College Boyz – Nuttin’ Less, Nuttin’ Mo’ (October 4, 1994)

 

The last time we heard from the College Boyz was back in 1992 with the release of their debut album Radio Fusion Radio. The album produced three singles, all which had modest success on the charts, but the album itself had little commercial success and even less critical acclaim. The College Boyz would return two years later with their sophomore effort (no pun intended), Nuttin’ Less, Nuttin Mo’.

The once four man crew is down to three, as B. Selector decided to drop out of college before NLNM was recorded (I’m not sure what he contributed the first go round, so I highly doubt his presence will be missed). NLNM would produce three singles that failed to chart and the album came and went with very little fanfare. Shortly after, The CB’s would call it quits as a group and go their separate ways. I’m not sure what happened with Que and Squeaky G (which is a horrible alias by the way), but the lead emcee Rom (better known as Romany Malco) would go on to have a pretty successful career as an actor.

I’ve never listened to NLNM before today, but since I own their first album, Radio Fusion Radio, the completest in me had to buy it…plus it was only a dollar.

Live On Wzack – The CB’s kick the album off with a faux female radio jockey at the faux radio station Wzack, who has made an exception of letting the College Boyz perform live on her show, even though the station has a strict restriction on rap music. Rom takes the opportunity to spew militant and politically charged raps over a funky backdrop built around a few loops from Parliament’s “Dr. Funkenstein”, making you forget that these boys is from Texas and not Cali. This one sounds better the more you listen to it.

Moment Of Truth (The Southern Version) – Over a cool laid back smooth groove (courtesy of DJ Ronski and Humphrey Riley), Rom celebrates his true friends on the hook, while calling out the fakes ones on his verses (“friends aint shit but potential foes, and potential foes aint shit but pretentious hoes”). You may find this blasphemous, but the instrumental and Rom’s rhymes remind me of Pac on Me Against The World‘s “Outlaw”. I like this one.

Rollin’ – This must have been one of the singles from NLNM, as I came across a video for it when doing a little research for this post. The CB’s hook up another super West Coast sounding instrumental and Rom spits more conscious raps mixed with street rhymes, Que rhymes for a few bars and Squeaky G sprinkles a little of his underwhelming vocals on the track. The fellas were clearly attempting to make a commercial but still street credible banger with this one. It’s not terrible, but I wouldn’t call it a banger.

On Da Stroll – They were “Rollin” and now the CB’s are “On Da Stroll”. Rom spits a pretty clever line:”The sorrow that God inflicts whether poor or rich, cause every dog has a day and every day is a bitch”. Other than that, the rest of this song is pretty forgettable.

Easy – The CB’s hook up a breezy feel good backdrop that Rom uses to show gratitude and humility on. I love the bass guitar chords on this one.

Dying Out Here – The Ice Men and Dez & Adonis get credit for the funky instrumental that Rom uses to address the high number of black men dying by the hand of each other and the police (sadly, somethings haven’t changed since the nineties). Female vocalist Sweet Pea (which is a dope alias) adds a heartfelt hook and adlib, that when combined with the organ give you a soulful church feel.

If I Wuz A Bird – Rom uses this one to call out the injustices and hypocrisy the black man faces in North America and pin points that it all trickles down from our government (“it’s all a game of pimpin’, Regan, Bush and Clinton, I showed you who the gangsters be now watch who come up missin’). Rom’s conscious rhymes are pretty solid on this one, but they quickly get overshadowed by the dry Ice Men/Dez & Adonis produced instrumental and the corny hook.

No Sets, No Drama, No Stress – This makes for decent filler material.

15 Emotions – Romany goes into his acting bag on this one, as he comes from the perspective of a gang bangin’ killer who’s starting to feel guilty for all his evil deeds, but even as he fights to get out the game, his past (and his homies) keep pulling him deeper in to it. The smooth instrumental suits Rom’s poetically introspective rhymes, beautifully. This is easily the best song on NLNM.

Conscious Weep – The CB’s continue with their “tales from the hood”. This time Rom digs into the life and family of a girl named Carmanique, who is being molested by her father. Rom shares the disgusting details and the unfortunate decisions it leads Carmanique to make due to her pain and suffering. Technically, both the instrumental and Rom’s rhymes are sound, but for some reason neither the production or the rhymes feel heartfelt.

Texas Do – The College Boyz dedicate this one to the ladies. Over a laid back instrumental, Rom brags about his sexual prowess and what he and his TX crew wanna do with/to their prey (“we wants to get drunk and have sex with you”). Hey, conscious niggas like booty too, but this song is trash.

Nuttin’ Less, Nuttin’ Mo’ – The title track finds Rom doing some introspection, as he questions and ponders his canine sensibilities and his appetite for feline (“I’ve been tryin’ to come to grips, with the shit that I kick, another nigga run by his brain, but his brain is in his dick…why am I so ungrateful, why am I unfaithful, knowing woman is the origin of my navel”). The CB’s, with a co-production credit going to The Icemen, get credit for the slick low key instrumental that works well with Rom’s content.

Run Dance Hall – I’m not a huge fan of reggae music. So, you can probably guess how I feel when a Texas dude tries to chant like a Jamaican over a knock-off reggae instrumental.

Dedication – After a horribly written and horrendous vocal opening minute and half from Squeaky G, the somber Ice Men produced instrumental drops and Rom proceeds to spit his last two verses of the evening, dedicating them to his deceased friends. Remove Squeaky G’s parts from the song and this is a solid ending to NLNM.

On Nuttin’ Less, Nuttin’ Mo‘s final track “Dedication”, Rom boasts that the College Boyz aint no “fly by night crew with a one hit”, which is true. They actually don’t have any hits. But even without a hit record on NLNM, the CB’s craft a cohesive batch of songs that don’t all work, but they hit more often than they miss. The album title is a bit misleading, as the title song sums up the black man as just a sexually charged being who only thinks with his dick, meanwhile, the CB’s spend the majority of the album focused on social issues and the black man’s plight in North America. NLNM is far from a great album, but it’s definitely an improvement from their first go round. I’m curious what they may have been able to do with a third shot.

-Deedub

 

 

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Common – Resurrection (October 4, 1994)

How is that for timing? Today’s post is on Common’s sophomore effort, Resurrection, and his 12th studio album, Let Love comes out this Friday! Read this post and then go check out his new album this weekend. 

