Steady B – Certified Dope (September 13, 1988)

While there is no question that New York is hip-hop’s birth place and Mecca, Philadelphia was one of the first cities outside of New York to make a name for themselves in hip-hop, which kind of makes sense, considering it’s only about ninety miles southwest of the Big Apple. The first rapper out of Philly to gain national attention was Schoolly D, to which many credit as being the father of gangsta rap. Schoolly’s pioneering works helped open the door for other Philly groups like DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Cool C (remember “Glamorous Life”?) and the subject of today’s post, Steady B.

From 1986 to 1991 Steady B released 5 albums on Jive RCA. He also helped put together the Hilltop Hustlers (the name was taken from a West Philly gang from the seventies), which was Philly’s version of the Native Tongue and included himself, Cool C, Three Times Dope and other hungry Philly artists. I first heard of Steady B in 1989 when he dropped his Going Steady album, and the only song I remember was the lead single, that was actually a cool love rap with a smooth groove. While digging in the crates at a used record store a few months ago, I came across a copy of Steady’s third release, Let The Hustlers Play. Let The Hustlers Play would include production work from Steady B, two-thirds of Da Youngsta’s daddy and Philly hip-hop pioneering producer, LG The Teacher and The Blastmaster KRS-One. Like the rest of his catalog, Let The Hustlers Play didn’t move a ton of units and only experienced mild success.

On January 2, 1996, Steady B and fellow Philly rappers Cool C and Mark Canty (all part of a short-lived group called C.E.B., which was an acronym for Countin’ Endless Bank)attempted a bank robbery in which Steady played the getaway driver. The robbery was botched and things got even more sticky when Cool C shot and killed a female officer who responded to the bank’s silent alarm. All three were apprehended shortly after the robbery, and all three would get some serious sentencing, including the death sentence for Cool C and a life sentence without parole for Steady B.

And on that dim note, lets get into Let The Hustlers Play.

Let The Hustlers Play – LG the Teacher and Chuck Nice hook up a dope backdrop for Steady B to flex on, as he stunts on cops, celebrates his Hilltop Hustlers crew, and simply talks his shit; all in the spirit of letting the hustlers do their thing. I love it when the title track of an album is a banger. Great way to start the show.

Certified Dope – The energy from the previous song falls a bit with this one. Steady sounds sloppy (and he makes sure to mention his HTH crew at least once in every verse) and he, as well as LG’s instrumental, sounds empty.

The Undertaker – KRS-One gets his first production credit of the evening, as he constructs a slightly dark mid-tempo instrumental for our host (I like the piano loop that he sprinkles throughout the song). Years before Puff Daddy would become the producer (I use that term loosely) that was all over his artists’ records, KRS-One was adlibbing his way through the records he produced for Steady B. For some reason, Steady struggles to keep pace with the mid-tempo backdrop and his sloppiness rises to astronomical proportions on this one (i.e. his Mt. Everest line on the final verse).

I Got Cha – It just dawned on me that The Roots affiliate and fellow Philadelphian, Dice Raw sounds a lot like Steady B…but I digress. Steady and the instrumental are both decent on this one.

Turn It Loose – Steady B spits more braggadocious rhymes over a laid back KRS-One produced track. I love the horn break on this one…but why didn’t Mr. Parker bless us with a verse on this jawn?

Ya Know My Rucka – I still don’t know what “Rucka” means, but who cares? This song is butt.

Serious – KRS-One gets his final production credit of the evening, and I can’t say that I’m all that impressed by it. It’s not terrible, its just a super basic drum beat with no added instrumentation to feel in the empty spaces, but maybe I’m expecting too much from a hip-hop album created in 1988. Steady B does what he can to bring it to life, but his limited talent can only do so much. But in his defense, I don’t even think the Blastmaster himself could of brought life to this flat line.

Do What You Wanna Do – Trash.

Who’s Makin’ Ya Dance – Can I get a question mark from the congregation, please? LG and Chuck Nice spice things up a bit with a deep bass line and a mid-tempo backdrop, as our host tries to convince the listeners that his music is the inspiration for their dancing. I don’t know about all that, but the instrumental is kind of cool and Steady’s word play at certain points of the song is pretty nice.

On The Real Tip – Steady B’s in battle mode on this one. Over a funky LG produced instrumental (with a co-credit going to Steady) Steady sounds like an angry dad screaming on his kids for getting in trouble at school. I like it. Next to the title track, this is my second favorite song on the album.

Through Thick-N-Thin – LG (with a co-production credit going to Steady) loops up a portion of  “” and Steady uses it to, correct me if I’m wrong, offer up a couple of hookers for the low-low price of a dollar? Yeah, this song is pretty strange. And I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out what the hell the song title has to do with the song’s content.

Lyrically, Steady B was no Rakim, but he wasn’t terrible. Yes, his cadence and delivery get sloppy at certain points on Let The Hustlers Play, but his confidence makes up for what he lacks in talent. Unfortunately, Steady B’s confidence could not make up for the lackluster production on Let The Hustlers Play. Steady B, KRS-One, LG the Teacher and Chuck Nice all manage to deliver nice production work at different points throughout the album, but most of the album is empty and plain as Jane, sonically.

