February 23, 2020

Bodega Bohemia - Bodega Bohemia (1993)

Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Synth Pop
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© 1993 Metronome
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: camouflage, bodega bohemia, 1993, flac,

Camouflage - Spice Crackers (1995)

Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Synth Pop
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© 1995 RCA
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett
By the time of Spice Crackers' 1995 release, Camouflage found themselves dealing not only with changing times on the part of their key inspirations -- Depeche Mode having long since grappled with rock motifs on albums like Violator and Songs of Faith and Devotion -- but with the shift from electronic pop being pop, to being a quieter concern amid the aboveground explosion of techno in Europe throughout that decade. Spice Crackers feels like a reaction to both changes in many ways, a chance for Camouflage to find their own identity as well as see how to roll with the times -- and what's striking is how they predated some future developments elsewhere as a result. (It says something that the bass-heavy introduction "X-Ray" might have appeared on Depeche's Ultra, for instance, even though that album was two years away from release at that point.) There's a self-referentiality to the field that's almost amusing in its apparent po-facedness -- calling one song "Kraft" and the one immediately after it "Electronic Music" is almost too much -- but the exquisite instrumental "Ronda's Trigger," arguably the album's best song, celebrates things more effectively, a classic electronic dance number in the best way, propulsive and serene at the same time. As with almost any album of its length in the era of CDs, it feels like it goes on a little too long, with some of the better tracks like "Back to Heaven" buried a bit at the end. But if anything, Spice Crackers counts as a key release pointing the way for where European electronic pop with an ear for the darker side of things would go in the future -- after-echoes of the freer, more flowing approach to things the band did here can be heard well down the line in groups like Apoptygma Berzerk

tags: camouflage, spice crackers, 1995, flac,

February 22, 2020

Camouflage - Voices & Images (1988)

Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Synth Pop
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© 1988 Metronome
AllMusic Review by Michael Sutton
When it was played on modern rock radio stations in 1988, Camouflage had everybody duped with "The Great Commandment." With its chilly synths, robotic percussion, and gloomy vocals, the song was a Depeche Mode doppelganger. Similarly, Camouflage's debut album Voices & Images is the sound of young men who couldn't stop playing Depeche Mode's Black Celebration in their tape decks. However, they are somewhat talented plagiarists. The icy, computerized rhythms in the anti-racism track "Neighbours" and "Helpless Helpless" have toe-tapping appeal, and "Winner Takes Nothing" regurgitates Duran Duran as new romantic cyborgs with Marcus Meyn's Simon Le Bon-esque singing. Meyn enunciates every word in his songs with a heavy seriousness, as if lyrics such as "we had fun while we played/hide and seek" have profound meaning. The dancey synthesizers of keyboardists/programmers Heiko Maile and Oliver Kreyssig Xerox the eerily seductive high-tech boogie of mid-'80s Depeche Mode, but they're nowhere near as inventive or edgy. Voices & Images should've been an EP. Once the sixth track, "Winner Takes Nothing," is finished, Camouflage's Depeche Mode infatuation loses its novelty.

tags: camouflage, voices and images, 1988, flac,

Camouflage - Methods of Silence (1989)

Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Synth Pop
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© 1989 Metronome
AllMusic Review by Dean Carlson
Camouflage entered the synth pop game when most people had already moved on, which spelled trouble for their 1989 sophomore album. The total absence of acknowledged humor in Camouflage's material contrasted sharply with the vibrancy of the ensuing decade, and the album's widening addition of violins, saxophones, and guitars couldn't prevent the band from being forced into a prematurely outdated pigeonhole. In hindsight, this was the LP's biggest problem. "On Islands" and "One Fine Day" were sweet, multi-textured pop that swayed like a hammock strung between industrial pylons, while "Rue de Moorslede" regaled itself with a taut instrumental of circus organs, filtered horns, and the recurring sound of doors slammed shut. It was the opposite of '90s IDM -- frustratingly simple, sonically precise, forever reliant on pop song structure and, along with Depeche Mode's Violator a year later, one of the last times when a band could get away with it.

