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Eric's "Top 100" Tuesdays

by Eric on June 19, 2007

68. The UMC’S-Fruits Of Nature

Uh huh, yet another blast from 1991… a year in Hip Hop that most folks overlook when compared to say…1994 or 1988. Kool Kim & Hass G burst onto the scene with a similar vibe that rivaled that of their more established Native Tongue camp (De La Soul, ATCQ & The Jungle Brothers). In what more than rubbed a few “hardrocks” the wrong way the UMC’s scored an interesting and unique hit with “Blue Cheese” ( those damn whistles!!) Although, I’m not quite sure if it was indeed their debut single or if it may have been “One To Grow On”. The UMC’s were an acquired taste, for lack of better wording as both Hass G & Kool Kim essentially were very nonthreatening and borderline corny on the mic (but very enjoyable…if that makes any sense). So why is this album in my “Top 100″? Well, quite simply the more you listen to “Fruits Of Nature” the more you grow to appreciate the jazzy loops interlined with the melodic and “sing songy” wordplay of both the aforementioned emcees. Released on the ever so popular and now defunct (thanks Serch!) Wild Pitch label, the production duties on this album were split between Hass G (who also surprisingly mixed the album as well) and RNS (whom, if I recall produced a few cuts on Shyheim’s debut as well) While “Fruits Of Nature” is not for everyone, would one dare to say that this album may have opened a few doors for groups like say…Digable Planets, who capitalized on same formula that the UMCs held true to….well, at least up until the release of their disastrous “Unleashed”…-Eric

69. Special Ed-Youngest In Charge

Dunn…dun,dun,..dunn,dunn….simple yet effective was not only the composition of the Special Ed classic “I Got It Made”, but the same case can also be made for the rhyme style upheld by Brooklynite Special Ed. Released on Profile in 1989 at the tender age of 16, Special Ed puffed out his chest on “The Youngest In Charge” in an attempt to prove he could “hang” with the big boys. Did he succeed in doing so?…Damn skimpy!!! I mean, the lyrics are now embedded in my thick skull forever, lines like “I’m your idol, your highest title, numero uno…I’m not a Puerto Rican, but I’m speakin‘ so that you know”… how could you not love “I Got It Made”? Like I said, simple but very effective. Now, my introduction to Special Ed was (Man, I bet you all get tired of hearing this….) on YO!MTV Raps with his video for “The Magnificent” (which, by the way wasn’t even the version that appeared on “The Youngest In Charge”, but later on his second disc “Legal”), which come to think of it sounds like a sped up “I Got It Made”. Let’s get back to the overall feel of the album, “Taxing” is a fitting grand entrance for Special Ed as the Howie Tee (who handled all of the production duties) produced track serves as the perfect match for Ed’s less than intricate flow and delivery. Now, don’t get me wrong I love this album to death but “Youngest…” does run into a bit of a problem after the third track. For example, after such a stellar three song opening (“Taxing”, “I Got It Made” and “The Magnificent”) it is very hard to name a track that followed those three in succession. Although, my country ass loved banjo playin‘ “Hoedown” for all the wrong reasons. A few weeks ago I actually posted Special Ed’s follow up “Legal” ahead of this as I feel that he matured so much both musically and lyrically when compared to his debut. Still, a classic nonetheless…-Eric

