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"Hit Or Miss?" aka "It Wasn't The Golden Era but…..You Be The Judge" Pt. VI

by Eric on September 20, 2008

“BB Queen”-Bahamadia (2000, GoodVibe/Atomic Pop)

Bahamadia is one of the illest when it comes to lyrics, period! If you need more proof, which you more than likely will due to it’s highly “slept on” status, peep her 1996 debut “Kollage”. In what was nearly 4 years between the release of her first effort and this sophomore EP “BB Queen”, Bahamadia remained strictly “underground” status. This EP, comprised of five uncluttered, melodic tracks courtesy of Chops, Soul Fingers and Dwele, truly showcased the formidable writing skills of this Philadelphia high priestess.

For starters, sample a few choice lines from “Special Forces”, which also featured Planet Asia, Rasco and Chops with cuts from DJ Revolution: “Liftin’ up my left titty to ya’ll token chicks/You ain’t really hot, you just image and politics/We prototype/Ya’ll duplicates of male affiliates, soudin’ the silliest/Doin’ renditions of hits like Al Yankovic”. The lyrical barrage doesn’t cease there, on “Commonwealth (Cheap Chicks)” a track about “thrify” women who still wanna’ “show-off”, Bahamadia flows over a “Vibrant Thing”-esque drum pattern as she spits the following heat rocks: “Here go a special acknowledgment for those who care to listen/And talk of women who penny-pinchin’, my welfare recipients/Sistren, low-budget kinda sorta’ who get their shoppin’ on at Walmart and Dollar Stores”. So if her lyrics were so tight, why did Bahamadia spend over four years scrapping by on guest appearances with drum-n-bass maestro Roni Size while doing overseas shows for Rawkus? In the immortal words of Guru, “It’s mostly tha’ voice”.

Although ‘Dia varied her flow from a rapid-fire assault (see: “Special Forces”, Commonwealth” and “Pep Talk”) to a thoughtful stream of consciousness (“One-4-Teen” f. Slum Village and “Beatiful Things”), her signature monotone was often hard to decipher. Of course, Bahamaia should never change her God-given vocal tones. But, the production of her vocals, which often lacked clarity, is a whole notha’ matter. And as pleasant as they may be, the beats on “BB Queen” didn’t help Bahamadia’s cause much either. Not the type of album that you’d blast out of your ride while cruisin’ on a warm Saturday evening. Still, if you want to make the extra effort to decipher exactly what Bahamadia is spittin’, “BB Queen” won’t dissapoint despite the collection’s glaring shortcomings.

“Power Of The Dollar”-50 Cent (2000-ish’) Unreleased

Nearly a decade ago, when the now “larger-than-life” 50 Cent uttered the words “Nobody likes me, but that’s okay/ ‘Cause I don’t like ya’ll anyway” he wasn’t lyin’. Even after catching crazy flack over his controversial first single “How To Rob”, 50 still continues to say whatever he feels, no matter the consequences or who gets their panties in a bundle. And even though his highly anticipated debut “Power Of The Dollar” never received a proper release many heads could argue that it may have very well been 50′s best piece of work.

On the highly unsociable “Power Of The Dollar” the Queens native went right for the jugular: “No more freestyles and verses killin’ Sticky and Ja (rule)/ I’m movin’ on now, got bigger fish to fry/ You gonna’ talk about your chips ’til we run in your cib/ Then you gon’ ask dumb questions like, can I live?/ Look, if I shoot you, I’m famous/ If you shoot me, you’re brainless/ You said it yourself/ I’m slick enough to twist your lines and send ‘em back to you”. Also, 50 took a moment to reflect on the infamous incident that occurred while he was recording at the Hit Factory recording studio: “Ni*ga’ come 15 ni*gas, 10 knives/ I leave with 4 stitches/ That ain’t assault/ That’s an insult.”

But all beef and name-callin’ aside, most of 50′s debut proved that he was on the right path to becoming a decent songwriter (which has since declined). His tendency to sound like other emcees on “Power Of The Dollar”, namely Mase and Jay-Z, is an obvious hindrance to the album’s replay value. However, the beats on this debut were pretty damn solid, thanks to a production line-up that consisted of the TrackMasterz, Rich Nice, L.E.S. (who should just change his name to “Life’s A Bitch”), Erick Sermon and DJ Scratch. All in all, an impressive debut that’s pretty funny to listen to nowadays when you consider just how marketable this cat has become (did anyone else see Forbes’ list of top grossing rappers for the year? Whaaaat!!! Are you kiddin’ me???). The “Power Of The Dollar” indeed. However, a more appropriate title for 50′s debut may have been “Who Knew?”.

“Hempstead High”-A+ (1998, Kedar Universal)

With his sophomore effort, “Hempstead High”, A+ set out to prove that he was no Chi-Ali type, one hit wonder type of rapper. The kid who was formerly on his way to being a “thug ’til some girl showed him love” appeared to be headed for superstardom after his very solid debut, “The Latch-Key Child”. A+ possessed a simple, yet tight flow that….. when paired with good enough production earned him a few hits (along with the help of AZ, Mobb Deep, etc.). I can recall the first single from “Hempstead..” being “Enjoy Yourself”, a track that nearly turned Beethoven’s 5th Symphony into an all-out disco/very danceable track. Also, attempted a clever play on the Ed OG & Da Bulldogs classic, “I Gotta’ Have It”, A+ spit some nice lyrics. Nice enough to make you wonder if these lyrics were indeed written by a sixteen year old.

Being released on Kedar/Universal, “Hempstead…” featured prominent label-mates such as Canibus, Erykah Badu, Mr. Cheeks and even MJG. The aforementioned Mr. Cheeks delivered the chorus on the poppy/club jam “Up Top New York” which gave A+ a chance to shine even though he was “….too young to sip alcohol at the bar”. Other notable tracks included the street-inspired “Parkside Gardens” and the Chico Debarge (yeah, remember him?) assisted “It’s On You”. However, the album did lose a bit of steam with collabos that seemed to serve no purpose like “Staggering & Stuttering” (f. Psycho Drama?!?) and “What Da Deal” featuring Mase’s one-time croony Pierre Cardan. It’s tough to determine if “Hempstead High” packed more “bump” than “junk”, but one thing’s for sure….A+ most definitely took a step in the wrong direction, especially when you consider the healthy performance he provided us with on his predecessor.

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SoulClap October 2, 2008 at 11:07 pm

Power of the dollar was actually a really good album in my eyes. Hempstead high hat some hot joints too, that reminds me to listen to it again…

Zashkaser August 5, 2009 at 9:34 am

Excellent review! Mint takes Ubuntu and makes it work! After your review, I plan to use it.

Geoff January 18, 2010 at 1:59 pm

I gotta say BB Queen is one of my top 50 albums of the decade. I does take some listening to decipher the lyrics and the beats were hard to get into @ first, but this album still is in rotation. Just a marvelous melodic journey. Maybe not Saturday evening hype music, but on the drive home early Sunday, its a must.

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