Part of the ’90s West Coast revival of old-school rap sensibilities, San Fernando Valley’s Alkaholiks take the “party-and-bullshit” theme to its inevitable falling-down-drunk-and-hurling end. Fortunately they’ve managed to avoid becoming a one-joke act with a slick combination of E-Swift’s (Eric Brooks’) razor-sharp beats and Tash (Rico Smith) and (especially) J-Ro’s (James Robinson’s) hilarious rhymes. Clocking in at all of 36 minutes, 21 & Over captures the adrenaline of a rocking house party with Mom and Dad gone for the weekend. When J-Ro burps his way (on-beat) groggily through a verse of “Only When I’m Drunk” that refers to “Iko Iko,” it even sounds like art.
Coast II Coast finds E-Swift’s music as incisive as ever, while Tash and J-Ro try to move past their obvious shtick to consider music in the long term. “WLIX” (an ode to on-air freestyles and breakbeat records), “Flashback” (a tribute to old-school routines) and “2014” (in which J-Ro projects the survival of hip-hop two decades into the future) make their point without coming off preachy. But only the two tracks produced by Diamond D (“Let It Out” and “The Next Level”) recall the first album’s light-hearted spirit. Confronting kids at the corner liquor store, “21 and Under” even reveals some ambivalence about the group’s personae. This party isn’t over yet.