71 North 

Watch Us Roll (Critical Music/Warlock)

You wouldn't know it from such single-minded cuts as "Clap That Booty," "Junk in the Trunk," and the regional club smash "Boodie Bounce," but the 29-year-old founder of 71 North actually knows about bouncing more than backsides. In fact, Mucci (a.k.a. Mark Wynn) has bounced back from a three-and-a-half-year tour as a U.S. Marine, a phase in the raunchy Southern bass group Head and the Triple X Boys, and a period cooking Big Macs in downtown Cleveland. It was at the McDonald's gig that he thought up "Cleveland Shuffle" as a follow-up to "Boodie Bounce," his crew's first hit. And it was only after "Cleveland Shuffle" happened to catch the ears of a Warlock Records exec that Wynn put together this full-length for national release.

Little else on Watch Us Roll, however, bounces as high as those two cuts -- and how could it? "Boodie Bounce" sets an aggressively brittle Detroit techno beat under a mushmouthed "country" rap that delivers a single repetitive line as annoyingly catchy as any schoolyard taunt. "Cleveland Shuffle" is equally rudimentary, laying a "Do the Hustle"-style chant over a wholesale sample of "Billie Jean," a surefire combination so artless that the writing credits go solely to "M. Jackson." Of course, there's nothing particularly "Cleveland" about this shuffle, nor about this CD. Despite the local focus, these techno-rap tracks suggest that Cleveland is at best a stylistic crossroads, not a point of creative origin. And no one on the crew has the necessary smoothness of a Nelly -- or roughness of a Mystikal -- to go national, either. Of course, that won't stop local women from following every brazenly lurid suggestion these boys can come up with. Cleveland rolls, too, you know.

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