Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Knucklehedz - Stricktly Savage LP - Violet Vinyl (/250)


Smoke On / Savage (2018, 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.

One of the joys of my life right now is going as far down the early 90s hip hop rabbit hole as I can possibly go.  I've been digging as much as I can to try to find gems that I may have missed the first time around.  While I don't know that I could classify this record as a 'gem,' it is an interesting discovery.

Knucklehedz is essentially the lost member of EPMD's Hit Squad.  Redman, Das Efx and K-Solo all had their releases and Knucklehedz was supposed to be next up in 1993.  Stricktly Savage got as far as CD promos before it was ultimately shelved and not released.  They were likely a casualty of EPMD splitting up and their Hit Squad crew splintering.

I could never call this a lost classic or anything, but the production on it is great.  It has a thumping, grimy sound that reminds me quite a bit of EPMD's Business Never Personal.  It's packed with head nodders and interesting beat choices.  Lyrically, I don't think these guys can hold up to the rest of the Hit Squad crew.  Tom J and Steve Austin (no, not the wrestler) have flows that are serviceable and I wouldn't say they are bad, but they never elevate any higher than passable.  Still, the production is great to the point where I'm willing to just listen along and focus on the overall vibe.

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