rap pretenders and their excretions

You Gotta Believe (Interscope)
Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch
Dos (Interscope)

By Kory Wilcoxson

If rap is truly the CNN of Black America, then I just tuned in to the Disney Channel.

When I was given my assignment this month, my first question was: What have I done to deserve this? I didn't know if my sensitive ears could handle two blasphemers of rap at the same time. But I gave them both the benefit of the doubt: with an album each under their belts, maybe it wouldn't be so bad.

It was worse. I only found one good song on either album. Marky Mark's title song is structured very similarly to "Good Vibrations," with a thumping beat and catchy hook almost begging for radio play. It's instantaneously likable but easily dismissed.

The rest of the songs are brainless drivel about how awesome he is. His brother, Donnie "Donnie D" Wahlberg lends his two cents on a song and produces, which adds absolutely nothing.

I must give credit where it is due, though; Marky Mark does have the sound of a rapper. He has an understanding of the genre's nuances and has developed his own idiosyncrasies that distinguish him from other rappers. It doesn't hurt to hear him, as long as you don't have to listen.

I can't even say that about Gerardo. Nothing on here is intelligent enough to be likable. The lyrics are at about the fifth grade level of maturity, and Gerardo's rapping is highly inconsistent and never flows smoothly.

He even tries to bite into the style of a much more talented and promising act, PM Dawn, on "Love." There's a difference between sampling a sound and completely stealing a song, and Gerardo obviously doesn't know the difference. Songs like that are insults to true rap fans.

It's people like Gerardo, not Public Enemy or Ice Cube, who give rap a bad name. He vandalizes the trail blazed by groups like 3rd Bass or Kid Frost, who proved not all good rap had to come from African-Americans.

Both of these guys will probably get a big hit on the radio or MTV and sell albums like hotcakes, but that doesn't mean you have to like them. As long as America thinks rap is defined by people like Marky Mark and Gerardo, the true talents will always be the outsiders.