We last heard from Showbiz & AG in 1992 with their debut album Runaway Slave. The album helped lay the foundation for the well-respected Diggin’ In The Crates crew and many hailed it as a classic. But even if you don’t agree with the classic labeling (like myself), there’s no denying that it was a solid debut from the Bronx-based duo. The twosome would return in late spring of ’95 with their sophomore effort, Goodfellas.
Showbiz (who dropped the “biz” and was simply going as “Show” by this point) would produce the bulk of Goodfellas with an occasional assist from a few of his friends. To no one’s surprise, Goodfellas wasn’t a commercial success (I’m pretty sure no album released on Payday has been a commercial success), but it did receive positive reviews from the critics.
I bought Goodfellas when it came out, but haven’t listened to it in years, and other than the lead single I don’t remember much about it. Let’s see how this goes.
Never Less Than Ill – Our hosts kick things off with a rugged piano loop spread over hard stripped-down drums that AG uses to talk his shit over one long verse. This was a nice warm up track. And I love the song title.
You Know Now – Show sticks with the dark vibes from the opening track and provides another dim, but solid backdrop. AG continues to spew his braggadocio rhymes, and it sounds like he may have been taking a shot at someone with his line: “so burn baby burn, it’s the year of the only little big man, so wait your turn”. Subliminal or not, this was a cool record.
Check It Out – Show lays a sick xylophone loop over tough boom bap drums, and if that wasn’t enjoyable enough, he then brings in a beautiful string break during the hook. AG turns in a solid performance, but Show’s masterful production work does the heavy lifting on this one.
Add On – The first cipher joint of the evening features Lord Finesse (who is also responsible for the instrumental), AG and D-Flow sharing the microphone. I didn’t hate this one, but everything about it is just middle of the road.
Next Level (Nyte Time Mix) – This is the remix to the album’s first single. Premo lays down a thumpin’ bass line and adds a splash of this and a sprinkle of that, resulting in a certified banger that’s very suitable for midnight marauding. It’s always weird to me when an artist puts the remix of a song before the original mix in the album’s sequencing, but Premo’s groove is so infectious, I’ll let it ride.
Time For – DJ Roc Raida is credited for this boring backdrop. AG does the best he can with it, but he can’t even rescue this underwhelming record. The wordy hook and the abrupt way the song ends are just salt in the open wound.
Got The Flava – The second cipher cut of the evening features: AG, Party Arty, Wali World (sometimes spelled “Wally World”, depending on where you read it in the liner notes. I’ve never understood why whoever is responsible for writing the liner notes doesn’t double check with the artists to make sure they’re spelling their aliases correctly), D-Flow and a super unexpected verse from Method Man. Meth may have turned in the most unimpressive eight bars of his career on this one (which also awkwardly ends the song), but I like the rawness and ruggedness of the instrumental (which is credited to Show, AG and Black Sheep’s lead man, Dres).
Neighbahood Sickness – The first minute of this one is a super slick instrumental groove. Then our hosts switch it up to a slightly less pleasing backdrop that AG and Party Arty use to tag team the mic. It makes for a solid filler joint.
All Out -Very blah song with a terrible hook.
Medicine – This instrumental is the audio equivalent of what I would imagine heroin feels like when shooting it into your arm. Show makes his only verbal appearance on Goodfellas, as he helps with the hook at the end of the song. The song sounds like a demo, but I kind of dig the drowsy backdrop.
I’m Not The One – AG uses this very average instrumental to kick one quick verse about an old homie and a chick named Bonita, and explains how an attempted robbery turns into a double homicide. This was a strange storyline and an unnecessary filler track that sounds like an incomplete idea.
Got Ya Back – Show lays down a mellow melodic almost melancholic instrumental for AG and Wally World to tag team the mic and pledge their allegiance to their brotherhood. This is definitely one of my favorites on Goodfellas.
Next Level – As I mentioned earlier, this was the album’s lead single (come to think of it, it might have been the only single from Goodfellas). Show builds a brilliant soundscape around a thick sexy bass line and cinematic-like chords that AG uses to represent lovely for the Bronx: “Fake Lords, get strangled with mic chords, takin’ beats from my LP, sure aint healthy, Patterson Projects is where I rest, but I claim the whole planet, cause its mine goddammit, I’m God!”. I love Premo’s subdued “Nyte Time” remix, but the warm energy and vibes from Show’s instrumental is undeniable.
You Want It – For the final song of the evening, our hosts invite fellow DITC crew member, Diamond D to the party, as he shares the mic with AG and Party Arty. I didn’t care much for this one…and why didn’t Big L make a cameo on Goodfellas?
Goodfellas has a darker feel than its predecessor.
Showbiz Show still uses jazzy loops, but the instrumentals have dimmer vibes and sound simpler than his production work on Runaway Slave, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. AG’s wordplay and word connection have definitely improved since Runaway Slave, and with Show parking his mic and focusing solely on production, AG does a solid job holding down the majority of the microphone duties by himself. Goodfellas biggest issue is the handful of songs that sound like incomplete ideas or rough drafts, but overall, it still makes for a decent listen. And I still want to know why Big L didn’t get a verse off on the album.