Cool Nutz
Verbal Porn
(JusFamily Records)

In the world of Portland hiphop, rapper/JusFamily records owner Cool Nutz has his shit together. First of all, Cool Nutz drives around in a giant black van that has a photograph of the members of Cool Nutz. It kind of looks like the McDonald's semis that feature the giant hamburgers, except the hamburgers are people. But none of Cool Nutz' promotion would really matter without the merit of the music. Verbal Porn, the album released two weeks ago, is tighter than a drum, and signifies a major turning point for both Portland and Cool Nutz.

And Cool Nutz knows it. "This album marks the growth of Cool Nutz into a mature recording artist," he says. "People will hear the overall development in the music." He's right. The album feels smoother and more confident than his previous two albums. Especially impressive is the mixing of the CD--the DJ plays just as significant a part in the crafting of the overall sound as do the MCs. The whole album maintains a respect for the simplicity of old-school lyrics, while still updating to contemporary electronic standards with layers and layers of sounds. There are creaky whines and rubber-banded drum snaps to punctuate the vocals, which range from slow moans of melody to sharp sentences that cut through the rest of the sounds and hold everything for just a moment.

Most of the album is two MCs and a DJ, and the stamina and clarity with which they rap carries the entire album through its 22 tracks without so much as a rough moment. Both the content and the sound of the album is pretty light-hearted--lots of the content is composed of girls moaning and/or having ridiculous conversations about "relieving tensions," in some campy references to '70s porn.

This combination of true talent and shit-togetherness is exactly what Portland hiphop needs right now. "There are only a couple of groups in Portland that are even recognized in the world of hiphop outside of the city," says Cool Nutz. "It only takes one group to get the right shot and really put the city in the overall national hiphop scene. Other cities have their mainstays, and we need to have ours. I am planning on taking the city to the top."