Those taken with Chris Rock's recent HBO special will likely be disappointed by "Bigger & Blacker" (DreamWorks). For one thing, his new album features only a few of the extended monologues from the program, except that these were recorded during comedy club run-throughs. Among them is "Crazy White Kids," a post-Littleton massacre rumination on guns, parental authority and escalating suburban high school violence ("I want to go to a black school, where it's safe!" Rock insists). There's also "Race" and "Women," neither as focused as its finished version.
There are razor-sharp take-outs on the "Black Mall" and black supermarkets, as well as the impact of AIDS in "Insurance," but too much of Rock's album is given over to underdeveloped and derivative material. This includes Ol' Dirty Bastard's "Words of Wisdom"--a confused man's variation on "Saturday Night Live's" "Deep Thoughts"--and the "Monica Interview," featuring Rock asking setup questions for replies taken from raunchy recordings by Eazy E. and Lil' Kim. Didn't Dickie Goodman do this 40 years ago?
There's more musical parody. "Snowflake" features the wonderfully horrible rapper-"singer" Biz Markie flipping the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar" into a putdown of white women. And "No Sex" is the inevitable spin on Baz Luhrmann's quirky hit "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunglasses)," with such imparted wisdom as "Don't go to parties with metal detectors. Sure, you'll feel safe inside, but what about all the [people] outside--they'll know you ain't got one!"
The best thing about "Bigger & Blacker" may be its cover, which pays homage to No Limit's gaudy neon artwork and lettering. If only Rock could be as good, the way he was on HBO.
CAPTION: The comedian's new album misses the mark set by his recent HBO special.