Have you ever heard a song that when you first hear it, it sounds corny as shit, but there is just something about it……..something that makes you want to sing along with it. You know you shouldn’t like it, you shouln’t play it, but sooner or later you find yourself sneaking around your boys, playing a certain song, or a CD that you know you would get clowned on if anyone ever found out. Hip hop is very into peer pressure. In a sense, there are too many sheep and not enough wolves. If something is corny, at least in the “old days”, it usually was talking about things not typically found in hip hop. Stuff like Kid N Play, or DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. The subject matter wasn’t about how “hard on the boulevard” you are, or bustin’ yo gat. It was about other things that fell into the realm of “corniness”. If just given a chance, it wasn’t all that bad. Some of the music was actually pretty good. Now I’m not saying all corny music can be good. There is alot of corny music out there that is horrible no matter how you look at it. But there is some that people look down on for one reason or another. It’s this music that I’m going to kind of spotlight from time to time. There were alot of artists from the late 80′s to the mid 90′s that fell into that “corny” category. You have been “trained” that you probably shouldn’t like it, but dammit, some of it isn’t all that bad. True, some people will see some of the music I’m going to highlite and laugh their asses off. I don’t care, I’m comfortable enough to say “hey, I like this!” Some of it, yes, I did hide from my friends back in the day. Some of it has been forgotten, some of it still wears the “corny badge” to this day. Well, I’m bringing the fiber with some healthy corny choices.
“Breeze through in the q-45 by my side, lyrical high/And those that rushes my clutches get put on crutches/Get smoked like dutches from the master/Hate to blast ya, but I have ta, you see I smoke a lot/
Your life is played out like kwame, and them fuckin polka dots……..”
It’s funny how one line can single handly ruin a persons career. Biggie dropped that line on “Unbelivable” back in 94′, and yes, Kwame had already slipped a little by that time, but that was the knock out punch for his MC’ing career. But the man deserves to be remembered for more than just that. Since being memoralized on that classic song, Kwame has been trying to get back in the game as a producer. He has recently produced for Lloyd Banks (“Fire”), Cam’ron, Mary J. Blige, LL Cool J, Jin, Joe Budden and is reportedly working on the upcoming Black Sheep album, hopefully dropping sometime this year.
Kwame first hit the scence in 1989, dropping his debut album “The Boy Genius” on Atlantic at age 16. It got a lot of play on “Yo! MTV Raps” back in the day and even made Ego Trip’s Book of Rap Lists for 1989′s top 25 album list. During those days, gimmicks ran rampid through out the genre to try to get an edge up. Whether it be named “Young Black Teenagers” (a potential canidate for this column in the future) when all the group members were white or hispanic, or the weed smoking of a Cypress Hill, or just being white like say a 3rd Bass, you needed something to get you noticed in the increasingly flooded market (at least it was at that time). Kwame’s fame was the “Polka Dots”. The man was always draped in polka dotted gear. And he did cause a little “polka dot” craze for the time. The album itself was a fun, happy-go-lucky, collection of songs that were neither threatening or violent in anyway, sort of in the same vein of some of the other less threatening artists that were previlant during this time. The album featured production by Hurby Luv Bug of Salt N Pepa fame, that classic late 80′s sound similar to Special Ed and the such.
1. Boy Genius
2. U Gotz 2 Get Down!
6. Keep on Doin’ (What You’re Doin’ Baby)
8. Sweet Thing
(Atlantic Records – 1989)
Just a year later he dropped his best piece of work, “A Day In The Life: A Polkadotic Adventure“. This album was produced by Kwame himself and his Brothers Grimm production team. The actual sound of the album was a lot different than a lot of things coming out at that time, it almost “Slaughtahouse-ish” (refering to Masta Ace’s LP of that name) sounding in the term of beats. It was a little grittier, but still dealt with the suburban way of life. It’s been hailed as classic in some circles.
I myself liked it a whole lot and never really hid that fact. I a junior in high school and bumed it quite a bit in my little Jetta. It has some sound to make the trunk rattle, but it was also very easy to sing-a-long to as well. He brought in the “New Beginning” for this album, which as far as I can tell was DJ Tat Money, who was also famous for being down with the Hilltop Hustlers in the mid to late 80′s as Steady B’s DJ, A-Sharp, B-Flat, Peek-a-boo, Nina, and the beautiful singing of Tasha Lambert. They can be found sprinkled through out the album on certain tracks.
1. Da’ Man
2. Skinee Muva
3. Yes Yes Yall
5. Itz Oh Kay
6. Therez A Partee Goinz On
8. Hai Love
10. Doin’ Ma Thang
12. Ownlee Eue (Reprise)
(Atlantic Records – 1990)
Kwame didn’t pop again until 92′, with his “Nastee”. The album was orginally recorded in 90′ & 91′ but was held up by Atlantic due to some creative control issues. You can kind of tell which tracks were label forced on the album, due to some “gangsta” topics that do pop up on the album, which sound really forced coming from the “brother with the sleepy eyes”. Gangsta hip hop was starting to become the rage around this time and tracks such as “Shaboom” were an attempt to capture up on the rage. It didn’t work to well, but the rest of the album is along the same vein as “A Day In The Life”, although the production isn’t as stellar as the previous effort. The thing about Kwame, is during this time, I was dead set against any kind of hip hop that dealt with love or had any kind of singing, but Kwame always made these kind of tracks sound good. On “A Day In The Life”, it was “Ownlee Eue”, and on “Nastee”
4. Ding Dong
5. In F/X Minor
He did pop one more album out in 94′ which flew completely under the radar, that I just heard for the first time a couple months ago. It was titled “Incognito”. Nothing special and it’s still stuck on my computer, so you get none of that.
So there is the low down on Kwame. The man released some decent music, don’t let Biggie or anyone else tell you any different. You just have to be comfortable with yourself to enjoy it.