“Self-Titled”-Downtown Science (1991, Def Jam)
Purchase “Downtown Science” HERE
Without a doubt, one of the more under-appreciated and oft-overlooked LPs to emerge from the depths of Def Jam’s storied catalog, Downtown Science released their one and only LP in 1991. An album that true underground heads still hold near and dear to them, “Downtown Science” the duo comprised of Bosco Money and Sam Sever (whom is most noted for his production contributions to 3rd Bass) didn’t necessarily “fail” with this album, the poor sales aren’t a direct reflection of the album’s true quality. However, a direct correlation to the “below the radar” steez of Downtown Science could very well be attributed to Def Jam’s poor promotion, which is somewhat odd when compared to the noted sales success of nearly every album released on their label during the era of this album’s unveiling.
The production on this LP is extremely sound, not a far stretch when you consider the dopeness that Sam Sever lent to much of 3rd Bass’ discography. The only minor beef I had with this LP was the lyrics, which, even for 1991 standards where, for lack of better wording, behind the times. No matter how many times I play this album (which due to the production is a fair amount), I simply cannot recite one lyric or bar that even faintly resembles a “Hip Hop Quotable” (c) THE SOURCE. Again, Sam Sever held up his end of the bargain, production-wise making this album very worthwhile and a “must hear”. The sadness of it all, unfortunately, Def Jam has never bothered to re-issue this one as no one cared for it even back in 1991.
Purchase “Streetwize” HERE
Easily one of the most slept-on albums of the early 90′s era, J Rock released his only solo album on the unheard of Ghetto Groovz print. What makes “Streetwize” so unique when compared to your average early-’90s “gem” is that four of the productions that are included on the album were birthed by none other than the legendary DJ Premier. However, don’t jump the gun just yet, these productions are not the quality, or should I say near “classic status” type joints that we’ve become accustomed to hearing from him. Primo’s joints favor the production stylings of “Step In The Arena” more so than “Hard To Earn” to be exact.
Also of note, Easy Moe Bee produced the album’s first cut (“Let Me Introduce Myself”) and the remainder of the LP’s production is handled by J Rock himself and don’t be fooled, J Rock’s production isn’t anything to shy away from. If you don’t glance at the production credits, you’d have a hard time believing that many of Rock’s productions aren’t Primo’s contributions. In his heyday, J Rock was an intelligent street rapper, as he intertwined vivid tales of “the corner” with an added level of street smartz thrown into the mix. “Streetwize” is pure, East Coast, golden age hip hop, but I would highly recommend the 2007 (and the celebrated (?) 15th anniversary release, which the album art states?) re-issue to those who want to add to their DJ Premier collection, or simply if your searching for an above average “gem” that you have yet to enjoy.
“Terminator X & The Valley Of The Jeep Beats”-Terminator X
Purchase “..Valley Of The Jeep Beats” HERE
One of the most intriguing and unexpected (and even more of a “head scratcher” was that this album warranted a sophomore project) side projects of Public Enemy was Terminator X’s debut album, “..Valley Of The Jeep Beats”. TX’s debut featured his THUMPING, BASS HEAVY (hence: jeep beats) production with a bunch of no-name, D-Listers. Aside from the album’s first single “Buck Whylin” (a good “first single” selection, nonetheless), a gem that featured Chuck D and the militant, controversial Sistah Souljah (BTW, who actually purchased her debut? Man up!), none of the artists that could be found on “..Jeep Beats” ever delivered anything else that may be considered noteworthy.
Yet the lack of notable features hardly affected “..Jeep Beats” for the most part, as many of the tracks did some serious damage to whatever stereo “setup” you where posting up on back then. The production of the LP was very similar to the Bomb Squad anthems that could be found on much of Public Enemy’s earlier works: frantic, energizing, busy beats. Terminator drops ill cuts on nearly every track, putting his very own “stamp” on the album, just in case you mistook it for a Public Enemy “featuring” Terminator X project. The only misstep as with many “collaborative” efforts is the overall inconsistency of the project. The album begins with a bang, but once “..Jeep Beats” approaches the 2nd half, excuse me….side B, it’s voyage into the dance, R & B and Reggae cuts, while displaying a wider range of the urban sound, deters from the album’s overall cohesiveness. Yet, this album is “check-worthy” if only for “Side A” alone.
“The Black Tie Affair” -Maestro Fresh-Wes (1991, Attic Records)
Purchase “Black Tie Affair” HERE (good luck!!!)
As the follow-up to his debut “Symphony in Effect”, Maestro Fresh-Wes’ “Black Tie Affair” was another important album that was very instrumental to the success of the Canadian hip hop scene. While “Black Tie Affair” may not have been quite as popular as Maestro’s debut, it wasn’t for a lack of quality material . The only notable downfall that can be found on “Black Tie Affair” was the remix of the bland, radio-friendly “Private Symphony”, why did Maestro take another “hack” at this track is beyond me. It’s quite evident that “Private Symphony” was Maestro’s lone Big Daddy Kane “Taste Of Chocolate” moment on the album. Speaking of which, the Kane comparison is somewhat warranted. While not quite up to par lyrically with the pre-”Prince Of Darkness” Kane, the two do exhibit many of the same qualities with their deliveries and lyrical structure.
What is also very intriguing about “Black Tie Affair” is that fans of Main Source may want to go right ahead and check for this album on the basis of the K-Cut inclusion. As 1/3 of Main Source, Cut produced seven tracks on “Black Tie Affair” that are all pretty damn funky (think: 1991), yet nothing at all like those that can be found on the “Breaking Atoms” (thanks Large Pro!)
“To Tha’ Resuce’-D-Nice (1991, Jive)
Purchase “To Tha Rescue” HERE
D-Nice quickly followed his debut album, “Call Me D-Nice” with another album full of traditional New York, bass-heavy stylings. On this effort, D-Nice handled much of the production but unfortunately he came up short when compared to the soundscapes found on his debut. Some of the tracks found D trying to go for broke (read: commercial) and damnit, it just didn’t sound right! I remember being so PISSED after my first listen of “To Tha Rescue”. Here I was a 14 year old punk wasting my $9.99 on this poor follow up, the true definition of a sophomore slump. Now, “Call Me D-Nice” is easily in my top 50 of all time..no doubt. Even the albums “so called” highlight “Time To Flow” pales in comparison to much of Nice’s rookie effort. Man, this album “still” gets to me..I was a big D-Nice fan…just my opinion
There’s a few dope standout tracks but on the whole the record really feels like an inferior version of the debut. D-Nice even made reference to his old songs, which showed that he doesn’t have much more to say after this album. D-Nice produced a few more tracks after this LP, but he pretty much abondoned rapping and producing. Now, you can find D-Nice DJ’ing one of your favorite “BIG TIME” gatherings or taking some dope ass photos.