Andy Blackman Hurwitz, mastermind of the ever-expanding Baby Loves Music empire, recently released the first CD from his Baby Loves Hip-Hop brand, Baby Loves Hip-Hop Presents The Dino-5. With hip-hop producing legend Prince Paul on board, along with a whole host of well-known names from the hip-hop world telling the story of five hip-hop dinosaurs, the expectations for the project were pretty high.
The end result? Well, it's a mixed bag. To be sure, the music is first-rate. I don't listen to a great deal of hip-hop, but the funky music and beats heard here are right down my alley. "Yea Me Too" has fantastic interplay between MC T-Rex (Chali 2na from Jurassic 5, who is essentially the lead rapper here and does a fine job) and Billy Brontosaurus (Wordsworth), while "Tell Me More" is a funky song with a sinewy melodic line. And "Jump," which features Pos and Dave from De La Soul will, indeed, encourage jumping. The songs, all 9 or 10 here, are lots of fun to listen to.
And if the CD had stopped at that, it would've been an excellent little CD clocking in at just under a half-hour. But interspersed between the songs are a story about how the "Dino-5" came to be. The story itself is OK, your fairly standard "don't judge a book by its cover" story (T-Rex is, shock, a nice guy!). But rather than using poet Ursula Rucker to tell the story in a unique way, creating characters or dramatizing the story in her own words, the recording uses her in the role of a mother reading a story to her child, just setting up the scenes. According to the press materials, the story may be heading for Broadway or a cartoon series; I can see those settings being much better for this source material than the way it's presented here, which is a little boring.
The list of good kids' hip-hop albums is pretty short, and even with the narrative tracks slowing it down, Baby Loves Disco Presents the Dino-5 should make that list, because the music is solid. Here's hoping that it's not the last appearance of the Dino-5 and the next time around, the integration between story and song is a little better.