Over the years, I’ve purchased a lot of used albums, for many different reason. Some because they had an interesting title or artwork. Some because they were affiliated with a group/crew that I liked. Others because a producer I like produced a track on an album for an artist that I normally wouldn’t check for. If I’m remotely interested and the price is a dollar, there isn’t much I won’t buy, folks. Today’s album is one of many in my collection, that I bought used for a dollar on the strength of 1 song, Do you remember N2Deep?
Hailing from the Bay area city of Vallejo, California, N2Deep was the Caucasian duo of James “Jay Tee” Trujillo and Timothy “TL” Lyon. The group originally went by the name 3Deep, and included Jay Tee, TL, and the group’s in-house producer, Johnny “Z” Zunino. Johnny Z decided to take a back seat from being an official member of the group (even though, technically he would remain the third member of the group, producing the entire debut album), which led to Jay Tee and TL changing the group’s name to N2Deep. The duo released their debut album Back to the Hotel on Profile records in the summer on 1992.
Back to the Hotel would earn the duo two gold plaques, one for the album, and another for the lead single and title track (which is the one hit I was referring to in the first paragraph). While Back to the Hotel was a commercial success, it did not receive a lot of critical acclaim. This is my first time listening to Back to the Hotel in its entirety, so lets see if its lack of love from real heads was justified.
Intro – The album opens with a sample of Third World’s “96° In The Shade” (I must add, that they had some tight harmony on that record) and a bunch of random background noise. I’m not sure what the purpose or meaning was behind this intro, but whatever.
Toss Up – Jay Tee and TL kick Back to the Hotel off with what will be a recurring theme throughout the evening: mackin’ and bangin’ out the ladies. Johnny Z builds his funk instrumental around a portion of Newcleus’ “Jam On Revenge”, as the duo discusses finding chicks and using them for one thing, which they affectionately refer to as toss ups, which the kids today would call “jump-offs” or “bust downs”. This was garbage.
Back To The Hotel – This is the song that will forever define N2Deep’s music career. Most people probably don’t remember the group’s name or the song title, but as soon as they hear the Lafayette Afro Band horn sample, they’ll think its Wreckx-n-Effect’s “Rump Shaker”, then the drum claps drops, and they realize it’s that hotel song from those two white dudes. Speaking of white dudes, hilariously, for the second consecutive song, TL rhymes “honky” with “donkey”. And while we’re discussing rhymes, Jay Tee and TL are not that nice when it comes to spitting them. Johnny Z’s dope instrumental is what makes this song memorable.
Do Tha Crew – This could work as the prequel to Snoop’s “It Aint No Fun (If The Homies Can’t Have None)”, only less entertaining. On this one our hosts insist that the females they get down with, share the love (or booty) with the homies. Lyrically, this was garbage, but Johnny Z’s instrumental is kind of nice, especially the Johnny “Guitar” Watson horn sample brought in during the hook, which sounds very similar to the sample used on Jay-Z’ “People Talkin’, which actually uses a loop from a different Johnny “Guitar” Watson song. But I digress.
The Weekend – Apparently this was the third single released from Back to the Hotel, though I don’t remember hearing it on the radio or seeing the video back in the day. Over a decent Johnny Z instrumental, Jay Tee and TL celebrate the weekend by getting tore down and poking on something sexy.
Get Mine – Yes, they’re talking about pussy. This was a hot mess.
V-Town – N2Deep shows love for their hometown of Vallejo, that they affectionately call “V-Town”, and invite a few of their fellow V-Town neighbors, E-40 and B-Legit, to join in on the fun. Johnny Z’s instrumental isn’t terrible, but none of the parties involved say anything that makes Vallejo sound like a place I need to visit.
Ya Gotta Go – Jay Tee and TL get their Cold Crush on as they finish each other rhymes on this brief interlude. This was kind of corny.
Comin’ Legit – Jay Tee gets his first solo joint of the evening, and it may as well be a freestyle, as there is really no theme to his rhymes, and his hook is butt. Johnny Z lays down a below average instrumental, as Greg “Starchild” Houston adds some live guitar licks to it, included an extended solo to close the song. From the rhymes to the production, this was weak.
Mack Daddyz – Jay Tee had a solo joint, so it’s only right that TL gets one too, right? (N2Deep’s buddy Daddy Milo, adds a short reggae chant during the bridge of the song, and Jay Tee does stop in close to the end, to drop a few lines as well, but it still qualifies as a solo in my eyes, so there!) Instead of straying from N2Deep’s favorite topic, TL sticks to the script as he brags about his pimp game (his line out about wining and dinning a chick but never spending a penny, was kind of amusing in a, it doesn’t make sense, kind of way). Johnny Z’s instrumental was cool, but TL’s rhymes are subpar and juvenile.
The Revenge Of Starchild -This is a brief guitar solo from their good buddy Greg “Starchild” Houston. Decent.
Shakedown – Jay Tee gets his second solo joint of the evening, but this time around he’s focused. Johnny Z samples Steel Pulse’s “Blues Dance Raid”, which gives the instrumental a reggae feel, with Starchild adding some guitar licks that give it a Latin feel (early stages of the Reggaeton movement, you think?). Jay Tee speaks about the importance of racial unity because “we’re all the same color, underneath”. Jay Tee doesn’t sound great on this one, but I’ll give him props for the positive message. The Johnny Z/Starchild instrumental was decent.
What The F**k Is Goin’ On? – To even things up, TL gets his second solo record of the evening, and like Jay Tee, he’s uses his second solo to bring a little substance. Sort of. Over a decent funk instrumental (and guitar licks from Starchild), TL talks about the violence in his hometown of Vallejo. I wasn’t really feeling this one, and the added expletive in the song title was really unnecessary.
N2Deep (We’re Who?) – Just in case you were curious who N2Deep was, they wait for the final song on the album to answer that question. Johnny Z loops up a JB’s record and turns it into a smooth and funky instrumental. Unfortunately, our hosts don’t put it to good use, which can be said for most of Back to the Hotel.
After several listens to the album, I’ve concluded that Back to the Hotel is not very good. Johnny Z provides a few decent instrumentals, that probably sound even better, if listened to while cruising the streets of California on a beautiful 80°, sunny summer day. But no matter what coast you’re on, Jay Tee and TL’s rhymes just don’t cut it, potna. Johnny Z’s production may have worked better behind more talented emcees. N2Deep should have taken Back to the Hotel, back to the drawing board, before releasing this mess.
I forgot about this. Another album I passed on. I noticed the Above The Law album ” Living Like Hustlers” was not in your 1990’s album reviews. What do you think about the players from Pomona?
ok mr. self proclaimed music ‘critic’
Well, aren’t we all? Thanks for reading!