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Rare/Obscure Single of the Week: People Without Shoes – Nappyhead Assassins EP 1995

by Travis on April 2, 2009

People Without Shoes is one of those groups that I didn’t hear until 2004/2005 time frame, thanks to the almighty internet. They are also one of those groups that I scratch my head and wonder “why in the hell didn’t these cats catch on?” One reason was the very small label they were on. Appearing on the hip hop landscape during the mid 90′s, it was before the internet times, so shit was much harder to get heard. That is a total shame, because this was a group that had a lot going for it. Unique MC’s, jazzy, yet rough beats, and just overall great music. The group dropped their only album that I know of in 1995 on Rage Records, called Thoughts of an Optimist, which is a great album if you can track it down (it’s been posted on WYDU in the past, but not sure if the link is still good).

As far as the group goes, as with most of these obscure groups, not a lot is out there on them. Tempo Opmet was the man behind the lyrics and a DJ, whose name escapes me (it’s on one on of the tracks). Other than that, I’m not really sure if there were more. All the tracks on this EP/Single are produced by a Melvin Gibbs, who I don’t know much about other than what I’ve seen on discogs. Apparently, he is not your average hip hop producer, working with a bunch of rock groups as well. Don’t worry, that doesn’t effect the sound of this EP.

This particular single/EP features four tracks from their album. I haven’t listened to the album in a good amount of time, but I recall these being some of the best tracks from it. The first track is the leadoff track on the album as well, “Nappyhead Assassins”, which was also the first track on their album. The smooth jazzy grooves are nothing short of greatness, as strings and a small key sample fill the track. Opmet is an MC that reminds of a Q-Tip or Mr. Man from Da Bush Babees. Meaning you won’t be blown away from his rhymes, although he is no slouch on the mic. His real appeal is unique voice, cause like Guru said, “It’s mostly da voice”.

The second track is “Evil For Eternity”, which is vastly superior over it’s original incarnation. Again, it’s not going to be anything mind blowing, or incredibly original, it just does what it does well. Hard drums that were common during those mid 90′s golden age hip hop times. Opmet sounds even nastier on the mic on this track, as he just runs a muck over the track. It follows the same blueprint as “Nappyhead Assassins”, with basically Opmet kickin’ his rhymes and chanting the title of the song over and over again, but again, it’s just incredibly dope.

The darker, but more uptempo (if that is possible) “If”, comes next. Accompanied with an ill horn sample and a guest appearance by another unknown MC in the form of Nappy Read, this track cements the groups dopeness even more. Both MCs again bless the mic with their unique flavor.

They close the EP off with “Evil For Eternity” in it’s original form. As I mentioned, it’s not as good as the original flavor and probably my least favorite on the project, but it’s still damn nice in it’s own right. The drums once again rule, but a string sample is the main center of attention. It just doesn’t have that hardness or the jazzy groove that the other tracks have.

They would go onto release a 2nd single/EP, which features five more tracks from the album. Again, I haven’t seen the CD in quite awhile. I’m trying to remember if I ran into it once on a CD shopping trip or not, but it might have been a pipe dream. Most of my shit is scattered all over my closet. None the less, this is most definitely worth looking for.

A1 Nappyhead Assassin (Loud Mouth Dread) (Radio) **MISSING**
A2 Nappyhead Assassin (Loud Mouth Dread) (Instrumental)
A3 Nappyhead Assassin (Loud Mouth Dread) (Street)
A4 Evil For Eternity (Remix Radio)
A5 Evil For Eternity (Remix Instrumental)
B1 If
B2 If (Street)
B3 If (Instrumental)
B4 Evil For Eternity (Radio)
B5 Evil For Eternity (Instrumental)
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