Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Leaders Of The New School - A Future Without A Past 2xLP


Traffic (2004, 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.

In 1991 there was no way to escape the video for "Case of the P.T.A." on Yo! MTV Raps.  It was on a lot.  That's not a complaint as I'm grateful it was on often enough that it stuck with me and made me pick up the CD.  There's lots of interesting history out there on the internet about Leaders of the New School.  Of course, they are most know as that group that Busta Rhymes started off in, but there's other anecdotes out there about them running in the same circles as Public Enemy and a battle rap for the rights to the Leaders name.  But for me, I have just always liked this album as a standalone record.

I have never been particularly interested in Busta Rhymes' solo career.  He had that guest appearance on Tribe Called Quest's "Scenario" and his career started to blow up.  There was one more Leaders album called T.I.M.E. that came out in 1993, but after that it was off to the races for Busta and off to essentially nowhere for his cohorts Dinco-D and Charlie Brown. Which is a shame as I think Dinco and Charlie bring quite a lot to the proceedings.  Are they at times overshadowed by the ridiculously charismatic Busta?  Of course, but they hold their own and if they were in any other group they would have shown quite brightly.  I could definitely do without Charlie Brown's random shriek that makes an appearance in too many songs, but when he and Dinco are just rhyming, they're great.

The production is that perfect 1991 style of innovative hip hop that I love.  Big snappy snare drum and rumbling bass.  It's also just a lot of fun.  Something that happened in the 90s that I just don't see at all today is upbeat, happy hip hop.  It doesn't always have to be doom and gloom guys.  And even though this record is somehow thirty years old now, to me it still sounds fresh and fun and brings me right back to my freshman year of high school.

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