Will have to check A Lesson to Be Learned again, cos it didn’t hit me as hard as the Ruthless By Law. Hadn’t got around to checking all the later albums and solo stuff yet, and don’t think I’ll risk the disappointment now. Is Solo Creep (Hitman’s first solo record) any good though? More hopeful about this one cos it’s produced by the RBL guys
Well, well, well… sorry for digging too far in the crates but my pick isn’t on Spotify, iTunes, or Bandcamp. It’s up on YouTube in full though for all my streamers. Maybe we can just add a few 90s Sermon joints to the Spotify.
I’ve only recently been digging properly through all of Sermon’s 90s output because he was so prolific. I really got into him through the production on Dare Iz a Darkside (which is a classic) and this album feels like a direct relative of that sound - absolutely fat bass lines with punchy drums and the occasional melancholic, melodic, atmospheric instrumental touches and samples. He doesn’t often come up in discussions of best hip-hop producers, and he’s not as ubiquitous on the nostalgia touring circuit as, say, Pete Rock or DJ Premier, but for me his sound is deeply intrinsic to the rap music I have loved the most since my early teens. As a production showcase this album can’t be fukked with. With hindsight it does maybe seem a little one-note by the end, but whatever, when some of the beats in this drop I get the feels. It’s consistent through all of his 90s output.
I’m a sucker for an album that uses skits well. Often they seem tacked on, or like someone thought they were hilarious whilst stoned to the 12th degree, but here the Cherry Martinez / radio premise transforms this from being a random compilation to almost feeling like a posse album. That, as well as the various Redman and Keith Murray appearances outside of the two tracks they’re featured on. It captures the atmosphere of everyone being in it for the love of the culture and collaborating together.
Speaking of Redman, Funkorama is probably my favourite song of his of all time. The vibe in that song transports me to somewhere pretty special. Namely, being stoned and 17 in the park, or drinking a beer on the beach in the summer in the early evening, but to me there’s something almost transcendental about the production and the Q-Tip sample playing off the ethereal use of Aaron Hall in the chorus.
I also love that they censored any mention of the year on the album version but not ‘i’m just as high as three pilled up motherfuckers’. Took me a while to figure that out. Anyway.
The line-up is great - Redman, Keith and Erick of course, but I also like basically all of the artists on here. A definite shout out to the female MCs in Passion Worship Band and The DUO, always good to see some female rappers getting a voice in the 90s, and they kill it. I haven’t dug around on too many of these other artists; other than Jamal I’m not aware of any of them having solo LPs, but maybe they’re there to be discovered.
Anyway this album slaps just as hard for me now as it did when iI first heard it and I hope some of you like it too.
Also as one final disclaimer my recently reignited Erick Sermon adventures nearly had me dropping Shaq Fu: da Return in the album due to the various Def Squad involvements (as well a generally stellar line-up of contributors), but I couldn’t do that to you all. But here’s the Redman-produced / Keith Murray-featuring ‘Newark to C.I.’ which is one of my favourite beats of all time
yeah that’s a classic but a long way from the grimier sounds they were making in the 90s. feel like erick and redman made a concerted effort to adapt to the 2000s and update their sound and were pretty successful. listening to stuff like Insomnia, Dare Iz a Darkside, Erick’s classic Double or Nothing solo album, songs like React and Dirty seem pretty far removed.
You’re right. Big EPMD fan generally, and also really liked some of Erick Sermon’s solo albums. I think I pinpoint the El Nino album as the moment I stopped checking for these guys - was quite patchy quality-wise and that Rapper Delight cover just seemed odd to me.
This album completely passed me by though - I have no recollection of it all, and it’s really good. Was pretty familiar with a few tracks - Funkorama obviously and It’s That Hit were played on Westwood a lot, and I Feel It sounds familiar - maybe just the sample though.
Classic era Green-Eyed Bandit production, nice range of features (his Xross-Breed guy sounds a bit like Kurious). I agree - it doesn’t feel like a chucked together compilation - it has the feel of a properly crafted collaborative album.
And regarding EPMD on the nostalgia circuit - I went to a show at the Forum a few years ago and they didn’t show up. Or maybe it was one of them, I can’t remember. Their set didn’t happen anyway.
Also, the first time i saw them was at Notting Hill Carnival which was the infamous show where Westwood asked all the white people in the crowd to move to the back, possibly during the Busta Rhymes set. Rest of the show wasn’t much fun.
Really great choice. Knew of it at the time it came out, but never gave it the time it deserved. Only on my first listen, but seems like I really, really should have, cos I would have been all over it then, and I totally rate it now.
Absolutely love the dusty, bass heavy production on a bunch of records that came out in this era - remember having Dare Iz a Darkside and Smif-N-Wessun’s ‘Dah Shinin’’ on back to back rotation for months around this time. Reckon the Beatminerz were fairly heavily influenced by Erick’s then-current productions on the second wave of Boot Camp Clik LPs. Buckwild, Money Boss Players, Godfather Don and the DITC guys were all producing similar stuff around then too.
This sound makes me totally nostalgic as well - takes me pretty much directly to my first year of Uni in Manchester, living 12 deep in a grimy student house meant for five people, being permanently stoned, and having the best time I’d ever had. Looking forward to the trip further down memory lane!
enjoyed that. good production and as people have said, more cohesive than most compilation albums. fear is a really good track, was wondering why I hadn’t heard more from tommy gunn (assume it’s the same dude from DOOM’s album?), depressingly unsurprising to see on this album’s wiki that he was murdered before it came out
Yeah - was the year I moved to London. Had been there about two weeks before going to this. Do remember it getting a bit sketchy and going to Sancho Panza instead, which I wasn’t happy with at the time, but was probably the wiser choice.
Respect Westwood for being there since the beginning, but always found him a bit embarrassing tbh. Wasn’t this the year KRS-One called him out as well?
Yeah, I’m pretty sure he did too. There was definitely no roar of approval, but quite a lot of laughing and half joking “Well, you heard him!” from people in the crowd to our group of mostly white lads. Westwood’s shows at that time always felt sketchy to me to be honest.