-Deedub

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The Best and Worst of 1993

Wow! It feels like I haven’t posted in forever. Well, here is the best and worst of 1993. Let me know your thoughts.

I’ll be doing some house cleaning before we dive into 1994, so the next few post will be new additions to the collection that were released prior to ’94. Stay tuned!

Worst Moniker: 2 Clean the 5-year-old bubblegum-kid (he or she appeared on “Comin’ Up” from 2 Low’s Funky Lil Brotha) – This one pretty much speaks for itself. Honorable Mentions: DJ Ralph The Mexican (Funkdoobiest).

Worst Song Title: “Another Wild Nigger From The Bronx” (Fat Joe, Represent) – The song title is super generic and uncreative, and adding the “er” at the end of “Nigger” just makes it that much worse. Honorable mentions: Pink Cookies In A Plastic Bag Getting Crushed By Buildings (LL Cool J, 14 Shots To The Dome) – This title is the most ridiculous metaphor for sex that I’ve ever heard, and it comes in a close runner-up to the winner of this award. “Fuck That Motherfucking Bullshit” (MC Lyte, Ain’t No Other) – Lyte commits profanity overkill. “Boom Shake The Room” (DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Code Red) – I don’t know what’s cornier: the song itself or the song title.

Worst Album Title: Look Ma Duke, No Hands (Mad Kap) – 1993 didn’t really give us terrible album titles so, Mad Kap takes this one home by default.

Worst Album Artwork: In A Word Or Two (Monie Love) – Monie’s orange rain suit mixed with purple balls and the yellow lettering of her name bring back embarrassing memories of Cross Colours (if you don’t know what Cross Colours are, Google it). Crazy corny. Honorable Mentions: Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z (2pac) – I love Pac too, but you’re in denial if you think the hologramish-multi-colored Pac on the album cover looks cool.

Worst Song – Three way tie between “J.Beez Comin’ Thru” , “Wicked Randomness”, and “Man Made Material” (all from the Jungle Brothers’ J.Beez Wit The Remedy – These three songs are the perfect example of when experimentation goes wrong. These songs are truly the Incredible Hulk of 1993, folks. Honorable Mentions: “Bop Gun”(Ice Cube), “Close The Crackhouse”(Professor X).

Worst Album: J. Beez Wit The Remedy – Any album that has three songs in the running for worst song of the year has to take this award home. I’m sure Kristian Keddie won’t agree, but whatever. Honorable Mentions: No Pressure (Erick Sermon), Which Doobie U B?(Funkdoobiest), Dust To Dust(Pete Nice & Daddy Rich) – All three are clinics in monotony.

Best Moniker: I got nothing, bro.

Best Song Title: “Electric Relaxation” (A Tribe Called Quest, Midnight Marauders) – The adjective and the verb sound ill together. Plus, the title describes the vibe of the song, perfectly. Honorable Mentions: “Blue Funk” (Heavy D, Blue Funk), “My Jimmy Weighs A Ton”(Jungle Brothers, J.Beez Wit The Remedy), “Black Hand Side”(Queen Latifah, Black Reign), “Da Mystery Of Chessboxin'”(Wu-Tang Clan, Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)), “Mortal Thought”(KRS-One, Return of the Boom Bap), “The Rebirth of Slick”(Digable Planets, Reachin’).

Sleeper Album: In God We Trust (Brand Nubian) – The once three-man crew, loses their chief emcee, but fret not. Puba’s absence only provokes Lord Jamar and Sadat X to dig deeper, as they show and prove that they’re both formidable emcees. Pound for pound, In God We Trust is better than their heavily praised debut, One For All, and one of the best hip-hop albums of 1993. Honorable Mentions: Black Reign (Queen Latifah), Contemporary Jeep Music (Da King & I).

Best Album Artwork : A Tribe Called Quest, Midnight Marauders – The concept isn’t complex. Matter of fact, it’s quite simple, but how cool it was (and still is) to look behind the sexy virtual tour guide and name the list of Hip-hop Hall of Famers on ATCQ’s third album cover. Honorable Mentions: Leaders Of The New School, T.I.M.E., Freestyle Fellowship, Inner City Griots Because I’m a sucker for cartoon album cover.

Best Album Title: Bacdafucup (Onyx) – It’s equally comical (when you read the four words squashed together as one and then realize what it’s really saying), brash and in your face, and clever. Honorable Mentions: Blue Funk (Heavy D), Midnight Marauders (A Tribe Called Quest), Kill My Landlord (Coup).

Best Song: “Electric Relaxation” (A Tribe Called Quest, Midnight Marauders) – From beginning to end, Tip and Phife sound superb, as they spit pick-up lines over an infectious bass line and sick Ronnie Foster sample. Honorable Mentions: “Down With The King”(Run DMC), “Chief Rocka”(Lords of the Underground, Here Come The Lords), “93 ‘Til Infinity”(Souls of Mischief, 93 ‘Til Infinity), “Shiznit”(Snoop Dogg, Doggstyle), “I Feel Ya”(Scarface, The World Is Yours), “God Lives Through”(A Tribe Called Quest, Midnight Marauders). 

