Hip Hop

De La Soul "3 Feet High and Rising" (1989)

De La’s debut really was a breath of fresh air upon release with the Daisy Age crew flipping the hip hop script big time with their fun odd ball approach to the genre. In the wrong hands it could have been a disaster – all style over substance – but these three young MC’s had something about them even then and an ace up their sleeve in the shape of producer Prince Paul. This record also introduced us to the overuse of the Skit on hip hop LP’s and after a while it is perhaps my main complaint against an otherwise fantastic debut. Sure the skits are funny and on occasion work well with the flow of the record they can grate after a while. However there are some absolute classic tunes presented too, with at least three to four essential cuts. —Jon

Kool G Rap & DJ Polo “Road to the Riches” (1989)

Back when the Juice Crew was on a roll in the late 80s, Big Daddy Kane, MC Shan and Biz Markie had already gotten their start and even had their own Marley Marl produced albums out. By 1989, all three were at album number two and the remaining Juice Crew members that were yet to start were Kool G. Rap, Craig G and Masta Ace. Masta Ace didn’t debut till 1990, but Craig G and Kool G. Rap both came out in 1989 with their debuts. While Craig G’s The Kingpin sucked and killed any potential his career could’ve had, Kool G. Rap delivered with the backup from his DJ, Polo. Kool G. Rap is the hardest rapper from Juice Crew and therefore it makes sense that he’s the most skilled too. While the smooth Big Daddy Kane had crossover appeal, G. Rap was too raw for that and this album – Road to the Riches – is evidence of that. In here, Kool G. Rap most of the time spends the album’s length to simply brag and what a braggart he is! His rhymes are simply too good to be comparable. Just give “Men at Work” a listen to see what I’m saying. Kool G. Rap is ruthless on the mic and even though Road to the Riches is often associated with the creation of mafioso rap, it’s completely false and apart from the title track “Road to the Riches”, absolutely nothing is on that side. DJ Polo does the scratches and he’s excellent but Marley Marl takes care of the production duties and he gives the album a very good late 80s hardcore sound with use of samples mostly from James Brown (an obvious source for New York albums back then). Although the beats haven’t aged all that well, they are still very good and only help Kool G. Rap’s excellent rapping. The only thing to hold back this album from perfection are the crossover tracks which just don’t fit Kool G. Rap’s hardcore, raw style. I’m talking about “Truly Yours”, “Cars” (although I like that new wave sample) and “She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not”. But with those tracks aside, everything else is pure excellence. –Prt Cpt