Holidays,” as that song used a lot of beats from different songs ranging from “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” from Bone Thugs to “Funkdafied” from Da Brat. There were a lot of beats used on this song to name, and it was funny to hear P try to rap some of the verses similar to the rappers from each respective song.

One song that drew my attention prior to buying this album was “Christmas in da Ghetto” and it’s kind of a strange track to listen to as there is some transition in beats when listening to the chorus and the verses. One minute you would hear the chorus, which is similar to “Deck The Halls,” and then when you hear the verses from C-Murder and Master P, it has a totally different beat. I will add that when I listened to one verse from C-Murder, it reminded me of a song from RBL Posse, particularly from their album, “A Lesson To Be Learned.”

“Rev. Do Wrong Xmas Party” is another decent track from other No Limit rappers during that time, Big Ed (RIP), Lil Ric, and Dangerous Dame.

Keeping with the Christmas theme that this album has, a couple of interludes had different versions of traditional Christmas carols, like “Ghetto Nite” was a different take on “Silent Night.” While the “Hood Carols” was Master P singing his own rendition of “The 12 Days of Christmas.” It’s actually rather humorous.

Remember when I said that there were tracks that felt like they belonged somewhere else? Well, those two songs are “Chillin’ in Da Game” and “No Limit Party,” which the latter is a remix. They have absolutely nothing to do with Christmas, but they are decent tracks nonetheless. I now wonder where I could find the original version to “No Limit Party.”

The only thing that I have an issue with about this album is that it really didn’t have the feel of a gangsta rap Christmas album. Sure, there were songs that talked about getting high, the drug game or hard time around the holidays, but take that part away and it really wouldn’t have made a difference. It’s still a decent compilation, though. I plan to do other No Limit albums in the future and I know that there are a lot out there.

Top 5 Tracks:

  1. Jacking Fo Da Holidays
  2. Christmas In Da Ghetto
  3. Lock Up Fo Xmas
  4. High Fo’ Xmas
  5. Rev. Do Wrong Xmas Party
Rap Movie Reviews

Rap Movie Review: Hot Boyz


Year of Release: 2000

Film Studio: Artisan Entertainment/PM Entertainment/No Limit Films

So it has come to this. I decided to do a review on not just one of the worst movies that I have seen that starred rappers, but also one of the worst movies that I have seen in general. I made a mention of this movie in my review of Thicker Than Water in that I have seen worse movies than that film. Make no mistake about this, but despite what I wrote about that film, it’s still more watchable than this worthless piece of shit that I am about to write about right now. In the future I plan to do more of the movies that No Limit had put out, like I Got The Hook-Up, I’m Bout It, Foolish, maybe even that short film, MP Da Last Don. In the meantime, I will talk about Hot Boyz, a film that Master P not only wrote but also directed, which starred his brother, Silkk The Shocker, as the lead character.

Why I chose to write about this movie I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I wanted to talk about it before other rap movies that I want to do. However, I remember catching this on UPN when I was a lot younger and watching a good amount of it. I remember enjoying it back then, but this isn’t like Thicker Than Water when I had that as one of my favorite movies during that time. In some ways I get a little nostalgic over that, even though that still has a lot of problems and I fell out of love with that movie. This movie, on the other hand, I have no nostalgia over it except just watching it on network TV one time. I caught it on BET every now and then, and then one day I bought a 4-pack of DVD’s that included this movie, along with Foolish, Phat Beach and Caught Up. Not that the other three were good movies at all, but with this set being sold at $5, I just went ahead and purchased it. Boy, do I regret that now, and even though movies like Caught Up and Phat Beach are shitty themselves, they are more watchable than this and that isn’t saying a lot (I would give Foolish a slight pass for Eddie Griffin’s stand-up scenes). I no longer have that set as I will also note that having sat through Caught Up, I said “fuck this shit” and sold it. However, being that I wanted to write about Hot Boyz, I had to find some way to watch it because there was no way I was going to pay to watch it and I was not about to wait for Netflix to put it back on there, nor was I going to wait for it to come back to Starz or Showtime On Demand. Lucky for me, I found that it was online on Vimeo. The sad part about this was that I told myself that I have to watch it again in order to remember a lot of stuff.

The first thing I will address is that Silkk The Shocker should never be allowed to act ever. I know he also appeared in that movie called Corrupt with Ice-T before this and I heard that movie is way worse than this, but I can’t imagine how bad it could be compared to this abomination. Also, Master P should never be allowed to write a script or direct a film either.

Without further ado, I am now going to talk about the film. By the way, there will be spoilers in this review, that way you won’t have to watch this.