Best Album: (Midnight Marauders (A Tribe Called Quest) – I may be a little bias because it’s A Tribe Called Quest, but you’re dead wrong if you don’t put this in your list of ten greatest hip-hop albums of all time. Honorable Mentions: Doggystyle (Snoop Dogg), Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (Wu-Tang Clan), Enta Da Stage (Black Moon), Reachin’ (A New Refutation Of Time And Space)(Digable Planets)All great albums. They just happen to come out the same year that ATCQ decided to peak and flirt with perfection

-Deedub

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yo-Yo – You Better Ask Somebody (June 22, 1993)

We last checked in with Yo-Yo in 1992 with her sophomore effort Black Pearl. Her debut album Make Way For The Motherlode was a critical success, and even if it didn’t sell a ton of units, it did make some waves on the Billboards. A lot of its success can be credited to her mentor Ice-Cube, who served as the executive producer, producer, majority writer and overall visionary of the project. Cube would also get EP credit for Black Pearl, but he wasn’t as involved in the production and writing, and the album received mixed reviews. I’ve never listened to Make Way For The Motherlode from beginning to end (I recently came across a copy of the album, so I will be reviewing it some time after I finish 1993), so I can’t compare it to Black Pearl, but overall I thought Black Pearl was a decent listen. Regardless, Yo-Yo would return with her third release, You Better Ask Somebody in 1993,

Like both of her prior projects, Ice Cube would serve as the executive producer for You Better Ask Somebody. He would also get his hands dirty on the production side of things, and even though he’s not credited, he would also yield his pen to Yo-Yo’s rhymes. Cube’s influence would help  You Better Ask Somebody receive much better reviews than it’s predecessor. I’ve never listened to You Better Ask Somebody before now, but I’m curious if it’s that much more of an upgrade than Black Pearl.

IBWin’ Wit My Crewin’ – Yo-Yo gets You Better Ask Somebody off to a great start, largely due to a banger of an instrumental, courtesy of QDIII. That’s not a shot at Yo-Yo’s rhymes, because she actually sounds dope spittin’ on the banger, it’s just that QD’s backdrop is that fire. By the way, this is your third album, and your homies with Ice Cube, Yo-Yo. What you mean you don’t have money for munchies?

Can You Handle It? – Yo-Yo uses this one to tell all the critics, haters and jackers that she’s the wrong sister to fuck wit. The Baker Boys (whom I’ve never heard of before today) and Ice Cube get the production credit for an instrumental that has a dusty east coast feel to it. I’m usually a fan of the dusty production sound, but this one doesn’t do it for me.

Westside Story – Yo-Yo uses this mid-tempo groove (Laylaw, Derrick McDowell and Ice Cube get credit for the instrumental) to represent her coast, and she sounds pretty appealing in the process. Batting them eyes and showing a little thigh, with her sexy ass.

Mackstress – She may not be as militant as her first go round, but Yo-Yo still has some consciousness in her bones. She uses this sick backdrop (credited to Ice Cube, DJ Crazy Toones (RIP) and QDIII) to encourage women to stand up for themselves, and with the current climate in America, this song couldn’t be more relevant. It always feels good to bob your head to a song with an uplifting message.

20 Sack – QDIII put in some work for Yo on this album. This time he hooks up a smooth groove for our host to get her sexy gangster on, as she spits “my windows are tinted, I got my seat laid back, my Jeep’s a 4×4 but it rolls like a Cadillac…through the dips and the swerves, my music is heard, you could swear this bitch is Iceberg”. The song title and hook are arbitrary, but the rest of the song is so dope I’m willing to overlook that.

You Better Ask Somebody – QD and Cube (who also contributes his voice to the hook, and his pen and delivery to Yo-Yo’s rhymes) concoct another very eat coast sounding instrumental(that kind of reminds me of the instrumental from Ice Cube’s “Wicked”) for the title track. Yo-Yo compliments it well, as she rides it commendably, and fires a shot back at Roxanne Shante, who took a shot at her first: “I never had a hoe flex, but Shante trick get the Cotex, nappy headed hooker don’t got no ends, been wack ever since “Roxanne’s Revenge”…little dumb black girl, how the hell you gonna come and dis a black pearl?”. Not bad.

They Shit Don’t Stink – Yo-Yo uses this one to call out the women and men that don’t realize their roses really smell like boo-boo. But Yo-Yo doesn’t just point out the speck of dust in her sister’s eye, she also cleans the sleep out of her own, as she proclaims “I fell off now I’m back, cause that Black Pearl shit was wack”. It’s rare that a rapper admits weakness or failure (especially back in the nineties, years before emo rap existed), and even though I don’t feel Black Pearl was wack, it’s refreshing to hear a rapper show vulnerability on the mic. All that said, this song is average at best.

