Dem Franchize Boyz cut a strong, snappy album

The anthems on ‘On Top of Our Game’ will get you crunked

by Keri Carlson

Dem Franchize Boyz use very little to make a big sound.

A hollowed bass and finger snaps are the backbone of all their songs. They occasionally throw in a couple of catchy synthesizer loops and some horns. But basically, DFB keeps the music as sparse and minimal as possible.

The hit single off “On Top of Our Game,” titled “Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It,” at times has only a simple snapped beat with a low-in-the-mix whistle. The members whisper a la the Ying Yang Twins (but DFB is much less misogynistic and offensive).

So how does DFB still sound so dynamic?

The group uses the jump-up-and-down, moshlike rally anthems of crunk. The four members do not emphasize individual raps so much as chant loudly to the chorus.

This makes songs like “Lean Wit It,” “I Think They Like Me” (the new remix version) and “Ridin’ Rims” explosive. The beat and chorus are so intensified, like mixing a Redbull with vodka, that it’s hard to resist the hyper-fueled, straight-ahead crunk.

DFB’s rival group, D4L, might claim to be the originator of “Snap,” (they had a hit with the song “Laffy Taffy”), but DFB shows on this record that “Snap” music can be more than simply a goofy club track. (Is “Laffy Taffy” this decade’s “Disco Duck?” Perhaps.)

“On Top of Our Game” doesn’t strive to be heard outside a club or party setting, but DFB doesn’t have to rely on a shtick; it just makes catchy, danceable songs. They’re serious about partying.

But just as too much Redbull can cause an overworked heart, “On Top of Our Game” becomes too relentless. The songs have no tease or anticipation. The hooks come too easily. And by using essentially the same formula for each song, DFB seems more like it’s contributing to a fad or novelty instead of creating a new style.