 

Shortly after getting The Source‘s Unsigned Hype column feature, the Chicago born emcee Common would get a deal with Relativity Records and released his debut album Can I Borrow A Dollar? (read my thought on that album here) in 1992. The album didn’t move a ton of units, but a few of the album’s singles made a little noise, which was enough noise for Relativity to give him a follow up. Common would return at the end of 1994 with his second album, Resurrection.

On CIBAD the production duties were pretty much split between Twilite Tone and No ID (who went by the alias of Immenslope at the time), and collectively them dudes put their foot in it. For Resurrection, gone is Twilite Tone (which I’m still curious as to why), which left No ID at the helm to sculpt Resurrection, sonically (Common’s buddy Ynot gets a few production credits as well). Resurrection would go on to receive favorable reviews (largely due to the first single) from critics and fans alike, and in 1998 The Source would include it on their list of 100 Best Rap Album, even though they only gave it 3.5 mics upon its release. I can’t knock them for that. Sometimes we have to give music a little time to marinate before we can really appreciate it.

Because…time is illmatic.

Resurrection – Common kicks off the album with the title track which was also the album’s second single. No ID builds the instrumental around a jazzy piano loop, as Common displays his potent flow and wordplay that had clearly improved since CIBAD. Our host mixes clever punchlines (“I’m Nestle when it’s crunch-time, for your mind like one time, if poetry was pussy I’d be Sunshine, cause I deliver like the Sun-Times”) with insightful rhymes showing depth and maturity (“Proceed to read and not believin’ everything I’m readin’, but my brain was bleedin’, needin’ feedin'”), and he also gives a shout out to one of the finest BET personalities of all-time, Video LP’s Madelyne Woods (whom Phife first immortalized on a ATCQ’s classic, “Electric Relaxation” (Tribe Degrees of Separation: check), and even today, well in to her fifties, she still looks amazing). Extra P did a remix for this song (which along with the single mix had slightly different verses) which was also pretty dope. This is an underrated classic and arguably one of the greatest opening songs on a hip-hop album.

I Used To Love H.E.R. – No ID chops up an ill George Benson loop and Common brilliantly uses hip-hop as a metaphor for a woman he once loved, and with great detail he illustrates the path she took over the years to end up where she’s at now. I recently heard Common say in an interview that he wasn’t really dissin’ any artist on this song, but it definitely sounds like he was taking subtle shots at West Coast rappers and some of the East Coast groups he thought were gimmicks (“I see niggas slammin’ her and takin’ her to the sewer…i.e. Onyx and Das EFX). Regardless, this song did start the beef between Ice Cube and Common, which would inspire Common to write one of the most underrated dis records in the history of hip-hop (“The Bitch In Yoo”), bodying the once seemingly bullet proof, Ice Cube. Ironically, the two would patch things up and 20 plus years later Common would star alongside Cube in the Cube Vision produced movie Barbershop: The Next Cut (time is truly illmatic). This song is flawless from top to bottom (I absolutely love The Five Heartbeats snippet at the end of the song) and easily one of the top ten greatest hip-hop songs off all time (yeah, I said it!).

Watermelon – Our host sounds more like the CIBAD Common on this one, as he hits the listener with witty punchline after punchline. No ID lays down a bare back drum break and lays a deep bass line underneath it, as Common annihilates the damn thing with ease.

Book Of Like – A young Common’s pondering life and questioning his purpose on this one. No ID’s slightly somber backdrop serves as the perfect canvas for our host’s introspection.

In My Own World (Check The Method) – No ID not only produces this song but also shares the microphone with Common. Part of the hook and song title come from a portion of Extra P’s verse on ATCQ’s “Keep It Rollin” from the Midnight Marauders album (there’s a double dosage of Tribe Degrees of Separation for dat ass!). This is one of the few songs I skip on the album.

Another Wasted Nite With… – Common uses this hi-larious voicemail from one of his homies (or “cat daddy” uncles) to set up the next song…

Nuthin’ To Do – The final song on the “East Side of Stony” finds Common bored and idle, as he reminisces about his reckless days as a youth in the streets of Chicago. I love No ID’s jazzy instrumental and the clever ODB vocal sample.

Communism – Our host taps back into his creative juices and comes up with a clever song title and concept, as he strings together a verse full of words that begin with a “com” prefix (“Now Com could get the penny, but I want my own company, and Com is on a mission not to work for commission…it’s a common market and it’s so much competition, but to me, competition is none”). No ID’s warm backdrop suits Common’s communist verse, perfectly. My only issue with this one is its too short.

WMOE – Short interlude that sets up the next song.

Thisisme – Common uses this one to celebrate just being himself. No gangster, no criminal, just plain old Common. He also saves room to talk a little shit as well (“rappers are like jobs to me, because they get done”).  No ID provides the feel good breezy backdrop for our host to freely and confidently walk in his own shoes and create a dope song.

Orange Pineapple Juice – More quality rhymes and dope production work, suitable for midnight marauding.

Chapter 13 (Rich Man Vs. Poor Man) – This is the first song of the evening that No ID didn’t produce, and the second song of the evening that I deem skippable. Ynot joins Common on the mic as they take turns spitting underwhelming freestyle rhymes over a boring Ynot produced instrumental. Next…

Maintaining – No ID quickly gets thing swinging back in the right direction with this dope instrumental that Common completely obliterates (“I’m as dope as PCP, MC’s see me, and they start having flashbacks, I don’t flash scratch, I gotta watch my back, nowadays blacks don’t know how to act, besides Larry Fishburne, Charles Dutton, and Wesley Snipes, marks wanna test me because I test mics, but I check ’em sound, and like Goose I’m down, plus I done got better since “Soul By The Pound””). This shit is dope.

Sum Shit I Wrote – This is one of my favorite songs on Resurrection. Ynot quickly redeems himself from the mediocrity that was “Chapter 13”, and lays down this bumpin’ mid-tempo groove. Common’s in a zone and raps his ass off on this one: “I don’t see nothin’ wrong with a little bump and grind, but there comes a time when you gotta come off that booty, the facts of life I didn’t learn from watchin’ Tootie, but livin’ in the big city, but I still like Tootie cause she got big titties…my style is steep, I rip rhymes on the incline, splat guts, bust fat nuts and lay up like a crip line…I’m slammin’ jammin’ on the one…I’m a bad man…you’re just a good son”. Brilliant.

Pop’s Rap – Common brings back the “Thisisme” instrumental for his Pop Dukes to get on the mic and get some shit off his chest. Poppa Common offering a few words of wisdom would become the traditional way for Common to end his next several albums. Sadly, his pop’s passed away a few years ago. He dedicated the song “Little Chicago Boy” (which Pops also appears on) from the Black America Again album to him.

