I've heard a lot of talk lately about how irony is dead, and if you're a person who truly believes that, then you're going to absolutely positively loath this release with a passion. There's no other way about it, as this is one of those releases that you have to pretty much buy the concept of, otherwise it's simply a piss-take. Hell, I've listened to this release many many times now, and I jump back and forth between thinking it's hilarious and thinking that it's one of the dumbest ideas I've ever heard of.
The premise (ready?) is that Cobra Commander, Destro, and The Baroness (the three characters on the cover from the old G.I. Joe series) have been hanging out and biding their time over the course of the past couple years while perfecting their battle raps and once again getting ready to take over the world. The album is a 20-track, 70-minute(!) journey through their adventures and lifestyles, and it's as corny as you could possibly believe it to be. Released on the Alien8Recordings subset label Cobra Recordings (most likely for copyright reasons), it's as far from subtle as you can get.
With songs like "Cobra Forever," "Eau De Cobra," "Takin' Over The World," and "G.I. Joes Suck," it's easy to tell that this isn't exactly a project that's trying to scatter your braincells with mindbending ideas and raps. In fact, many of the rhymes (simply because of the situations and lyrics presented) feel somewhat stilted, as they're crammed with enough references to G.I. Joe to make a child of 80's Saturday Morning Cartoons a bit wispy with nostalgia. These aren't quite the characters that you grew up with, though, as Destro and The Baroness (Cobra Commander is on the beats and production) rap about killing G.I. Joes, seducting G.I. Joes and then killing them, and basically generally causing as much havoc as possible. Clips from the cartoon series are sprinkled in ocassionally, making it only a matter of time before Hasbro comes knocking.
Hilariously enough, the trio has sort of built themselves into a paradox. Instead of turning the project into something more on the lampooning side, they take their characters seriously, and even have a website where they talk about their exploits. One of the jokes, though, is that they picked some of the most incompetant characters in the series to choose as their personas. While they were the criminal masterminds, the trio weren't exactly known for their world domination skills. Hell, a real crew would at least contain Snake Eyes. I'm all for taking pot shots at artists who are taking themselves too seriously, but many will find it simply too silly to embrace at all.
One thing that the group definitely has going for them is some seriously excellent production by Thomas Jirku (who released the excellent, but completely-different Immaterial on the same label). Things are dark and thick, with plenty of inventive sounds (they call it lazer gun rap) and excellent beat programming. While all the lyrics are over-the-top in their deadpan sillyness, the songs that seem to work the best are ones where The Baroness takes over on vocals, as they take on a smokey, seductive vibe, whether she's singing about her favorite gun or rapping about bashing some heads in. The vocals by Destro are a bit more cornball sounding, but really it's hard to dissect this disc in a serious way. While the trio performing the release act like they're taking themselves seriously, they're obviously having a blast with it (their live shows look particularly entertaining) at the same time. Really, it's no more bizarre than some of the out-there vocals by Kool Keith, and the group will probably find some fans in more adventurous watchers of the Anticon label, as well as comic book geeks and those who don't take themselves too seriously. Me, I'm still alternately chuckling to myself and wondering what in the heck they're thinking.