Son Doobie

Funk Superhero

Son Doobie (aka Jason Vasquez) was one-third of the Cypress Hill-affiliated hip hop group Funkdoobiest. That act's first two albums, Which Doobie U B? (1993) and Brothas Doobie(1995), both produced by Cypress' DJ Muggs, hit the Billboard Top 200 and generated several underground hit singles dripping with Puerto Rican 'hood flavor and plenty of props to marijuana. But the band fizzled out after a third release in 1998, and Son Doobie spent his post-Funkdoobiest years starring in an adult film, landing a specialty show on L.A. radio station Power 106, and getting shot (in that order). It's not surprising, therefore, that it's taken him a while to pull together his first solo record.

Doobie still rhymes about getting high, getting drunk, and getting laid, and his dedication to representing for Puerto Ricans (and the ghetto in general) remains essentially intact. His enunciation, delivery, and lyrical sharpness have grown far more impressive since his Funkdoobiest days, with two notable exceptions: The first lapse is when, on "U Wit That," he benignly calls out soft targets Nelly and Master P for rhyming "like they gay," and the second is when he kicks off Funk Superherowith the overly predictable party anthem "Wile Out."

Six different producers helmed this album, but it doesn't come off as a careless hodgepodge. These relatively unknown beat-makers valiantly compete for top-dog honors. Metty the Dirt Merchant, for example, provides worthy guitar-looped backing for the testosterone-fueled "Super Hoes II," reprising a song from Brothas Doobie. But the real battle for best production is between Rob the Viking's high-energy bleep- and "whoop"-laden "Reinstated" and Jacken's "Blood," on which he produces the beats (highlighted with DJ-style samples of a classic Gang Starr song) and appears as guest lyricist.

Funk Superhero could meet criticism from Funkdoobiest and Cypress Hill fans, who may say that the mix should have been fortified by a more calculated song arrangement, burying its weakest track in the middle instead of presenting it right at the beginning. But that would be missing the point: The collection features plenty of solid hooks and memorable tunes that justify the long wait for a worthy successor.

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