In 1993 Ice Cube and his Street Knowledge imprint unleashed the philosophical yet hardcore musings of a young Kam with aspirations of following in the long line of success to emerge from the upstart West Coast camp (Yo-Yo, Da Lench Mob & Del, to name a few). The Watts and Compton based Kam was an unusual twist in Left Coast Hip Hop, a rapper that was raised in the surroundings portrayed acurately in films such as “Boyz N The Hood” and “Menace II Society” with a heavy Islamic influence that was very prevalent throughout much of 1993′s “Neva Again”. However, unlike many of his so-called “Muslim” brethren with Hip Hop, Kam touched on Islam from a “hood” perspective, rather than touch on the “hood” from an Islamic perspective. In other words, at least from what he portrayed on record Kam was a real-ass dude, his lyrics are delivered with honesty and sincerity. On “Neva Again” Kam successfully discusses clear and concise topics without being “fake” or preachy and overly self-righteous. To be quite honest, the album really reminded me of a continuation of Ice Cube’s “Death Certificate”, and believe me, that’s a definite plus.
The first single from “Neva Again” that made it’s fair share of noize was “Peace Treaty”, on which Kam celebrated the newfound truce between the Bloods & Crips over an ill P-Funk track which is courtesy of early Das Efx collaborators, Solid Scheme. “Peace Treaty” is an accurate indicator of what could be found thorugout much of the album: mid-tempo bangers, familiar breaks with plenty of added “thump in the trunk”. To be quite honest, “Neva Again” has always reminded me of a contiuation of Ice Cube’s “Death Certificate”, and believe me, that’s a definite plus. The album’s production is comprised of beats that are somewhat reminiscent of the Boogiemen’s work that can be found on early albums from both Da Lench Mob & Del. However, both of the Solid Scheme beats (“Peace Treaty” and “Ain’t That A Bitch”) add a nice hint of flavor to the album.
Even though many of Kam’s lyrics can be tagged as too aggressive and combative for some tastes, “Neva Again” was a much needed album during a period when the West was in total disarray. Kam gets props for not turning his cheek, choosing rather to be combative while addressing many of the problems that still to this day plague the “shitty inna’ city”. Alongside “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted”, “Straight Outta’ Compton” and “The Chronic”, Kam’s “Neva Again” should be mentioned in the same breath as one of the most integral albums that defined West Coast Hip Hop in the early to mid-nineties.
Equipped with a clever marketing scheme (remember the full page print adds featuring an inflated balloon with the words “It might blow up, but it won’t go pop” written on it?), “When I….First….Heard…..”Buhloone…Mind….State”……I thought it sucked…No Bullshit!! Remember the dude on the “De La Soul Is Dead” skits when he first heard “3 Feet High..”? Yeah, well that was me, BLAAAAAAHH, THIS SUCKS! What really pissed me off was that I was sooo amped to pick up this full length after hearing “Breakadawn” (damn, that Michael Jackson sample was smooth as hell) bump all over the radio throughout the summer of my Junior year in High School. To me, it was obvious that Pos, Mace, & Dove had spent a little too much time with Guru’s “Jazzmatazz” in their headphones while whipping up “Buhloone Mind State”. My initial reaction was “Damn, this shit is just too damn jazzy!! I’m not talking “Low End Theory” jazzy, but smokey town hall, 10 people in attendance, no air conditioning JAZZY! Sh*t, I honestly didn’t listen to “I Am I Be” long enough for the beat to kick in until 2000! What about “I Be Blowin”? Who the hell is Maceo Parker and what the hell is he doin’ on my De La Soul album playing a trumpet?…and where the hell are the lyrics?…my disgruntled ass questioned. Other than “Breakadawn” this album was dead to me, it’s a damn shame that I was a 16 year old punk who would’ve much rather listened to “The Chronic” or “Bacdafucup” (although, that may be the general consensus)than this BS! I can admit it today as a married man with two little girls, I just wasn’t mature enough for “Buhloone Mind State”. Simply put, my “peanut-shell” of a brain just couldn’t quite comprehend such a level of creative genius.