Letter To The Pen – Over a traditional early nineties west coast backdrop, Yo-Yo recites letters she’s written to her incarcerated man (I wonder if this song inspired Nas to write his soon to be classic “One Love”). Martin Lawrence stops by to add a little comic relief during the hook. I like Yo-Yo’s concept, but the execution wasn’t that great.

Givin’ It Up – Yo-Yo invites Idle Joe (which is a hi-larious rap alias, if you ask me) and Lil E to join her over this zany Mr. Woody produced instrumental. Well, they can’t all be winners.

Pass It On – Our host invites her all female crew (Nick Nack, Sukii, Chann, Lady T, Shorty and Dawn) to join her, as each spit a verse about puffin’ trees. None of them sound spectacular, but the Pockets and Ice Cube concocted instrumental is so blissful, Riff Raff would sound decent rapping over it.

Girls Got A Gun – With some help from Cube (according to the liner notes), QDIII lays down another dope instrumental for Yo-Yo, who goes back into militant mode for this one. This was really dope.

The Bonnie and Clyde Theme – The final song of the evening finds Yo-Yo and Ice Cube reuniting on the mic, but unlike “It’s A Man’s World” where they were arguing over who was the more dominant sex, this time their rolling back to back, ride or die. Pockets mid-tempo groove is a guaranteed head nodder, and Yo-Yo and Cube’s chemistry is undeniable.

Yo-Yo has a noticeable chip on her shoulder throughout You Better Ask Somebody, and when you couple that with Cube’s vision, the end results are positive. Yo-Yo sounds sharp on the mic (large part due to Cube’s pen) and most of the production, which ironically has a heavy east coast feel, matches her energy. The few times she’s not at the top of her game, the instrumentals still manage to entertain (bars!). You Better Ask Somebody is not a classic album, but it’s a slightly better listen than Black Pearl, and fares much better than her female contemporary, MC Lyte’s Ain’t No Other, which was released on the same day.

-Deedub

 

 

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MC Lyte – Ain’t No Other (June 22, 1993)

The next two are new additions to my collection, which also happen to be released on the same day. It would have been perfect if I could have got these done last week for International Women’s Day, but a brother was busy. Place this one right before Professor X’s Puss ‘N Boots.

I’ve always appreciated and respected MC Lyte as an emcee. Yes, she had some help writing her material (especially early on in her career), but through the years she’s given us quality rhymes and one of the dopest female rapping voices in hip-hop history. On the flipside, none of her first three albums were consistent. They may have had a handful of decent songs, but none of the albums were good enough to be considered classics, in my humble opinion. Regardless of a classic album or even a commercially successful one, she would return in 1993 to release her fourth, and final album on First Priority/Atlantic, Ain’t No Other.

On her last effort Act Like You Know, Lyte slightly curved the hard edge she established on her first two releases, for a more feminine feel, and incorporated a little r&b vibe, thanks to the production duo of Wolf & Epic, who produced a third of that album. Wolf & Epic’s footprint is nowhere to be found on Ain’t No Other, as Lyte would recruit producers she’s worked with in the past (Audio Two) and some new heads (Backspin, K-Cut & Sir Scratch (from Main Source) and Markell Riley & team), hoping to bring back the raw sound that Lyte fans were accustom to.

Ain’t No Other didn’t do huge numbers, but it did give Lyte her first gold selling single. You’ll have to read the full post to find out which song it was. Or you can just Google it. The choice is yours.

Intro – The first voice you hear on Ain’t No Other is no other, than the Blastmaster KRS-One introducing the listener to the album.

Brooklyn  – Lyte uses the first song of the evening to represent her borough. The Markell Riley/Tyron Fyffe/Franklin Grant (who from here on out I will only refer to as Funk Mama Production) concocted instrumental is solid, but Lyte’s overly aggressive rhyme style sounds forced.

Ruffneck – This was the first single from Ain’t No Other, and the first gold selling single of Lyte’s career. I didn’t like this song back in the day for a few different reasons. First off, the Funk Mama produced instrumental sounds corny, and I’m not buying Lyte’s new-found gangster bitch image. This is pretty much the female answer to Apache’s (RIP) “Gangsta Bitch”, only with a trash instrumental.

What’s My Name Yo – K-Cut & Sir Scratch get credit for the jazzy backdrop (the sample at the end of the song could have been used as its own instrumental for a different song…it’s pretty dope), as Lyte demands that anybody within earshot put respec’ on her name.

Lil Paul – Apparently Lyte was a victim of a “hit it and quit it”, and now that the culprit won’t call her back, her salt and hurt feelings have her dissin’ his skills in the bed and bangin’ out his boy, Lil Paul (who according to Lyte has the wrong adjective before his name). Someone going by Funk provides a very nice instrumental that compliments Lyte’s rhymes, well. This was pretty dope.

Ain’t No Other – For the title track, Backspin samples the hardest organ loop I’ve heard in a while and turns it into a sick instrumental for Lyte to talk her shit over. This one goes extra hard, folks.

Hard Copy – Lyte invites Lin Que (who gets credit for writing the lyrics on this one) and Kink Ez to join her on this one, as each of the ladies does their best Onyx impersonation while reciting the same rhymes on three different verses, hence the song title. Backspin’s instrumental (with a co-production credit going to Master Tee) is kind of dope, but conceptually this was pretty weak.

