With a few hours left, Ice T’s O.G Original Gangster is looking like it will put it out. After blowouts the first two weeks, it was good to see this be somewhat close. I can’t say I’m too surprised at, what looks to be, the final verdict as many people were dropping a lot of praise on O.G.
At 9pm MST: OG Original Gangster 30; Power 20
The first time I ever heard Redman, I can’t say I was overtaken by excitement or any other rising emotion. It was on EPMD’s Business As Usual LP, where he blessed the tracks “Hardcore” and “Brothers On My Jock”. Eventually, I warmed up to his rough-n-rugged sound on the mic, but I wasn’t prepared to what was about to be unleashed. In 1992, he would appear on the “Headbanger” track, and basically stole the show. That verse alone got me fiendin’ for more material from the Red one. The first single that popped up on the scene was Red’s “Blow Your Mind” joint that had me playing over and over again Yo! MTV Raps. I remember hitting my local record store three weeks in a row on Tuesday’s anticipating the release of Whut? Thee Album. Finally, on the third Tuesday, the cashier handed me the CD before I even opened my mouth. I got the CD, threw it in my “trunk ‘o funk” Jetta I had at the time and listened to deep, stankin, nasty ass bass seep out of my two 12′s in the trunk. It was musical bliss to me at the time. Thus my infatuation with Redman’s music was born.
For a good portion of the 90′s, if you would ask me who my favorite MC/Rapper/Artist was, I would have replied, “Redman“. I was a big fan of the funk filled tunes that can be found on Whut? Thee Album, and Dare Iz A Darkside, and in a smaller capacity, his third album, Muddy Waters. I must admit, if it was strictly up to me, I’d go with only Red‘s first two albums for this week’s “This Or That”, but I realize that a lot of heads claim love for his “Muddy Waters” effort. For me, the thing that stands out on Red’s first two albums besides his deep gravely delivered lyrics, was E Double’s production, which was at its pinnacle. The first two Redman albums, E Double’s own solo debut and Keith Murray’s debut album were all examples of Sermon’s deliciously nasty funk. For me, there still hasn’t been album or albums that can fuck with the funk production found on those albums, and of course Redman’s was the best out of the bunch. Top it off, the charisma, humor and skills Red possessed were by far among the best found in the industry at the time.
All this makes for a question I often debate among myself…which Redman album do I enjoy more? I’ve often included both Whut? and Dare… in lists of my top 10 all-time favorite hip hop albums, but which one is truly my favorite? Would it be Whut? with it’s straight up in-ya-face funk droppings and Red’s gruff flow and delivery? Or is it Dare’s….dark, menacing and somewhat otherworldly sounds? Or maybe for the rest of you, it might be Red’s Muddy Waters LP. We shall find out.
On Redman’s first album, there is probably the best example of matching a MC’s style with production ever. Red’s voice is very “deep”, meaning, there is almost layers in his voice that is also aided by his flow and delivery. You know Red’s voice whenever you hear it. Erick Sermon and Redman matched this up perfectly with the thick, dense funk production found on This is evident from the get go, as Whut? Whut opens up with a string of volleys that leads the listener into the second half of the album without even really realizing that you’ve covered ten or eleven tracks.
After a haunting intro the basically sets the mood, the high powered, full of energy track of “Time 4 Sum Aksion” starts blaring through the speakers and you can’t help to not get up and hold back from punching the first dude you see. A perfectly placed B-Real vocal sample laces the bouncy and energetic track as Red screams out “Let’s get ready to ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuumble!” It’s truly one of the better uses of a lead-off tracks found on a hip hop album. Horns and and basslines dominate the chorus as the adrenaline really gets going:
the P-funked out “Da Funk”, a track that truly lives up to it’s name comes on in “So Ruff”, as Red’s flow drips the funk. He also demonstrates that he is excellent at setting moods and telling stories. There are so many lines in this joint that I’ve I still say from time to time when crackin’ on friends:
Stick em up, STICK EM UP! I got the jammie to your vest punk
Don’t make a move! Before I choose to make your guts run
all over the block, cause my stomach’s in a knot
and it growls twenty-four hours a day around the tick-tock
I got roaches and vats of the rats carryin bats and gats
so I *farting noise* ‘fore I snack Jack
Because I’m not down with water from the hydrant
My moms takin a bath and my brother’s next arrivin
I gotta think of a plan so I can eat
I haven’t had a cracker for weeks so my mouth leaks
I squat up, cause I’ma set up this kid, carryin loot out
from Burger King and what I’ma do is..
run up on him, SNATCH the bag of money, then bust the dummy!
Cause my man when I think of a plan there’s no shorts take
Cause I pack jammies inside of my Nordface, coat
Had the black brother on scope
No joke’s what I am cause the man’s a pure pro
(Yo my man you got a light?
Yeah give me the effin money too G!) Yo STOP STOP STOP!
Took the money then I dipped with the quickness
The plan went well so I got down to the business
Opened up the bag it was filled with paper
I thought I freaked the funk but now starts the caper
Cause I was set up, now I have to go head up with the cops
What they carryin? Black glocks (shit’s thick!)
