Redman made quite the impression in ’92 with his debut album Whut? Thee Album. Not only was it a commercial success earning Redman his first gold plaque, but he also earned respect and love from the streets for his colorfully animated style balanced with a hardcore edge. He would return at the end of ’94 with his second release, Dare Iz A Darkside.
Redman handles most of the production work on Darkside, with a few assists from Erick Sermon and Rockwilder. The album didn’t produce any huge hits, but it did receive favorable reviews and would go on to be Redman’s second consecutive gold selling album. I haven’t listened to Darkside in years, and honestly, I don’t remember much about it. So, let’s see how this goes.
Side note: The artwork for Dare Iz A Darkside pays homage to Funkadelic’s 1971 album, Maggot Brain.
Dr. Trevis – Dare Iz A Darkside begins with one of Redman’s many alter egos, Dr. Trevis, telling Redman to “fall into a deep mind of emotion” (whatever the hell that means) and encourages him to forget what he did on Whut? Thee Album and “take the funk to where it has never gone” on Darkside. Then just before the intro ends, Trevis loses his cool and calls Redman a “son of a bitch”, which makes me lol every time I hear it.
Bobyahed2dis – For the first actual song of the evening, Redman and Rockwilder hook up a dope funk instrumental that Red uses to prove that you “don’t have to be Special Ed to get dumb”.
Journey Throo Da Darkside – Redman gets credit for this instrumental, with a co-production credit going to Erick Sermon, and the track sounds like an incomplete idea from an old EPMD album, circa 1992. Not even Redman’s antics and animation on the mic can make this one go down smoother.
Da Journee – Dr. Trevis returns for the intro of this song, and he must have gave Redman a sedative, because he sounds super calm compared to what he normally sounds like on the mic. His rhymes also sound darker than normal as he spews bars like “I go far beyond acting hard and pulling triggers, I just want to die and come back as the Nile on the River… zonin’ ’til I forget how to wake up in the morning, and the corners of my mouth be like foamin’ when I’m open”. Speaking of Niles and rivers, Redman’s instrumental is as plain as water. Thankfully, this song is only one verse long.
A Million And 1 Buddah Spots – Erick Sermon steps back in to help bring some energy back to the Darkside, as he slides Red a funk banger with a nasty bass line. Redman uses it to discuss his favorite pastime, which I’m sure you guys are smart enough to figure out what that is.
Noorotic – Rockwilder gets his second production credit of the evening (with a co-production credit going to Redman) and it’s actually a nice little groove. Reggie’s in full Redman character mode, spittin’ his “irrelevant shit” and makes it sound so entertaining.
Boodah Session – Short interlude.
Cosmic Slop – The Def Squad is back in effect, as Keith Murray and Erick Sermon join Red on this posse joint, whose title pays homage to one of Funkadelic’s albums. Redman’s backdrop (with an assist credit given to E-Double) is decent at best and no one spits an incredible verse, rendering this cipher record as forgettable.
Rockafella (R.I.P.) – Redman lets a part of a verse from his deceased comrade, Rockafella play, which must have been taken from one of his demos. The dude could spit. He sounds a lot like Parrish Smith.
RockaFella – This was Darkside’s lead single. Even though the lyrics have nothing to do with Redman’s fallen friend (beside the quick shout out he gives him at the end of his first verse), he names it after him. Redman’s instrumental is dope, but his rhymes don’t go outside of the same nonsense he’s been talking about the entire album up to this point (he does give Q-Tip a shout out during his third verse, so there’s a Tribe Degrees of Separation for ya). Despite Redman’s annoying Chipmunk voice on the hook and adlibs, this is still a solid song.
Green Island – Redman is joined by two more of his many personalities, Reggie Noble (his government) and Uncle Quilly, and all three spit zany animated rhymes, with Unc Quilly being the most outrageous. The clowning is cute, but Redman’s Hawaiian flavored instrumental is sick.
Basically – Redman’s backdrop has a hypnotic quality and it feels just as serene as it does melancholy, and I love it. It’s a little more subdued than what we’re accustom to hearing Red spit over, but he handles it well.
Can’t Wait – This was the second single from Darkside. E-Double (with a co-production credit going to Red) takes the drums from The Mary Jane Girls’ “All Night Long” and throws a slick Bob James loop over them, turning the combo into a brilliantly smooth backdrop, but still rough enough for Redman to get loose on.
Winicumuhround – Erick Sermon follows up his dope production work on the previous track with this dud.
Wuditlooklike – This was absolutely horrendous.
Slide And Rock On – Redman leads the listener to believe that this might be a serious record, as he kicks it off by saying:”Yo, this blunt is for all the niggas that was in the holding pen with me in Central Booking…welcome to the system”. Then Redman’s dreadful instrumental drops (which features about four overly used loops that you’ve all heard a thousand times before) and he continues to spew random nonsense over it. He does use the second verse to talk about his youth and how dabbling in the streets got him a short stint in jail. It was cool to hear him share pieces of Reggie Noble’s life, but the song is still trash.
Sooperman Luva II – Redman’s “Sooperman Luva” series is what the “Jane” series is to EPMD albums. Our host lays another smooth backdrop for part deux, as he shares an outrageous tale of his run in with a lady that doesn’t end well for the lady…or the rest of her “Martian bitch” crew. Wait…did Red just say he fucked Rosie the robot from the Jetsons? Redman’s rhymes sound kind of sloppy, but the song will still make you chuckle a few times and keep you mildly entertained, at least for the first few listens.
We Run N.Y. – We last heard from Erick Sermon’s baby mama, Hurricane G on Keith Murray’s debut album (see “Bom Bom Zee”). She resurfaces on this track, as she and Redman each spit a verse over the hard backdrop. Am I the only one who felt that Hurricane G was complete trash on the mic? Thankfully, Redman’s verse matches the energy of his instrumental (I love the KRS-One vocal snippet on the hook) and turns this into a solid record.
Dr. Trevis (Signs Off) – After a wicked laugh and an annoying bell that rings for a minute and some change, Dr. Trevis returns to thank the listener for purchasing the album on behalf of the “notty-headed nigga” (aka Redman) and the Def Squad Force. Then a wonderfully smooth-feel good instrumental plays for about 10 seconds and you’re left wishing they would have let it rock for another minute or so. I enjoyed it so much back in the day that I ghetto looped it on my dual cassette player, just to extend the audio orgasm.
Tonight’s Da Nite (Remix) – Our host not only changes the beat on this remix (the original was on Whut? Thee Album), but all the lyrics as well. I’m not sure why he calls it a remix, as it really has no connection with the original. Regardless, the song is trash.
In a 2010 interview with Vibe Magazine, when Redman was asked about Dare Iz A Darkside, he said “I swear, I have not played Dare Iz A Darkside damn near since I did it. Seriously! I was so lost, I was so fucked up during that album.” “Lost” and “fucked up” are fitting adjectives to describe how Redman sounds on Dare Iz A Darkside. Not only does he sound unfocused on the mic, but most of his production sounds sloppy and uninspired. There are a handful of dope songs on Darkside, but the majority of it is lackluster. And at twenty tracks, that much lackluster adds up to a disappointing album.