“Reel To Reel”-Grand Puba (1992, Elektra)
Purchase “Reel To Reel” HERE
The distinctive, original (and as per Treach: “One of the fiercest emcees”) Grand Puba separated from Brand Nubian shortly after the arrival of their classic debut “One For All”, mostly in part due to vision, sound and noticeable creative differences. Brand Nubian (Alamo, Sadat X and Lord Jamar) would flourish with their political, pro-black and oft-controversial style sans Puba on their sophomore album “In God We Trust”. Grand Puba released “Reel To Reel” on the highly regarded Elektra label before the group (Brand Nubian) disbanded. As classsic and ground-breaking as “One For All” was, “Reel To Reel” was a nice change of pace for the “Puba frenzy”.
Rather than the Afrocentric theme of “One For All”, “Reel To Reel” found Puba displaying a more clever, boastful rhyme style. Opting to get away from all the controversy that surrounding tracks such as “Drop the Bomb” and simply go to the origins of hip hop, nothing but beats and rhymes. “Reel To Reel” was mainly produced by Puba, yet he also received a welcome push from the SD50s (Stimulated Dummies), which resulted in a sound that fit somewhere between that of “One For All” and “In God We Trust”, yet nothing at all like that of Puba’s 2nd solo LP, “2000″. It’s extremely difficult to find a noticeable flaw in “Reel To Reel”, but it’s definitely not on the same plateau as “One For All”, and arguably not even as complete a work as “In God We Trust”. Even if Puba was one of the more talented emcees of the Golden Era, it’s just not the same without Dottie X and Lord J. Still, “Reel To Reel” earned style points as Puba albeit put Tommy Hilfiger and Girbaud on the map with numerous references to the clothing brands on “Reel To Reel”.
“Stunts, Blunts & Hip Hop”-Diamond D & The Psychotic Neurotics (1992, Polygram)
Purchase “Stunts, Blunts & Hip Hop” HERE
After having his first project as 1/2 of Ultimate Force scrapped by MCA (only to be re-released in 2007), Diamond D went for dolo showcasing his emcee skills on the classic, and arguably one of the best albums of 1992, “Stunts, Blunts & Hip Hop”. Diamond’s production contributions to Lord Finesse’s “Funky Technician” exhibited promise but it’s with “Stunts..” that Diamond really made a name for himself, almost instantly becoming one of New York’s most in-demand producers. With backing from the Diggin’ In The Crates crew, Diamond truly put it down, not as much lyrically, but more so with his production on this album. Armed with a heavy “A.T.C.Q.” influence, Diamond took that jazzy style and made it a bit more street and edgy with hard, crisp drums. Diamond’s backdrops on this album are nearly flawless, as he perfected the art of creating an unforgettable LP.
Lyrically, Diamond devoted the majority of his bars to poltickin’ about every day street themes, but he had no qualms unleashing an entertaining storyline either. “Stunts” is the epitome of New York Hip Hop in 1992, classic, timeless production, real lyricism and one of the Top 25 albums ever created in my humble opinion. If you’re missing out on this one, go back and check your history books, this right here is on some classic ‘ish!!
“Self Titled”-Zhigge (1992, Polygram)
Purhase the album HERE
One of the more overlooked “tiggedy-tongue twisting” groups of the 1992, the five-man crew of Zhigge couldn’t quite be mentioned in the same breath as similar groups the Fu-Schnickens or Das EFX (who dropped solid, if not classic debuts in 1992). Representing Harlem to the fullest with a young, inspired producer by the name of Salaam Remi in tow, Zhigee caught my ear when their debut single “Toss It Up” appeared on an episode of “In Living Color” during the summer of 1992. Utilizing the oft-sampled “Substitution” break-beat, “Toss It Up” is a New York, breakin’ anthem that is most often referred to as Zhigee’s lone smash.
The lyrics that can be found on Zhigge’s debut leave much to be desired, yet on the same token, each emcee had a delivery that overcompensated for the limited lyrical content. The main problem with the album is that aside from the singles, the aforementioned “Toss It Up” and “Rakin’ In The Dough”, the remainder of the LP is very unmemorable. However, at the end of the day, Zhigge’s lone LP was still pretty decent album simply because it’s hard to go wrong with early-’90s East Coast Hip Hop. Yet, if you haven’t heard Das’ debut or even “F.U., Don’t Take It Personal” prior to this, I’d recommend you do so, as Zhigge wasn’t much more than the 1992 version of Questionmark Asylum.
Purchase “Funk Your Head Up” HERE
Damn, didn’t know that today’s edition was gonna’ pay homage to the Polygram label (see: Diamond, Zhigge and this LP)? Of course EVERYONE has heard Ultramag’s classic debut, “Critical Beatdown”, but what about 1992′s “Funk Your Head Up”? Lemme’ start things off with some of the LPs more likable findings:’ll kick things off with the things that I like about the album. Kool Keith!!! You just don’t understand!! A truly unique emcee, when in his prime there weren’t too many cats in the game that were ‘uffin’ with Keith! Ahhhh…that was quick, now let’s discuss the dislikes:
The production on “Funk Your Head Up” causes the album to falter. I get it, duplicating the sound of the classic “Critical Beatdown” was nearly unimaginable, but damn….the jawns on this album can’t even light a match to “Critical..”. ” Critical Beatdown” was so innovative and ahead of its time, yet “Funk..” is just the exact opposite with something that sounds outdated, even for 1992 standards. Go ahead, pop Diamond’s “Stunts, Blunts & Hip Hop” in your headphones and then immediately listen to this LP. See, I told you so! The drums that can be found on “Funk..” are so faint and weak when compared to Diamond’s or Prem’s on “Daily Operation”. I mean, y beats are not that bad, but we are talking about a classic group here and decent beats just didn’t do it for me. It feels as if Ultramag cut corners with this effort, or lack thereof.
Another problem is that there is no other Kool Keith in the crew, think Lebron and the Cavs. Ced Gee & TR Love both drop verses often, yet none of them could even be considered memorable. Simply put, Kool Keith carries the album, without him it would be worthless. The album is also too long, and there’s just entirely too much filler. Why it took them 4 years to follow up their debut is beyond me and they made a huge mistake as Ultramag’s style wasn’t quite up to par with the new crew in 1992. Thank god that Ultra totally redeemed themselves in ’94 with “The Four Horsemen”