Released: 2006, Suburban Noize Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Wicked Wisdom’s self-titled debut possesses a major curiosity factor, not only for the fact that actress Jada Pinkett-Smith fronts the band but also from the backlash received from their appearance on Ozzfest 2005. An unofficial hate campaign seemed to be launched against the band for whatever reason despite the fact they had yet to even record a CD. Well, its nine months later and Wicked Wisdom has birthed its first child and after venturing in with an open mind, I must admit that much of the scorn was sadly deserved. Had Wicked Wisdom come to fruition in, say, 1999, this CD would have sold but in 2006, the rap metal game is long dead and their music—almost a note-for-note copy of Otep style-wise—sounds like a relic. There are a few notable riffs here and there and the rhythm section of Rio Lawrence and Larry Fisher (ex-Fishbone) sizzles but I can’t get past the feeling that if anyone else were fronting Wicked Wisdom, they wouldn’t have even got the time of day from a record label.
“Yesterday Don’t Mean” and lead-off single “Something Inside of Me” are venomous tastes of moshpit-worthy dustups and are among the band’s best songs but at the same time, they are fraught with tired nu-metal clichés that continue throughout the CD. The down-tuned guitars of Cameron Graves and Pocket Honore chug along but Pinkett-Smith’s vocals are nearly identical to those of Otep Shamaya, complete with whiny, machine gun rap delivery and heavy processing effects to sound lower and “tougher.” “One” commits many of the same crimes and is the epitome of everything that was wrong with nu-metal. Imagine a song that Stuck Mojo or Drowning Pool would have thought was not worthy of recording and you’re close. Pinkett-Smith exhibits a decent clean vocal on “Bleed Over Me,” the best cut here by far (and that’s not saying much), which is a refreshing change from the forced “tough chick” persona she is trying to convey almost everywhere else. The faux aggression of “Cruel Intentions” and “You Can’t Handle” are perfect examples of this style. The latter is positively wretched and one has to wonder if the band drew their inspiration from the nu-metal stylings of the first two Soulfly albums. Lyrically, things are just an abomination. If the band’s target demographic is 14-year old mall kids, they might get off on this nonsense but anyone who has passed voting age will snicker at the repetition and ludicrousness. Once I heard Pinkett-Smith rhyme “mothersuckers” and “motherfuckers” on “Don’t Hate Me,” it was over and there was no coming back from a lyrical atrocity like that.
Thankfully, WICKED WISDOM is only 33 minutes long but that is still about 30 minutes too long. Unlike most, I went into this CD with an open mind but was really let down. I saw the band perform on the Sevendust tour and their live show wasn’t too bad (interested parties can read it in our “Let’s Get Rocked” section) but when the meat and potatoes are exposed without all the pomp, this is pretty weak and completely predictable. Whoever told Jada Pinkett-Smith she could front a metal band and—even worse—that she could sing must be both tone deaf and stuck in a five-year time warp because this wouldn’t have been considered good when the style of music was popular and it fairs much worse now that the majority of those bands have become at best, casualties, and at worst, punchlines. As a vanity project, and let’s be honest, she won’t be trading in the multi-million dollar paycheques for life on the road bunking with a bunch of dudes on a grungy bus, I commend Pinkett-Smith for her efforts but WICKED WISDOM is bad on all accounts.
KILLER KUTS: “Yesterday Don’t Mean,” “Something Inside of Me,” “Bleed Over Me”