Teddy Riley and his New Jack swing were in full effect in 1989, and by the early nineties this sound dominated R&B, and it eventually begin to penetrate hip-hop’s walls as well. Even legends like Big Daddy Kane worked with Riley, incorporating this swing into their songs (see “I Get The Job Done” from It’s a Big Daddy Thing). Of course, hip-hop artists who chose to use this new trend in their music were heavily criticized, with some being labeled sellouts, while others (like Kane) were able to avoid that label but their street cred still took a hit for the endeavour. Eventually more and more producers begin to
bite borrow Riley’s sound, including the subject of today’s review.
David “Redhead Kingpin” Guppy hit the scene in 1989 with his hit single “Do The Right Thing” (which ironically was released the same year as Spike Lee’s movie of the same title, but had no association with the movie; but even more ironic, Kingpin’s song was featured on the soundtrack for Wes Craven’s movie The People Under The Stairs…but I digress), a song that completely embraced the New Jack Swing sound. On the strength of “Do The Right Thing”, Redhead Kingpin and his crew, the F.B.I. released their debut album, Shade of Red in 1990, produced by himself and Markell Riley (from Wreckx-n-Effect), Teddy’s little brother. Like it’s lead single, A Shade of Red was also heavily influenced by the new jack swing sound, and was successful enough for Virgin to warrant a second (and final) album that Red & crew would call The Album With No Name. The album title actually sounds clever, but you know that saying about book covers? The same can be applied for album titles.
I’m really not looking forward to listening to this. Why did I buy this album again? Oh yeah, because it was only a dollar.
All About Red – Our red-headed host comes out swinging like a toddler playing t-ball, dropping unimpressive rhymes filled with yawn-drawing metaphors. Redhead Kingpin sounds like a poor man’s Big Daddy Kane behind the mic. His watered down new jack swing instrumental doesn’t help matters either. The most interesting part of this song was his shout out to Tre Lorenz at the end of the song. Where has that guy been? If r&b had a Mount Rushmore of biggest flops, Tre’s face would easily be on it.
Soap – Wtf?
What Do U Hate – Redhead Kingpin playfully spends the length of this song listing all of the things he hates, included everything from eating cereal with no sugar to taking a crap and finding out there’s no toilet paper left on the roll when its time to wipe. This sounds like something Fresh Prince would have written back in the day. Red’s instrumental is kind of interesting, and in a corny way this song kind of works for me.
Harlem Brown – And just like that the little momentum our redheaded host was building for himself goes out the window with this ode to a hoodrat named Harlem Brown.
It’s A Love Thang (Word) – *In my Charles Barkley voice* “this was turrible”.
No Reason – A short interlude the strings together a bunch of soundbites taken from the news regarding police brutality. Kind of weird to have this sandwiched in between two songs that have absolutely nothing to do with the subject. Moving on…
We Don’t Have A Plan B – Red is overly hyped as he screams his lyrics over this track, covering everything from safe sex to defending Hammer for selling out, which left me scratching my head as to what the song title has to do with the song’s content. Red’s instrumental (which uses the same sample Das EFX would borrow a few years later on their joint “Klap Ya Handz”)was kind of interesting, though.
Nice & Slow – Ha! I completely forgot about this song. This was one of the singles from the album, which has Red slowing things down a bit to spit a love rap for the ladies, with a vocal assist from no one other than Tre Lorenz. If you hate this song, I completely understand, but it works for me in a tender sappy love-rap song kind of way.
The Song With No Name – Red sounds really bad on this one, and his homie Tony Rome doesn’t fair any better. What did Red mumble about his Gucci pajamas? At one point Red mentions to the listener that their probably wondering why they haven’t heard a title for the song; I was wondering why the hell this song even exist.
Interlude – Dedication to the dead homies.
3-2-1 Pump – This was the first single released from The Album With No Name. Red samples the Earth, Wind & Fire classic “Lets Groove” and turns it into a gimmicky and quickly forgettable dance track.
Wild Style Collage – That was quick.
Get It Together – Red’s call for unity, over a New Jack swing instrumental. Not much to see here, folks.
Got 2 Go – Hot Garbage.
Dave & Kwame (Gimme Dat Girl) – Remember Kwame? The pokadot-wearing-blond-gumby-hair-having rapper whose career Biggie ended in one breath (see “Unbelievable” from Ready To Die)? Yeah, that Kwame. Red invites Kwame into the stu for this duet, as the two spend the first verse dissing each other, before the rest of the song loses focus and completely falls a part. This was painful to listen to. The previous sentence can be applied to the entire album.
The Album With No Name is good for a few moments of nostalgia, taking you back to a time when life was simpler and worry free. But as soon as you return from that trip down memory lane, you’ll realize this hot mess of an album is good for nothing other than a frisbee or cup coaster. It’s not that Redhead Kingpin sucks as an emcee, but he’s not very good, and with the exception of a few songs, the same sentiment can be applied to his production. Folks, there is a reason why this would be the last time the public would hear from our red-headed host. If there was an award for “Most Irrelevant Hip-Hop Album” of all time, The Album With No Name would be a strong contender.