What’s the next move? My life’s on the line
Bullets in their clips and none in mine
Sirens on, once again it’s on
I fell (OW!) and then the black glocks went POW!
I got snuffed and I got bust
Now the only thing I’m sniffin is dust, cause it’s
The next track, “Rated R” is in the same vein, just straight up rough lyrics and beats. Red wasn’t just about the boulevard rough shit though, as “Jam 4 U” makes it evident that Red could get smoothed as well, as the “doo dah dah duu dah ding” rolls over the bassline. This track always sounded really good in a care with it’s bass hooked up right. It’d make any item dangling from your rear view mirror bounce wildly. “Tonight’s Da Night” is another “punk smooth shit” in beat alone, although Red does bring the heat with the lyrics.
Just picking a favorite song off Whut? Is nearly impossible for me. The lyrical “I’m Bad”, was more memorable lines. The first single, “Blow Your Mind” was long a staple favorite of mine, since it was a single, but I now I realize there are better tracks on the album, but it’s so hard not to like Red when he “freaks it in Korean” on the remix. Truly a top 5 album for me.
Red tells us we’re about to enter the psychotic mind of Redman on the albums intro, and what a fucked mind Red had on this album. From the first time I picked up the Funkadelic “Maggot Brain” influenced cover, I was in awe of the over all mood this album packed with it. The beats were more spacey, yet, still dripping with that deep funk. Lyrically, I think style was, Red was even more tighter on Dare..than he was on his debut. Some of his topics are kind of out there as he let’s us know that this journey through is mind is going to be wild:
Come take a trip on my cosmic movie boogie flicks
Far beyond space so niggaz say your grace
It’s a True Lie that I bring drama like Schwarzeneggar
When a baby, I had other babies in labor catchin vapors
With two gats I move like too fast like Paxton
Ask Toni Braxton who got seven days of action
Black stars or moons eclipse the volume
Bang zoom I’m sendin honies on the moon with ten bags of boom
Ridiculously I will pimp an MC
To degrees I leave spots like chicken pox, check the synopsis
I grow confusing just like Rubik’s cube boxes
Float like the butter, fly so what if I
blow your lenses, tear the fuckin hinges
Did I mention that my lyrical format gets more ahs than a dentist
When I’m in this, the knotty-headed era causes terror
Y’all gimmick motherfuckers better get y’all shit together
One for the money and two for my peeps
Nynex can’t even reach my technique or rap sheets
For the Squad I lick two shots word to God
Then take y’all dreams and imaginations
To the darkside
The series of short tracks set the mood unlike a lot of albums do these days. “Da Journee” is the second track that serves this mood set up. It’s lazy funk driven bassline just waddles lazily along as Redman also drops a half slurred/half lazy delivered lyrics that seem like a dimmly lit light source in a room full of haze.
The best way to get in touch with a new album, especially back then, was a road trip. This album dropped the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I was supposed to take a trip with my parents and my girlfriend of ten months to family in another state. The afore mentioned girlfriend was with me when I swung by the record store after classes at the local university and bought She wasn’t to thrilled with the odd ball weirdness when I threw the CD in the player. Not a fan of hip hop anyway, she told me I needed to listen to it when she wasn’t around. The CD stayed in. That whole trip, I had three recently bought CD’s, Dare…. Dare…, Method Man’s “Tical”, which had came out the week before and Craig Mack’s “Project: Funk The World”. Red still got the most play on that trip and I got yelled at several times for having my headphones on instead of talking to my girlfriend. I couldn’t help it, I was so intrigued by Dare’s deep dark funk and Red’s crazy lines. “Noorotic”, is another track that I obsoletely loved (I did the “eeeeeeeeeeee” things several times that trip, to much disdain of both girlfriend and parents). The one liners and complexity of words just matching, although they might not have made a lot of sense just added more complexity to the music it’s self:
I’m swift like a motherfuckin gift for Christmas
When I send my vapors off like Halls menthalyptus
My verbs and nouns shatter walls of underground
Let me be blunt: I like crackin brews with bitches
The ninety-four era I cause terror, whatEVER
Rainin on you punks with the funk, so get your umbrellas
My guns cruise, tennis shoes, what’s happenin
I got clapped on, now I’m the one doin the clappin
I’m Flexi Wit Da Tec like Artifacts make Memorex
blow tape decks when I’m more strapped than latex
Felt like menopause, I make niggaz act like beatches
Yo yo that nigga Red be frontin — with they ass full of stitches
Woo! I just don’t give a FUCK
I bite your whole nipple off, sick like sickle-cell anemia
Travel around my curse universe
I’m droppin 98.7 degrees down to Red Alert
Droppin the slang, I’ll bust your brains with the real shit
Come hit my blunt so I can make y’all feel it
Abuse niggaz verbally so call Dyfus
I’m a warrior, to the heart, but I didn’t kill Cyrus
Noorotic, my style format rocks the project
I get as ill as chief of police on narcotic
Give me a time and I’ll free your mind and lick your
funky emotions, to blow your veins up with funk overdosing
Now who’s that nigga that got your crew bellin?
