Riding high on the success of his platinum selling sophomore effort, How You Like Me Now (which I’ve never heard it in its entirety, but one I’ll definitely track down, eventually), Kool Mohandas Dewese returned in 89′ with his 3rd solo release Knowledge Is King. I won’t cover his back catalog or his ongoing feud with LL. If you want more info on his background you can check out this link: https://timeisillmatic.wordpress.com/2010/11/18/kool-moe-dee-kool-moe-dee-1986/.
Like it’s predecessor, the majority of the production on Knowledge Is King was handled by the Star Trek-shaded one himself, with a little help from Teddy Riley and a few other collaborators. Knowledge Is King did eventually go gold, but the true question is: is it a gold album? Because I always say: quality trumps quantity. But since I only paid three bucks for this out of the used cd bin, even if quanitity wins the battle, I’ve still won the war.
They Want Money – I believe this Teddy Riley produced song was the first single off of Knowledge Is King. Since the two worked together on some of Moe Dee’s earlier work, this didn’t completely feel like a forced collaboration to simply get a beat from an up and coming and soon to be hottest producer in the industry, forged by the record label an attempt to increase record sales: that doesn’t mean it wasn’t. Mohandas dedicates this one to all the ladies chasing his… you’re smart, I’ll let you figure it out. I never cared much for this song in the past, and today I’m sticking to my story.
The Avenue – What starts out sounding like a dedication to the streets, quickly turns into an anti-drug message and Mohandas pleading with brothers to get their money through legitimate means. While the message is a good one, Mohandas’ flow sounds dated and the beat sucks.
I Go To Work – I believe this was the second single off Knowledge Is King (maybe not the second, but I know it was a single…I still remember the video). Mohandas uses rap as a simile for different occupations, and I must say, does and excellent job translating his comparisons. Mohandas borrows a portion of the James Bond theme music for his self-produced track, that gives the instrumental a cinematic touch, that works well. This was pretty good.
All Night Long – This one is dedicated to the ladies. No, this isn’t a cheap sex rap, nor an empty attempt at a love rap. Mohandas actually shows some depth, as the qualities he’s looking for in a lady extend beyond on just her physical anatomy (but don’t get it twisted: physical features are included in his list or requirements, proving intellectuals like t&a, too), which is definitely a rarity to hear in our chosen genre. Moe Dee’s self-produced track samples from King Floyd’s “Groove Me” providing some funk for the evening. I didn’t realize until now, that this was released as a single, even spawning a video (here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8OS7cccbBI), which features Moe Dee donning a tight (in the literal sense of the term) purple leather suite (think Eddie Murphy in Raw) that looks like it getting ready to bust at the seams as Moe Dee attempts to bust a move. The beat was cool but it’s Mohandas’ content that make this song a decent listen.
Knowledge Is King – Over a staple hip-hop sample, with a jazzy horn added for good measure (which I believe was played by Pete Q. Harris, whose given a production credit for this song in the insert), Mohandas drops a few jewels about, knowledge. This song reminds me of why I praised Kool Moe Dee so highly in my write-up of his debut album. It’s always a plus when the album’s title song is a winner.
I’m Hittin’ Hard – Mohandas “talks some shit” in an attempt to validate his emcee superiority. While he sounds decent on the mic, his self-produced instrumental sucks (I’m starting to sound like a broken record).
Get The Picture – Moe Dee takes the listener to church, thanks to LaVaba’s organ drenched instrumental. Mohandas sounds good on the mic (he even takes on the greek gods in his second verse) and the instrumental is decent enough to make this a pretty solid effort.
I’m Blowing Up – Once again, Mohandas sounds decent on the mic but his instrumental is so boring you won’t even pay attention to his rhymes (will somebody pick up the needle, please!). Moe Dee’s shuttle jab at his long-time nemesis LL Cool J, was semi-interesting. But other than that there isn’t much to see here. By the way, don’t bother following the song lyrics printed in the insert, as they tend to go out-of-order and have extra verses added in that don’t actually appear on the songs.
The Don – This is the closest to gangsta rap that Moe Dee will ever get (even adding machine gun samples to his instrumental in an attempt to give it a “gangsta” edge, that falls flat and just ends up sounding generic), but still miles away from actually being gangsta rap. Moe Dee’s not claiming mafia boss, but more of a hip-hop boss. Oh Mohandas, you and your clever metaphors. Mohandas adopts a flow that sounds suspiciously like Rakim’s, and ironically, uses the same sample used on Eric B & Rakim’s “Musical Massacre”. The metaphor doesn’t quite work as this was pretty mundane.
Pump Your Fist – Mohandas reserves the final song of the evening to spit a “conscious” rap covering a load of social issues, all within the short span of three verses. While Mohandas’s content is cool he sounds like he could use a gallon of coffee and a six-pack of red bull, as he doesn’t sound the least bit enthusiastic while delivering his lethargic lines. Oh yeah, his bland track doesn’t help, either. I’m pumpin’ my fist in celebration that this chore of a listen is over.
If you read my write-up on Moe Dee’s solo debut Kool Moe Dee, you will recall that I was very impressed by the man’s lyrical ability. While Moe Dee does showcase some of that same brilliance on Knowledge Is King, the majority of his output never register above the average level, leaving me to believe that somewhere in between the release of Kool Moe Dee and Knowledge Is King, Mohandas ate a herd of cows and completely lost his hunger. Speaking of appetites, Moe Dee, who handles the majority of the production on Knowledge Is King, apparently has a problem with his musical taste buds as well, as the majority of the beats are empty, boring, or down right terrible. Do you think it’s a coincidence that after this album Moe Dee’s career took a downward spiral? I think not.