T-Bone – Redeemed Hoodlum (August 1993)

The final backlog post. Look for the start of 1994 in the next few weeks!

I’m sure most of you are not familiar with T-Bone, so allow me to give you a brief background. Born Rene Francisco Sotomayor to a Nicaraguan father and a Salvadoran mother, T-Bone is a Christian rapper born and bred in San Francisco. A few of you may remember him for his scene stealing role as the rapping convict Briggs in the Beyoncé/Cuba Gooding Jr. movie The Fighting Temptations (dude made Lil Zane sound like an amateur…wait, Lil Zane always sounded like an amateur). He is also the only rapper I can currently think of that murdered KRS-One on his own shit. You thank I’m crazy? Check out “The Struggle Continues” from KRS-One’s Spiritual Minded album and tell me different.  After coming to the Lord in his teens, T-Bone signed a deal with the small Christian label, Metro One, where he would release his debut album, Redeemed Hoodlum.

T-Bone would tap the LA Posse (best known for their production work for several of the tracks on LL Cool J’s BAD album) to produce the entirety of Redeemed Hoodlum. Even though at this point, Big Dad, Bobcat and DJ Pooh were no longer part of LA Posse, original member Muffla still remained, and his new partner, Chase (who receives co-production credit on Redeemed Hoodlum) would make up the new LA Posse roster.

My brother-in-law hipped me to this album in the late nineties at a time when I was searching and super hungry for God and truth. I had it on cassette back then, and years later when I ran across a used cd copy for a few bucks, a brother had to make that minimal investment.

Hopefully Redeemed Hoodlum lives up to the nostalgia.

Baseball Intro – Short intro that T-Bone uses to tell the world where he’s from and what his expectations are for this album.

Saved To Da Bone Prelude – I’m not sure why this wasn’t just tacked on to the “Baseball Intro”. But as the title suggest, it’s a quick sampler of a song to come a little later down the sequenced road.

Jabbin the Jaw – The first actual song on Redeemed Hoodlum finds T-Bone displaying his nimble tongue, as he takes shots at Muslims’ theology, slays a few demons, does a little witnessing and gets goofy with the wordplay. The LA Posse lays down a solid instrumental for our host to do his thing on, and I love the understated horn loop brought in during the hook.

Redeemed Hoodlum – T-Bone gives his testimony as he talks about his youth, coming up in the hood amongst gangbangin’, selling drugs and (*clutching my pearls*) spewing secular raps (I’m very curious to hear what T-Bone’s rhymes sounded like pre-Jesus), until he met Jesus Christ on the Damascus Road. On the song’s final verse our host hits one of my pet peeves when he claims, “I’m never stuck up, I’m always humble.” I absolutely hate when people say how humble they are, since the act itself is very prideful. LA Posse puts some stank on the mid-tempo funk instrumental, giving validation to Bone’s hardcore edginess.

Rugged Rhyme Sayer – Muffla and crew slides Bone some old soulful loveliness for this one. T-Bone uses the melodic backdrop to spew randomness over the course of three verses, but keeps it Jesus. I did find his lines about Catholic School and Virgin Mary pretty interesting. T-Bone sounds solid on this one (minus the hook where he sounds like a poor man’s B-Real), but the instrumental is the true star.

Commin Of Da Judgment – T-Bone takes us to church on this one. Literally. Bone invites The (or as the liner notes state “Da”) First Missionary Baptist Church Choir to sing the hook, and the instrumental includes a live organ that makes you feel like you’re sitting in the pews on Sunday morning. Our host basically preaches a sermon over it, as he casually refers to Jesus as “JC” (a term that my dad, who happens to be deeply involved in church, views as a form of disrespect). The spirit even falls on T-Bone during his first verse as he goes into tongues (if you’re not familiar with the whole “speaking in tongues” thing, turn in your bibles to Acts 19:6), mid verse, and amazingly, it fits perfectly into his rhymes (look at God!). This is not my favorite song on Redeemed Hoodlum, but it’s decent.

Lyrical Assassin – This is the first real mishap of the evening. T-Bone goes on a demon killing spree and completely rips B-Real’s nasally delivery and flow, and even steals some of his rhymes. To make matters worse, Muffla and ’em hook up a track that’s sounds like a generic replica of the “How I Could Just Kill A Man” instrumental. This was bad.

Saved To The Bone – The “Saved To The Bone Prelude” gave a glimpse into the dopeness of the song’s instrumental, but just a glimpse. I’ve heard this Eddie Harris “Turbulence” loop used before (see Heavy D’s “A Buncha Niggas”), but the way the LA Posse flips it is absolutely bananas! T-Bone matches the track’s energy every step up of the way and at certain points raps circles around it. This is easily the best song on Redeemed Hoodlum.

Da Protecta, Da Fixa – LA Posse hooks up a nasty boom-bap production, complete with Premo-esque scratches on the hook, as T-Bone (who proclaims himself as the “Christian John Wayne” on the song’s second verse) gets loose and takes on emcees and demons. I didn’t remember this song being on Redeemed Hoodlum, but it was a pleasant surprise.

Virginia Watson Interview – Plays exactly as it reads.

Divided We Fall – T-Bone calls for his Latino gangbanging brethren to come together in peace and unity. Our host sounds confident and comfortable over the dope mid-tempo backdrop. This was solid.

Barrio Blues – “Barrio” is Spanish for “neighborhood.”  Based on Bone’s content, I believe he saying he’s got the “hood blues.” This wasn’t a great song, but it makes for decent filler material.

Gloria Estefan Interlude – This was super corny and very useless.

Predicador de la Calle – Translates to “Street Preacher”. T-Bone spits the entire song in Spanish, so I’m not sure what he’s saying, but his flow and the instrumental are on point.

Hoodlums PrayerRedeemed Hoodlum ends with a very drab instrumental and T-Bone rapping in a cadence and flow reminiscent of 1984. I don’t care if this was supposed to be a prayer, this was terrible.

You may not agree with T-Bone’s theology or content (I’ll even admit that the whole “buckin’ demons down” is kind of cheesy), but after listening to Redeemed Hoodlum there’s no denying that the dude can spit. And when you combine T-Bone’s skill and charisma with the quality production that LA Posse laced Redeemed Hoodlum with, you got a winner. And the church said…amen.


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2 Responses to T-Bone – Redeemed Hoodlum (August 1993)

  1. Kareem Shareef says:

    I haven’t heard this album but I did buy his album a hoodlums testimony on cassette tape back in the day. He is a solid rapper but he likes to imitate other rappers. On one album he does a snoop dog voice through out the album and it is annoying. I think it’s the album that looks like the parliament Aqua boogie album cover with the big bird screaming in his ear.

    • deedub77 says:

      Yeah that “Gospelalphamegafunk” was pretty corny from what I remember. T-Bone has followed the “secular” hip-hop trends throughout his career, but his first three or four albums were pretty solid from what I remember. Thanks for reading!

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