Redman – Muddy Waters (December 10, 1996)

After making a few colorfully impressive cameos on a couple of different EPMD records, Redman would sign a solo deal with Rush/Chaos, dropping his debut album, Whut? Thee Album, in September of 1992. The album would become a critical darling that would also earn the Newark, New Jersey rapper a gold plaque. Redman would follow up Whut? with Dare Iz A Darkside in November of ‘94. Redman and I might be the only two people on earth that felt Darkside was a bit uneven (and that’s being gentle), as it would receive very favorable reviews from the prominent publications of that era (including 4 mics from The Source and a “Favorable” stamp from Vibe). My main issue with the album was the hit-and -miss production, but regardless of anyone’s opinion of the music, Darkside would earn Red a second consecutive gold certification, doing so in just over two months of its release. After taking another two-year break between albums, Redman would return at the end of ‘96 with his third release, Muddy Waters.

Muddy Waters (which has a great pic for the album cover) would use the same formula as Red’s previous two albums, with Erick Sermon serving as the chief producer and Redman and a few other hands contributing to the music as well. Like its predecessors, Muddy Waters would go on to receive positive reviews, peaking at twelve on the Billboard 200, and earning Redman his third consecutive gold plaque.

Many consider Muddy Waters Redman’s greatest work. I haven’t listened to it in over two decades, so my memories of the album are a little…muddied. *rimshot*

Intro – The album begins with Redman’s evil alter ego, Dr. Trevis, reminding our host that this is the third album, as he tries to wake Red from his slumber, while a spell-bound group repeats an occult-like chant in the background. Then mysterious music, along with a series of weird noises and dramatic explosions occur, making the listener anxiously await a climax that never takes place. Then the next track begins.

Iz He 4 Real – Erick Sermon loops up a portion of The Roots “Section” for this slippery backdrop, while the Funk Doctor Spock loosens up for the night and gets off a short but solid verse.

Rock Da Spot – E-Double and Ty Fyffe concoct a digitized funk banger for Red, who quickly jumps into the musical Double Dutch ropes and finds his fun-spirited rhythm. This was dope.

Welcome (Interlude) – The previous track ends and this one begins with a few juvenile skits. Then Redman welcomes the listener to the album before spittin’ a few bars over E-Double’s drab and drowsy backdrop.

Case Closed – Xrossbreed (which was a duo made up of Rockwilder and Napalm) are the first guests to appear on Muddy Waters. Rockwilder is also credited for the grimy backdrop that he and his partner in crime, Napalm, sound nice rockin’ over. But Redman sounds great and right at home dismantling this gutter instrumental. My only problem with this record is it’s too short. I needed another round of bars from these three.

Pick It Up – E-Double lightens up the mood and puts some extra stank on this funk groove, while Red continues to wild out and entertain. This was a great choice for the album’s third single.

Skit – This NIN (Niggas In Newark) skit was mildly funny (I love the wholesome elevator music that plays in the background) and it works as a nice bridge to connect the previous song and the next track.

Smoke Buddah – Reggie builds this backdrop around the overly tapped Rick James “Mary Jane” loop, which he fittingly uses for this ode to weed, which also was an overly tapped hip-hop subject by 1996. This was super mid-grade.

Whateva Man – This was the second single released from Muddy Waters. Redman continues to smoke “herbals til it hurts you” and Erick Sermon jumps in to take a couple of tokes as well. The hysterical call-and-response hook, along with Erick Sermon’s cool subdued funk bop makes this joint extremely addictive and potent. Side note: The Blues Brothers-themed video for this record that paired Red with Meth was pretty hilarious.

Chicken Head Convention (Skit) – A super silly skit that you’ll only need to listen to once.

On Fire – Redman spits adequate bars to accompany E-Double’s mildly hot backdrop, making for an overall lukewarm experience.

Do What Ya Feel – This record would lay the foundation for the impressive Redman/Method Man run that would lift both rappers’ profiles and bring plenty of commercial success to both parties, culminated by the poorly received 2001 stoner flick, How High (I’m fully aware Red and Meth rapped together on 2pac’s “Got My Mind Made Up,” on All Eyez On Me, but this is the first official duet between the duo). Pras (from Fugees) and Jerry “Te-Bass” Duplessis serve up an anxiously smooth bop that Meth effortlessly lassoes with his cool flow, boasting of swimming the English Channel with a backstroke and hi-lariously claims to be the gingivitis to wack emcees’ “filthy ass gums.” Red matches Meth’s chill mood with slight aggression, gettin’ off a couple of solid verses, which includes him hysterically inviting his rivals to “suck my dick out of animosity.” The dope instrumental paired with Red and Meth’s undeniable chemistry makes for a super enjoyable record.

The Stick Up (Skit) – This skit finds Redman in thug mode robbing the occupants on a train and setting up the next song…

Creepin’ – Reggie stays in thug mode, concocting the most playfully unconvincing thievery narrative you’ll ever hear. But his self-produced grimy groove will keep your face screwed and head bobbin’ throughout.