Hip-hop has seen many artist go from wet behind the ears to fully grown adult, but rarely does a rapper’s catalog show their progression with each of their works. Common is one of the exceptions. Throughout his catalog his music has documented his maturity and growth as an emcee, and more importantly, as a man. The animated immature kid from Can I Borrow A Dollar? still appears from time to time throughout Resurrection, but you also see that same kid blossoming into a man with maturity and depth. But don’t get it twisted, he can still bust your shit on the mic. No ID provides a nearly flawless soundscape (props to Ynot for “Sum Shit I Wrote”) for Common’s brilliant metaphors, witty punchlines and potent battle raps, and despite a few hiccups, the duo collectively birth a great album. No sophomore slump for Common, cause as he so confidently states on “Maintaining”: I done got better since “Soul By The Pound”.

-Deedub

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PMD – Shade Business (September 27, 1994)

Prior to the release of their fourth album, Business Never Personal, EPMD was dealing with internal strife. In late 1991, Parrish’s home was broken into and when the culprits were apprehended they claimed Erick Sermon paid them to do the job. E-Double was brought in for questioning but no charges were filed, and though the duo would go on to complete and release the album, the tension between them continued to grow. EPMD would finally go their separate ways in 1993. Erick Sermon would be the first to release a solo album in ’93 and Parrish (aka PMD) would release his debut solo album in the fall of 1994, Shade Business.

PMD would handle the bulk of the production work on Shade Business, with a few assists and cameos from members of his Hit Squad. There has been speculation that Russell Simmons (who sided with Erick Sermon after the breakup, which makes sense since E signed a solo deal on Simmons’ Rush Associated Labels) conspired to shit on the roll out and promotion of Shade Business in order to stunt its success (which is interesting considering he shouts out Russell along with the whole Def Jam and RAL staff in the liner notes…he also shout out ATCQ’s (Tribe Degrees of Separation: check). Whether or not this conspiracy theory is true, Shade Business was a commercial failure, and I don’t know three people who own the album or spoke positive about it.

But here at TimeIsIllmatic we don’t care about commercial success. I found a used copy of the cd a few years ago and have never listened to it before now (I’m only familiar with the lead single from the album). Let’s walk through it and see if it deserves more respect than it’s received through the years.

Shade Business – The album opens with the title track and finds PMD rhyming about the shade business that goes on in the music industry as well as in the streets. PMD sounds serious and disgruntle, which fits nice with his rough backdrop built around a stripped down guitar loop. Decent way to start the evening.

In The Zone – P’s instrumental sounded empty and flat the first time I listened to this song. After a few more spins it begins to sound less empty and more cold and callous (almost like a skeleton version of EPMD’s instrumental for “Chill”, which PMD uses a vocal sample from on this song’s hook), and I like it. PMD’s monotone poker faced flow sounds pretty nice on top of it as well.

Steppin’ Thru Hardcore – “Them niggas new that shit before it happened” is what you hear PMD yell as the song begins, which in my mind is a subliminal directed at the E-Double and whomever he allegedly sent to rob P. After our host gets that out of his system, he drops a pulsating bass line but places a flat drum beat underneath it, which takes away from the bass line’s intensity. This is unfortunate because P actually spits some pretty decent bars on this one.

Respect Mine – This one starts with a Muhammad Ali soundbite about respect, playing over a soulful loop from The Impressions, which left me curious and anticipating how PMD was going to attack this slow laid back instrumental. Then he completely switches things up to a beat with a few more bpm’s than the latter but just as laidback. The instrumental is not terrible (it kind of reminds me of EPMD’s “Let The Funk Flow” from the Strictly Business album) and I liked the Wu-Tang vocal snippet on the hook, but P’s flow almost completely collapses on this one.

Here They Cum – Das EFX joins their mentor on this one, as the three pass the mic around like a joint. PMD sounds off his game, while Dray and Skoob do their best to save the track. But ultimately, P’s instrumental is too lifeless for them to rescue.

Back To The Rap – PMD (with a co-production credit going to Charlie Marotta) lays a solid mid-tempo groove and his offbeat jerky flow compliments it, nicely. Not a great song, but it makes for decent filler material.

I’ll Wait – Zone 7 (which is the duo of Lavell Bass and Roland Harris) joins Parrish on this cipher joint as they share microphone duties over DJ Scratch’s rough backdrop. Lavell and Roland’s voices get engulfed by the music but PMD’s booming vocal shines through, as he raps like an emcee with a chip on his shoulder (“Produced too many rap hits for niggas to be checkin’ me, I’m wreckin’ see”…Niggaz trippin’, bitin’ my business formats and techniques like rabies, juggles these-what? Nuts, hard to fade see”). By the way, I love the organ loop Scratch mixes into his hard instrumental.

I Saw It Cummin’ – This was the lead single and the only song I’d ever heard from Shade Business. PMD (with a co-production credit going to DJ Scratch) builds the funk style backdrop around a few loops from the Ohio Players’ “Funky Worm” and creates a very West Coastish sounding instrumental. The title and hook (which uses clever vocal loops from Ice Cube (“I saw it comin’ that’s why I went solo”) and Snoop (“Went solo on that ass, but it’s still the same”)) would lead one to believe that this is another shot at the Green-eyed Bandit, but P’s sloppy verses are all over the place (the delivery of P’s line “you know I’m psycho…crazy like that man Nor…man…Bates” might be the worst in the history of hip-hop) and he never really focuses on the subject at hand. The instrumental sounds better today than I remembered back then, and maybe a different rapper could have brought out more of its dopeness. Which reminds me that Above The Law used the same loop on Uncle Sam’s Curse‘s underrated lead single “Black Superman”.

Swing Your Own Thing – P samples Vaughan Mason’s “Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll” at wholesale, which is extremely lazy and disappointing coming from someone as established in the game as PMD. He uses the unimaginative backdrop to share a message of unity and encouragement and comes off sounding cheesy and hollow.

Fake Homeyz – 3rd Eye (formerly known as Jesse West) and Top Quality join PMD, as they dedicate this one to all the fake homies (aka Erick Sermon). I like P’s instrumental, and 3rd Eye and Top Quality actually sound decent rhyming over it. Or maybe it was just nice to hear someone other than PMD rapping.

Phuck It Up Scratch (Interlude) – Parrish dedicates this one to DJ Scratch, as he takes footage from a live show where he’s playing Scratches hype man and proclaims his loyal deejay as “the Jesus Christ of two turntables”. This was a kind gesture.