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Camouflage - Meanwhile (1991)

Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Synth Pop
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© 1991 Metronome
AllMusic Review by Michael Sutton
After Camouflage finally discover their own voice on 1989's Methods of Silence, they take a nap on Meanwhile. Mistaking slower tempos for introspection, Camouflage abandons the thrilling synth pop of "The Great Commandment" for sluggish, aimless tracks. While the band's attempts to shed the Depeche Mode comparisons is commendable, they don't sound too excited doing it. One of Camouflage's best songs is the heartbreakingly pretty "Love Is a Shield" from Methods of Silence, and the group tries to recapture that track's melancholic feel on "Heaven (I Want You)." Unfortunately, the music drifts by without any enthusiasm or emotion. The band uses a guitar on "Dad" to kill the monotony, but it comes across as forced. None of the romantic songs on Meanwhile move the listener, and Camouflage's bad habit of tackling serious issues has again surfaced. On "Dad," Camouflage addresses child abuse and incest with the depth of a newspaper headline: "No one will believe/'Cause he's your dad." Whether or not the track is based on a specific real-life incident is a question only the group can answer; nevertheless, it doesn't change the fact that the song doesn't pack the wallop that it should. Although Meanwhile isn't as derivative as Camouflage's 1988 debut, Voices & Images, the band doesn't replace the borrowed parts with equally toothsome hooks of their own.

tags: camouflage, meanwhile., mean while, 1991, flac,

February 21, 2020

Quid Comba - Obús (2009) ☠

Lanzado independientemente en 2009 
por Tres G Producciones en CD-R y en una funda de cartón.  
Se incluye una foto del disco en el archivo.

Country: Mexico
Language: Spanish (Español)
Genre: Hip-Hop
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☠: Selected by Sentinel
© 2009 Tres G Producciones
*No professional r3eviews are available for this release.

tags: quid comba, obus, 2009, flac,

Jesus Jones - Doubt (1990)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Grebo
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© 1990 SBK, Food, Capitol Records
AllMusic Review by Steve Huey
Jesus Jones' best album, Doubt, benefits greatly from Mike Edwards' improved songwriting, as well as a better idea of how to effectively fuse guitar-rock with samples and dance-club beats that hint at techno. There are slips in both areas -- a few songs float past without ever making an impression, and some of the fusions sound rather forced and arbitrary. But those moments are outweighed by the ample portions of the album that do work; the album's title is belied by the giddy optimism of the catchy number two hit, and best song here, "Right Here, Right Now," and other singles like "Real, Real, Real," "International Bright Young Thing," and the B-side "I'm Burning" are nearly as good. Easily the high point of the band's career.

tags: jesus jones, doubt, 1990, flac,

Babe The Blue Ox - Color Me Babe (1995)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Post Grunge
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© 1995 Homestead Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: babe the blue ox, color me babe, 1995, flac,

Method Man - I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need To Get By (1995)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1995 Def Jam Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: method man, ill be there for you, youre all i need, single, 1995, flac,

February 20, 2020

Young MC - What's The Flavor? (1993) ⚓

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Pop Rap
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© 1993 Capitol Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
On his third album, Young MC was trying to recapture his audience, adding elements of jazz-rap -- thanks to the production of A Tribe Called Quest's Ali Shaheed -- to his pop-oriented style. While it didn't rocket him back to the top of the charts, the results were agreeable and likeable, with only a couple of embarrassing tracks.

