Wednesday, March 24, 2021

3rd Bass - The Cactus Al/Bum LP


Def Jam (2014, Reissue)

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 twenty-five plus 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.

I don't think I heard 3rd Bass right when this album originally came out in 1989, but I definitely saw the "Gas Face" video before their 1991 follow up Derelicts of Dialect came out (you know, the 'Pop Goes The Weasel' one).  I bought derelicts pretty much the moment it came out and was a little surprised to see so much airplay for that single.  While I still think that is a pretty solid record, I always thought The Cactus Al/Bum was the better of the two.  Primarily because of the song "Gas Face."

I'm not positive that when I first heard it, I initially made the connection that it was built off of a sample from "Think" by Aretha Franklin (her version in Blues Brothers being a particularly influential song to me when I was growing up).  Regardless if I picked up on the source, there was no denying how that piano riff meshed in with the drum track they created to become something pretty special.  From the moment Prime Minister Pete Nice (still one of my favorite hip hop names) starts up the first verse, it's pretty apparent these guys know how to create a great record.  It was years and years and years later that I put together that the guest MC on the last verse, Zev Love X from the amazing KMD was also MF Doom.  I never dug the Doom records as much as KMD and man did he shine on this track.

The rest of the album is good, if not a little inconsistent.  There are highs like "Sons of 3rd Bass,"Brooklyn-Queens"and "Steppin to the A.M."  But, there are probably too many skits, some of which feel like they go on forever and when the beats get slower on tracks like "Monte Hall" or "Triple Stage Darkness" I don't think the back and forth flow between Pete Nice and M.C. Search is done any favors.  Still, it's a fun record all these years later and one that I think is probably overlooked when discussing the pantheon of incredible albums that came out in the late 80s hip hop scene.

3rd Bass - The Cactus Al/Bum (YouTube Music full album stream):

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