Back Up Or Get Smacked Up – Everything about this song was trash.

Thought I Lost My Spot – 45 King lays down a smooth laid back instrumental (P gets a co-production credit) for PMD to display more of his slow flow styling and he sounds composed rhyming over it (what the hell does “concentratin’ like Nancy Kerrigan” even mean?). That’s all I got, folks.

No Shorts And No Sleep – PMD invites the new regime of the Hit Squad to join him on the final song of the evening (3rd Eye, Top Quality and Zone 7), and Troo Kula and Jesse Williams provide the understated smooth instrumental for the team to spit on. None of the parties involved sound terrible (or great for that matter), but the instrumental lacks the intensity needed to create the foundation for a memorable posse joint.

After living with Shade Business that past few weeks, it’s clear that Parrish Smith is not the same caliber of emcee or producer without his Brentwood bredrin Erik Sermon. On “Back Up Or Get Smacked Up” PMD rhymes “I couldn’t come sloppy poppy”, but spends the majority of the album doing just that. He showed signs of his new found awkward-off beat-stuttering flow on Business Never Personal, but he takes it to new heights on Shade Business. For four consecutive albums, EPMD was able to string together a cohesive batch of funk grooves for the listener’s audible enjoyment, and while P does manage to muster up a few solid instrumentals, most of Shade Business‘ production is soulless and mediocre.

Jordan and Pippen. Kool Aid and sugar. Hamburger and fries. Fish and water. Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith. Some things are just meant to be together. And when separated they’re not as successful. Or…they perish (pun intended).

-Deedub

 

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Craig Mack – Project: Funk Da World (September 20, 1994)

No rational thinking hip-hop head will argue with the fact that The Notorious B.I.G. built the Bad Boy label (on Puff Daddy’s dime) that dominated east coast hip-hop and r&b during the mid-nineties. His platinum selling debut album, Ready To Die (read my thoughts on that album here) would not only propel him to fame and stardom, but would also help lay the foundation for the success of the rest of the Bad Boy roster, which included his wife, Faith Evans, Total and Mase, just to name a few. While B.I.G.’s definitely the key piece to the label’s initial success, the true cornerstone of Bad Boy is Craig Mack.

The Bronx born and bred emcee Craig Mack first came on the scene in 1988 under the alias MC EZ, as one half of the duo MC EZ & Troup. They released one single that didn’t make much noise and eventually they disbanded. Mack would then connect with EPMD, with whom he would eventually serve as their roadie, but he still had dreams of becoming his own emcee. As fate would have it, Mack would run into Puff Daddy outside of a New York nightclub where he was given the opportunity to rap for the future mogul. Puffy was impressed and would sign him to Bad Boy where he would release the first single on the label, “Flava In Ya Ear” and the second album, Project: Funk Da World (a week after Biggie’s debut album Ready To).

For Project: Funk Da World, Craig Mack and Lenny “Ace” Marrow would handle half of the production, with the wily veteran Easy Mo Bee handling the other half (Rashad Smith would also get credit for one track). “Flava In Ya Ear” would go on to be the biggest hit on Funk Da World and would help power the album to earning a gold plaque. Despite the relative success of Funk Da World, the massive success of Ready To Die would dim Mack’s shine and momentum, and eventually find the Bad Boy pioneer forgotten and off the label. He would return in ’97 with his second album (released on Street Life Records), which failed to produce any hits or move units and the Bronx rapper would fade away into hip-hop’s black hole, forever remembered as a one hit wonder.

Sadly, Craig Mack passed away from heart failure in 2018 at the age of 47. May he rest in peace.

Project: Funk Da World – After an extended intro/skit, a muted bass line and drum beat drops and our host gives us the first dosage of his lackadaisical funk flow. Knock out the first two useless minutes of this song and this is a nice funky little introduction to our bumpy faced host.

Get Down – The first 4o seconds of this song consist of a decent funk instrumental playing while Mack adlibs over it. Then Easy Mo Bee drops a thick bass line, fills it in with drums and the rest of his funky goodies. Craig freaks it lovely with his unorthodox style, because as he puts it “I does what I do”. Though it was nowhere near as big a hit as the lead single “Flava In Ya Ear”, it was a solid second single and in my opinion, an underappreciated song.

Making Moves With Puff – Rashad Smith lays down a breezy melodic instrumental for Mack, who continues to spew freestyle rhymes in his unique mush mouth delivery, while Puffy whispers the refrain. This is far from a great song, but it makes for decent filler material.

That Y’all – This bland Craig Mack/Lenny Marrow produced instrumental sounds like something Mack’s old friend, Erik Sermon threw away and he fished out of the trash can. Mack doesn’t help matters, as his flow, which is already a bit mush mouthed and lazy, is even harder to understand, as he comes off sounding almost drunk. This was a train wreck.

Flava In Ya Ear – This was the lead single from Funk Da World and the biggest hit in Mack’s limited catalog.  Mo Bee’s at it again and lays down an infectious funk groove that Craig freaks with ease, showing “stamina like Bruce Jenner, the winner, serving emcees for dinner” (I wonder if our host would have ever imagined that Bruce Jenner would transform into a woman 2o plus years later after he penned this rhyme…time is truly illmatic). The remix, which featured Biggie (who steals the show), Rampage, LL and Busta Rhymes, would be even iller than the O.G. mix, but this is still an undeniable classic.

Funk Wit Da Style – No thanks.

Judgement Day – Easy Mo Bee gives this one a triumphant feel with a solid mid-tempo funk groove (whose bass line slightly resembles the one he used for “Flava In Ya Ear”), as our host calls all emcees to face their judgement. This was solid. It made my head bop…a little bit.

Real Raw – If I was a betting man, I’d be willing to bet that this was one of the first songs recorded on Funk Da World. Mack’s flow is clearer with a more straightforward rhyming style than he uses on the rest of the album. I found it both amusing and sad to hear Craig refer to himself as “grotesque” on the song’s final verse, but the ladies still rub his chest, so fuck it. Craig’s battle rhymes actually sound more convincing with this delivery, and his self-produced backdrop (which samples a piece of the theme song from the long running soap opera Days of Our Lives and turns it into an ill dark loop) sounds great behind his solid bars.

Mainline – I’m not feeling this one at all.