Fuck That Motherfucking Bullshit – Yes, that is really the song title. Lyte revisits her “I’m Not Having It” with Positive K days, as her guest Big Vaughn (who get the writing credit for this one) gets brutally honest and explicit with his intentions, and Lyte shoots him down with each attempt (wait..did she just tell him to get his friends to suck is own dick? Unless the “friends” she referring to are his lips, that line doesn’t make sense) The back and forth is mildly entertainment, but the hook is embarrassingly bad and Milk’s backdrop is trash.

Intro – KRS-One returns to introduce the listener to side two of the album, which really only applies if you’re listening to Ain’t No Other on vinyl or a cassette player that doesn’t have auto-reverse.

I Go On – This was the second single from Ain’t No Other and probably my favorite song on the album. The Funky Mama Production team hooks up a super mellow instrumental that Lyte blesses beautifully with her dope vocal and solid rhymes.

One Nine Nine Three – Backspin hooks up another dope backdrop that our host rocks over, very well.

Never Heard Nothin’ Like This – Audio Two lays down a decent instrumental and Lyte brags and boasts her way through it. She even manages to mix a little Spanish, pig-Latin and French into her rhymes. I’m not mad at this one.

Can I Get Some Dap – This one reeks of filler material.

Let Me Adem – The first few times I listened to this one it was a yawner, but after a few more listens Backspin’s instrumental starts to grow on you. Lyte’s rhymes aren’t great on this one, but still serviceable.

Steady Fucking – After KRS-One warns all within earshot not to test MC Lyte on the mic(the exact same way he did about himself before Sex And Violence‘s “Like A Throttle”), Audio Two drops the worst instrumental imaginable for a dis record, and guess what our host does with it? She goes at her arch nemesis, Roxanne Shante. Lyte does land some decent blows, but never delivers that knock out punch. Maybe the dryness of the instrumental zapped her motivation.

The following songs are listed as bonus tracks on the CD version of Ain’t No Other:

Who’s House – While feuding with the Fugees, Jeru Da Damaja once said “I heard some emcees wanna bring it but a female is one of their strongest men”. That line can be applied to this song. Lyte bows out of this one and lets her all male crew jump on the mic (including Big Vaughn, for the second time tonight) and they all fail, miserably. I’m still trying to figure out which was worse: the malnourished rhyming or Audio Two’s feeble instrumental.

I Cram To Understand U – Lyte gives one of the singles from her debut album Lyte As A Rock, a remake, as D.J. Doc breathes new life into Audio Two’s empty drumbeat, with a new drum pattern and a well-welcomed Barry White loop. Lyte even re-raps the lyrics and you can hear the maturation of her voice from 1990 to ’93.

Lyte sounds strong on the mic (although at times, a little too strong (i.e. “Brooklyn” and “Ruffneck” )) throughout Ain’t No Other, but like her past projects, the inconsistency on the production side brings down the overall quality of the album. There are some good moments on Ain’t No Other (all of the Backspin produced joints shine), it’s just the mediocre ones outweigh the good ones. Maybe she got it right her fifth go round. Stay tuned.

-Deedub

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Low – Funky Lil Brotha (1993)

The success of Kris Kross’ 1992 debut album Totally Krossed Out, had everybody and their mama looking to sign the next kid rap sensation. Michael Bivens had ABC. The Native Tongues gave us Chi-Ali. And then their was Da’ Youngsta’s and Illegal out of Philly. Rap-A-Lot soon decided it was their turn to take part in the kid thing, and would introduce 2 Low to the world.

The Houston native, Cedric “2 Low” White was thirteen when he signed with Rap-A-Lot Records. He made his debut on Scarface’s The World Is Yours album, where Face pretty much blessed him with his own solo joint “Funky Lil Aggin”. That would lead to 2 Low releasing his debut album Funky Lil Brotha later that same year. Funky Lil Brotha would feature production from the names that shaped the Rap-A-Lot sound: Scarface, N.O. Joe and the production team of John Bido, Tony “Big Chief” Randle & James Smith. I don’t know anyone who actually bought this album when it was released, so I can’t imagine it sold that many copies. I found it in the dollar bins a few years ago and bought it out of curiosity.

A few years later, 2 Low would file a Federal lawsuit against Rap-A-Lot Records for fraud, negligence and breach of fiduciary duty, which basically means they didn’t pay him for show performances and record sales. Needless to say, that would be the end of his relationship with Rap-A-Lot, and pretty much the end of his rap career. Rap-A-Lot did settle out of court with 2 Low, so hopefully he go a nice portion of the 28 million he originally sued for. But I digress.

Low In – Short intro to Funky Lil Brotha. Come on Face, was anybody really waiting for a 2 Low album?