Bottom Line, what I hated about “Buhloone Mind State” then is what I’ve come to love regarding the album today. Perhaps, my favorite De La album from their historic catalog (I still don’t see what is so damn special about “Stakes Is High”) of classics “Buhloone…” is straight up Genius!! Of course, the same can be said about “3 Feet…” & “De La Soul Is Dead” ..but this is one of those albums that you can break out on Memorial Day (yes I did!) every year and it still will provide you with a perfect soundtrack for an evening of chillin’ with family & friends. If I could kick myself in the ass for not giving this album it’s proper due back in 1993….or hell, the whole 90’s for that matter….I would do so proudly. Today, I really can’t pick a favorite off of this album. It’s kinda’ like “The Main Ingredient”, “Whut?Thee Album” or even “Enter The Wu-Tang” where the overall fluidity of the album hinders you from selecting that one standout track..simply because every single track is of the utmost quality. If you’ve given up on “Buhloone Mind State” like I once did, break it out again and I promise you that you’ll soon see the light as well. As corny as it may sound, this album is like fine wine it gets better with…awww hell, enough already! Just pay homage to one of De La’s undermentioned masterpieces.
Let’s be up front here, we all consider Fat Joe’s debut “Represent” the “lyrically challenged” version of the Bronx bomber. Not that Fat Joe “Da Gangsta” is anywhere near the lyrical status of your favorite MC (unless Fat Joe is your favorite, in that case you NEED to get out the house!) even in today’s world of the commercialized MC (damn, dude can make a “hit” though…i.e, “What’s Luv?” and “We Thuggin”), but one must admire the improvement of lyrical capacity that Joe displayed between the release “Represent” and Joe’s sophomore effort “Jealous One’s Envy”. If I remember correctly, “Represent” wasn’t all that well received by the masses and Joe’s lack of any lyrical dexterity was blatantly noticeable. Joe’s elementary rhymes at times, were very hard to mask even with the backing of the original D.I.T.C.(Showbiz, Diamond D & Lord Finesse) behind the boards grinding out bangers. While Fat Joe’s rhymes can be described as “juvenile” at best, he does captivate more with his delivery on cuts like the first single “Flow Joe” more so than anything else. Not that “Represent” is a total throwaway, tracks like the Apache & Kool G Rap featured “You Must Be Out Of Your Fuc*in Mind” are dope along with the original “Shit Is Real” (not the Primo remix featured on his second disc) which found The Beatnuts (one of my favorites of all time) lending Joe a helping hand on the beat. “Watch The Sound” featuring Diamond D & Grand Puba, is another banger that in now way should be “slept-on”. By no means is it my intention to sh*t all over “Represent”, but I do feel that “Jealous One’s…” was a much more mature album from Joe that I preferred over “Represent”. If you’ve never heard Joe’s debut I wouldn’t necessarily suggest that you bypass pass it, I’d just point you in the direction to the instrumental version of “Represent”.
Would I be jumping the gun if I said this is the best youthful album ever put out?? Probably not, as I know more than a handful of folks who share my sentiments as well. And let’s be real here, your lying to yourself if you think that Mobb Deep’s “Juvenile Hell” was a better album than “The Aftermath”. I’ve never really peeped Qu’ran, Taji & Tarik’s debut album “Somethin’ 4 Da Youngstas” and I do think it’s probably in my best interest that I don’t (Thanks Trav!). Da Youngstas actually put together a pretty decent three album stretch with “The Aftermath”, “No Mercy” & “Da Illy Funkstaz”. Once Again, I first saw Da Youngstas performing “Crewz Pop” (which was produced by Naughty’s Kay Gee..actually, it’s 118th St. Production but you know what’s up) as the ending act on “In Living Color”. I was impressed enough to pick this album up based on the overall sound and production of “Crewz Pop”. Of course, my decision was only solidified when I saw the producing lineup for “The Aftermath” in an issue of The Source.
Are you kiddin’ me?? Pete Rock, Marley Marl, Kay Gee, The Beatnuts & DJ Premier all contributed beats for Da Youngtas sophomore success. Tell me somebody didn’t have the hookup!!! Jesus, that’s quite an impressive production assembly for a few teenagers…SH*T! It is what it is, and that’s what makes this album so special..because honestly I couldn’t recite one line from any song on this album (much like “The Fabulous Chi Ali”), but the beats are incredible. I don’t know if an instrumental version of “The Aftermath” was ever released but it needed to be, because this is some of the best production on an LP from what many of us have deemed “The Golden Era”. Don’t be mistaken, Da Youngstas are decent MC’s (albeit the moments in which they try to sound like a young Onyx..but who wasn’t at the time??), but the production is almost flawless on each and every cut. If your looking to indentify a “sound” for mid-90’s production, it’s very easy to put your finger on it with “The Aftermath”.