When God Comes – Our host takes a break from his litany of freestyle rhymes and ask the hip-hop community the rhetorical question: What you gonna do when God comes? Mo Bee lays a monster of an instrumental down for Mack to unleash his diatribe over. The emotional horn loop on the hook reminds me of Coltrane’s somber chords at the end of A Love Supreme‘s “Psalm”, and feels like the earth trembling in fear of God’s coming wrath on man for his evil deeds. This is my favorite song on the album, and without ever hearing his second project Operation: Get Down (but don’t fret, I have a copy of it and will listen to it at some point), I’m willing say it’s Mack’s magna opus.

Welcome To 1994 – Why in the world did Craig Mack come back and end Funk Da World with this shit?  Whoever sequenced the album should be shot. The album clearly should have ended after “When God Comes”, but if they had to include this drudgery on the album they could have at least stuck it in the beginning or the middle. This song sucks on its own, but its placement makes its godawfulness stand out even more.

On Project: Funk Da World, Craig Mack proves he can rap, but unfortunately that’s all he proves. Mack’s mumbled mouth flow is cute, playful and entertaining on the surface, but after a few listens his tone and cadence become redundant, and at times borderline irritating. With the exception of “When God Comes”, you can literally swap the verses on all the songs and come out with the same results, which means there’s not much variety in Mack’s content and it quickly becomes an endless loop of freestyle rhymes. Production wise, Easy Mo Bee does a decent job with the handful of tracks he handles, and Mack even turns in a few decent joints, but four (arguably five) dope songs out of eleven aren’t impressive results. History has it written that Biggie’s success ended Craig Mack’s career. In reality, Mack’s debut project was too lackluster and just didn’t funk da world the way he intended it to.

-Deedub

 

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Da Youngsta’s – No Mercy (September 20, 1994)

 

Da Youngsta’s have always been a bit of an enigma to me. When they came on the scene in 1992 with their debut album Somethin 4 Da Youngsta’s, the brother-cousin trio (brothers Taji and Quran Goodman and cousin, Tarik Dawson) were a clean cut kid group with a cute kid image. After the album failed to move units, they decided to go with the current trends of the time an adapted a gimmicky hyper-energy hardcore Onyx-like style for their sophomore effort The Aftermath (and despite their antics, it was still a decent album). The ever evolving Philly threesome would return in 1994 with their third release, No Mercy.

Da Youngsta’s, who have been blessed throughout their career to work with the cream of the crop of hip-hop producers, would call on Marley Marl and his protégé K-Def to handle most of the production work on No Mercy. Like their previous two albums, No Mercy didn’t do big numbers and would be their last album on the East West Atlantic label.

Would Da Youngsta’s find their true identity on No Mercy? And even more important, would the album be entertaining?

Hip Hop Ride – This was the lead single from No Mercy. Da Youngsta’s kick things off paying homage to the emcees who’ve contributed to the culture, past and present (which includes a shout out to A Tribe Called Quest during the first verse (Tribe Degrees of Separation: check)). Marley Marl backs up the trio’s verses with a super West Coast sounding instrumental and its actually pretty dope. There are some glaring holes in their list (including Rakim, KRS-One, Public Enemy and with the exception of Roxanne Shante, all of the Juice Crew, to which, ironically, Marley’s the founder of), but the intent is commendable, and the song’s chill vibes are suitable for playing on a warm summer day.

Mad Props – K-Def gets his first production credit of the night and it’s a banger. Sonically, the track sounds big, with energy that reminds me of some of Just Blaze’s best work. Da Youngsta’s do the best they can with it. Their performance isn’t worthy to collect the mad props they seek, but K-Def definitely earns them for this epic instrumental.

No Mercy – For the title track, Marley cooks up a melodic mid-tempo high energy groove for Da Youngsta’s to talk their shit on and wreak havoc on rival crews. Quran’s Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat reference was cute (and I’m still scratching my head about Taji’s line: “It’s no mercy cause my rhymes is mental, when I write blood comes out of my pencil”…wtf??), but these dudes aren’t lyrical enough to make anyone quake in their Timberlands. Marley’s instrumental will touch your soul, though.

Backstabbers – By 1994, hip-hop had already given us several “backstabbing” songs, so Da Youngsta’s don’t cover any new territory here. I do like K-Def’s moody production work on this one, even if it is a bit too somber for the subject matter.

No More Hard Times – Being that their dad (and uncle) was somewhat of an established Philly Producer, I didn’t think the Goodman boys (yes, I know Tarik’s last name is Dawson, but majority rules…and I like the way “the Goodman boys” sounds, dammit!) grew up struggling in the hood. But regardless, this song finds the trio celebrating their rise from struggle to success. This song is the first real misstep of the evening. I didn’t care much for the rhymes or Marley’s flat instrumental.

Put Me On – The final song on side A, if you’re listening to No Mercy on cassette, finds the young Philly trio in a horny state, begging the objects of their erections to let them smash. Marley provides a cool melodic backdrop, which when coupled with the Goodman boys’ theme, reminds me of  ATCQ’s “Bonita Applebum” (there’s a second Tribe Degrees of Separation for dat ass!), which I’m sure they were inspired by.

Stayed Away – This is probably my favorite song on No Mercy. K-Def builds the smooth mid-tempo groove around a young MJ sample and an ill Marley-like trumpet loop, as the Goodman boys celebrate their return. The MJ vocal sample on the hook and the song concept would have made more sense had they been on hiatus for a few years, but nigga…ya’ll just dropped an album in ’93. And what’s up with the dramatic pause and introduction before the final verse? Like Taji (who they ridiculously refer to as “Taj Mahal”) is some great lyricist about to spit amazing rhymes? Regardless, there is no denying the dopeness and addictive quality of K-Def’s production work.

Illy Filly Funk – K-Def throws Da Youngsta’s a nasty backdrop built around an ill Quincy Jones loop (from the same song that brought us the source material for Pharcyde’s “Passin’ Me By” and The Roots’ “Clones”, just to name a few) and a sick horn loop that the threesome use to rep for their hometown. This was slick.

Grim Reaper – Initially, I thought Pete Rock produced this one, because the voice sample laced throughout the song sounds like him doing one of his signature adlibs. But to my surprise, Marley Marl is responsible for this stale offering. Oh, and there is absolutely nothing about Da Youngsta’s that would make me, or anyone, fear them. Grim Reaper my ass.

Reality – On this one the Goodman boys discuss the ill shit that comes with being a young black man living in urban America. I love DESTRO’s jazzy instrumental and how it straddles the line between soulful and somber. If you’re a black man in America, this one will definitely make you want a drink after listening to it.

