The Passion of the Weiss

Sometimes I rhyme slow, sometimes I rhyme quick. But most of the time, I don't rhyme.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Old Testament: Redman-Muddy Waters

With Redman slated to end his six-year hiatus next month with Red Gone Wild, its tempting to forget how great he was in his prime. Thanks to recent forays into the worlds of film, television, and advertising, it's easy to dismiss Red as another washed up rapper that sold-out. Hard. Certainly no one's about to forget the Red and Meth deodorant commercials, the sanitized television sitcom, nor to the St. Ides spots that single-handedly convinced me that Special Brew is the only fruit-flavored malt liquor manly enough to consume in public. A theory I continue to stand by.

But for all the money he's still hoarding from the Red and Meth sitcom, Redman is inarguably one of the most consistent rappers of all-time. 7 albums deep, including Def Squad's sorely underrated El Nino and the similarly undervalued Blackout), nearly everything Redman has dropped soars with his growling blunt-scorched baritone, animated flow and witty but still razor-sharp lyrics. Yet out of his deep catalogue, I consider Reggie Noble's finest work to be 1996's Muddy Waters.

Muddy Waters is the purest distillation of Redman's sound: funk-sampling trunk-rattling Erick Sermon beats supplemented by clever lyrics that stick to the three B's: Bricks, blunts and (crackin' cold) Becks. Unlike other great rappers who strain feebly at making party records (Nas, Eminem), Redman is that rare great rapper able to carry an entire album on party cuts and shit-talking alone. Its not hard to see why Red was pegged as a natural fit in the entertainment world, managing to produce a half-dozen solid albums on sheer charisma and witty punch-lines alone (with an assist from some of Erick Sermon's greatest beats).

But I Think We All Knew This Was a Bad Idea
Commencing off with the Fab-5 sampling, dusty rattle of "Iz He 4 Real," Redman lets loose a head-spinning array of pop culture references, befitting the man who had the most grimy MTV cribs ever filmed. In just 8 bars he name-drops Scottie Pippen, NBA Jam, Hennessey, Slick Rick and Vance Wright and claims that if "weak MCs...come to Jersey/they'll get jacked like Jill, G."

"Rock the Spot" flips Biggie's "Unbelievable" for its hook and features another flurry of brilliant one-liners, including boasts that "my palms be swift with the pen like Lynn Swann," and "you can quote this, I'm the Moby Dick of dopeness." Other highlights include the album's third single, "Pick it Up," (one of the finer hip-hop 12 inches ever released with "Yesh, Yesh, Y'all), and its existential qustion: "if you see a bag of weed on the floor, motherfucker what the fuck you gonna' do? (pick it up, pick it up.)"

"Smoke Buddah" finds Redman effortlessly creating another stoner classics, riding Rick James' "Mary Jane" to craft a cut worthy of a place alongside Whut thee Album's, "How to Roll a Blunt." "Whateva Man" makes you wonder how much better EPMD would've been if Red had been there instead of Parrish Smith, not to mention its brilliant Blues-Brothers inspired video (with Method Man mysteriously replacing Erick Sermon).

Redman: Presumably Not Heeding GZA's Advice About Sandals
Like most classic hip-hop albums of its era, Muddy Waters manages to turn in funny, well-constructed skits, including a painfully clueless news crew who come to Newark and get their gear stolen and shot at. Not to mention a "chicken-head convention" full of wayward clucking. The album is a bit overlong, running 1 hour and 7 minutes, but track-for-track there aren't any duds, each verse studded with inventive similes, brash claims, and molasses slow stoned funk.

If you think Redman is all histrionic gestures and commercial shills, you need to own a copy of this record. If you like hip-hop at all you need to need to own this record. I'm not expecting much from Red Gone Wild but if it's half as good as Muddy Waters, I'll be a happy man. Hell, I'll even buy a Special Brew to accompany the listening experience.

MP3: Redman-"Whateva Man"
MP3: Redman-"Do What Ya' Feel"



At 10:26 AM, Anonymous Rap Jack Bauer said...


Sheeeiitt, I had "Whateva Man" on casette single back in 8th grade.

I never understood anyone who loved "Muddy Waters" liking and/or loving "Doc's Da Name" or "Malpractice." Both sound uninspired, rushed and lazy compared to Muddy. I'm nervous about "Muddy Waters" 2 simply because that album is still incredible.

Best way to end a verse in 1996:

"Bomb n*ggas like they did in Oklahoma, freeze, you're froze, Def Squad, UHHH, case closed!"

At 5:13 PM, Blogger Kenny said...

Definitely, Do What Ya Feel is still one of my favorites. Redman is definitely underrated.

At 8:40 AM, Anonymous floodwatch said...

I would put Whut? Thee Album way ahead of Muddy Waters, but that's probably for nostalgic reasons. It's still great to see someone giving this record some shine. Nice post!

At 1:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Muddy Waters is definitely the pick of his catalog. That we agree on. My question is "When did Nas ever try to make a party album?" Dude has always been pretty serious. He may have made some party songs, but albums? Even he knows that he's incapable of that.

Red is that dude and blackout is severely underrated.

At 1:59 AM, Blogger Passion of the Weiss said...

I said party record in the post, meant it as just a single track, not in the LP sense. In particular, I'm thinking about "Braveheart Party" or "Nastradamus." But no, you're right, he never has down an actual album of just straight party stuff. Thanks for the comment, though. Glad we're in agreement on Muddy...

Though Flood, i feel you on the nostalgia though. i distinctly, recall Time 4 Sum Axion being the first song I ever remember seeing on Yo MTV Raps!

At 11:44 PM, Blogger Commish CH said...

It's Like That (My Big Brother) with K-Solo was perhaps the illest track red ever put out. The two MCs ( by that time K-Solo had been long forgotten) flipping it over the old skool "Cold Gettin Dumb" Just-Ice and Mantronik beat...classic.


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