tags: young mc, whats the flavor, 1993, flac,

Mathematics - Love, Hell or Right (Da Come Up) (2003)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 2003 High Times Records
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
A member of the sprawling Wu-Tang family, producer Mathematics' contribution has been duly noted by the hardcore fans and the Wu themselves. Although he took the credit in the Digital Bullet liner notes, RZA later admitted that it was Mathematics who produced the centerpiece of the album, "Must Be Bobby," and he's the go-to guy when it comes to reviving the Enter the Wu-Tang sound. Love, Hell or Right does sound like that album's grimy moments, and although members of the Wu show up here and there, the album is Mathematics' own. Minus RZA's Wu-promoting chant in "… On da Radio," the album is one of the least incestuous releases to emerge from the 36 Chambers studio. It's what makes it interesting, but also what keeps it from being a classic. Beat-wise, he can do no wrong. The slow hypnotic pulse of Love, Hell or Right looms like the cloud blown from a blunt with glittery soulful samples and blaxsploitation soundbites weaving in and out. Flowing like a Prince Paul record, it should go a long way to earn Mathematics the same respect. The problem lies in the forgettable contributions from non-Wu MCs. Lyrically there's little to focus on, and the album's liner notes don't even bother to list everyone. If he wasn't so comfortable with his low profile and searched out more accomplished MCs for his non-Wu projects, Mathematics could start a dynasty of his own.

tags: mathematics, allah mathematics, love hell or right, da come up, 2003, flac,

Kelly Price - Mirror Mirror (2000)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
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© 2000 Def Soul
AllMusic Review by Michael Gallucci
Like Mary J. Blige, Price has a big, bad, beautiful voice. And like Blige, she often chooses smart material to go along with that big, bad, beautiful voice. On her second album, she goes through many R&B motions -- over-singing, pallid bedroom songs, tuneless tales -- but still manages to sound like a genuinely thrilled diva in the process. Filled with slow jams, slick hip-hop, and gospel, Mirror Mirror is a more rounded record than Price's debut. Best is a cover of Shirley Murdock's "As We Lay" played like a Broadway curtain-closer. It reveals Price's penchant for theatricality and demonstrates her warmth as a singer. She puts an individualist's stamp on the album, a looking glass, if you will, into her soul.

tags: kelly price, mirror mirror, 2000, flac,

February 19, 2020

Cracker - Cracker (1992) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock, Alternative Country
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1992 Virgin
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Apart from David Lowery's tendency to slip in some smug, self-serving lyrics, Cracker's debut is a terrific rock & roll record, full of energetic three-chord bashers and surprisingly moving ballads.

tags: cracker,  cracker album, 1992, flac,

Cracker - The Golden Age (1996)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Post Grunge, Alternative Country
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© 1996 Virgin
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Kerosene Hat, Cracker's second album, was an unexpected hit because of its off-kilter charm. Though Cracker rocked hard throughout the record, they also threw in fractured pop and country tunes that gave the album a broader appeal. The band's follow-up album, The Golden Age, tries to expand on that appeal by burying the weirdness inherent in David Lowery's songwriting with loud, grungy guitars and a more streamlined production. The change is evident from the record's leadoff track, "I Hate My Generation." With its pounding rhythms and grunge-drenched guitars, it may have been intended as a parody of '90s Generation-X angst, but the riffs and melodies are so slight that it fails embarrassingly. In fact, most of the louder numbers on The Golden Age are forced and underdeveloped. What saves the record is when Cracker turn the volume down, whether it's the country rock of the title track, the goofy pop of "How Can I Live Without You," or the dusty psychedelia of "Bicycle Spaniard." Once you dig past the surface of the loud guitars, it becomes apparent that there's an abundance of quiet gems scattered throughout The Golden Age, and that is what makes the album worthwhile listening.

