I first became aware of the Los Angeles based rapper known as Threat (or Deadly Threat) from his verse on Ice Cube’s classic (and severely overlooked) posse record “Color Blind” off the nearly flawless, Death Certificate album (click here to read my thoughts on that album). “Color Blind” paired Threat up with Ice Cube, KAM, WC, Coolio, King Tee and J-Dee, who all came with their A game on the song, but Threat quietly stole the show with his smooth flow and unique rhyming pattern, in my opinion. I must have not been the only one impressed by Threat’s “Color Blind” verse, because he would soon begin popping up with cameo appearances on different artists’ songs (including a duet with Pac on Strictly 4 My Niggaz), and even scored a St. Ides commercial (remember those?). Unfortunately, the cameos were pretty weak, and it seemed that Threat may have set the bar to high for himself with his “Color Blind” verse. But regardless of his lackluster cameos post “Color Blind”, he still managed to snag a deal with Mercury Records, where he would release his debut album Sickinnahead in the summer of 1993.
I’ll be honest. I didn’t even know Sickinnahead existed until a year or so ago when I was watching a string of old St. Ides commercials on YouTube from the mid nineties when they were using rappers for their campaign (I had no idea Rakim was a part that deal), and Threat’s commercial popped up. I then became curious on what ever happened with the brother, so I Googled him and found he actually did release a solo album. Curious to see if Threat ever fulfilled the potential he displayed on “Color Blind”, I copped the album but have not listened to the album until doing this post.
Side note: I believe Threat’s named spelled in blue on the album cover is the first clue to what set he claims. We’ll get to the other clues a little later.
PDK – Based on the vocal sample used on the hook, I believe “PDK” in an acronym for Police Department Killer (feel free to correct me in the comments if I’m wrong). DJ Pooh and Suede hook up a sleepy instrumental that Threat begins the song expressing his distaste for po-po, but then his last two verses are all over the place.
Sucka Free – DJ Pooh and Suede’s instrumental improves a bit from the previous track, as our host sets out to prove to the listeners that he ain’t no sucka. This was decent. Definitely a step up from the opening track.
Niggas Like You – Basically, these are the type of niggas Threat don’t like. And I don’t like generic instrumentals like the one Suede made for this song.
4-Deep – I like this one. DJ Pooh and Suede hook up a dope mid-tempo instrumental, and Threat’s unique rhyme scheme is on full display as he shares the adventures of rolling 4 deep with his homeboys through the streets of Los Angeles. Well done, Threat.
Let The Dogs Loose – I’m sorry, but DJ Pooh’s instrumental is too stale for me to care about anything Threat has to say over it.
When It Rains – This is probably my favorite song on Sickinnahead. Bobcat hooks up a smooth mid-tempo backdrop that Threat uses to brilliantly articulate that when drama and trouble jump off they always seem to come in multiplies. Threat also drops what I believe to be, his second clue of the evening to what set he claims on this one (“Well this is an A and B conversation, so C ya, cause I’d rather C ya than B ya”). Threat’s smooth wordplay and lyrical mastery on this song are the reasons I first begin to respect him as an emcee in the first place.
Get Ghost – “When It Rains” goes immediately into this urgent Pooh/Suede produced instrumental. It’s intensity fits perfectly behind Threat’s content, as he paints a vivid picture of himself on the run from the police. This was short, sweet and well done by our host.
24-7 – Bobcat hooks up a hard instrumental for Threat to talk some ole gangsta shit over, and he drops his third clue of the evening to what set he reps (“damn, you know it’s on whatever’s clever, and that’s respect for the third letter”). This one is strong.
Shuta Fuck Up – Weak. The song ends with the first of three interludes sprinkled throughout the final eight songs on Sickinnahead, that have some dude name Joe calling a slick chick name Kim. The first installment of the interludes has Kim hi-lariously playing Joe off has her girlfriend because her boyfriend is next to her when Joe calls. Side note: all three interludes use the instrumental used on Threat’s St. Ides commercial from back in the day, and I happen to love the soulful backdrop. I wish he would have used it on an actual song.
Ass Out – Weaker.
LA Zuu – Threat discusses the pressures, drama and the daily affairs of living in the concrete jungles of Los Angeles, which he affectionately calls the L.A. Zoo, or Zuu. Bobcat’s instrumental sounds like a poor man’s Bomb Squad beat that I really couldn’t get into, and it distracts the focus away from Threats rhymes.
The Whore Said It’s Yours – Okay. If “When It Rains” is my favorite song on Sickinnahead, this one is a close second. Pooh and Suede are back at it again on the production end of things, and Threat uses their slightly playful backdrop to call out, as Ice Cube once put it, the neighborhood hussy, who’s trying to pin her newborn son on Threat. Threat’s in rare form as he drops clever wordplay and witty punch lines about the mother and her bastard child. This was pretty funny and entertaining.
Give It Up – Trash.
Shote (Threw Wit Money) – Over a mediocre Suede instrumental, Threat spits one quick verse about a chick he’s gamin’ on. This should have been left off the final cut of Sickinnahead.
Bust One Fa Me – On this one Threat relives that one time he had to do a short jail bid. Threat doesn’t cover any new territory on this one, and when you couple that with the weak DJ Pooh/King Tee backdrop, this one doesn’t bode well.
So Now You Know – And more useless filler shit to wrap up the evening.
I don’t recall ever pulling for a rapper as much as I’ve pulled for Threat on Sickinnahead. I really wanted to love the album and praise him for his smooth delivery and clever wordplay, but I didn’t love Sickinnahead. Threat’s definitely a quality emcee with a solid flow and nice wordplay, but his limited and repetitive content mixed with the album’s overall lackluster production and unnecessary length, all equate to a disappointing debut album from the Los Angeles native. No, Sickinnahead is not completely wack, but I was expecting so much more from the brother.
I will admit that the more I listen to Sickinnahead the more it grows on me, and I’ve probably listened to it about 50 times in the past month. So maybe if I listen to it a million more times it will be a classic.