70. LL Cool J-Mama Said Knock You Out

“Just kick a little somethin‘ for them cars that be bumpin“….Oooooo Weeee! During a time when Uncle LL was being labeled as a “sell-out”, he came back with a vengeance and I mean HARD!! “Mama Said Knock You Out” is arguably LL’s best album to date, although some would argue that it was “Radio” and there are even a few folks much like myself who loved “Mr Smith” just the same. Just don’t tell me it was “14 Shots To The Dome”! Produced entirely by the legendary Marley Marl “Mama Said…” was birthed to the world via the first single “Around The Way Girl”, which for someone trying to come back…well, it may not have been the best angle to attack from. Not leading us down the wrong path, LL soon re-grouped and followed the opening success of “Around The Way Girl” with the now ESPN “Jock Jam” anthem “Mama Said Knock You Out” and later with the B-Boy bass loving anthem “BoominSytem“….”for all the brothas‘ in they rides that be frontin‘”. My favorite track on “Mama Said…” will always be the remix to “Jingling Baby”, as believe it or not it was one of the songs that first had me open on James Todd Smith. About seven or eight years ago, this chick I was dating got me LL’s autobiography (hell, I can’t even remember the name of it!!) as part of a Christmas gift and boy…let me tell you, LL was wildin‘ out during his “Mama Said…” days and it shows on this record as it is full of testosterone and boastfullness both of which LL has been noted for. What lures me back to this album time after time is it’s “range”, meaning there really is something for everyone on “Mama Said..”. I will say this about this album, it really messed things up for Digital Underground’s “Sex Packets” as I purchased it along with “Mama Said…” on the same trip to Camelot Music. Hell, I bet I haven’t even listened to “Sex Packets” in it’s entirety since picking it up with “Mama…”, now that’s sayin‘ something!…-Eric

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Olskool4real June 20, 2007 at 12:28 am

Eric I appreciate your honesty of your assesment of the albums you post. I couldn’t stand the UMC’s when they first dropped because of the exact same info you printed the lack of lyrical skills, however I totally ignored the music except when DJ’s was cuttin em. One to Grow on was one of my favorite tracks to hear cut up. As an m.c. when I listened to tracks I wanted to hear lyrical skills something to up my game with so of course they offered none of that but listening today the jazzed up music on the album is nice and nuetral.

Special Ed held it down when he dropped this album my favorite cut was think about it it brought the hype.Special Ed was as cool as they come for his age his style was laid back but applied enough pressure to make some noise.

I disagree with Mama said Knock you out being the best LL album. It was great however when I’m Bad dropped it was a non stop album, you simply popped it in let it play through without rewinds or skips, LL killed it. I’ve matured with hip hop over the years and realize a lot of what I listened to then for competitive reasons and found reasons to dislike, well today I like a lot of it LL being one mainly because a lot of m.c.’s tried to repeat his formula over and over again with limited success.

Eric June 20, 2007 at 12:34 am

@olskool….I appreciate the comment, I bet I know why you like “One To Grow On” being cut up so much…probably for the same reasons I did…it all came down to the “Hey” sample being ripped to shreads!

Dee-El June 20, 2007 at 11:39 am

It’s weird because, I’ve enjoyed “Fruit of Nature” since it’s release and I continue to enjoy it today. I have often heard it said that these guys were kinda corny, but I don’t quite think so. Mattafak, if you listen to the lyrics, they were one of the first to represnet Wu-Tang on wax(Swing it to the Area comes to mind, as if it matters) I thought the kids had flow and there is zero frontin on the beats. I personally believe that Never Never Land” is one of the dopest beats of all time (Not in terms of intracacy(sp) but from an MC perspective, You just wanna rhyme. I guess bottom line is good and bad is a matter of perspective. My perspective is that Fruits of Nature has always been dope, thanks for posting it, I need it in my iPod and I’m too lazy to rip vinyl.

Dee El Sends

Anonymous June 20, 2007 at 5:55 pm

dope post…but the way i remember it, “boomin’ system” was actually the first thing released from MSKYO (unless you count “jinglin’ baby’ or ‘to the break of dawn,’ and i don’t since they were soundtrack and/or remix cuts from other albums)

anyhow, that’s just some music-geek nit-picking…dope post :-)

Olskool4real June 22, 2007 at 12:12 am

4 real Eric it was jazzy but hip like most of the music of that era but different.That hey part was ripped by many DJ’s I know in fact One to grow us was one of those taster’s choices for like an intermission but DJ’s would go bananas on it!! Fruits of Nature was a classic by it’s music alone!!

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