September 01, 2021

Original Flavor - This Is How It Is (1992)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: 7 82355-2
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© 1992 Atlantic Records
AllMusic Review by Stanton Swihart
In 1993, just in time to record their second album, Beyond Flavor, Damon Dash would add a buddy of his -- a young Brooklyn rapper known around the way for his superlative rhyming skills -- to the lineup of Original Flavor, one of the two groups (the other being the excellent the Future Sound) he had under contract at the time. The MC's name? Jay-Z. Only an average album, the sky was nevertheless the limit for him from there on out. The verdict was less rosy for Original Flavor as a unit, and today, if the group is remembered at all, it is only because of that early association with the Jigga man. In actuality, the primary catalyst behind the crew was producer Ski, who later would go on to contribute a half-dozen strong tracks to Jay-Z's first two albums, and This Is How It Is turns out to be almost entirely his show. Although it is not on the whole a great outing, it definitely does have flashes. Much of the production, in fact, is quite accomplished -- terrific, even. Scratch that: On a musical level, This Is How It Is frequently verges on the magnificent, with an impressive array of clever and uncommon samples and ingenious cut-and-paste breakbeats. It will certainly surprise no one who listens to the music to know that Ski would go on to become a highly successful hired gun. He is too often let down, however, by lackluster vocal support (including his own) on This Is How It Is. It is no wonder that Dash would try to bolster the MC side of Original Flavor after the album's release. As a result, the only completely quibble-free song on which everything clicks is "Way Wit Words," breezy lyrical froth on top of an asymmetrical chunk of bop piano that is very reminiscent of the Future Sound. Otherwise listeners get such innocuous fare as "Gumdrops," or battle boastfulness that doesn't even really sound convinced by itself, all of which tends to drain the color from the songs by the time they come to a close. Rap fans drawn more to production than lyrical skills, though, will have much to enjoy if they're able to scare up a copy of the album.

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tags: original flavor, this is how it is, 1992, flac,