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Total Devastation

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Album Review

For those who can't get enough of Cypress Hill's Black Sunday, Total Devastation offers another stash of marijuana-based rap. Sporting a cartoon cover of the band members toting a "Legalize It!" sign, Total Devastation credits the originator of that phrase by beginning with a snippet of the Peter Tosh classic. Yet despite similar touches throughout the album, it's obvious that the band's appreciation of Jamaican culture centers on ganja rather than reggae. Updating Cheech and Chong for the 90s, tracks like "Hemp Rally" and "Many Clouds of Smoke" contain amusing raps that cover topics ranging from marijuana legislation to then-President Bill Clinton's infamous "I didn't inhale" sound bite. The latter song also sums up the group's philosophy by declaring, "There's only three things in life that I need/Money, safe sex, and a whole lot of weed." Although not really a song in the traditional sense, "Hemp Hemp Hooray (Relegalize Today)" provides the most interesting diversion, as guest speaker Michael M. of H.E.M.P. educates listeners with an historical defense of the controversial plant. While Black Sunday's liner notes contained a similar lesson in a written format, Total Devastation's packaging goes one step further, encouraging grass-roots activism by including the addresses and phone numbers of cannabis-friendly organizations. Total Devastation might have been wise to expand on that angle instead of pursuing the sophomoric humor and gratuitous misogyny which sink to a nadir on the unforgivable "Fat Blunt Caper." Even when the lyrical content is tolerable, unimaginative samples from such overused sources as George Clinton's "Atomic Dog" often result in myopic mediocrity. Total Devastation's best tracks suggest the group is capable of generating more than a weak, fading buzz, but the album as a whole indicates they're probably too stoned to care.


Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Sort of an underachiever version of Cypress Hill, Total Devastation began as a trio 1988 with Rasta Redeye, Soopa Dupa, and DJ Tuf Cut Tim the Fat Beat Maker. The San Francisco group released a self-titled debut in 1993 that fused reggae and hip-hop in a single-minded dedication to the subject of marijuana. An underground hit single, Many Clouds of Smoke, guaranteed that the group would issue a follow-up. Total Devastation was reduced...
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Total Devastation, Total Devastation
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