In The City – Da Youngsta’s and DESTRO kind of jack Guru’s “Sights In The City” from Jazzmatazz, as they borrow the theme and sample Carleen Anderson’s vocal for the song’s hook. Unlike the dark vibes Guru’s version let off, DESTRO gives Da Youngsta’s a beautiful jazz-flavored instrumental to spit their commentary over.

People Round Town – DESTRO puts his foot in this one and churns out an ill canvas for Da Youngsta’s to paint upon. The trio do their best “tough guy” act on this one, but it’s not convincing. DESTRO’s instrumental is the truth, though.

What U Feel – Da Youngsta’s end No Mercy with this throw away joint. They don’t really have much to say, but DESTRO’s laid back jazz-tinged instrumental feels good.

Da Youngsta’s seem to have finally found their voices on No Mercy…well, kind of. The trio slip into a nice medium between the cute kid thing and the overly energetic/angry yelling, and deliver semi-decent bars throughout. You’re not going to get fire verses from the Da Youngsta’s, but they definitely have a good ear when it comes to picking quality instrumentals. The Aftermath saw Da Youngsta’s recruiting a handful of hip-hop’s elite producers to provide the soundscape, and they did a quality job. For No Mercy, they call on Marley Marl and K-Def to cultivate the majority of the album’s sound, and they (along with newcomer DESTRO) string together a cohesive batch of vintage mid-nineties jazz infused instrumentals (with the exception of the first track) that fair even better than the previous album. In the hands of more skillful emcees, most of the instrumentals on No Mercy would have the potential to be phenomenal songs and make for a great album. But it’s Da Youngsta’s. So it’s just a well-produced project will disposable rhymes.

-Deedub

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The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready To Die (September 13, 1994)

From the mid-eighties to early nineties, Big Daddy Kane was the undisputed King of Brooklyn, but by 1994 (some may contest even earlier) it was clear that his reign was coming to an end. The mid-nineties would usher in a new wave of emcees influenced by the Kane’s, the Rakim’s and KRS-One’s. A young Queensbridge emcee named Nas would drop what many consider to be the greatest hip-hop album of all-time in Illmatic (to which I concur) and label him the second coming of Rakim. While over in Brooklyn a hungry street hustler named Jay-Z was beginning to find his footing as an emcee and make a legitimate run at Kane’s soon to be vacant Brooklyn throne. 1994 would also see another young and hungry Brooklynite emerge and take aim at becoming the new king of Brooklyn. The Notorious B.I.G. aka Biggie Smalls.

The first time I heard Christopher “Biggie Smalls” Wallace rhyme was on Heavy D’s cipher joint “A Buncha Niggas” from his 1992 Blue Funk album. The world probably first became familiar with Big from his 1993 cameo appearance on Super Cat’s “Dolly My Baby (Remix)” (I still remember Big rockin’ the black and white bandana with the cheap looking black and yellow hockey jersey that had “B.I.G.” plastered on the front of it in the video) rhyming next to Jesse “Third Eye” West and Puff Daddy. Around the same time, Puffy was getting his Bad Boy label off the ground, and while Craig Mack (rip) was the first artist to release a single on Bad Boy, Biggie’s (whose debut single came out two weeks after Mack’s debut single “Flava In Ya Ear”) debut album Ready To Die would come out a week before Mack’s debut Project: Funk Da World, and the rest is history.

Ready To Die would feature production by a host of producers (including the first inception of Puffy’s Production team, The Hitmen), but a large chunk would be handled by the often overlooked and underrated, Easy Mo Bee. The album would go to be a critical and commercial darling (by 1995 the album was 2 times platinum and by April of 2018 it had sold over 6 million units) that many consider to be a classic (The Source would put it in their Top 100 Albums of All Time in 1998), and it would thrust Biggie into superstardom and make him a viable candidate for the new King of Brooklyn, if not all of New York.

Unfortunately, Ready To Die would be the only album released while Biggie was alive, as he would be gunned down in Los Angeles on March 9, 1997, just two weeks before his second album Life After Death would be released. His untimely demise would render both album titles equally ironic and spooky and speak truth to the biblical proverb that life and death are in the power of the tongue.

On a lighter note, Big does shout out A Tribe Called Quest in the album’s liner notes, so you can check off Tribe Degrees of Separation on this one.

IntroReady To Die opens with a short intro that quickly goes through four phases of Biggies life: birth, his childhood years, his teen years and finally, him getting out of jail after doing a bid (Biggie actually did spend 9 months behind bars back in 1991 for moving weight). The intro ends with Biggie vowing to the Corrections Officer that he’s never coming back to jail, and the next song begins…

Things Done Changed – The first song of the evening has Biggie comparing how things used to be in the hood to how corrupt they’ve gotten in 1993: “back in the days are parents used to take care of us, look at ’em now, they even fuckin’ scared of us, callin’ the city for help because they can’t maintain, damn, shit done changed”. Dominic Owens and Kevin Scott get credit for the hard and dark instrumental that complements our host’s rhymes, perfectly.

Gimme The Loot – This song has Biggie basically doing a duet with himself, as he and his alter ego (who raps like Biggie from “A Buncha Niggas” from Heavy D’s Blue Funk album) are in thug mode and take turns talking about their ill deeds and what they’ll do to get the money. Normally, this kind of content would come off as sinister, but the animated back and forth between Biggie and um, Biggie, makes it hard to take the two serious. And as much as I love Easy Mo Bee, this sloppy instrumental is also hard to take serious.

Machine Gun Funk – Mo Bee quickly redeems himself from the previous track and lays down this slick mid-tempo funk masterpiece. Biggie sounds right at home and smoothly flows over it like water on the Nile.  You can definitely tell Biggie recorded this one later than the first two songs on Ready To Die, as his flow sounds way more polished than the former. This is an overlooked gem and one of my favorite songs on the album.

Warning – This may be one of the most underrated hip-hop songs off all time. Easy Mo Bee provides a beast of an instrumental for Big and he uses it to string together one of the greatest storytelling rhymes of all-time. Right after Mo Bee drops the bomb and it explodes into the tough bass line and hard drums, Biggie keeps the listener intrigued from the jump, as he tries to identify the number coming across on his pager (remember those?): “Who the fuck is this, paging me a 5:46, in the morning, crack of dawnin’, now I’m yawnin’, wipe the cold out my eye, see who’s this pagin’ me, and why”. The plot only gets thicker than Kim Kardashian’s ass from there (but naturally). Big proceeds to spew his warning to the potential jackers and drops one of the most witty bars in hip-hop history (there’s gonna be a lot of slow singin’, and flower bringin’, if my burglar alarm starts ringin'”). This is an undeniable classic and easily in my top 5 Biggie songs of all time.

