We wouldn’t necessarily categorize Yolanda Be Cool’s “We No Speak Americano” as being a catalyst for the stateside EDM boom, but more of a novelty record that rode it’s incoming tidal wave, some three years ago. This fun, bouncy record was so unique in it’s formula that it took the club world by storm, with such force that it put Yolanda Be Cool in danger of being branded as one-hit wonders. To avoid such a fate, in promotion for their album, Ladies & Mentalmen, the duo held a press conference banning all DJ’s from playing “We No Speak Americano” from that point forward, “because the beats are no longer fresh”.
Having a hit as massive as “We No Speak In Americano” is tough, naturally because the industry expects you to follow up with something equally as big. The struggle is evident on YBC’s album, Ladies & Mentalmen, which plays around with different styles and sounds, but has a hard time finding its groove.
There’s only one place where they really try to replicate “Americano”, and that is on the bouncy, jazzy “Le Bump”. It’s a different song entirely, but clearly an attempt at creating another whimsical hit single, and it fares well thanks to it’s catchy beats and vox from the legendary Crystal Waters. Also notable is “Before Midnight (Mentalmen Mix)”, sure to light up any beach party on some far and away island.
However in an attempt to diversify their portfolio, the album is all over the place. Songs like “Change” (feat. Nola Darling) and “Juicy Fruits” (feat. FML) are driven by girl power raps, but fail to resonate. “Drunk”, with rapper Fastlife, is a straight up club hip-hop track, which shows their versatility, but hardly holds up to the Jay-Z’s and Kanye’s of the genre.
Meanwhile, “Love Keeps” (feat. Barbara Tucker) and “Back To Trinidad” both kind of fall flat, while “A Baru In New York” (feat. Gurrumul) loses us completely. The blusey “Let It Go” closes things out with integrity, but hardly fits within the rest of the record. The “We No Speak Americano” piano solo outro sketch is a nice touch, but speaks very loudly about their plight.
The Yolanda Be Cool sound is present throughout the entirety of Ladies & Mentalmen, yet the different collaborators scattered throughout the record keep it from ever achieving the feel of a true album. Despite the duo’s attempts to shed the stigma created by “We No Speak Americano”, they haven’t done it quite yet. Keep at it, boys.
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