The casual hip-hop fan may not be familiar with today’s group. Hailing from Uniondale, New York, Leaders of the New School are best remembered for two things: making guests appearances on A Tribe Called Quest’s classic cypher joint “Scenario” and birthing the hip-hop superstar Busta Rhymes.
Consisting of Busta, Charlie Brown, and Dinco D (and sometimes producer/DJ Cut Monitor Milo), LONS also managed to release two albums on Elektra in the early nineties before disbanding in 1994 due to internal issues. As the story goes:Busta’s stock was on the rise after his energetic cameo on “Scenario”, which in turn left him itching to do the Ice Cube (in his case drop two niggas and start making all the dough), which he did successfully and the rest is history.
But before there was history, there was A Future Without a Past.
A Future Without a Past didn’t move a ton of units but it did receive favorable review amongst hip-hop critics, as it followed its fellow Native Tongue brethren’s m.o. of PG-13 lyricism and an average Joe persona, that would soon be replaced with an industry flooded with gangsta rap and hardcore posturing. But I digress.
Homeroom – The album is broken down into three segments: Homeroom, Lunchroom, and Afterschool. “Homeroom” starts off with a vocal snippet of someone giving a short speech before a crowd starts chanting “the whole world is watching”. The scene the suddenly switches back to the classroom with LONS discussing which honeys they are going to bone afterschool. Huh?
Case Of The P.T.A – This was the first single released off of A Future Without a Past. Although the instrumental is pretty nice, I never could quite get into this one. Maybe because the lyrics are so juvenile that they were beneath me even in my adolescence years.
Too Much On My Mind – Our hosts discuss the trials and tribulations of a teenager in urban America: honeys, rocking fly gear, and wondering how their going to pay the rent? Wtf? Don’t get to sad about the last trial as the content sounds a lot less heavier when our hosts present it. I didn’t care much for this one.
What’s The Pinocchio’s Theory? – Charlie Brown’s solo joint. The Vibe Chemist Backspin A.K.A. Marlon King’s (make up your mind on what you’re going to go by already…geesh) instrumental is all over the place. Brown pretty much spends two verses explaining what he and the crew went through to get to this point. I’ll pass on this one. And what a ridiculous song title.
Just When You Thought It Was Safe… – Dinco D opens this one with a concise thesis explaining the song theme: “know what you do before you get involved with it.” The Bomb Squad’s Eric Sadler provides the backdrop for this one and he doesn’t disappoint. LONS were decent on this one, but the true star of this record is Sadler’s instrumental.
Lunchroom – Useless skit
Sound of The Zeekers @#**?! – Busta gets his only production credit of the evening on this LONS/Rumpletilskinz (anybody remember them?) collabo. Busta’s instrumental is way too busy for my likening. To add insult to injury, none of the emcees on this one peaked my interest in the least bit. This may be the worst cypher joint I’ve ever heard.
Sobb Story – Hands down my favorite song on A Future Without a Past. Over another stellar Eric Sadler instrumental LONS discuss the perils of being carless. I don’t know if “Sobb” was a typo or if they just completely missed the chance at a clever play on words. Regardless, this one is still nice.
“Feminine Fatt” – Busta Rhymes’ uses this solo joint to praise the curvaceously-thick chicks. I can feel Busta’s content but not The Vibe Chemist Backspin’s instrumental.
Transformers – Our hosts use this one to address all the fake people who change up to appear as if they meet the status quo. I never really cared for this song, but after listen to it today with some decent headphones, a lot of stuff I completely missed in the past in the Stimulated Dummies’ instrumental (i.e. the sick underlying bass line) came to life today. For the first time during A Future Without a Past all three emcees sound inspired and match each others energy. My only complaint with this song is it could use a better mix.
Afterschool – Skit to mark the final segment of the album.
Show Me A Hero – Busta Rhymes explains how he manned up and overcome his arch nemesis, Busta Bully? This one didn’t work for me, including The Vibe Chemist Backspin’s instrumental.
Trains, Planes, and Automobiles – This is simply and ode to running choo-choo’s on chicks. The second two forms of transportation must have been included because they loved the movie with the same name title or because they thought it would make for a clever hook. Either way, the song sucked.
The International Zone Coasters – This Stimulated Dummies produced track is the 3rd and final single released from the album. This version is decent, but I remember diggin’ the remix for this one a lot more.
Teachers, Don’t Teach Us Nonsense!! – Decent.
My Ding-A-Ling – This is Dinco D’s solo joint. This song may have the most annoying hook of any song I’ve ever heard. From top to bottom, terrible.
Where Do We Go From Here? – The final song of the evening is produced by Charlie Brown, and it finds our hosts contemplating their future. At least for the first 3 minutes of the song. The second half is reserved for each of the three to give their shoutouts.
Every future has a past. Take Busta Rhymes for instance. There was a path that led up to him becoming a bona-fide hip-hop superstar and the king of the cameo (and eventually the cameo whore). Every step from the present going back to A Future Without a Past(and his life before A Future Without a Past, for that matter) marks the evolution of Busta Rhymes. Even if the past is something you want to forget it can never be erased. I’m not sure what message LONS was trying to convey with the album title but at face value its pretty nonsensical. Coincidentally, nonsensical is the adjective that best describes the majority of the content and the overall theme of A Future Without a Past. There are a few hot joints on A Future Without a Past, but they are the exception not the rule. The majority of A Future Without a Past finds the three-man crew sounding lost, unfocused, uninspired, immature and boring as they search for an identity. Busta Rhymes would eventually find himself after leaving LONS, but there is still an APB out on Brown and Dinco D.