Oh, how time flies when you’re…living. I can’t believe its been nearly three years (almost to the date) that I posted on Lord Finesse’s debut album Funky Technician. Funky Technician was released on the now defunct Cold Chillin’ label, and would be the only album Finesse would release on the label. Unsurprisingly, the album didn’t move a ton of units but it did gain Finesse some critical acclaim, and more importantly, I dug it. Nearly two years after his debut, Lord Finesse would return in ’92 and release his follow-up effort Return Of The Funky Man on the Giant/Reprise label.
Like it’s predecessor, Return Of The Funky Man would feature production credits from Finesse’s D.I.T.C. brethren, Showbiz and Diamond D. Premo (who provided the sound scape for about half of Funky Technician) is absent from this project, which would leave room for a few others (that we’ll get to in a bit) and Finesse himself, to sit behind the boards and fill the Premier void.
In my opinion, Diamond D and Showbiz out produced Premo on Funky Technician anyway, so his presence shouldn’t be missed that much, right?
Lord Finesse Intro – In a slightly altered voice, but not disguised well enough not to recognize whose voice it is, Lord Finesse introduces himself to the stage, followed by a nice Showbiz instrumental with a vocal sample sprinkled throughout.
Return Of The Funky Man – The title song was the first single released from the album. I’ve never cared much for this song. Finesse sounds pretty good but Showbiz’ instrumental sounds empty and boring.
I like My Girls With A Boom – Finesse lays down a decent instrumental that he uses to describes the type of female he’s looking for, which doesn’t go beyond her physical attributes. While his requirements are super shallow, his comical punch lines are bound to make you chuckle a few times.
Yes You May – Finesse invites Percy P and fellow Diggin’ In the Crates crew member Andre the Giant to the studio for this cipher, over a nice up-tempo Showbiz produced backdrop. Making his professional debut, Percy P bats first and makes a damn good first impression and he shows he’s lyrically proficient and nimble of tongue. A.G. bats second with Finesse
rapping wrapping things up and they both deliver hot verses as well. It’s rare when all parties involved in a cipher match each others energy and performance, but this is one of those rare occasions. This was fire!
Hey Look At Shorty – On this one our host reminisces on his early emceeing days and how he honed his skills in high school. Finesse spits entertaining rhymes and witty punch lines but his instrumental is so scant he might have come off better spitting it acapella.
Praise The Lord – Diamond D lays down a funky mid-tempo groove that Finesse sounds right at home rhyming over. Finesse completely devours this one as he drops potent punch lines, boasting of his greatness. This was nice.
Save That Shit – Aladdin (I’m sure as in DJ Aladdin since he gives the Rhyme Syndicate a shoutout later on in the album) and S.L.J. hook up a mediocre backdrop that Finesse uses to discuss the ladies who use to dis him but suddenly caught a bad case of the vapors once he got on. Finesse has never had the tightest flow but once again, his punch lines save this song from being a complete waste of time.
Show ‘Em How We Do Things – This Aladdin/S.L.J concoction is 100 times stronger than their work on the previous song. This time around Finesse shares the floor with two rookies, Shel Rumble and his cousin Harry-O, as each party involved spits a verse. Neither of the newcomers says anything that will make you hit the rewind button but they produce serviceable verses. Finesse bats last, and what seems like an attempt not to embarrass his guests, spits an average verse. This was decent.
Isn’t He Something – Over a sick Diamond D instrumental (I love the trumpet sample sprinkled throughout this one) Lord Finesse does what he does best: talk shit. I would love to hear an entire Lord Finesse album produced by Diamond D. This is sick.
Fat For The 90’s – Aladdin and S.L.J. improve their batting average to .800 as they provide a solid backdrop for this duet between Finesse and A.G, who exchange quality boasts.
Stop Sweating The Next Man – Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that “envy is ignorance”, and Lord Finesse pretty much uses this song to expand on that idea. Showbiz samples the same Lou Donaldson record (“It’s Your Thing”) that Brand Nubian would later use for their street hit “Punks Jump Up To Get Beat Down”, which coincidently was produced by Showbiz’ fellow Diggin’ In The Crates crew member Diamond D. This was okay, I guess. It was a nice break away from the braggadocio and battle rhymes.
Funky On The Fast Tip – This song title sounds like something you would write on the demo tape label as a holder until you thought of a meaningful song title. Over his self-produced instrumental (with a co-production credit going to Peter Wane) Finesse sets out to prove he can spit over up higher bpm’s as well. I’ve always liked Finesse for his witty punch lines, but his flow at times can stall, which he displays at points during this song. Still a decent listen.
That’s How Smooth I am – Diamond D hooks up a laid back instrumental, sprinkling a spacey sounding sample throughout that is so damn yummy to the ears you’ll have to listen to it again. Finesse uses this one to discuss his, um, finesse when it comes to the ladies. He does a good job, but Diamond D’s instrumental is the true star of this one. In my opinion, this is the best instrumental on the entire album.
Party Over Here – If this isn’t the weakest song on Return Of The Funky Man then it’s tied with the title track. Not a fan.
Fuck ‘Em – This is Finesse’s dedication to all the people who didn’t believe in him back in the day. Diamond D hooks up a smooth instrumental for Finesse to tell his naysayers to “look at me now”.
Kicking Flavor With My Man – Over a solid Finesse produced backdrop (I love the guitar licks during the refrain) Percy P makes his second appearance of the evening. Unfortunately, he doesn’t come off as strong as he did on “Yes You May”, but Finesse on the other hand, literally and figuratively, shuts this one down with a stellar verse (“and I show men, them muthafuckas have no wins”). Wait…did P give a shoutout to Organized Konfusement? Ha! This was a solid way to end Return Of The Funky Man.
Return Of The Funky Man would benefit to take a pointer out of Rick Ross’ book and shave off a few pounds, because at 16 tracks it’s a bit robust. On the production side, Diamond D (speaking of robust) doesn’t disappoint on the 4 tracks he produced but everybody else hits and misses, including Finesse himself. Speaking of Finesse, there is no doubt he is great when it comes to delivering witty punch lines, but like I mentioned in the Funky Technician post, his flow gets choppy at points and he sounds like he’s just throwing words together to fill out his verses. Even though Return Of The Funky Man is 4 or 5 tracks too long and not as solid as his debut, overall it is still a decent listen.