Review Summary: Put your fingers up if you love hash and cash/ I been that way since Ike Turner was kickin Tina ass
As a listener in rap music, I dug deeper into the genre, I found pseudo-intellectual lyricism, down-tuned, lo fi production that at first applies because of a certain interesting novelty, but the only ones that can continue listening to it is the same indie kids that hold pitchfork as their totem. And around this time, it was completely uncool to listen to and enjoy mainstream rap music, so I felt a little bit lost other than my favorite artists. Then, I finally listened to the self-entitled ‘eleventh member of the Wu-Tang’ Reggie Noble, and felt like all that digging was uncessary, seeing as his third album Muddy Waters
managed to sell five hundred thousand records, and yet sounds professional, consistent, and excellent without the extreme inconsistency that plagues most mainstream rap records.
Redman, in his effort to make his first classic record, uses his significantly superior ear for beats to pick a simple, similar atmosphere for most of the album to follow through. Other than the one exception (“It’s Like That (My Big Brother)”), the songs have a smooth, at times haunting aura. The bass laces the tracks with a big booming groove while the rest of the instruments, whether it’s the rhythmic vibes of “Creepin”, the minimalistic horns of “Rollin”, or the trippy flutes of “Smoke Buddah”, only add to the smooth atmosphere, and ultimately, the consistency of the album. Along with eccentric backing instrumentals, the beats are laced with soul/funk samples, and chorus’s are littered by samples from such familiar artists as Busta Rhymes, Snoop Dogg, and (maybe not so much familiar) Jamal of Illegal, to give the listeners a sense of rap familiarity mixed in with a oddly unfamiliar rap atmosphere.
But these little nuances are only there to create a subtlety crafted backing for Redman’s perfected abrasive mannerisms behind the microphone and lyrical witticisms. Red’s flow fluently switches from aggressive to calm as he switches between two of raps more generic topics (weed, being incredibly proficient at being a lyricist), and nearly destroys every other rapper who have tried their hand at both topics. His lyrics can be summed up by his performance on “Whateva Man”, which is easily the best track Redman has ever released mixing flashy word play (“So chinky eyed I see people wavin on a map/I make it hotter than your thermostats (beep beep beep beep)/Bomb MC's with rough megahertz so call me/Funk Doctor verbal starburst, lyrical expert”), surreal humor (“Bigger they come, harder they fall/That goes for, knuckleheads, MC's, pussy walls and all/I lit my first L before I started to crawl/I got my ass whupped when I had my first brawl”), and pure bravado (well any quote will work). Occasionally Redman gets together his crew like any other notable rapper, like E of EPMD on “Whateva Man”, and the hyper-aggressive speedy flow Keith Murray and what seems like his little brother Mally G on “Da Ill Out”, and these artists only push Redman’s performance towards the heights of rap perfection.
However, Muddy Waters
isn’t the perfect rap album, it’s much to repetitive, and the smooth, trippy atmosphere is only ruined by a single track that differentiates from what the rest of the album is trying to create. “It’s Like that (My Big Brother)” is not terrible, Redman certainly sounds fine, and the beat doesn’t lack, but it does differ in the way that instead of being more set as background music, is more aimed towards outshining Redman and K-Solo, though to be fair, K-Solo’s performance is terrible as usual. Despite these exceptions and the generic abundance of annoying skits that ran rampart on rap albums around this era, Redman has created what could be considered one of the best rap albums released in the mid 90s. Completely and direly underrated, Muddy Waters
is completely worth of purchase, and may make you rethink mainstream rap, as it did go gold.