Not with guns with funk when I rock tracks like Van Halen
The album’s first single was “Rockafella”, which was kind of like Whut’s lead off single, it might not have been the best pick for the album’s first single, but it’s still got a strong bassline that would rumble through a speaker system. Lyrically, it did showcase Red’s style that just rolls with the track it’s self. The video is also a good sneak preview of what the album is going to be like, as it’s kinda out there itself. The wildly dark and murky video has Red (still with his wild ‘fro) going through something like a psychotic, bad dream like circus…
It wasn’t all doom and gloom on Dare though. The humorous “Green Island” showcases Red doing is duo voices, rapping as different characters through out the song. Of course it’s backed by funk samples, but it’s not as dark as some of the other joints found on the album. “We Run NY”, isn’t dark, it’s just straight, smack-ya-n-ya-fuckin’-face hip hop. It’s another adrenaline inducing track, which makes a quadriplegic get up and rush a fool.
This is definitely a mood inducing, and need to be in the mood type of album to listen to (although I can throw it on at anytime and still love it), so I know it’s not for everyone. There is still nothing better than getting a good house system or car system and throw this album on it and let the bass rattle the trunk and any glassware in any house within a 1/2 mile radius. Red came it, and the results were magnificent.
Life had changed in the fall of ’96, for both hip hop and myself. I had just moved to Salt Lake City, a place that even though I had only lived at for a few months, I hated. Hip hop was also starting to come out of it’s famed “Golden Era” moment. For myself personally, ’96 was the last “great” year for hip hop. Living in Salt Lake, I didn’t have a lot of friends, so I listened to a lot of music at the time, most notably the Illdelph…album from The Roots, and Ras Kass’ “Soul On Ice” album. Needless to say, my anticipation for Muddy Waters was among an all-time for any album out there. Maybe that was part of my problem, my expectations for Muddy Waters were sky high. I remember walking back to my apartment in the rain, anxious to get the CD on my little boom box. I got everything just perfect, sat down in my recliner and threw on the CD.
I think my first emotion after the album was done playing was one of being underwhelmed. I remember thinking to myself, “was that it?” It’s long been my most disappointed release. Muddy Waters is far from a bad album in my opinion, it’s
just…..for me it’s not up to the first two albums. I know mad heads are going to disagree with me and listening to the album now for the first time in a long time, the album actually sounds really good. But those bad feelings are still there.
The album starts off with a Jurassic Park sounding intro, that gave me goosebumps the first time I played it, and still does to this day. Red follows suite with the first two albums and has short little tracks that serve as almost appetizers, “Iz He 4 Real”, is a nice little kick off. The next two full tracks, “Case Closed” and “Rock Da Spot” are both great tracks as well. “So what the hell is Trav’s problem with Muddy?” you are thinking to yourself right about now. Well, a lot of the beats are just….ehhhh. For example “Pick it Up”, is a good song, but to me, it’s no where near “Watch Yo Nuggets” or “We Run NY”. E Double started going into what I call his “cookie cutter” stage, where all his beats sounded like hollow, soulless clones of each other.
As I’ve said though, tracks like “Whateva Man”, are some of Red’s best material, and of course the video is a classic
Then “Do What Ya Feel” is another strong track from Red and matched up the perfect match of Method Man again. The two express a dynamic chemistry that makes potentially one of the greatest duos to do it, just not on a full album (don’ get me started on Black Out).
I guess ultimately, if you shaved off some of the more lackluster tracks on the release, the album would probably be just as strong as his first two album. I’m sure I’m going to be in the minority on this album, as I’ve heard many people express their pleasure for Muddy Waters. I’m sure my blinders are on and I’m holding a grudge against something that isn’t all that bad.
Red released a string of undeniable hip hop classics. Every album was different from the last, while still keeping that classic Redman flare and personality. The production was different, while the same. They are all three albums that have their own fans. I know people who don’t like Dare Iz a Darkside, while they love Muddy Waters. There is people, such as myself, that aren’t the biggest fans of Muddy Waters, but love Whut? Thee Album. There is something on an album for everyone. Red was ruling things during this three releases. What Red was saying wasn’t always the most dynamic, but he made it sound so amazing. He was the master at creating a WHOLE album. Something we don’t see much of anymore. Both Whut? and are complete albums. I can listen to each of them from front to back, without really skipping anything. To me, things faltered on DareMuddy Waters, as there are tracks on there that end up boring me in the end. Which for me, leaves Dare Vs. Whut?
When it all comes down to it, Whut? Thee Album, is the most complete project Red has done in his career. I love Dare Iz a Darkside, and I think lyrically, Red was at his best, both in lyrics and delivery. But there are somethings on that album that just don’t measure up to Whut? You can’t find much, if anything wrong with Whut? I don’t hear of many people saying they don’t like the album, while the other two have their detractors. My vote and my prediction goes to Whut? Thee Album.
Winner: Whut? Thee Album