tags: cracker, the golden age, 1996, flac,

Live - V (2001)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Post Grunge
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© 2001 Radioactive
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
The spiritual qualities in Live's music have often inspired comparisons to Bono and U2, and some admirers have noted the parallels between Ed Kowalczyk's reflections and the imagery that John Lennon employed. But there's another valid comparison that one doesn't often hear: Earth, Wind & Fire. Live's alternative rock sounds nothing like EWF's soul and funk, but lyrically, they do have something in common: an ability to get a positive, uplifting message across without being wimpy. EWF had some of the most gutsy, rump-shaking funk grooves of the '70s, and yet, their lyrics were undeniably spiritual; similarly, Live's fifth album, V, feeds the listeners' mind, spirit, and intellect without letting the body down. Those who think of Live as the conscience of post-grunge alternative rock won't be disappointed by the intelligence and spirituality the Pennsylvanians bring to "People Like You," "Simple Creed," and other enriching tracks. But for all of its thoughtfulness, V has plenty of guts and grit. It also has a willingness to experiment; during the course of the album, Live incorporates everything from hip-hop to Indian music. And the Beatles are still a prominent influence; "Hero of Love," "Nobody Knows," and "Transmit Your Love" are appealing examples of the Fab Four influencing musicians no less than 31 years after their breakup. Is Live the conscience of post-grunge alterna-rock? Reading V's lyric sheet, it would be difficult to argue with that assertion. But Live's ability to get a positive message across doesn't make this album any less edgy -- in fact, V is among the band's most confident and inspired releases.

tags: live, v, v album, 2001, flac,

Live - Birds of Pray (2003)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Post Grunge
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© 2003 Radioactive
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
At 12 years and six albums into Live's recording career, the bandmembers have fewer qualms about letting their spirituality and big themes rise to the surface, as the very title of Birds of Pray indicates. They even open the record with "Heaven," a plea to "get back your faith again," where leader Ed Kowalczyk claims "I don't need no one to tell me about heaven/I look at my daughter and I believe." Scott Stapp had similar sentiments about his son on Creed's "With Arms Wide Open," but Kowalczyk's song has grander ambitions, which echo throughout Birds of Pray. He's struggling through the post-9/11 world, believing in "The Sanctity of Dreams" and hoping to "Bring the People Together" as he questions "What Are We Fighting For?" but realizing that "Life Marches On," so he finds solace in his family, particularly his daughter, who is mentioned or alluded to often on these 13 songs. (Interestingly, his song titles state his themes much better than the lyrics, which are either too literal or bewilderingly obtuse.) These are all the concerns of a group whose members are in their thirties, and they appropriately have tweaked the music. It's still recognizably Live music -- big, big guitars, sweeping anthemic choruses, earnest ballads, mildly histrionic vocals, all tied together as post-U2 arena rock -- but it's a little more subdued and a little more serious and quite streamlined, subtly fitting Kowalczyk's themes. The biggest problem with the record is that the eye is on the big picture -- from how the songs fit together to how the overall sound fits a song -- to the extent that the individual moments aren't all that memorable, clearly lacking singles as forceful as those that fueled Throwing Copper and not quite as compelling as a whole as its predecessor, V. These, however, are all signs that Live is growing up and settling down, turning into a solid thirty-something rock band -- it won't gain much attention outside of its core audience, but it will satisfy them, largely because the band is growing with them.

tags: live, birds of prey, 2003, flac,

February 18, 2020

Arsonists - Date of Birth (2001)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 2001 Matador
AllMusic Review by M.F. DiBella
On the sophomore release from this Brooklyn underground trio (surfacing here as Jise, Q-Unique, and Swel 79), the Arsonists continue to swim away from the mainstream, not in a calculated manner as some backpackers do to try to make a name, but because for these self-proclaimed hip-hop pyromaniacs, this is the only way to make their music. As a result, many hip-hop luminaries have taken notice, including the legendary Chuck D, who at one time quipped: "When you see a group like the Arsonists out there, they're better than what any major label has got." Living by KRS-One's immortal credo -- "Rap is something you do, hip-hop is something you live" -- the Arsonists set fire to many a microphone and drum machine on Date of Birth. Again sticking to their largely in-house production protocol (though the Beatnuts' Psycho Les drops a burner on "Self Righteous Spics"), flaming arrows are fired on the rollicking "Space Junk" and the classical piano-infused "Alive." But these are mere warm-up acts for two of the more memorable underground tracks in recent memory: the hilariously sharp "Millionaire," a slick, hip-hop parody of Regis Philbin's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire game show, and "Language Arts," a blazing combination of kabuki theater strings and Akira Kurosawa film aesthetic. While the album lapses occasionally with a couple of patches of redundant production, Date of Birth is a strong follow-up from a crew who keep it real by nature.

