The Conscious Daughters – Ear To The Street (November 30, 1993)

I hope this post finds everyone enjoying the Holiday season! As 2017 comes to an end we are also close to wrapping up 1993 hip-hop reviews. This is my last post of the year, so may you all have a Happy New Year!  

There was once a time in hip-hop when female emcees didn’t have to talk dirty and walk around in thongs and heels to be heard. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy that method sometimes, but…I’m just sayin’. During those good old days, female emcees like Queen Latifah, MC Lyte and Roxanne Shante gripped the mic looking to be noticed and respected for their lyricism, not their bodies. As the gangster rap sub-genre begin to grow in the early nineties, the ladies started to gravitate toward the style as well, with groups like Boss having commercial success with it. Another female group that came out of this era with a hardcore edge was the Oakland duo of Carla “CMG” Green and Karryl “Special One” Smith, together known as The Conscious Daughters.

The Conscious Daughters were put on by their bay area brethren, Paris, who would sign them to his Scarface imprint and go on to produce their entire debut album, Ear To The Street. Ear To The Street would spawn a couple of minor hits for the duo, who would release two more albums as a group: 1996’s Gamers and 2009’s The Nutcracker Suite. Sadly, on December 10, 2o11, Special One was found dead in her home due to complications with blood clots. May she rest in peace.

I found Ear To The Street a couple of years ago for a few bucks in the clearance bin at one of my favorite books stores (what up Half Price Books?!!!). I’m familiar with a few of the singles from Ear To The Street, but this is my first time listening to the album in its entirety. So, with no further adieu, let’s take a journey and see how funky this expedition really is.

Princess Of Poetry – TCD get things off to an energetic start, as both CMG and K show they can actually spit over a sick instrumental, courtesy of Paris. Great start to the evening, and thank you ladies for keeping it humble and not proclaiming yourselves queens of this here genre.

Shitty Situation – Paris uses an interpolation of Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You” for the instrumental, and CMG goes dolo on this one as she explains how a night of hot buckey naked sex (I had to chuckle when CMG says her lover was “diggin’ up in the guts like the muthafucka lost something”) turns into a lifetime of responsibility. This makes for a cool PSA , but not a great song. Hopefully it helped some young lady make a wise decision, though.

TCD In Da Front – CMG and K rekindle the fire they started with on “Princess Of Poetry” and sound nice rockin’ over Paris’ Parliament influenced backdrop. Both emcees spit one quick verse (with K bringing the stronger bars on this one) and jump out of it, quickly. Then Easy-E ends the song dropping a co-sign for the duo. Well done, ladies.

Somethin’ To Ride To (Funky Expedition) – This was the lead single from Ear To The Street. CMG and K take turns glorifying smoking, drinking, hunting down their rivals, avoiding 5-0 and all the other stereotypical hood shit you can think of. To make matters worse, Paris’ instrumental sounds cheesy and the whistling sample sound on the hook is enough to drive a brotha insane after a few listens.

We Roll Deep – This was the only other song I was familiar with before listening to Ear To The Street today. Over a breezy instrumental TCD continues their tough guy talk. This one is suitable for summertime cruising.

Showdown – Paris brings the funk (and a verse) for TCD to get their swerve on, and they wind up rapping circles around their mentor. It’s not that TCD sound spectacular, but Paris’ sixteen sounds like the audio equivalent of a decrepit old man trying to bend over to tie his shoes. The true star of this song is the instrumental, though; it makes me want to get in the six-four and hit them switches…before I remember I don’t have one.

Wife Of A Gangsta – K and CMG use a slick Paris backdrop to glorify the life a being married to a gangsta and all the perks that come with: money, scandalous women scheming to take your man and the constant fear of rivals plotting to take you and your husband’s lives. Fun stuff! The only thing enjoyable about this one is the instrumental and CMG’s line “taking them out in twosies”, which makes me chuckle every time I listen to this song.

Dex Dog – Apparently Dex Dog is TCD’s homeboy and they wanted him to get a little shine, so they let him vent and ramble on for about fifteen second.

Crazybitchmadness – Special One spits a quick verse over a basic drum beat. The song is super short, but very unimpressive.

Da Mac Flow – I didn’t care for this one either.

What’s A Girl To Do? – This song is all over the place. K spends her bars talking about what she won’t do for her man, while CMG uses her verses to spit battle rhymes (wait…did she just take a shot at the UMC’s? What beef could CMG possibly have with Haas G and Kool Kim?). I like the funky yet smooth guitar sample that Paris uses (which Unknown DJ (of CMW) used the previous year for the instrumental for the female emcee, Paradise’s song “Down With My Nigga” from the Deep Cover Soundtrack), but everything else about this song is trash.

Don’t let the name fool you. With the exception of “Shitty Situation” there is not much conscious about these daughters’ content on Ear To The Street. In fact, while they both can actually rap, it sounds like they and Paris was trying to capitalize on the success of Boss and borrowed their gangsta image for Ear To The Street (which is ironic, considering Paris’ conscious black militant persona). Paris does manage to muster up a couple of pretty dope instrumentals for the ladies, but most of his production falls flat, while most of TCD’s rhymes ring hollow and inauthentic. Maybe they should have held their ears to the street a tad bit longer.



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