Here’s a record (yes, it’s on vinyl) that still gets pretty regular spins in my house, despite me owning it for almost 20 years.
This debut release justifiably continues to win kudos as a breakthrough album in the hip-hop domain. I distinctly remember the British indie-music papers wetting themselves with delight when this popped out back in 1989. I fell for the nursery rhyming very quickly.
There was (and is) so much to love on this album. Samples from all over the musical landscape (including the Johnny Cash lyric album title), warm almost-sung raps, skits that don’t tire with repetition, a mention of Australia… it’s great stuff.
I am so damn familiar with this album, I find it hard to imagine not having heard it. It’s hip hop but not as we typically think about it. The groove is much funkier. The vibe is more love-filled than anger-driven. There are flights of fancy George Clinton would be proud of.
There is a lot of silliness on this record. Some tracks are just a bunch of fun samples or riffs about your friends smelling funny. But that just serves to connect the epics (Magic Number, Jenifa…, Ghetto Thang, Eye Know and about 7 others!).
I found this on Youtube (the press video they put together at the time, and which I taped off Rage way back then):
It captures some of the magic.
File under: A giant release