It’s Like That (My Big Brother) – This was the lead single from Muddy Waters that finds Redman reuniting with his Hit Squad bredrin, K-Solo. Red constructs a stripped-down Brillo pad rough instrumental that he and Mr. Madison use to play a rowdy game of lyrical tug-of-war, no hook required. Nearly three decades later and this one still slaps.

Da Bump – E-Double reimagines the instrumental he produced for “Tonight’s Da Night” off the Whut? album, tweaking it just enough to make it sound breezier and more melodic than the original. Coincidentally, E also used this same instrumental for Bahamadia’s “I Confess Remix,” which also came out in ‘96 (I’m very curious how Bahamadia felt about E-Double’s double dipping, especially if she paid for the beat). With the refrain and song title also borrowing from “Tonight Da Night,” they should have just called this a “Tonight’s Da Night” remix, which sounds a lot better than the “Tonight’s Da Night Remix” CD only-bonus track on the Darkside album.

Yesh Yesh Ya’ll – Erick Sermon’s unnerving melodic backdrop will lull you into a trance, while Red continues to spew spirited stanzas full of animated bars.

What U Lookin’ 4 – This might be the closes Redman has ever gotten to making a socially conscious record, and one of the few songs on Muddy Waters that has a focused topic. Reggie uses Rockwilder’s smooth slightly funked groove to discuss police profiling of Black men and shares a couple of his own run-ins with twelve. And in true Redman fashion, he approaches the subject in a playfully lighthearted manner.

Soopaman Luva 3 Interview (Skit) – Painful foreplay that sets up the next song…

Soopaman Luva 3 – Part 1 of Redman’s zany ladies’ man superhero series found him getting down with an undisclosed transvestite. In part 2 he was seduced and tied up by a sexy something, before escaping and getting surrounded by a gang of “Martian bitches” and shooting his way out of a jam. The third installment involves oral and anal sex, police chases, and unexpected appearances from the infamous EPMD groupie, Jane, and Parrish Smith. All of Soopaman Luva’s bizarre antics are backed by a flip of the ill xylophone-driven sample from The Heath Brothers’ “Smilin’ Billy Suite Pt II” that transforms into some slow-rolling chunky funk slop midway through the song, which oddly, enhances the surprise ending. This is easily my favorite “Soopaman Luva” of the first three installments.

Rollin’ – Not essential listening, but decent filler.

Da Ill Out– Redman closes Muddy Waters with a Def Squad posse joint, inviting Keith Murray and Jamal to spar with him on this one. Red and Jamal sound decent, while Keith Murray’s verse sounds uncharacteristically sloppy, and Erick Sermon (who also gets off two bars during Jamal’s verse) places a crappy instrumental under it all, keeping his streak of horrible beat selections for Def Squad posse records intact.

The opening skit on Muddy Waters finds Redman’s alter ego, Dr. Trevis, trying to wake him up and urging him to focus, which I found telling. Redman’s on record for saying he wasn’t proud of his work on Darkside, even admitting to trippin’ on ‘shrooms during the making of the album. The opening skit sounds like Red’s playful way of acknowledging he wasn’t focused during his last outing and that Muddy Waters would mark his return to form.

Redman is not a “lyrical miracle” emcee (matter of fact, he told y’all back in ‘92 that he doesn’t “claim to be the best type of rapper”), but his charisma, animated energy, bluntness, and colorful rhymes have made him a cultural darling and a hip-hop legend. On Muddy Waters, all Redman’s emcee attributes are on display, as he slaps a quality batch of instrumentals across the face with whimsical weed references, humorous metaphors, silly one-liners, random shit talk, and oodles of horseplay. Much of the horseplay comes in the form of comical skits, placed in between almost every track. A couple of these skits are worthy of a chuckle, but most are crassly immature, and time has only made them sound like pure buffoonery. But as much as the foolish interludes try to…muddy the waters, the music and Red’s fun and free spirit make for an enjoyable listen…for all ya’ll stankin’ asses!


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6 Responses to Redman – Muddy Waters (December 10, 1996)

  1. willmiami76 says:

    I remember in December 1996 going to the Camelot Music at the mall. They were promoting heavily Muddy Waters. A few months earlier I saw the video for “It’s Like That” with the Just Ice sample of Cold Gettin Dumb. There’s a freestyle that had Big Pun, DMX, and Canibus rhyming over that beat. In early 1997 I saw the video for Pick It Up. Now I like the Warren G remix that uses the same sample The Alkaholiks used for Damn. Keith Murray used it for Rhyming With Kel and in the summer of 1997. Dru Hill used it for the Sleeping In My Bed (So So Def remix). Yeah Redman doesn’t think too highly of Dare. He doesn’t even perform them at his shows and I’ve seen a couple of them and can attest to that.

  2. Ely Shemer says:

    This was a good read.
    This is what I see in your post
    Thanks for the insightful and entertaining review of Redman’s Muddy Waters album! It’s great to see appreciation for his charisma and unique style.
    Thanks, Ely Shemer

  3. Vinny says:

    I only listened to it maybe twice. I will have to pull it out and give it a good listen again. Good review!

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