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Sophomore Slump Saturday PT. V

by Eric on April 21, 2007

Fu-Schnickens-Nervous Breakdown

Boy did I LOVE the Fu-Schnickens first album!!! Three different MCs with three different complimentary styles, various comic references to TV-Shows and cartoons and many exhilarating quotations about Kung-Fu flicks; Sounds familiar? Do the math! But when you release your first album in ’92, your sophomore in ’94 and your record company (though Jive never displayed any prowess when it came to Hip Hop)decides to put out a best of album in ’96, something must have went totally wrong. Enter “Nervous Breakdown”: Their lyrical formula had not changed dramatically; I just missed Ali Shaheed Muhammad his snare, the jazzy atmosphere that came to your rescue, whenever you felt tired of Chip’s fast flow. But like I said, this was the first album. On “Nervous Breakdown” everything seemed a bit confusing: You had the Eric Sermon influenced “Breakdown”, the Lord Finesse influenced “Visions” and the DJ Muggs influenced “Sneakin’ Up On Ya” aligned back to back, causing a lack of identification and corresponding style. You never knew what to expect and that wasn’t necessarily a good thing coming off their success with the first album “F.U- Don’t Take It Personal”. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad record, a lot of good things happen here, but I was a little bit disappointed with them, trying to reinvent themselves…-words by Rasul

AZ-Pieces Of A Man

“Visualizing the realism of life and actuality / Fuck who’s the baddest a person’s status depends on salary / And my mentality is, money orientated / I’m destined to live the dream for all my peeps who never made it”: Mesmerizing sentences that should have sparked up a matchless vocation! Well sadly enough, they didn’t. Coming off a feature-guest-part on one the best Hip Hop albums of all time, AZ released his first album “Do Or Die” in 1995, to capture the true essence of New York to the fullest degree. I say true essence because Biggie was declared as the king of the mountain based on his commercial success and Puffy’s unparalleled ethics but AZ, yeah, AZ represented the five deadly borrows (specially Brooklyn) more accordingly. Back then, everybody on the streets or in ciphers mimicked him, everybody tried to emulate his multi layered, multi-syllable rhyme patterns and divulge on his mastery of wordplay. The Notorious was labeled “good” but AZ was labeled “great”, although obviously less successful. I recently read how AZ is considered of one of the few artists, who had rarely compromised his integrity. Bullshit! I consider 1997 as the mark of the beast: A lot of stuff went wrong that year (Matter of fact, this is a good subject for another post and I will explain myself more in-depth- why don’t you guys help Eric and me out and name all the albums that came out that year?) and AZ, along with Nas, Nature and Foxxy, sold his soul to Jimmy and Dre and recorded the Firm album. Couple of months later “Pieces Of A Man” came out, trying to capitalize off the Firm notion; a body of work that covered all the facets in demand, ranging from the ever so popular “let’s sample a 80′s soul classic” joint (“How Ya Lovin’”, “What’s The Deal Half-A-Mil” and “Just Because” that is probably one of the best efforts ever among that genre), the “I rather be a Cuban” joint (“Sosa”), the obligatory Wu-Banger (“Whatever Happened” with RZA) to the always irritating R&B extravaganzas (“Betcha Don’t Know”). Nevertheless, his rhymes and choice of contents carried the whole album and made it very fun to listen to. But AZ indeed compromised a lot, choosing the beats he chose, and unfortunately never bounced back…-words by Rasul

Heltah Skeltah-Magnum Force

I guess you have to be into the art of making beats to understand Beatminerz their esotericism. Go out and find some of the dusty old records they have used and you might fathom the thick mystifying detail in their music and although I have never been a huge fan, I always acknowledged their talent. Same thing with Heltah Skeltah’s first album “Nocturnal” released in 1996 under the Boot Camp Clique’s umbrella: Deep bass, heavy drums and simple but always humorous rhymes. There has never been anything extraordinary about Rock & Ruck and that’s precisely what made these guys very special. “Magnum Force” came out in ’98 without leaving any significant mark on the hearts and minds. The album contained an ineffable air of clarity in general, a detailed focus (“Call Of The Wild”) and refreshing simplicity (“Gunz’N Onez with Method) that carried forth an undeniable energy. One of the highlights is the “Call Tyrone” skit (picking up on the subject Mrs. Badu had already aired out) that leads to the mellow “Chika Woo”, with its manifestation of relationships turning sour. This was a very strong album with no apparent flaws, suffering from the post-’97-evolution (yeah, I know, I will write a post about it) that left no breathing room for real New York rap. I’m pretty sure you guys will enjoy this…-words by Rasul

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{ 1 comment }

Just Ice April 25, 2007 at 12:18 pm

I feel very few could touch AZ lyrically. His wordplay is so beyond the norm. Aside from his mafioso banter which wears thin quickly, his ability to paint a verbal picture is just simply phenomenal. I don’t know off the top of my head what came out around ’97, perhaps Raekwon’s first? I do recall playing them both around the same time.

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