“This is protected, by the red, the black, and the green, with a key…sisseeeeeeeeee!”. Anybody who has listening to hip-hop since the nineties should be familiar with that signature song closing statement. In fact, in an era when a lot of rappers and producers stamp their songs with signature statements and adlibs (i.e. Kanye West, Rick Ross, French Montana, Mike Will Made-It, Metro Boomin) the subject of today’s post may be one of the first hip-hoppers to ever do it.
Most of you know Professor X as the crippled bald-headed leader of the Marvel Comic superhero clan the X-Men, but some of you may also remember him as the sunglass-African-garb-wearing overseer and hype man (and arguably the face) of the black militant hip-hop group, X-Clan (and a very small portion of the world may know that he was also the son of the political activist, Sonny Carson). After X-Clan released their highly respected 1990 debut album To The East Blackwards (read my thoughts on it here), Professor X would release his solo debut album, Years Of The 9, On The Blackhand Side, the following year. I have never heard a single song from that album (that I’m aware of, at least), but I did find his second solo release, Puss ‘N Boots (The Struggle Continues…), at one the spots I frequent.
Other than the lead single (that we’ll get to in just a second) I’ve never heard anything else from Puss ‘N Boots before today. The entire album was produced by Scratch Me Productions (which I’m assuming is a collective) and came and went without anyone really noticing. I’m not a huge fan of Professor X, but I was a bit curious on how the man who only spoke on the intro, bridges, and outros of songs with X-Clan, would carry a solo album. And for a dollar I was willing to follow my curiosity.
Sadly, Professor X passed away in 2006 from Spinal Meningitis. He was only 49 years old.
Close The Crackhouse – This was the lead single from Puss ‘N Boots, and the only song from the album that I’ve heard prior to today. Professor X kicks thing off with a nine minute Public Service Announcement, and he brought a bunch of his friends along to help. Brother J (from X-Clan), Wise Intelligent (from Poor Righteous Teachers), Big Daddy Kane, Shock G, Humpty Hump and Money B (from Digital Underground), Ex-Girlfriend (who I thought was En Vogue), Chuck D, Sister Souljah, Mickey Jarrett, Freedom Williams (whom I was mistaking for Ice-T until I read the liner notes and discovered it was C&C Music Factory’s lead man), YZ, The College Boyz (did you know that once upon a time the actor Romany Malco was the lead emcee for The College Boyz?), and Two Kings and A Cypher join our host in demanding that all crack houses be closed down. The intent was good, but this was painful to listen to. It’s hard to make a collage of beats (a la Ice Cube’s “Jackin’ For Beats”) work, especially when the majority of the switch ups are garbage. To add insult to injury, none of the emcees involved sound that impressive. But if I had to pick a winner I’d go with BDK.
Shalom – Is the Hebrew word for peace. I didn’t have the patience to decode all of Professor X’s riddled spoken word/raps (and I’ve listened to it well over 10 times by this point), so I’m not sure what the hell he’s talking about on this song.
They Don’t Know Jack – Brother J makes his 3rd consecutive appearance on Puss ‘N Boots (he added adlibs to “Shalom”), as he and Professor X are back on their soap boxes exchanging verses. It was nice to hear Brother J spit on this one. Not only because he’s pretty nice with the mic, but also because I’m getting tired of hearing Professor X’s nasally spoken word pieces.
Cum – The song title may grab your attention, but that’s about the only thing about this song that is interesting.
Year Of The Wreck – The Scratch Me Production team slides Professor X a dope aggressive backdrop that he continues to spew his extremely abstract black militant messaging over.
Confidentiality – More coded militant messages from the Professor. I like the melodic instrumental, and love the horn loop brought in on the hook.
Wine E Wine – Over a brilliantly seductive instrumental Professor X continues his spoken word approach, as he (and the moaning woman vocal sample laced throughout the song) gives his politically charged message some sex appeal. Or is he really talking about sex?
U Can Do Better – Scratch Me Production hooks up a pretty solid backdrop for the Professor to verbally dance all over. Decent enough song, I guess.
Oshio – In numerology Oshio is a name for one of the life paths. The life path number for Oshio is 3. Now, I have no idea how Professor X’s rhymes (or spoken words) relate to Oshio, but I did find his comment about King David being “the original gin and jew” pretty amusing. The instrumental was pleasant and a nice way to end Puss ‘N Boots.
Puss ‘N Boots is a hot mess. Some of the production work is pretty nice, but Professor X’s whiney (or wine e) delivery becomes a bit annoying after only a few songs in. And trying to decode and make sense of his intensely abstract couplets is enough to give a brother a headache. Don’t get me wrong, I love music with substance, and I’m okay with some abstractions, but this shit is too much. Thank God it’s only 9 tracks long.