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Versus. “Beyond Flavor” or “React Like Ya’ Knew”

by Eric on April 13, 2012

“Beyond Flavor” – Original Flavor

Dropped: March ’94 Via Atlantic

Purchase “Beyond Flavor” HERE

Led by producer/former MC, Ski, Original Flavor dropped their debut, “This Is How It Is” to very little fanfare, in 1992.  Although Ski paired himself with legendary New York DJ, Clark Kent for the project, the LP fizzled out very quickly.  Honestly, it’s even surprising that Atlantic even bit on a second effort from Original Flavor.  However, on their second effort, “Beyond Flavor”, Ski enlisted the help of MCs T-Strong, Chubby Chub and someone named Jay-Z.  Having worked with fellow Brooklynite Big Jaz on “Hawaiian Sophie”, Original Flavor’s sophomore LP truly served as a catapult for Jay’s future projects.

Formed in the Mecca of Hip Hop, New York, in 1991, Original Flavor set out to compete with the best of ‘em on their sophomore effort. However, after listening to “Beyond Flavor”, you are left with the feeling that the missing key that Original Flavor lacked on this album was complexity,  which may have kept the beats and rhymes locked together tightly. Most of the album, which at times flowed as smoothly as the Pharcyde’s debut over hard, “Bacdafucup-like” production, featured braggadocio lyrics that only reiterated Original Flavor’s supposed “originality”…but, it’s nothing that you haven’t heard before, allow me to expound..

“Beyond Flavor” wasn’t completely wack.  The production and melodies on cuts like “Hit”, “Blowin’ Up Da Spot” and the title cut really had the potential to move assess by the masses.  The infamous Ski and DJ Chubby Chubb blend piano loops and femme vocals  that all possessed grooves to hit hard enough to curve your spine.  “All That’s” silky, anti-ego chorus has always been one of my favorite tracks from “Beyond Flavor”, it’s just too bad that most of the other tracks on the album didn’t quite hit as hard in the head or the feet.

One of the album’s highlights was the addition of the crew’s newest member for “Beyond Flavor”, T-Strong.  I gotta’ admit the dude could flip a lofty rhyme between his teeth better than most during this album’s heyday.  The main beef I had with “Beyond Flavor” was that while the rhymes were far from average, “Beyond Flavor” wasn’t necessarily comprised of complete songs, and while Original Flavor did have all the skills (as a group) to take it to the next level (Ski already has) “Beyond Flavor” would be the last we’d hear from Original Flavor as a trio.

aaaannnnnnnd in this corner……..

“React Like Ya’ Knew”-Private Investigators

Dropped: August ’94 via Virgin

Purchase “React Like Ya’ Knew” HERE

Losing the “new jack” image and picking up an ideology that was better known as the Nation of Gods and Earths, Redhead Kingpin reappeared in 1993 (along with a few of his homies) with hopes of rejuvenating his career.

As far as I’m concerned, he did a pretty fair job of doing so judging from the quality displayed between “React Like Ya’ Knew” and his solo outings. The improvement with the beats and lyrics is drastic. The beats bump, the hooks are catchy and the album re-worked a few old-school samples that provided just the right vintage atmosphere to a dope effort that was widely “passed-up” due to the perception of Redhead from his previous two efforts. So let’s get down to business.

To set sh*t off nicely, “That’s What It Is”, a track that sampled a bit of the Jungle Brothers’ “Jimbrowski” along with the bass line that made Masta Ace’s “Music Man” a New York anthem, established a nice identity to the Private Investigators as they proved that this album was not to be mistaken for another “New Jack Swing”.Next up is “She’s Not My G”, and for all you youngsters out there, “G” was a widespread phrase that basically stood for “girlfriend”, popularized by Flavor Flav on “Meet The G That Killed Me” (from “Fear Of A Black Planet”). Then you have “Walk On”, which to me, sounded eerily reminiscent of the Pharcyde classic, “Passing Me By” (topic-wise anyway) and “Damn It Feels Good”, which is appropriately titled due to it’s heavy drum kick and deep bass line along with horns sampled from the Tenor Saw classic, “Ring The Alarm”. Also of note is “On The Rise” which is centered around the same loop that propelled Black Moon to underground stardom.

Honestly, the album works largely due to it’s dope production, which was mostly handled by Redhead. The catchy hooks, and the fact that Red had definitely spent a little extra time in the both between the release of his solo albums and “React Like Ya’ Knew” is very noticeable. For cats that favor the lyrical aspect of Hip Hop, this album may not be up your alley because the lyrics…at times….seem monotone and redundant. At any rate this album is definitely listenable anywhere a dope sound system can be found.

Eric’s Take:

I can’t tell you just how annoying the Original Flavor LP has grown to be.  I don’t know man, “Beyond Flavor” just didn’t age well…at all!  While Kingpin’s LP is just OK, it definitely left “Beyond Flavor” in the dust!

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