Sunday, April 22, 2007
Redman - Red Gone Wild Review
It's been about 15 years since I could say I was a Redman fan.
His 1992 debut joint, Whut? Thee Album, was one of the genre's best releases during rap's salad days. Hell, he even parlayed it into a live performance on the season premiere of In Living Color that fall. Trust me, that meant something back then.
Then, with the release of his sophomore effort (1994's Dare Iz A Darkside) Redman became one of the game's more inconsistent superstars. On his next four albums, the quality seemed to pendulum wildly from the narrow, unfocused droning of Dare… to the inexplicably underrated Doc's Da Name.
He lost me somewhere in there. And, by the time he and Method Man were doing their Wayans Bros. 2.0 TV show, Redman officially became a Bootleg Guy punchline in perpetuity.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I picked up Red's latest CD at Best Buy.
The l-o-n-g delayed album is Redman's best work since his aforementioned first release, with a lyrical ferocity ingeniously interwoven with a collection of beats that are both an homage to Hip Hop's roots, while serving as hope for the music's future.
And, would you believe that Erick Sermon only produced three of the tracks?
Walk In Gutta sounds about as "Sermon-ish" as it gets on the boards with a minimalist beat and moderate bass, while guest stars Sermon and Keith Murray carry their weight beyond the revitalized Red's first verse. Meanwhile, Sermon's production work on Rite Now is phenomenal, with an Al Green sample serving as the foundation for more of Red's dense lyrical goodness:
Me, I'm never scared / I die on my two feet
And, you confused / Like a Jew wearing koofis
Even the obvious reaches for radio rotation work here. The 2K7 Timbaland infestation continues unabated with his production on Put It Down, but Red kicks up his flow with an excellent mix of intensity and irreverence. A few cuts later, Red is able to dial it back down on Freestyle Freestyle. It's pretty sparse for a Scott Storch beat, but that gives Red all the room he needs for his scattershot subject matter:
I get'cha dumb like white people looking for weird noise
A look at the tracklisting would seem to hint at a few unlistenable elements, but, believe it or not, that's generally not the case. So sue me…I frickin' loved Sumtn' 4 Urrbody, in spite of its Down South sound and five MCs on the mic who weren't Redman. I equally can't explain my enjoyment of Pimp Nutz, but the conversational storytelling tone and surprisingly layered beat combine to make it one of my favorite tracks on the album.
I suppose there HAS to be a negative or two, though. I gotta say I wasn't impressed with Merry Jane, which featured recycled lyrics from Nate Dogg (although, since he re-used his words from 2004's lightly-sold 213 album, would anyone other than me notice?) and one of Snoop Dogg's usual paint-by-numbers cameos.
OK, we're reaching to hate here. Red Gone Wild will be on the short lists of 2007's best albums, kids. If you were ever on board with Reggie Noble, get back on the bandwagon with this one.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5