The film starts off with a car chase with police cars rushing the spot of a deal gone wrong and then suddenly a sports car just starts racing off, with the driver, Kool (Silkk), hoping to evade the authorities. The thing that got me about this scene was not just that it went up to five minutes but also the editing. It seemed that there were different angle shots of where the cars were going as you had one shot of it from the right, then from the front, then from the left, you get the idea. It takes a long time for this sequence to end as you have no idea what is going on until it drives right off a dock and right at the freeze-frame, Kool starts narrating about what he got himself into. So we cut to a sequence at a barbecue, with Kool hanging out at a table with his crew that included the likes of Snoop Dogg, C-Murder, Mystikal, and also AJ Johnson, who basically played the crew’s butt monkey that everyone liked to crack jokes on. Kool starts spitting a rap while hanging out because he is an aspiring rapper. He also has a devoted girlfriend named LaShawna, who is heading off to college and has a mother who obviously disapproves of her daughter’s relationship with Kool. It’s a cliche, but it gets even worse  (I’ll get to that). Because this was supposed to be a neighborhood barbecue, we see a couple of characters interact with one another whom we don’t know at first. One is a cop and the other is a gangster who just happened to be in the neighborhood. Why this scene was in there I don’t know. This is only the beginning of some sequences like this. There could have been a proper introduction to the cop. Although the gangster, Saint (Clifton Powell), does play a role in the story later on, and the cop, however, appears a few other times.

So we get some scenes that show Kool and LaShawna’s love for one another, and then all of a sudden we see another sequence with a couple of guys who weren’t seen in the film before talking about a drug deal with an undercover cop. These two guys seem like they are involved in organized crime. One guy is white, the other is black. But like the previous scene with the gangster and the cop, this is another introduction to a character who will play more of a role and it happens not too long after because it’s a crucial point to the plot. You see, after LaShawna leaves Kool’s place to go home, she stumbles upon the drug deal with the UC getting stabbed. So she goes right up to the dying cop to help him, and then we see the white guy from earlier looking on. It turns out he is a dirty cop, so he made a deal with the drug dealer. The dirty cop looks on in the distance and then suddenly cops pull up. They were called in pretty fast, huh? And what does LaShawna do? She decides to run from the cops, all the way home, in fact. The stupid thing about all of this is that the cops who chased her down were quick to arrest her and charge her with murder one, and then she gets imprisoned so quickly. It also did not help that she didn’t follow procedure when the cops initially told her to put her hands to the wall. I don’t know how the justice system works usually, but it certainly doesn’t move that fast for her to get charged within an arrest and get put in jail within an hour. It’s bad that she ran, but the cops did not bother to question her. Also, the dirty cop starts stalking LaShawna.

Did I mention that Kool is also a black belt in Kenpo? Well, there were a couple of sequences with Kool in his class, with his master played by Jeff Speakman, who has a billed role in this despite appearing in only a handful of sequences. I think that these scenes were to show what Kool had going for him and he used his prowess in some fights later on, but these scenes did not need to be in the movie at all.

Anyway, with LaShawna in jail, Kool undoubtedly wants to get her and decides to work with a cop played by Gary Busey. Busey has Kool go work undercover to help take down Saint, the gangster from before, by having him get into the operation. It gets predictable as it goes on. Kool gets in, and does some work and then a bust goes down. One sequence has Kool go into the club where Saint is and has him use a recorder. I get that they were trying to do a sting, but is this a universe where using a wire doesn’t exist? The funny part, and I mean a sequence that got a chuckle out of me, was when Kool showed Busey the audio footage and all you hear is “Hooty Hoo” from TRU, which was played at the club.

Afterwards, during a visit from Kool, LaShawna tells him that she is pregnant. In this scene, I have to give Silkk a bit of credit for trying to act, as he is trying to project emotion into it.

So with the dirty cop now stalking LaShawna, he finds her at the prison and decides to brutally interrogate her because he happened to look in the distance when she helped out the dying cop from earlier. She knew nothing, of course, but that did not stop him from attacking her, both verbally and physically. She was then hospitalized. When Kool went to go see her, she dies in the hospital bed. Now I did not get this at all. I understand that she was pregnant and she said that she had lost the baby, but the dirty cop basically laid a few punches and kicks in her. She was bruised, yes, but he didn’t beat her badly to the point that it would be fatal. Also, it was supposed to be the day when she got out. How convenient. (End sarcasm)

Then came LaShawna’s funeral. Everyone was there paying their respects. What cracked me up was Snoop’s character standing in the distance as opposed to being where everyone else was. When LaShawna’s mother saw Kool, she immediately slapped him in the face and blamed him for her death and called him trash. Gee, where did I see THAT before? Oh, that’s right, Boyz N The Hood, which is MUCH better film than this. I wonder if Master P lifted that part from that movie. Oh, and the dirty cop decides to pull a drive-by on the funeral. Now this REALLY got me. How in the FUCK did he know it was her funeral and what did he have to gain in killing the poor girl’s loved ones? Oh, that’s right, to show that he was bad news. It then escalates into a car chase, with Kool driving a hearse of all things. The car chase had some funny camera work as there were closeups of the cars swerving and crashing into other cars. Once Kool got to the evil cop, he rear-ended a him a few times and because there was a conveniently-placed gas can in the back of the van that the bad cop drove, it lead to a cliche explosion that Kool somehow survived and for some strange reason, the van flipped right onto its wheels in the standard position, despite being badly damaged. Of course, the evil cop wasn’t so lucky.

