Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Extra Prolific - Like It Should Be LP


Jive (1994)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for 25+ years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

This Extra Prolific LP is kind of the forgotten Hieroglyphics release.  It came out to little fanfare in 1994 and from rumors, innuendo and gossip that I've read on the internet, they were dropped from the label almost immediately.  I've even read that an undescribed incident happened at the album's release party and the label severed times right there.  I don't know if any of this is true, but Like It Should be hit with little noise back in 94.

I had first heard of Extra Prolific as part of The Source's Unsigned Hype column.  They did a feature on Snupe, the main MC behind Extra Prolific.  That column's review left an impression and I was eager to find out more.  It took a while to hear about Snupe again (about a year and a half, which is an eternity in high school years), but by October of 94 I was already starting to become disillusioned with a lot of hip hop records.  I was deep into listening to Beck and other left of center indie rock by the time this record came out.  If I remember correctly, I even think my younger brother may have picked up the CD before I did.

Regardless of who bought it when, I sure didn't listen to it much back then.  In the intervening years I've tried a few times to relisten to see if it was a lost gem.  In all honesty, it's really not.  Like It Should be is a perfectly serviceable mid 90s hip hop record, but it seldom rises to the level of of most of the more well known albums of the era.  And it can't touch any of the other Hieroglyphics releases that came out at the same time.

Like It Should Be has its moments. "Brown Sugar" and "Is It Right?" have killer looped jazzy beats that really could have been on another Hiero release at the time.  But the vast majority of the songs are unnecessarily slow and don't showcase particularly creative beat making.  On top of that, Snupe is probably the most paint by numbers MC of anyone that was ever part of the Hiero crew.  He's not bad at all, but he doesn't have the dexterity or the complex wordplay of his stable mates.  Unlike the other 93-94 Hieroglyphics albums that raised the bar on what hip hop could sound like, this album just kind of sits there.

I liked it enough to grab the vinyl for my collection (which is practically available for free on Discogs), but it's just not something I expect to listen to all that often.  Snupe parted ways with Hiero before the release of 1997s Third Eye Vision.  Again, the rumors have it that his verses were physically removed from existing songs.  Unsure of what happened there, but I don't think many people noticed that he left.  Most probably weren't aware he was there to begin with.

Extra Prolific - Like It Should Be (Youtube full album playlist):

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