These vets have enjoyed creative and commercial successes in rap supergroups, but neither N.W.A. rapper MC Ren nor ex-Third Bass man MC Serch shines on his first solo effort.
On his EP’s five songs, MC Ren settles for lyrical territory well mined by N.W.A.: exploits of good girls turned bad, crackheads populating his neighborhood, and hangers-on attracted to his fame (and fancy cars). Ren’s baritone marches with such authority that you may overlook rhymes that sometimes lack intricacy, but the merely serviceable backing music will make you miss N.W.A. producer Dr. Dre’s sonic assault. Bouncy and festive, where Kizz My Black Azz is dark and somber, Return of the Product feels strangely hollow. Nothing’s terribly wrong: Serch’s lyrics twist and turn at a steady flow, his calls for racial justice sound earnest, and the beats are light and crisp. But technical proficiency isn’t enough. Compared with the funk of Derelicts of Dialect, the last Third Bass album, Return lacks passion. It’s too smooth and unfocused to make heads bob or blood boil.