What better way to start off the new year than with a New Years Day post. Happy New Year!
After two consecutive gold selling albums, trouble begin to rear its ugly head in the 3rd Bass camp. While on tour promoting their sophomore album Derelicts Of Dialect, MC Serch and Pete Nice were no longer seeing eye to eye on things, which resulted in the duo feuding and ultimately breaking up while literally still on the road. The duo would go their separate ways (with DJ Richie Rich sticking with Pete Nice) and start their solo careers. Both would stay with the Def Jam family for their solo records, with Serch being first to drop his solo debut Return of the Product, in the summer of 1992.
Serch would recruit Wolf and Epic (who I first became familiar with from their work on MC Lyte’s Act Like You Know) and T. Ray (from the Double X Posse…remember “Not Gonna Be Able To Do It”?) to handle the bulk of the production duties on ROTP.
This would be Serch’s first and last solo album (no, I don’t count his Many Young Lives Ago: The 1994 Sessions that he released in 2007 as a legitimate solo album) as he would begin to do more work behind the scenes, including being responsible for getting Nas signed to Columbia and O.C. to Wild Pitch. 3rd Bass had a short-lived reunion from ’98 to ’00 but no new music ever came out of it.
Here It Comes – The first song of the evening was also the lead single from ROTP. Wolf And Epic hook up a monster track, that sounds both soothing and heavenly (thanks to a dope loop and the angelic I.S.S.H.H.C. [which is an extremely long acronym for the International Silver String Hip Hop Chorus]), and the hard drums give it a rough feel. Serch does a serviceable job on the mic, but the true star of this one is the instrumental.
Don’t Have To Be – This song reminds me of “What” from ATCQ’s The Low End Theory. Serch doesn’t ask rhetorical questions like Q-Tip did but he does make rhetoric statements in a similar fashion, even if their not as thought-provoking as Tip’s lines were. Wolf and Epic put together another quality instrumental for Serch to rhymes over, making this an enjoyable listen.
Back To The Grill – Over a T.Ray produced instrumental, Serch revisits “Kick ‘Em The Grill” from 3rd Bass’ Derelicts of Dialect, as this song (and second single released from the album) acts as its sequel. Chubb Rock joins Serch again, but Pete Nice is replaced by new comers, Red Hot Lover Tone (also half of the production duo, the Trackmasters) and, hot off of his song stealing verse from Main Source’s “Live From The Barbeque”, Nasty Nas blesses this song with a verse. A hungry Nas sounds more serious than his counterparts on this one and easily drops the best verse on the song, effectively living up to the phrase he would coin a decade later, murdering Serch on his own shit (which is even more impressive considering Serch gets two cracks at it on this one).
Hard But True – Wolf and Epic hook up a decent instrumental (with Reggie McBride adding some nice live bass guitar licks throughout) for Serch to get conscious on, as he discusses racism in America. This was decent.
Return Of The Product – On this title track, Serch attempts to bring things back to his hungry earlier days (the album title itself is a reference to “Product Of The Environment” from 3rd Bass’ debut album). He reminisces on his years coming up in the game and wears getting his ass kicked in the name of hip-hop like a badge of honor, as this isn’t the first time that I’ve heard him make mention of it on record. The Wolf and Epic instrumental changes up as often as Matt Barnes switches teams, but it’s still decent.
Daze In A Weak – T. Ray hooks up a nasty instrumental, complete with sick drums, deep bass line and a siren like loop to make things complete. Before taking an uninspired, uncalled for, and at this point, exhausted shot at Hammer (claiming that the shiny baggy pants wearing pop star would be his bitch if they were in jail together), Serch claims that he is the “baddest white boy to ever fuckin’ touch a mic”. A claim that may have been true in ’92, but we all know Em has that title now. Time is truly illmatic.
Can You Dig It – Wolf and Epic hook up another dope instrumental for Serch to get loose over. I absolutely love the rough and smooth loop brought in during the hook.
Social Narcotics – Serch puts his conscious cap back on and invites Fatal (whatever happen to that guy?) to join him as he discusses the teaching of racism and the wrong doings that history has tried to sweep under the proverbial rug in these United States of America. Serch gives the listener something to chew on with his line “right back to the have-nots, now in ’92 lowered to me mascots…the Redskins, the Indians, the Atlanta Braves, what if we called a team the Atlanta Slaves?” The content was cool, but the instrumental is only average and the hook (that has Serch and Fatal screaming back and forth “this is my land”) starts to grate on the ears by the end of the second verse.
Hits The Head – ATCQ affiliate Skeff Anslem gets the production credit on this one and hooks up a rugged backdrop for Serch to spit over. Serch struggles to find his footing over the instrumental’s heavy drums, and at points he sounds like he has absolutely nothing to say. Skeff’s instrumental easily walks away with this one.
Scenes From The Mind – Serch takes a trip down memory lane, reflecting on the good old days of hip-hop (which sounds hilarious, considering this was recorded right in the middle of the golden era), coming up in the game and remembering some of the legends. T. Ray’s instrumental is solid and I love the flute loop he incorporates during the hook.
Here It Comes Again – This is the remix to “Here It Comes”. Unfortunately, T. Ray’s instrumental doesn’t compare to Wolf and Epic’s masterful work on the original.
During his stint with 3rd Bass, I always thought MC Serch was a formidable emcee with a dope voice and delivery. While listening to his solo effort Return of the Product repeatedly this past week, it dawned on me that while his voice and delivery still sound dope, the absence of Pete Nice exposes Serch’s limited content and average lyrical ability. On the contrary, with a few exceptions, the production on Return of the Product is pretty dope, and leaving the track count at a short and sweet 11 songs always helps matters.