Late edition. For those keeping track at home, put this one right after Terminator X & The Valley Of The Jeep Beats.
As I’ve mentioned a time or two in the past, In 1997 I took a hip-hop hiatus. Biggie’s Life After Death was released on March, 25th, 1997 just a few weeks after he was tragically gunned down in Los Angeles. This would be the last hip-hop album I would buy for along while, and it sparked some introspection in me as I begin to contemplate life and death, reflect on Biggie’s eerie album title (and artwork), and the recent murders of two of the biggest artists in hip-hop within a 6 month period. It led to me going on a spiritual journey in which one of my first steps was ridding myself from all thing that I felt were distractions and “corrupt”, so I literally destroyed all my hip-hop cd’s and got rid of a ton of my cassette tapes (I would eventually buy them all back so the sacrifice would cost me a pretty penny in the long run but the lessons I learned during that break were invaluable). I eventually became a born again Christian which opened me up to a sub-genre of hip-hop often referred to as holy hip-hop or Christian hip-hop. As the new millennium rolled in more and more Christian emcees were popping up gaining more attention from the mainstream media, to the point that today you might hear Christian emcees playing on mainstream radio i.e. Andy Mineo and Lacrae. But before there was Andy Mineo or Lecrae, there was Sup The Chemist aka Super C, who in my opinion was the first legitimate Christian emcee. Key word being legitimate.
If you read this blog religiously (no pun intended) then you may recognize the name from a group call SFC (acronym for Soldiers For Christ) of whom Super C was the main emcee and producer. I actually became familiar with his solo work from the early 2000’s and eventually worked my way back through his SFC days, but that’s a story for another day. I bring all this up because Super C is the main reason I’m reviewing today’s subject.
The Dynamic Twins are identical twins Noel and Robbie Arthurton, who were born in the Bronx, NY. The twins moved to California in the late eighties where they would link up with Super C, which would eventually lead to the twins signing a deal with the independent Christian label Broken Records, where SFC was also signed to. In 1991 they would release their debut album Word 2 The Wize, on which Super C would be responsible for producing 9 of the album’s 15 tracks, and as I stated before, the main reason I rescued it from the used cd bin. That and it’s 99 cent price tag.
Mission – Word 2 The Wize opens with an eerie Super C produced instrumental and the Arthurton twins explaining the reason they rap:”To make a proclamation to a dying nation”. The instrumental was cool but both brothers sound like they have a mouth full of marbles.
The Judge – Super C hooks up a sick instrumental with an even sicker trumpet loop, that sounds a little like something Premo would have done. The Arthurton boys use this one to talk about the pending judgment God will exercise and the wrath he’ll unleash on the world for its evil deeds. The marbles remain.
Fantasy – Our hosts hook up a funky west coast instrumental as they warn the listener about the dangers of putting too much value in this life and the things of this world. Guest vocalist Todd Stevens adds a solid vocal during the hook and their buddy X-L comes through to spit rhymes at the end of the song, which winds up being useless since you can’t make out anything he’s saying underneath Stevens’ vocal. Regardless of that snafu, this was actually pretty nice.
Backbiter – Our marbled mouth bretheren use this one to discuss the people that talk trash behind your back and spread rumors about you, which can also fall under the “haters” category. Why does everybody think they have haters? The other day I had a brother collecting carts in the parking lot at Home Depot come up to me and gave me a pound and then went into a rant about all the haters he’s got. Really? Does he seriously think he’s got people gunning for his position in life? But I digress. Super C hooks up a pretty solid instrumental for the backdrop and the twins actually sound decent spitting over it.
He’s All I Need – Our hosts hook up a corny new jack swing instrumental that is sure to make you push the fast forward button or stop listening to Word 2 The Wize all together.
Persuaded – Well, at least Super C’s instrumental was mildly interesting.
Real Thing – Super C hooks up another solid instrumental that our hosts use to uplift the real thing aka Jesus Christ. I can’t distinguish one mush mouth from the other but one of the brothers Arthurton says what may be the corniest rhyme ever recorded: “I don’t smoke the marijuana, (why not?), cause I don’t wanna”. Next…
Word 2 The Wize – This title song is actually an interlude. Super C combines a Barry White sample with a Lonnie Liston Smith sample for the instrumental and sprinkles sound bites from a sermon throughout.
Uptown – No this is not an ode to Upper Manhattan. The Uptown the twins are referring to is Heaven, of course. This was pretty weak.
That’s How I’m Livin’ – This might be the worst cipher song in the history of hip-hip. The twins invite a few of their purified posse members X-L, M.C. Peace (whom we’ll be talking about more in the very near future), M.V.P., and Super C, to the studio for this one and they all fall short of the glory of God.
We Need Love – Wow. Really? The brothers Arthurton take things back to 1985 as they not only rip LL’s song title (with one small change) but they even hook up a cheesy Casio keyboard instrumental that resembles the one used for his sappy hip-hop love ballad. Of course our hosts aren’t talking about a woman, they’re talking about the love of God. The only thing good about this song was the guest vocalist Crystal Lewis, which was a wasted on this corny effort.
I Aint Wit’ It – The Arthurton boys hook up a instrumental that borders on sounding goofy but manages to wiggle its way into a entertaining groove. Both emcees actually sound decent on this one as they discuss temptation and how to resist it. This might be the best overall song on Word 2 The Wize.
Shakin’ Off Dust – The whole hip-hop meshed with rock thing had already been done several times over by 1991, so Super C wasn’t treading any new water when he hooked up this rock tinged instrumental. Hell, Sup had already hooked up similar instrumentals for his own SFC records. Brothers Arthurton use this one to stick out their chest as if using a rock tinged instrumental qualifies them as “radical” Christian artists. One of the brothers even refers to their sound as too hardcore. Too hardcore for who? Joel Osteen?
Keep Goin’/Talk On Your Record – Over a forgettable instrumental our hosts use the first part of this song to encourage the listener to never give up on life and/or the spiritual race. The second part is used for the duo to give their shoutouts before being interrupted by Super C.
The Judge (Instrumental) – Because they knew how sick the instrumental was they had to bring it back without the lyrics interrupting the track.
Super C does all he can to help save (no pun intended) Word 2 The Wize with his production but for the majority of the album these two God fearing emcees sound godawful. I don’t even think Premo’s beats could have saved Word 2 The Wize. Or Jesus himself, for that matter. And just so we’re clear, I’m not hating on their content. I at one time, many moons ago, spit rhymes to uplift the heavenly father and have heard many Christian emcees who in my opinion spit better than most 5 percenter, conscious, gangsta, and atheist emcees. Talent knows no religion. Neither does wackness. I hope Noel and Robbie have repented for making this hot garbage.