James Bernard
August 30, 1991 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Music for the People

Current Status
In Season
Pop, Hip-Hop/Rap

We gave it a C-

White Boston rapper Marky Mark — whose producer and older brother is New Kid heartthrob Donnie Wahlberg — is torn between two worlds. On the one hand, his debut Music for the People, comes at a time when an embarrassing number of major labels seem to be cynically pursuing the white rap audience opened up by Vanilla Ice. On the other, judging by his material, Mark is intent on the black core of rap enthusiasts. He and his crew shout greetings to the Nation of Islam and the ”brothers back in the Bronx,” and he’s admirably willing to grapple with urban themes: In ”Wildside,” for example, he rails against fast living and gangs. Trouble is, what he delivers is a pale imitation of Vanilla Ice’s simplistic pop-rap. You can sometimes even hear him straining to keep his lyrics in time with the beat. It’s true that big bro Donnie, who was responsible for the music behind the raps, hits the, uh, mark more often: The club-destined ”Good Vibrations” is a toe-tapper, though the title track is distinctively unfunky despite its cascade of drums. This album has a good heart, but nice guys sometimes do finish last. C-

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