You would think that is the end of the movie after that, huh? Oh no, not quite, and it got worse, too, as it felt like an entirely different film right after that. You see, in the story, Kool felt that there was no way of getting justice, so he decided to form a gang and rise in the criminal ranks, and they call themselves the Hot Boyz, which explains the name of the film. So let me get this straight. After a bent cop causes harm to someone and decides to shoot up a funeral, the only motivation Kool now has is to become a criminal? It went from being a crime drama to a wannabe gangster movie. What’s bad about is that this happens an hour into the film and in the final 20-30 minutes of it. We get a montage of their rise to power as Kool and his boys start shooting up the competition with so much ease that I wondered how in the hell did a gang of four just gun down hundreds of guys with little effort. Oh, and Kool managed to afford a mansion in the process. How? I don’t know, probably took it over after taking out a crime boss. Another scene had them hang a guy after they interrogated him, which then led to another interrogation scene with a cop, played by C. Thomas Howell, interviewing a thug played the film’s writer and director, Master P. I suppose P felt he needed to have at least one scene in the film where he was told about a guy he knew was hung. I don’t see what the point of that scene was. Number one, the guy who was hung was no one the audience knew as he had no other scenes beforehand. Second, Master P was never seen again after that despite being on the poster/box artwork.

Next we have another cliche in gangster films with a turncoat character wanting to work for the competition as Pee-Wee, AJ Johnson’s character, turns to Saint to help bring down the Hot Boyz. At this point, Saint was forgotten about and the last time he was seen he was busted by the cops. I wonder how much Clifton Powell made for his contribution to this film. He may not be a name actor, but he is a good actor and I respect him for all of his work. He just seemed like he was slumming right here. Anyway, Kool gets suspicious of Pee-Wee’s behavior and then comes a part where he grills him for double-crossing him, which led to Snoop shooting him. Then finally we have the big climax scene with the cops and Saint’s men coming in to kill Kool and his small gang and a big shootout starts. I must say that it’s funny to see the badly done edits for this climactic sequence. I must add that the song in the background just did not go with the sequence, either (More on this in a bit). Finally it leads to that car chase that was seen at the beginning and Kool did fall into the water after driving off the dock. Surprisingly enough, he survived, was arrested, sentenced to 30 years, but only did five because that good cop from the beginning helped him out. He started evaluate how his life turned out and that after all the shit that he went through, he thought that things were about to be different, how he wanted a life with LaShawna and their child, blah blah blah. You get the drift.

I forgot to mention this before, but there was a funny sequence with Saint being chased by the cops, he evaded them by zip-lining and falling into water. This, too, also had the multiple camera angles and edits, not to mention that if you look closely, the double for Clifton Powell was wearing glasses whereas Powell wasn’t wearing any when the camera closed in on him.

*Sigh* It will be said. I had planned to do a write-up of this film, and despite the fact that I detest this movie, I bit the bullet and decided to watch it so that I can address each and every fucking problem this movie had. The last time I watched this fully was more than four years ago, so it was not fresh in my mind for me to do it. One of the most ridiculous things that I noticed about this movie was its overabundance of the soundtrack. I get that it was a No Limit film and a lot of songs from No Limit Records were used in the film, ranging from Master P to Silkk to Mystikal, you name it, but it just sounded fucking ridiculous to hear some songs played during an action sequence. When there was a tender moment, you would hear stuff from their R&B acts like Mo B. Dick, O’Dell and Porsha. Hell, I thought that it was too much to hear C-Murder’s “Concrete Jungle” more than once. I don’t mind the music, I even have some albums from the No Limit label myself, but hearing the soundtrack was kind of overkill. Not to mention the drastic change in story in 2/3 of the way. Did Master P feel that the movie was too short for it to end with the car chase at the end? Who knows.

On the plus side, I have to hand it to Snoop Dogg for playing it straight in this film. In comparison to Mystikal and C-Murder, both of whom can’t act worth a shit, Snoop basically was just calm and cool throughout the entire film. I sort of laughed how in the final shootout, right when he was shot, he didn’t agonize in pain. He just looked down and saw the bullet wound in his chest like it was nothing. As far as other rappers from the No Limit label go who were in this movie, Mia X had a small role as a receptionist at the police station. That was mainly it.

After reading all of this, it is not hard to see how bad I felt this movie was. It was not “so bad it’s good,” it was not even “funny bad.” It was just plain bad. I may have criticized Thicker Than Water in my review, but in a lot of ways I would not mind revisiting it despite its problems. That was a bad movie, yes, but I don’t hate it, and it is MILES BETTER than this piece of shit. Even Gary Busey didn’t make this movie somewhat watchable. I don’t recommend it, although there are people out there who liked this movie, and that is fine, too. However, this movie can be a good torture technique when you want to punish someone.

As stated before, I plan to write about the other No Limit films in the future. Thanks for reading.