I Used to Love H.E.R.: Eriksolo (Meanest Man Contest)

The 20th installment of I Used to Love H.E.R., a series in which artists/bloggers/writers discuss their most essential or favorite hip-hop albums (read intro), comes from Eriksolo, one-half of the eclectic indie hip-hop duo Meanest Man Contest, a recent gem of a discovery thanks to its 7-inch release on Gold Robot Records. MMC also released the Some People EP this past September on Plug Research. You can pick up two tracks from the new Partially Smart EP at RCRD LBL. Eriksolo kindly uploaded the track below, which he calls one of his favorite MMC songs.

Redman
Whut? Thee Album (Def Jam, 1992)

For me, Redman’s debut, Whut? Thee Album, perfectly typifies the sort of early ‘90s hip-hop that was both unabashedly “underground” but also great for, like, parties and just having fun. Whut? was not only big with the rap fans at my school, but also the skaters, the stoners, the jocks, the weirdos, the taggers, and the kids who liked to dance. The first albums by Del tha Funkee Homosapien and Cypress Hill (which both came out not too long before Whut?) also fall into this category, in my opinion. They’re odd and inventive, but totally unpretentious.

Lyrically, Redman came out of the gate on top of his game. He’d only been on record a few times before this (as a guest on some EPMD tracks), but he already sounds like a vet. His rhymes on Time 4 Sum Aksion are funny and loose. He’s sharp and clever on Blow Your Mind. Meanwhile, How to Roll a Blunt is, well, incredibly detailed in its instructiveness.

(A little aside: At a gathering I went to during my first year of college, I overheard a very tool-ish dude tell two girls who lived in my dorm that he learned everything he needed to know about smoking weed from listening to Redman. One of the girls replied with the most drawn-out and smoked-out “Whoooaaa, thaaat’s deeeeeep” imaginable. The way she said it was ridiculous to the point of parody, and it sounded like she was making fun of the stupid-ass thing he’d just said. But in actuality, I’m sure she was serious. This was a freshman party at UC Santa Barbara, after all. Anyway, the whole exchange makes me laugh whenever I think of it.)

Beat-wise, Whut? finds producer Erick Sermon at his best. He’s completely confident, playing around and experimenting with the sound he’d been perfecting on the previous few EPMD records. Although the sample sources (P-Funk, James Brown, the Gap Band) are generally pretty standard, E-Double layers loops upon loops and cranks the bass up super high, resulting in uniquely thick, chaotic tracks that are the perfect backdrop for Red’s unpredictable flow. Plus, Def Jam hooked up a Pete Rock beat (for the aforementioned How to Roll a Blunt), and you can never go wrong with one of those.

Redman is the rare dude who has been in the game for more than 15 years and has never really come out corny. (He’s even managed to do things like act in a Chucky movie and hawk deodorant on TV without looking like too bad of a cheeseball.) He’s just a straight-up great no-frills rapper who makes dope record after dope record. You gotta respect that.

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