Ready To Die – The title track finds our host frustrated, violent and ready to leave the planet (and take a few emcees with him), as he spews his demented rhymes over Easy Mo Bee’s murky instrumental. Mo Bee mixes hazy organ chords with an ill guitar loop and muddy drums that set the tone for Big’s dark rhymes. Once again, you can tell by Big’s flow that this was one of the older records on the album (that and the fact that he shouts out “’93” at the end of the song), but it still works.

One More Chance – Over a decent flippage of a loop from Debarge’s classic record “All This Love” (courtesy of the Bad Boy Hitmen: Norman & Digga aka Bluez Brothers, Chucky Thompson and Puffy), Biggie boasts about his sexual prowess, referring to himself as the “pussy crusher, black nasty motherfucka”, while Total sings the hook. This O.G. mix is solid, but has nothing on the monster Rashad Smith produced remix (which is built around another dope Debarge sample) that most casual fans are familiar with. Side note: According to Lil Cease’s interview on N.O.R.E.’s Drink Champs podcast, Nas was supposed to make a cameo on the remix, but was so high he couldn’t deliver a verse. If this is true, can you imagine how much more epic the classic remix would have been? Damn.

#!*@ Me (Interlude) – This short interlude has a woman fake moaning and calling Big some pretty comical names (“fuck me you black Kentucky Fried Chicken eatin’…you chronic smokin’…Oreo cookie eatin’…pickle juice drinkin’…muthafucka”) as he proceeds to stroke her kitty and help her reach the “climax her man can’t make”, while Jodeci’s “Feenin” blasts in the background. It’s mildly amusing the first few listen (or if you haven’t heard it in nearly 25 years), but it doesn’t have much replay value.

The What – Method Man makes the only rap cameo appearance (I’m not counting Biggie’s cheesy “A Buncha Niggas” alter ego that appeared on “Gimmie The Loot”) on Ready To Die, as he and Big tag team the mic over a loopy slightly drunken Easy Mo Bee produced instrumental. Most of you won’t agree with this comment, but this song hasn’t aged well. Feel free to verbally stone me in the comments, folks.

Juicy – This was the lead single from Ready To Die and the song that would introduce most of the world to The Notorious B.I.G. Poke (half of the production duo, Trak Masterz) builds the instrumental around a lazy loop from Mtume’s “Juicy Fruit”, as Biggie rhymes about his rise from rags to riches. Poke’s uncreative loop wound up being genius, as this song is a hip-hop standard that is guaranteed to get the party started during any nineties old school mix.

Everyday Struggle – Biggie uses this one to discuss the struggle and stress that comes with being a street hustler in the hood, and the despair that’s got him ready to check out (” I know how it feel to wake up, fucked up, pockets broke as hell, another rock to sell, people look at you like you’s the user, selling drugs to all the losers, mad Buddah abuser…but they don’t know about your stressed filled day, baby on the way, mad bills to pay, that’s why you drink Tanqueray, you can reminisce, and wish, you wasn’t livin’ so devilish”). The Hitmen build a beautiful upbeat instrumental around a loop of something you might hear in an elevator, and even in its complete contrast to Biggie’s hardcore rhymes, the two blend together in perfect harmony. I love this song, and it sounds just amazing today as it did 25 years ago.

Me & My Bitch – “When I met you I admit, my first thought was a trick, you look so good (uh), I’ll suck on your daddy’s dick”. Who will ever forget these classic, controversial and downright awkward opening lines to this hood love story? The Hitmen slide Biggie a smooth, yet slightly dark, backdrop with a cinematic feel that our host uses to display more of his brilliant story telling skills. Yet another great song on Ready To Die.

Big Poppa – This was the second single from Ready To Die and the song that would thrust The Notorious B.I.G. into superstardom. Chucky Thompson (with a co-production credit going to Puffy) loops up a sample from the Isley Brothers’ classic “Between The Sheets”, as Biggie leans back on it and smoothly spits some old Brooklyn player shit that is guaranteed to keep your head bobbin’. This is an undeniable hip-hop classic.

Respect – Biggie rhymes his bio over a rugged break beat. Jamaican Dancehall singer, Diana King stops by to handle the hook and sprinkles adlibs over Poke’s dusty instrumental. It’s not a great song, but it makes for decent filler material.

Friend Of Mine – I absolutely hate everything about this song. Big’s flow was still in the early developmental stages, the concept and content are corny and Easy Mo Bee’s instrumental is down right terrible.

Unbelievable – Premo laces our host with a blunted mid-tempo instrumental that Big dismantles with ease. This here is some timeless shit.

Suicidal Thoughts – The final track of the evening finds our host rhyming about exactly what the song title suggest. The song opens with Biggie making a phone call to Puffy, who answers and then our host begins his suicidal rant: “When I die, fuck it, I wanna go to hell, cause I’m a piece of shit it ain’t hard to fuckin’ tell, it don’t make sense going to heaven with the goody goodies dressed in white, I like black Timbs and black hoodies”.  Ultimately, the song ends with Biggie pulling the trigger on himself. The Lord Finesse produced instrumental is so drab and depressing that it makes me want to do the same.

Ready To Die showcases a young and hungry Brooklyn wordsmith and emcee cutting his teeth on his debut album. There are a few production missteps during Ready To Die, but overall, The Hitmen, Easy Mo Bee and the rest, do a pretty impressive job with the beats. My biggest issue with Ready To Die (other than the blatant biting of Illmatic‘s album cover, which Ghost and Rae would indirectly call Big out for on an Only Built 4 Cuban Linx interlude the following year) is the inconsistency in Biggie’s flow, as it sounds way more chiseled on the songs recorded later compared to the songs that were recorded earlier in the process when he was still working out the kinks in his presentation. All in all, the good far out ways the bad, as Biggie gives us some greats songs and a handful of classics, making Ready To Die a strong debut and one of the standout moments of 1994.

-Deedub

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Big Daddy Kane – Daddy’s Home (September 13, 1994)

After losing some respect and street cred from a lot of his male fan base with the debacle that was Prince Of Darkness (that also included the posse cut “Come On Down” that Q-Tip was a guest on (Tribe Degrees of Separation: Check)), Big Daddy Kane came back in 1993 with Looks Like A Job For. The album was solid, but its overly hardcore themes felt like Kane let the naysayers get to him and was over compensating for what Prince Of Darkness lacked. Kane would return in 1994 with his sixth and first album not on the Cold Chillin’ imprint (it was released on MCA), Daddy’s Home.

