I’ve been sitting on reviewing Ron Artest’s rap album for so long, I never thought I’d get the chance. Since he released My World in 2006, he won an NBA title with the Lakers, changed his name to Metta World Peace and generally kept his name out of the news. I was waiting for a possible Lakers/Nuggets playoff match up to roll out the review because it would be timely and would give me a good reason to sit through it once again. But after World Peace threw an elbow into James Harden’s head, I dug it out of the digital vault and gave it another listen.
If you haven’t seen the dustup with Harden’s head, it’s grisly. A smaller man probably wouldn’t have gotten up from the shot. And while it looks absolutely catastrophic, you need to remember, Artest (World Peace) is a complete and utter imbecile. You can tell he pops Harden and had no clue he even did it. He keeps running down the court beating his chest like nothing happened. Harden made the simple mistake of bumping into Artest as he celebrated, but when you interrupted a near retarded adult from having his moment, things like this happen.
So how does his rap album fare? About as well as he will in the press for the next week. If this same album was recorded by Steve, a co-worker of yours, it would have never seen the light of day. But when you’re (in)famous, have a lot of money and credible people in the rap game won’t tell you no (probably because they’re afraid of how deep your freak out will go), this bland hip hop offering gets made.
One of those people is Puff Diddly. You may not think his rampant thievery of most popular songs with a decent hook qualifies him as even being a hip hop artist, but Puff Daddy is/was an influential producer and his appearance on Artest’s album to say a few nice things about him is certainly a high point. Just not in the way it was intended. Like an Iraqi cabinet member praising Saddam Hussein, Puff Diddly trots out a laughable monologue where he uses the “Webster’s dictionary” definition of a “true warrior” as he talks about how much of a man Ron Artest is. “A shining example of what any of us should be,” is how he puts it in a very forced way where you can practically hear him struggling to come up with nice things to say. I mean, he did go Webster’s dictionary on it right? About a year later he’d be arrested on a domestic violence charge, have a dog taken away from him because he didn’t feed it: you know, the usual things a real man does. Puff Daddy is fabulous at re-hashing other people’s music but is apparently a terrible judge of character.
The first track “Haterz” dishes on all the people who don’t understand Artest and his targets include David Stern and Matt Lauer of all people. Stern gets off easy because he’s essentially his boss but he admonishes him by saying “there’s some things you need to learn about the ghetto.” I’m sure Stern passed on that lesson. Matt Lauer doesn’t fare as well because he’s chastised for “looking like a girl” and not asking Artest about family when being interviewed. It was right after the celebrated brawl in Detroit when Artest played for the Pacers and he went into the stands to fight paying customers. I’m sure Lauer was dying to get off that topic to talk about Artest’s wife who he would eventually will kick the ass of.
The rest is a mishmash of tired hip hop styles that are certainly improved by the stellar production Artest could afford, but with titles like “Cash Money” and “Workin the Pole,” you don’t have to get too far into My World before you get the picture. There’s even a very confusing skit where Artest assembles a UN meeting involving North Korea, Afghanistan and Cuba, that makes absolutely no sense. If Artest had any true friends telling them what they really thought, this would have never been included. Hell, the whole album may have been scrapped. There’s also a “skit 2” that is just a white guy on the phone talking to Artest about finishing the record. Just him, no one else. It is diabolically bad and only confirms that the producer of this masterpiece cashed his check and shut his mouth.
I can’t blame Artest for trying. Most people have dreams, but so few of us have the money to pursue them. Artest probably always wanted to be a rapper and his wealth from playing basketball afforded this luxury. But this lump of crap should never have seen the light of day and from what we keep seeing from this “shining example” lets us know that some serious issues remain that go far beyond his behavior on the court. Artest is clearly mentally ill - he famously thanked his psychologist after winning an NBA title. But even though his fellow basketball players have to suffer through his slings and elbows on the hardwood, you shouldn’t have to suffer through his rap album.