tags: arsonists, date of birth, 2001, flac,

CunninLynguists - Will Rap For Food (2001)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 2001 Urban Acres Entertainment
Reviewed by Emilee Woods for Rap Reviews.com
I love underground hip hop. Sometimes, though, I get sick of hearing these underground rappers base their entire identities on some notion of their opposition to and superiority over the mainstream. The lyric that always comes to mind is one by Aesop Rock: "Next time you wanna be a hero, try saving something other than hip hop / and maybe hip hop'll save you from the pit stop." Say word.
With their debut "Will Rap For Food," CunninLynguists members Deacon and Kno crafted an album that functioned as an alternative to the norm of mainstream hip hop without dwelling on the distinction, a fact which makes this already stellar musical work that much more palatable. With the album title and scattered skits of two panhandling MCs, the CunninLynguists playfully invoke the mainstream/underground dichotomy, at one point attempting to entice a passerby by promising to spit "that jiggy shit" in exchange for some pocket change. Otherwise, though, they simply get down to business, delivering their (by now) trademarked combination of lighthearted, goofy subjects and more weighty material over Kno's crafty beats.
Musically, Kno holds things down behind the boards for delf, aside from an assist from Celph Titled on "So Live!", and the results are consistently sweet. In reading various articles about Kno online, the phrase that keeps coming up is "loop digger," and for good reason, as he culls lovely loops from a variety of materials to keep your head nodding. He combines a haunting trumpet melody and hypnotic synths on "Mic Like a Memory," scratching in a Common sample that sums up the mood exactly. On "Fukinwichu," his minimalist bass groove and straightforward drum track are lightly accentuated by mellow vibes, as the deceptively simple beat draws you in only to direct your focus to the MCs' joking boasts of their Shady-esque misdeeds. He has a particular knack for flipping majestic strings into funky compositions, as he does on "Lynguistics" and the instrumental "Kno's Digging." On numerous tracks, abundant samples of other rap lyrics capture the spirit of the songs so completely that you'd almost swear they had been constructed around those particular sound bites.
On the lyrical tip, Deacon the Villain and Kno retroactively prove a point Deacon made on a later album, 2005's "A Piece of Strange": "I heard ‘em talkin bout southern folks can't rhyme / Some of y'all must be out your goddamn minds." They manage to incorporate punchline rhymes, introspective musings, and your more standard rap boasts without ever sounding forced, and Deacon is especially adept at the wordplay. He opens up the album with the line, "The music makes me high even though I stay away from cannabis like Wyclef," and he rips it up with the following verse on the braggadocious "Takin' The Loss":
 
"I stay dirty like Rastafarian piss tests
Stick dick between notebook pages to show how I sex texts
Keep rappers in check like chess threats
Deacon the Lone Star, flows hotter than Tex Mex
Givin ears the best sex since 900 numbers
Rock all night like slumber
In a battle I Stone Cold Stun the mic manager
Knowin he's amateur like minor league
Testin me's like askin a drownin man to breathe
Better off waitin in hell for a cool breeze
Beatin me is impossible, like a tank top with sleeves
My road rages, I drop fires and pop tires
I shock liars with the truth that I share like stock buyers
Retire, and get your head right
Facin me and lovin life's a contradiction like an Amish website
Deacon the red light, better yet the human pause button
Drop somethin that got car stereos humpin like dogs fuckin"


For his part, Kno can craft a clever verse with multisyllable rhymes and sharp metaphors, even if his overall flow and voice quality occasionally leave something to be desired. These flaws are easily overlooked, though, when he pens sixteens with the tongue in cheek wit of standout track "Thugged
Out Since Cub Scouts":
 
