West Coast rapper Tone-Lōc (Tony Smith) may be the first guy in the annals of modern music to make a comeback with his first album. Months ago he released “Wild Thing,” a raw rock and rap groove that has become one of the hottest selling singles ever (more than 2 million sold). It’s customary to take advantage of success like that by putting out an album as soon as possible, to strike while the vinyl is hot. So everyone waited for the album. And waited. And began to fear that Tone-Lōc was one of those saddest of pop creatures: the one-hit wonder. The album has finally arrived, though, and it’s terrific.
Sorry we doubted you, pal, but what took so long? Well, if the couplets of this slightly hoarse baritone rapper are autobiographical, it may be he was distracted by tasting of the fruits of delusion. “Cheeba Cheeba” is an unabashed paean to marijuana. “Funky Cold Medina,” which borrows most of its guitar foundation from the old Free hit “All Right Now,” touts the aphrodisiacal properties of chilled wine. Both songs are great, as is “On Fire” which grafts a spidery Curtis Mayfield—like guitar riff onto an in-your-face percussion attack that L.L. Cool J would approve. The most musically imaginative track is “Cutting Rhythms” (the name of Tone’s DJ), which incorporates riffs from sources as diverse as Barry White, Earth Wind & Fire, Paul McCartney and Gary (“Dream Weaver”) Wright. Yo, Tone, take your time with that next album, homey. We promise to be more patient from here on in. (Delicious Vinyl/Island)