Class Clown – The first song of the evening features some southern fried instrumentation courtesy of N.O. Joe, that 2 Low uses to talk about some of the shenanigans he takes part in, which include: grabbing the teachers ass, stabbing a snitchin’ kid in his booty hole with a pencil and smoking weed in the school gym. Uh, these are not acts of a class clown, more like a thug/future inmate. I’m not buying what 2 Low’s selling on this one, but I did enjoy N.O.’s instrumental, and Devin the Dude’s hook was mildly entertaining.

Growing Up Ain’t Easy – 2 Low uses this one to talk about the trials of being a kid and covers everything from getting in trouble with his moms to his homeboy having to deal with a drug addicted mother. John Bido and company hook up a mean southern style groove, and Devin the Dude stops by for the second song in a row, and sings the catchy hook. I like this one.

Funky Lil Brother – This song originally appeared on Scarface’s The World Is Yours, and was titled Funky Lil Aggin”” (which is “nigga” spelled backwards). N.O. Joe, who was responsible for the production on the original mix, also gets credit for this remix, and I definitely prefer the original over the heavily synth commercial feel of this version. Face and Low pretty much use the same lyrics as the original, with an edit here and there in an attempt to give 2 Low a cleaner image (which is pretty ridiculous considering just two songs ago he was smoking weed in the school gym and now he claims he doesn’t smoke when Face offers him a joint during the final verse of this song). This was corny on The World Is Yours and even cornier on this album. By the way, if the album is titled Funky Lil Brotha, why the hell did you put “Brother” in the song title?

Pain – John Bido and company slide Low a funky smooth backdrop that he uses to talk about what a pain in the ass girls and teachers can be. This was cool.

Here We Go – 2 Low’s rhymes are rushed and slurred and N.O. Joe’s instrumental is pretty plain. I may like my burgers that way but not my instrumentals.

Boo Ya – Bido & Company hook up a decent west coastish instrumental for 2 Low to spit more laughable thug rhymes over. Wait…did he take a shot at Da Youngsta’s on the first verse (“Boo ya, take it like that when I punch ya, more like a grown up and far from a youngsta”)? Hmm…

Throw Ya Hands In The Air -2 Low turns up his energy and volume, which only makes it more difficult to understand what he’s saying on this track. He’s not credited anywhere in the liner notes, but it sounds like B-Real stops by and make a quick cameo during the second verse. But not even B-Real (or his clone?) can make this generic N.O. Joe instrumental sound pleasant.

The Groove With Mr. Scarface (Strictly For The Funk Lovers Pt. 2) – Trash.

Send Ya Fa Mama – More trash.

Everyday Thang – Bido & Company lay down a nice mellow instrumental for Low to discuss the everyday happenings around his way (which hi-larious includes him trying to sneak a peek at a breastfeeding mother’s titty while she feeds in public). This was decent.

Da Hood – The hook might make you think this is part two to the previous song but it’s not. As my dad might say, 2 Low sounds too manish on this one, as he tries to come across like a gangster and ends up sounding completely unbelievable. Someone going by Mr. 3-2, jumps on the final verse and his gangster sounds much more convincing than our host’s. I’m not a big fan of N.O. Joe’s instrumental, but I’ve heard worst.

Comin’ Up – For the final song of the evening, 2 Low decides to invite a few of his young Rap-A-Lot affiliates to join him on this the cipher joint: (appearing in this order) Deshira, 2 Clean, the 5th Ward Juvenilez (Nickelboy, Mr. Slimm, Daddy Lo and a mysterious fourth voice), Red Dog, Endo, Gage, Kilo and 2 Low wraps things up. The song starts off pretty corny with verses from a 13-year-old Deshira (whose rhymes are barely understandable) and the 5-year-old Bubble-gum kid, 2 Clean. The 5th Ward Juvenilez then steer the ship back in the right direction during the second verse, but Endo delivers the strongest verse of the song. Bido & Company hook up a funky backdrop for the crew to get down on, and all in all, this is not that bad of a record.

Low Out – 2 Low uses this outro to give his shoutouts. And with that, Funky Lil Brotha is done.

There are four of five quality instrumentals and one dope verse, courtesy of one of his guest (Endo on “Comin Up”), but the rest of Funky Lil Brotha is pretty useless. 2 Low spends the entire album going back and forth between sweet innocent kid and ruthless gangster, which leaves you questioning who he really is and what the hell his writing team was thinking. Ultimately, the quality of our host’s output on Funky Lil Brotha is too low. Pun intended.

-Deedub

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Jungle Brothers – J. Beez Wit The Remedy (June 15, 1993)

In life, there are some acts that are done strictly out of obligation. If my sister calls me at midnight stuck on the side of the road and I’m making love to wifee, no matter how good and warm that poom poom feels, I gotta get up and help her. If my guy gets thrown in jail for acting a fool and calls me in the middle of the night while I’m in deep rim sleep, no matter how good that cover and pillow feels, I gotta get up and bail him out (assuming the bail is a reasonable amount and I have the cash on hand). Likewise, since the Jungle Brothers are part of my favorite hip-hop collective (Native Tongue), if I find their albums in the dollar bin I have to buy them.

