(For those keeping track at home, insert this one after Step In The Arena)
While, thumbing through an old copy of The Source I stumbled on the “Record Report” which is the section that one of the staff writers would review and rate the latest hip-hop albums and singles. I came across a review of a single from a group called Downtown Science. Suddenly it hit me that I own this album and when I search my flawed spreadsheet for it, I noticed I missed it. Well, I didn’t completely miss it but it was added in under the wrong column.
Downtown Science was a New York duo consisting of deejay/producer Sam Sever (who played a key role on the production side of both of 3rd Bass’ albums) and Brooklyn native and lead emcee, Bosco Money. The ebony and ivory combo released their self-titled debut on Def Jam in 1991′ and the world hasn’t heard from them since. Or at least I haven’t. If you have, get at me in the comments.
This Is A Visit – Over a very serious mid-tempo instrumental Bosco Money spits three verses welcoming the listener into the world of Downtown Science. At least I think that’s what Bosco is metaphorically talking about. He pleads with the listener in an attempt to convince them that “you have to visit”. Bosco sounds like a poor man’s Kool Keith on this one. The instrumental was decent, so this wasn’t all bad.
Catch The Wave – The duo hook up yet another serious mid tempo instrumental. But this one is fire. Unfortunately, Bosco’s spoken word flow doesn’t compliment it well, and I’m still trying to figure out wtf he’s talking about in his verses. Coded much.
Radioactive – This was the single I was reading about in The Source’s Record Report that reminded me that I owned Downtown Science. No, this is not the original version to the Imagine Dragon’s hit. Nor does the song discuss emission of ionizing radiation or particles. The song title is more a play on words that DS’s music is active or causes activity when played on the radio. I think. I don’t know how I feel about Bosco’s flow. It feels like he’s trying too hard to sound deep, combing complex words with complicate lines but fails to connect with the listener. The instrumental was decent, but I wasn’t really feeling this one.
Out There But In There – Bosco leaves the cryptic rhymes at home for this one as he clearly boast about he and his partner in crime Sam Sever. The instrumental sounds like a poor man’s version of Run DMC’s “Beats To The Rhymes”, but still kind of works. The biggest problem I had with this one was Bosco: even when he’s speaking plain english he’s just not that impressive.
Natural People – The duo lay down a smooth groove with a sick bass line (that samples the same record Nice & Smooth would use a few years later for their mild hit “Old To The New”) that is down right infectious. Bosco rides the beat rather nicely. The instrumental is so slick William Hung could have spit on it and sounded nice.
Somethin’ Spankin’ New – This one opens with a warm sax sample before a basic drum pattern drops and Bosco goes on to boast for two verses. He kind of sounds like Sam’s 3rd Bass buddy, MC Serch on this one. It was kind of amusing to hear him lose his flow and breath control at the end of his first verse. Not sure if the intent was to make it sound raw, but I would have done a second take on this one.
If I Was – Finds Bosco proclaiming what he would do if he was: (in verse 1) a politician or a cop, (verse 2) a millionaire or an astronaut. Who I think is Sam Sever, jumps on the mic for the final verse and declares what he would do if he were a pimp or a barber. The subject and content are a little cheesy but the instrumental work is solid.
Drums Through The Wall – Interlude.
Delta Sigma – This instrumental is fire! Bosco puts back on his poor man’s Kool Keith hat and does a decent impression of the real thing. The real star on this one is the instrumental, though.
The Topic Drift – Bosco Money gets a solo production credit and provides a sick instrumental (the bass guitar sample is bananas!). He also delivers his most effective rhymes of the album thus far. Well done.
Down To A Science – Get it? Downtown Science. “Down” to a “Science”.. Cute title aside, I wasn’t feeling this one too much.
Summertime – DS’ ode to summer. This was decent, but Fresh Prince & Jazzy Jeff still hold the crown for summertime anthems.
Saw You At The Party – An interlude that will leave you scratching your head and asking yourself wtf?
Room To Breathe – This was the sole reason I bought Downtown Science back in the day. I remember the instrumental being more buttery than three baskets full of Red Lobster biscuits. Delicious. Today, the instrumental is just Parkay. It doesn’t help matters that Bosco sounds like he’s aping The D.O.C.’s flow.
Winning – Maybe Charlie Sheen was a Downtown Science fan? Kudos to Bosco for using “worse” instead of “worser” which probably would have rhymed better with “vice-versa”, but grammatical correctness won the internal battle within the soul of our host. At least temporarily. Later in the same verse Bosco says: “Why I’m on the subject of Presidential thinking, clock lots of Jacksons because my thoughts is linkin’ (Lincoln)”, which is not only grammatically incorrect but may be the corniest line in the history of hip-hop. Wait. Spoke too soon:”I would have went to Yale but I didn’t get accepted…know why? Because I didn’t apply”. Definitely the corniest two rhymes-in-a-verse in the history of hip-hop.
Fat Shout – This was decent.
Keep It On – This closing instrumental is hot. I would like to hear this with a better mix on it. As is, Bosco sounds like his mic is too loud and the music behind him is too soft.
I’ll start with the positive: Overall, the production on Downtown Science was pretty solid. While the majority of the instrumentals are average, there are a few certified bangers, but no terrible backdrops on the entire album. Now the negative: Bosco Money does not have the charisma it takes to carry the load as the lone emcee for the course of 15 songs (I know their are 17 tracks listed but two of them are interludes). When you couple that deficiency with his cryptic rhyme scheme it’s easy to lose interest and walk away from Downtown Science. Give the instrumentals on Downtown Science to a more engaging emcee and I think you’d have a more entertaining album.
I totally disagree on your review. It was a near perfect album (9/10); Bosco is a good lyricist and did the dope instrumentals justice. The majority of the instrumentals are above average and banging. Also he couldn’t have been aping D.O.C. Bosko Money’s first single came out in 1988, before D.O.C.
The beautiful thing about music is it’s completely subjective. Thanks for sharing your opinion and checking out the blog!
Agreed. Clowning Bosco’s flow twenty five years after the fact seems unfair given the context of rap at the time. I could show AMPLE examples of corniness from the likes of Brand Nubian, Tribe, Gang Starr, etc. Sure, his rhymes would be, well, radio worthy these days (if you know what I mean) but back then they were passable. I remember burning one to this and being pretty damned impressed, and a lot of these joints get rotation from still. It ain’t Nas, but it ain’t 22 Savage either. They were signed to DEF JAM, for God’s sake.