"Cuttin in the lunch line? What you thinkin, dog?
I'll stab you dead in yo' eye with a Lincoln Log
Oh you think I'm soft because I rock Izod?
Pull out the sawed off ("Oh my God!")
Even though I never been hauled off to juvenile detention
I done things too vile to mention
I was too demented
Remember when baby Jessica fell in the well?
I threw her in it!
I always been a sick kid
Took hella Valiums and all type of doctor's prescriptions
And when the den leader gave me stress
I smacked him in the grill with my merit badge vest
Nevertheless classmates learned never to test
Unless they wanted spitballs stuck to they neck
Oh you think it's funny? I'll beat you down
Screamin out my buddy, my buddy, my buddy
My buddy and me!"


In addition to these playful topics, they also chart out more emotional terrain, with Deacon's confessional account of finding himself through hip hop on "Mic Like A Memory" and Kno's painful story of abandonment by his mother on "Family Ties."
This last point is key in a retrospective review like this one, because the mixture of juvenilia and introspection is something present in older CunninLynguists work much more so than it is currently. Personally, I believe they achieved their best balance of these two dimensions on their sophomore album, "Southerunderground," but it receded to the background in "A Piece of Strange" and "Dirty Acres." While these latter two albums are more developed musically than "Will Rap For Food," whose tracks can at times blend together, their debut's spirited banter helps it stand out from the bunch and makes it a crucial listen for any fans who missed it. With this one, the CunninLynguists proved they didn't have to employ OR diss tired rap clichés, and instead used their mischievous sense of humor to rap their way into your pocketbook. It's definitely worth your chump change.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 9 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8.5 of 10

 tags: cunninlynguists, will rap for food, 2001, flac

Grand Puba - 2000 (1995)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1995 Elektra
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Grand Puba's second solo album continues his groundbreaking fusion of jazz and hip-hop, adding a harder, street-oriented edge for 2000. The production saves the album, even when the songs are weak.

tags: grand puba, 2000 album, 1995, flac,

Grand Puba - Reel To Reel (1992)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1992 Elektra
AllMusic Review by Stanton Swihart
In a sense, Grand Puba really never was a genuine member of Brand Nubian. He was several years older than Lord Jamar and Sadat X, and had already recorded with the old-school crew Masters of Ceremony several years before finally hooking up with his younger mates. And even the mostly collective-minded One for All featured a couple Puba solo joints. Based on the sophomore Brand Nubian outing, it is pretty clear that Grand Puba's carefree verbal play, completely unencumbered by ideology, tempered the more in-your-face manifestation of Jamar and Sadat X's radical politics since In God We Trust which, as thrillingly polemical as it could be, was also rather severe and uncompromising, even apocalyptic, in its outlook, and therefore off-putting at times. Likewise, based on this debut solo album, it's clear that Brand Nubian created precisely the right context in which Puba's self-reflexive braggadocio could flourish without wearing thin because Reel to Reel, as much fun as it is, has little in the way of substance. As a result, the record never becomes more than a pleasing divertissement. Minus any counterweights who can "drop the science," Puba, like some sort of hip-hop Dolemite, proved to be interested mostly in self-puffery, partying, and playing the ladies. While the persona is entertaining as far as it goes, it doesn't have a lot of mileage in it unless you have a high tolerance for tall tales about stunts and blunts. The artist himself had a good time satirizing this penchant at the beginning of the classic "Wake Up" from One for All, but seems to have lost sight of some of the possibilities for self-parody here. Having said that, the album really does have a lot to offer, including the irresistible one-two punch of "Check Tha Resume" and "360°," the deep-fried "Honey Don't Front," and the delightfully lazy "Who Makes the Loot?," whipped off with Brand New Heavies when they were at their funkiest. The production (most of it by the artist himself) is universally excellent, and Puba is, without a doubt, one of the cleverest, most cheekily complex MCs to ever pick up a microphone. Just bring your incredulity and sense of humor -- the lower the brow the better -- and Reel to Reel is a real hoot.

tags: grand puba, reel to reel, 1992, flac,