If you read this blog on a regular basis you already know how I feel about the Jungle Brothers and specifically how I feel about their sophomore effort Done By The Forces of Nature. Although they started of with a pretty solid debut (Straight Out The Jungle) they quickly lost their mojo with uninspired production and less than decent rhymes on its follow-up. In fact, I was so unimpressed by Done By The Forces of Nature that I have no desire to review the rest of their output. But, out of obligation, I present to you my J. Beez Wit The Remedy review.

Legend has it that the album was originally titled Crazy Wisdom Masters and featured a hefty amount of “experimental” records, but Warner Bros was so unimpressed by the songs that they rejected them for release. The JBs were forced to go back to the lab and create more conventional hip-hop record, thus J. Beez Wit The Remedy was created (factoid: a few of the records from Crazy Wisdom Masters were kept and used for J. Beez Wit The Remedy). Like their previous two albums the Jungle Brothers would handle pretty much all of the album’s production.

I’ve never heard J. Beez Wit The Remedy before today, but based on their track record and the horrible album cover artwork, I’m not feeling optimistic about this one, folks.

40 Below Trooper – The album opens with a bouncy bass line, simple drum beat and the Jungle Brothers spewing less than spectacular rhymes over it.

Book Of Rhyme Pages – The instrumental is an improvement from the previous song and their bars are actually decent on this one. Not a great song, but it’s serviceable.

My Jimmy Weighs A Ton – Afrika and Mike G use this melodic instrumental to talk about their love affairs and the power of the D, aka jimmy. Their lyrics are cool but the beautiful instrumental is the true star of this song. By the way, I absolutely love the song title.

Good Ole Hype Shit – And all the album’s upward momentum built up on the previous song goes straight to hell with this one. This a complete train wreck, folks.

Blahbludify – WTF was that?

Spark A New Flame – Brothers Jungle are in the mood for love on this one. I love the African tribal feel the drums bring to the song. Unfortunately, everything else about the song reaks of mediocrity.

I’m In Love With Indica – You heard this concept used before: emcees using marijuana as a metaphor for a woman. The Jungle Brothers strand of choice happens to be Indica. Their lyrics are slightly clever but everything else about this song is pretty forgettable.

Simple As That – I’ll keep it simple…trash.

All I Think About Is You – This is the JB’s ode to the important women in their lives. The  sentiment slightly distracts the listener from the luke warmness of the instrumental but it’s still noticeable.

Good Lookin Out – The song opens with a verse from Afrika reminiscing on that time when he went raw dog, got burned and how his dad was their to take him to get it treated and advice him on his future sexual encounters. I thought I’d finally found a song suitable for my Father’s Day hip-hop mix, but then Mike G derails that plan with his feeble verse about his homeboys. The instrumental is all kinds of buttery, though.

JB’s Comin Through – They do come through. Unfortunately it’s with experimental music and rhymes that end of sounding like a bunch of loud noise.

Spittin Wicked Randomness – For some reason they decided to re-use the same garbage instrumental and overly abstract rhyme scheme as the previous song. It still doesn’t work.

For The Headz At Company Z – This is pretty much a weird instrumental that ends with the fellas chanting the song title. Not sure what or who Company Z is. Must be an inside thing.

Man Made Material – And the JB’s wrap up J. Beez Wit The Remedy with more experimental hot garbage

The JBs reach new lows on J. Beez Wit The Remedy. As a whole, the rhymes are weaker and the production ranges from barely bearable to down right horrible (yes, I did enjoy “My Jimmy Weighs A Ton” and “Good Lookin Out”, but for a 14 song album, those are the extreme exceptions). The album is pretty much spilt in half between conventional and experimental song ideas but the results are almost identical. If you can’t rhyme you can’t rhyme, but if you have Tip and Ali, as well as De La Soul in your corner, why not tap them for some dope beats? J. Beez Wit The Remedy proves that sometimes you can judge a book by its cover.

-Deedub

 

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Da Youngsta’s – The Aftermath (April 20, 1993)

Here’s  another one from April of 1993 that I missed. Put this one after Tim Dog’s Do Or Die. 

As legend has it, a young Philly emcee named Emanuel “Mentally Gifted” Parks was in the studio working on some songs for his own project. One of Parks’ songs was called “Somethin 4 The Youngstas”, and even though he was only nineteen at the time, he felt the song needed an even younger vibe than he could bring to it. So, he tapped the song’s producer (Lawrence L.G. Goodman, aka L.G. the Teacher) and asked if he could bring his son in to add a verse to the song. Goodman’s son happened to be thirteen year old Qu’ran “Q-Ball” Goodman and he happily obliged. Parks and Goodman would later add Qu’ran’s fourteen year old brother, Taji, and fifteen year old cousin, Tarik Dawson to the song. Parks was so impressed by the trio’s verses that he gave them the song, and thus, Da Youngsta’s were formed. Pop’s Goodman would use the song as Da Youngstas’ demo and it would eventually get the boys a deal with East West Records, where they would release their debut album Somethin 4 Da Youngsta’s in March of 1992. Thanks to their singles (“Somethin 4 Da Youngsta’s and “Pass The Mic”) and their clean kiddie image, they were able to make a little noise, but would be overshadowed by another kid act named Kriss Kross, who released their debut album just a few weeks after Da Youngsta’s. Da Youngsta’s would return in 1993 with their sophomore effort, The Aftermath.

