For many, by the time it’d dropped, “Mr Hood” was simply an interesting adjunct to the Daisy Age, a fairly original mixture of beats from contemporary producers like 3rd Bass’ Pete Nice and Dante Ross, a fairly successful but at times, amateurish concept LP. I’m not sure that “Mr Hood” represented the highpoint of early nineties Hip Hop production, but it is recognized as one of the most humanly representations of the golden age. KMD made records that always seemed to need catching up to: on first hearing, you couldn’t quite get all the mad detail that they seemed to capture on wax. It’s only after a little “growing up” that I’ve realized what hooked me to the album wasn’t merely the sound of “Mr Hood”, it was the heart, the living breathing reality of the record that transmitted other lives, other thoughts and other realities directly to you uncut, unsimplified and pure. And the clarity of that communication didn’t succumb to the rose tints of retrospect. Rather, the clarity of the album created it’s own lineage and put KMD out on their own in any Hip Hop fan’s imagination.
MC Serch of 3rd Bass discovered MC Zevlove X, DJ Subroc and Onyx the Birthstone Kid and made them a key element in 3rd Bass’ production roster. From the low-key, brilliant sleeve to the music on the record, “Mr Hood” was a detonation of stereotypes from the off. Letting their wit and sense of wonder push through political correctness and conservative revisionism, KMD shone a bright light of cynicism and idealism through the burning issues of 1991, none of which would’ve made “Mr. Hood” such a potent piece of work if the music wasn’t so dazzling. Primed by De La and Tribe, many of us discovered that “Mr. Hood” had taken Prince Paul’s cartoon lunacy into whole new areas. Here was a vision of pop culture and conceptual art that simmered with a street-level honesty no one else had ever attained. For a record so crammed to bursting with sounds from all over the place, everything was soo carefully carved around the messages KMD were trying to transmit. So the concept of the happenings around a barbershop and KMD’s humorous encounters with a straight-talking, English-language-course-speaking Mr. Hood, attained the feel of a growing revelation rather than a steadily thinning metaphor.
From the openings of “Crackpot”, the first real non-skit track on the album, you feel a rumble in your guts, knowing that the feast is about to begin. Or maybe it’s the butterflies of sadness knowing that though the beginnings of the KMD story were so hopeful, things would end up so badly. Their follow up LP, “Black Bastards” was destroyed by Elektra over the cover art that featured a “sambo” cartoon being hung by a noose. With Time Warner buzzing on the heightened paranoia created by Ice-T and Body Count’s “Cop Killer” controversy, KMD were dropped wholesale by the label, even though the band were willing to discuss changes to the cover, even though DJ Subroc, Zevlove X’s (aka MF Doom) brother, was killed in a car crash shortly after the album’s completion. It’s a shady business, and the treatment of KMD is an eternal shame. Peep “Mr Hood” and find out why.