Kid N Play – Funhouse (March 13, 1990)

KNP_Funhouse

(For those keeping track at home you can coincidently file this one before Salt N Pepa’s Black Magic)

Hurby Luv Bug might be the most successful puppeteer in the history of hip-hop. From the mid eighties until the mid nineties he found commercial success sticking his hand up the asses of  his female protegés Salt (can you blame him) N Pepa, penning most of their rhymes as well as producing the majority of their tracks which resulted in some pretty heavy hits along the way (i.e. “Push It” and “Let’s Talk About Sex”).  Since Salt N Pepa were so successful it was only a matter of time before Hurby would find and bring their male counterparts to the forefront. Insert Kid N Play.

The New York duo of Christopher “Kid” Reid and Christopher “Play” Martin first met in high school and formed the group under the name of Fresh Force Crew before eventually settling on the name Kid N Play (which was probably more Hurby’s idea than the Chris’; but it might have been the smartest marketing move the duo ever made). With the help of their manager and producer Hurby Luv Bug the duo would go on to release 3 albums on the Select label: their debut 2 Hype (which I’ve never heard in it’s entirety), today’s subject Funhouse, and Face the Nation, which will discuss in a few weeks…or maybe a few months. Back to Funhouse

Funhouse was release the Tuesday after the Friday the movie House Party (as well as the soundtrack, which the duo also had a couple of songs on, including the title track from Funhouse) was released. For those who may not know, House Party was the acting debut from Kid N’ Play that was pretty successful, leading to two more movies in the House Party franchise (and a 4th that Kid N’ Play wisely had nothing to with but instead let Immature desecrate their already questionable image in), a short lived cartoon on NBC (back when the major networks still aired cartoons on Saturday mornings), and one more terrible movie (Class Act) which marked the 15th minute on the duo’s Hollywood clock. Funhouse would go on to earn the duo their second consecutive gold plaque.

Rumor has it that the House Party script was originally written for Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (which makes sense to those who’ve seen the movie) but they turned it down. I’m sure it’s a decision Jazz and Will don’t lose sleep over, considering their both still getting checks from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air 20 years after it wrapped and Will can still demand 20 mil for any movie he chooses to grace with his presence.

Energy – The duo start things off with an up-tempo Hurby Luv Bug instrumental that uses the same Earth, Wind & Fire sample Marley used for LL’s “Murdergram”.  The computerized female voice saying “energy” (which could be Siri’s momma) and the DOC vocal sample were nice added touches to the hook. Kid and Play both stay in pocket on the rhymes. Nice start.

Y U Jellin’ Me – “Jellin” apparently is slang for jealous, which I either forgot about in my old age or the phrase never really caught on. I’m leaning towards the latter. This was decent.

Back To Basics – I’ve never really felt this one. A little too much cheesy R&B for my liking.

Toe To Toe – The main reason I re-purchased the album. Hurby provides a laid back smooth instrumental for Kid and Play to boast, mostly about their dancing prowess, challenging any would be competitors out for their crowns. Poll question: who would win in a dance battle back in the day: Hammer or Kid N’ Play? Feel free to hit me in the comments. Easily my favorite Kid N’ Play song of all time.

Show ‘Em How It’s Done – Kid (who pretty much wrote all the rhymes throughout the duo’s career anyway) goes solo on this one as he gives it all he’s got over the course of 4 verses. Serviceable.

I Don’t Know – The duo invite their female counterparts, Salt N Pepa into the studio (along with Spinderella) for this one. Kid N Play play the shady player and the girls counter their smooth lines with suspicion and doubt that have them questioning if they should continue pursuing potential relationship with the fellas. Decent.

Do Whatcha Want 2 – Based on the spelling of the title you might assume this is a sequel, but the “2” should be interpreted as “to” which becomes clear once you hear the hook. Speaking of to, I think I just spent too much time writing about this hot garbage of a song. Those into the go-go sound may appreciate this one a little bit.

Strokin’ – This one opens with some dialogue between the duo that in today’s climate would have gotten them crucified, which goes to show how soft and overly sensitive our society has gotten over the past 25 years which says a lot, considering Kid N Play were definitely one the softer/cleaner acts in hip-hop. But I digress. This one is strictly for the dance floor, or as Kid puts it “the groove is meant to cause movement”. I didn’t care much for this one.

Can’t Get Enuff – Wait. Is Play really bragging about riding around in a new Amigo? Were those ever hot? That statement alone should tell you how well this one went.

Decisions – This is my second favorite song on the album. Hurby samples the classic Heatwave record “Mind Blowing Decisions” for the backdrop as Kid N Play share three interesting stories that leave you stunned or questioning what you would do in each scenario. Beautifully executed.

Funhouse – The lead single and title song was also included on the House Party soundtrack. Never cared much for this song and I’m sticking to my story.

Since I used 4 paragraphs for the intro, I’ll keep the wrap up brief: Funhouse is a mediocre album from two great dancers who happen to be mediocre emcees. “Energy”,”Toe To Toe” and  “Decisions” are solid joints but the rest of the album is forgettable.

-Deedub

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