Rouge à Lèvres Maquille-toi !

[Deephop; 2005]

Styles: French hip-hop, house, stealing your girlfriend
Others: Alliance Ethnik, AIR, MF DOOM, Vanilla Ice (?!) circa 1990

It's a hip hop group named "lipstick" with songs about breakups and doing it in a frying pan at McDonald's. And it's all in French. Apparently these guys breathed the fumes from the afterburners of P. Funk's phallic spacecraft and decided to exhume some Thriller zombie beats before they got sober. The giggly outros, helium-inflected vocals, and barnyard scat sometimes leave me feeling like I'm on the outside of an inside joke that probably isn't worth knowing. But when this trio gets serious about their silliness, their Camembert camp is catchy, clever, and danceable. The huffed glue that holds it together is GREMS' buoyant flow, which speeds and flexes over the beat like an inflatable life raft with an outboard motor. He saves the disc from drowning in its own cheez by zipping across hooky house beats, sassy hand claps, and funk guitar while swerving around the drunken karaoke his crew contributes in the choruses. Sadly, the curiously endearing balance in the first half of the record tilts toward dithering beats and improv (sans Grems' gusto) by the finish. The flaccid "Ouai Ouai" and "Bisou d'adieu" have all the lift and bounce of a deflated balloon. One that says "Happy New Year — 1993!"

Martha's opinion: Focus on the quality rhyming and playful production of the first numbers and you'll find this frisky fondue of hip hop, wank, and house an arresting delight. Good for a surprising little kick in those holiday mixtapes. You cheap bastards.

1. Kommuniké 2 Presss ?!!!
2. Carte à puce
3. Reste beatum
4. C'est Grems & le 4 romain
5. Broken de narvalo
6. Coqueliko
7. Maquille-toi
8. Merdeuse
9. Ouai ouai
10. bisou d'adieu