L.G. the Teacher handled all the production on Somethin 4 Da Youngsta’s, but he would yield and let a handful of hip-hop’s most elite producers (DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Marley Marl, Kay Gee from Naughty By Nature and The Beatnuts) get behind the boards and handle the bulk of the lifting for The Aftermath. The young Philly whippersnappers would also shed their cute kid image and adapt a more hardcore thugged out persona for The Aftermath, which was the trend even back in 1993. The combination would result in Da Youngsta’s most commercially successful album to date.

I’ve had this album for years and I’m just now noticing that on the cover artwork Da Youngsta’s are inside of a human skull. Not sure what that has to do with album’s title, but whatever.

The Aftermath – The album opens with a decent Qur’an produced instrumental that he uses to personally welcome the listener to The Aftermath.

Wild Child – The first actual song of the evening would also be the album’s third single. The Beatnuts get their first of three production credits on The Aftermath, and hook up a nice mid-tempo backdrop with a low-key pulsating bass line that the Da Youngsta’s use to do their best Onyx impersonation over.

Iz U Wit Me – This was the second single from The Aftermath and another example of poor punctuation in hip-hop song titles. Qur’an, Taji and Tarik bring down the volume a bit from the previous song but continue in their new found hardcore flow. Pete Rock provides a solid backdrop for the trio to pretend, I mean, spit bars over.

Handle This – The youngins match the energy of Kay Gee’s laid back but still rugged, instrumental on this one. Treach was a beast with the ghostwriting in the nineties, and it’s pretty obvious when you listen to the young boys that he penned the trio’s rhymes on this one. This was pretty dope.

Crewz Pop – This was the lead single from The Aftermath. Naughty By Nature continues to lend a helping hand, as Kay Gee hooks up monster instrumental and Treach makes a brief cameo, and he most certainly penned Da Youngsta’s rhymes for this one too. This is easily the biggest hit in Da Youngsta’s limited catalog and possibly the strongest.

Lyrical Stick Up Kids – What the hell is a lyrical stick up kid? Anyway, Marley Marl hooks up a decent backing, as the Da Youngsta’s turn the volume back up and sound like some true blue studio gangsters. Speaking of studio gangsters, this would have been the perfect song for their fellow Philly teen rhymers, Illegal, to join in on the cypher.

Who’s The Mic Wrecka – Pete Rock and CL Smooth join Q-Ball, Taj Mahal and Tarik (sorry, I can’t make my pen write or my mouth call Tarik “Reek Geez” when another more superior Philly emcee named Tariq (Black Thought) uses that alias) on this cipher joint. Pete Rock gets credit for the instrumental that’s built around a lazy and overused loop from Johnny Guitar Watson “Superman Lover”. I could do without this song.

Count If Off – Papa Goodman gets his only production credit of the evening and he makes sure it counts (no pun intended). His sons and nephew sound decent rockin’ over his quality understated and rough backdrop.

Honeycomb Hide Out – They may have been young, but not too young to be interested in the ladies, as they spend the course of this song rapping praises to punanny. The Beatnuts get credit for the decent instrumental and Lt. Stitchie adds some reggae chants to the beginning, ending and hook of the song. Not my favorite song, but it’s cool.

Da Hood – The trio put on their conscious hats for this one, as each of them describe the trials that come with living in the hood. Qur’an gets credit for the instrumental and it’s actually pretty decent. It kind of sounds like something Kay Gee might have hooked up.

It’z Natural – Brothers Goodman and cousin Dawson take another break from the screaming, as they mellow out to match the laid back vibe of The Beatnuts’ backdrop. The instrumental doesn’t sound like a traditional Beatnuts production, but it’s still a beauty. I absolutely love the addictive low-key bass line and the sick horn loop on the hook.

Rip A Rhyme – Marley Marl gets his second and final production credit of the evening and it sounds like something the Lords of the Underground might have passed on, and that’s not a bad thing since the track is fairly decent. A more formidable group or emcee may have brought more out of it, but, it is what it is, yo.

Wake Em Up – If you’re going to have a filler song on your album you shouldn’t sequence it as the last song on the album, and that is exactly what Da Youngsta’s do here. I normally love Premo’s production, but this one is very mediocre. I never thought in a million years that I’d be referring to a Premo produced song as filler material, but you have to call a spade a spade. Side note: This is one of only four albums, that I can think of, that include both a Pete Rock and DJ Premier produced song (the other three being Blue Funk, Illmatic and Industry Shakedown).

Shout It Out – Qu’ran gets the credit for this rough instrumental, and all three members give their closing shout outs over it.

Da Youngsta’s tough guy image on The Aftermath is a bit too much at times, but the all-star cast of producers come through and provide an enjoyable soundscape, for the most part. The Aftermath is far from a classic, but you’ll find a few songs on the album you can appreciate.

-Deedub

 

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