One of the year’s most clever tie-ins, ”Chef Aid: The South Park Album” isn’t a soundtrack so much as it is a comedy album. Complete with applause and stage introductions, it’s presented as the recording of a ”concert” to benefit the Chef (the ever-growly Isaac Hayes), with a rainbow coalition of rap, rock, and alt-rock stars paying tribute to him (and, by implication, the cool-cult status of ”South Park” itself). The sensibility of producer Rick Rubin, who pioneered rap-metal in the ’80s, runs wild throughout. ”Nowhere to Run,” featuring the seemingly ungainly tag team of Crystal Method, Ozzy Osbourne, DMX, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard, is one of the first tracks to make a rap-techno fusion seem logical. Less satisfying are Puff Daddy’s latest attempt to cross over to metal (”Will They Die 4 You”) and, betraying Rubin’s love of classic rock, passable but unexciting contributions by rock vets from Joe Strummer to Elton John.
What constantly redeems the album is the dark humor and musical chops of creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Their parodies, from Hayes’ double-entendre pimp-funk strut ”Chocolate Salty Balls (P.S. I Love You)” to croaky renditions of Bad Company and Styx anthems, are funny, loving mockeries. ”Tonight Is Right for Love,” the Chef’s swoony ode to Meredith Baxter-Birney, finds Meat Loaf pitching in to send up his own overheated delivery. Like a comedy album, ”Chef Aid” isn’t necessarily a disc you’ll return to once you’ve heard the jokes, but its best moments are funnier than anything released in 1998 — except, perhaps, for the Vanilla Ice thrash album.
Chef Aid: The South Park Album