Angie Martinez - Animal House

They say the best way to judge a party is by who's on the guestlist . So if were looking at Angie Martinez's "Animal House" by those standards it's the hottest party on the block. Missy Elliot guests on "What's That Sound", N.O.R.E on "We Can Get It On", Fat Joe on "Live Big Remix" and Kelis On "Take U Home", but the best thing about "Animal House" is the fact that without the star guestlist it still ranks as one of the best hip-hop albums of 2002. Still it's testament to the talent of Martinez that while her second album features the hottest names in hip-hop in 2002, last years debut album "Up Close and Personal" featured guest spots from Mary J Blige, Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, Wyclef and Busta Rhymes amongst others.

In a year where hip-hop has fallen in two restrictive camps - Dre or the Neptunes - it's a refreshing change to get an album which leaps around like a child in a candy store dipping into the different flavours and as a result making an album which revels in it's eclectic widescreen outlook. Yet still when eclectic has become a bi-word in hip-hop for a lack of vision and often a cut and paste affair it's important to emphasise that every track on this record could be blow up a club into a state of euphoria. The single "If I Could Go" with it's latino guitar lick, techno orchestra hits, tight beats and incessant chorus brought together by Martinez's protogee Sacario on guest duties. Flip forward to "Never" which is based around what seems like a Kate Bush sample, onto the laid back "F*cked Up Situation" with Tony Sunshine on vocals, the rock riffs of "Waitin On" with Peter Pablo. The albums closer "So Good" featuring Ms Dynamite collaborator Keon Bryce's lush vocals on the most beautiful latino floor shaker ever heard.

On the named guestspots it feels at times as if Martinez has stepped back from the frontline and allowed the collaborators to take full control at the desks. "Live Big Remix" for example could be the older brother of Fat Joe's "What's Luv", while "What's That Sound" could have been an out-take from the latest Missy Elliot album. It's not so much a criticism, more just the fact that when Martinez has full control and works with relatively unknowns it pushing the boundaries a little further and really adds that unique latino stamp on the proceedings in a way that J-Lo can only dream of. If your bored of hip hop in 2002, and who could blame you when the Neptunes work with the likes of Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears and Dr Dre's most unique idea is to put a Bollywood sample over Truth Hurts "Addictive", then check out the most unique hip hop record of 2002 - Angie Martinez's "Animal House"!!!!

Alex McCann

Post your Angie Martinez reviews / comments on the Message Board