As the artwork suggest, Daddy’s Home would feature a fully grown BDK, fully embracing his masculinity and no longer seeming fazed by what his critics had to say about his music. Daddy’s Home would also find Kane delving deeper into the production side of things, as he’s credited with producing 5 of the album’s 13 tracks, along with co-mixing the entire album. Daddy’s Home received mix reviews, and like his previous three albums, it didn’t move a ton of units.

I wasn’t crazy about this album when it came out back in 1994. Let’s revisit it and see how its aged over time.

Daddy’s Home – Kane gets the title track out of the way right away, as he kicks back in his recliner and house shoes and breezes over this smooth LG (the same LG who previously went by The LG Experience on Ill Al Skratch’s Creep Wit’ Me) produced track. I usually prefer my hip-hop album opening tracks with more energy, but Kane’s effortless flow over the pleasant instrumental still works.

Brooklyn Style…Laid Out – Kane invites his backup dancer turned rapper, Scoob Lover (who at this point was going by his rap alias, Big Scoob) to join him on this rap duet. For some reason, Scoob gets away from the straight forward rhyming approach he used on previous Kane records (see “Down The Line” and “Chocolate City”) and adapts a super gimmicky and annoying nasally flow on Daddy’s Home. I wonder if Kane ever told him how corny this shit was. When you couple Scoob’s ear grating style with Easy Mo Bee’s cheesy instrumental, not even King Asiatic can save this song.

In The PJ’s – This was the lead single from Daddy’s Home. Kane licks his production chops and builds this smooth groove around a dope Teddy Pendergrass loop, as he reminisces about his childhood in the hood and shows love to all his peeps in the PJ’s across the globe. Because, as he elegantly puts it during the song’s first verse: “Just because I moved out the residence, it don’t mean that I can’t represent”. This was a mild hit for Kane, but I felt it should have been a bigger hit, as it feels like the perfect summertime groove.

Show & Prove – Kane invites Scoob, Sauce Money, Shyheim, pre-Reasonable Doubt and billionaire status, Jay-Z (who the liner notes credit at “J.Z.”) and Ol Dirty Bastard to join him on this cipher joint. Our host wiggles his way in the middle, batting fourth in the six man line-up, and raps circles around his guests and Premo’s solid boom bap backdrop. I think it’s a solid cipher joint. Do ya’ll consider it a classic posse joint? Hit me in the comments.

Lyrical Gymnastics – LG gets his second and final production credit of the evening and he builds this beauty around an ill Barry White loop. Kane does exactly what the song title suggest and back flips, front flips, handsprings and summersaults all over this shit, easily spittin’ over 100 bars without a break: “rappers today be coming as gangsta rhyme type, and be so soft they wouldn’t even kill time right, here’s the news, you’re lettin’ the word hardcore be misused, you ain’t never paid dues, be for real you ain’t tough yet, the razor bumps on your throat is the only thing making you a rough neck, your whole image is a damn sham, I’m glad in this business I didn’t forget who I am, I always remain the Kane inside a battle, never to walk in anyone’s shadow”. I’ve never heard Veteranz Day, but this may be Kane’s last great battle rap song.

That’s How I Did ‘Em – Kane spits three verses on this song: the first is dedicated to a wack emcee, the second, to a bootlegger (for those unaware of what a bootlegger is, go ahead and Google “Music Bootlegger” and educate yourself) and the final verse is a reminder to anyone within ear shot that Kane is the wrong nigga to fuck wit on the mic. Easy Moe Bee provides a decent backdrop, but this is nothing more than filler material.

Sex According To The Prince Of Darkness – This one is strictly for the grown and sexy. After a short intro that includes a pretty funny Dolemite sample, Da Rock (no, not Dewayne Johnson) lays out a smooth sophisticated instrumental, as the self-proclaimed Prince of Darkness brags and boasts about his sexual prowess: “baby you’re bound to perspire, when I use the nipples on your breast just like a pacifier, honey please, keep your body as ease, and let me see what I can do with those 34 C’s”. This is easily one of my favorite songs on Daddy’s Home.

3 Forties And A Bottle Of Moet – This is pretty much an interlude. Kane spits a quick verse name dropping some of his people (including his brother, Little Daddy Shane, that he apparently wasn’t speaking to when this song was recorded, but he’s still pictured in the liner notes standing next to his big bro, so they must have kissed and made up at some point) over a simple drum beat.

The Way Its Goin’ Down – Filler material.

Somebody’s Been Sleeping In My Bed – Kane gives us a seldom peek into his vulnerable side, as his woman has gotten sloppy and is leaving a ton of evidence of her unfaithfulness. This song has aged well. I didn’t care for it back in ’94, but I can appreciate it a lot more, 25 years later.

W.G.O.N.R.S. – Is an ebonic acronym for What’s Goin’ On N R Society, as the listener will quickly figure out once the hook comes in. Kane uses his self-produced (which samples and interpolates pieces of Marvin Gaye’s classic record “What’s Going On”) track to address a few societal ills in North America. I love my share of conscious rap, and Kane has given us some great ones through the years (see “Dance With The Devil”  and “Lean On Me”), but this is not one of them. The lackluster instrumental along with the annoying singing and chanting by Easy Dred and Junior P, doesn’t help matters. Side note: Bootsy Collins plays bass and Najee (remember him?) plays sax on this one.

Let Yourself Go – More filler material that finds our host obsessing over John Singleton (rip).

Don’t Do It To Yourself – The final song of the evening finds our host rhyming over his own heavily West Coast influenced production work, while his nasally flowed friend reappears as a hype man, but manages to spit enough rhymes to remind the listener just how annoying his new found flow is. Kane actually spits some hard bars on this one. And while his instrumental isn’t spectacular, he makes it sound decent. If you remove Scoob from the song it may have sounded even better.

On Daddy’s Home, Kane shows and proves that he is still in the upper echelon of emcees, displaying wit, charisma, sharp rhymes, one of the best delivers in hip-hop history and in my opinion, drops one of the best battle rap songs in his catalog (“Lyrical Gymnastics”). The problem with Daddy’s Home is the mediocre production, the large mass of filler material and most detrimental, Big Scoob. On Looks Like A Job For, Kane seemed to be regaining his footing after abandoning the true heads in a blatant attempt to win over the female audience on his previous release, Prince Of Darkness. Daddy’s Home doesn’t build on A Job For‘s momentum, but it’s also not as bad as Prince Of Darkness. It quietly…finds a home somewhere in between the two.

-Deedub

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