Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Nice & Smooth - Ain't A Damn Thing Changed LP


Rush (1991)

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.

When I think about Golden Era hip hop albums that are certifiable classics, I don't usually think about the second Nice & Smooth record as I'm going through my rolodex of the greats.  But, when I am thinking about my own personal discovery of hip hop, it is part of a very pivotal moment that I still remember with bizarre clarity.  By 1991, I was watching Yo! MTV Raps a lot, I would venture every single day.  I was being bombarded with new music videos and so many were connecting with me.

I went to a record store one day.  I think it might have been a Coconuts, but I know it was a non-mall store and it was on a weekend where I was visiting my dad.  During this trip I bought three albums.  Low End Theory by Tribe Called Quest, Def Before Dishonor by Hard Corps and Ain't A Damn Thing Changed.  Despite my desire to hear more songs like the Public Enemy/Anthrax version of "Bring Tha Noize," Hard Corps was a total whiff and I bet I only listened to the whole album once or twice at most.  Low End Theory became one of the most important records I ever listened.  Somewhere in the middle was Nice & Smooth.

As a whole, it is a very good record.  The production is really solid with good beats throughout.  Greg Nice, in particular, is a tremendous rapper and I have always loved the way he extends his rhyme schemes way beyond the traditional couplet.  It's not uncommon for Greg to blast through six, eight or ten lines that all follow the same rhyming pattern.  It's a ton of fun and I'm always impressed.  Smooth B isn't at Greg's level, but he adds a nice contrast in style and that makes the songs more dynamic.  That said, I don't think I would have much interest in a Smooth B solo record, but I'd have no issue with one from Greg Nice.

For me, where this record gets bogged down is in the choruses.  They're almost universally cheesy, with a repeated line that is kind of goofy or an R&B tinged croon that seems super out of place.  It sounds like they were grasping for some type of mainstream notoriety, but these hooks just don't mesh as well with the lyrics and styles of the verses.  That said, it is still a fun listen all of these years later.  It holds up better than a lot of thirty year old records, but my opinion of it now is pretty similar to my opinion back then.  It's good, but I wish it was a bit more consistent.  It's a great change of pace listen, but not anything I would ever have on constant repeat.

Nice & Smooth - Ain't  A Damn Thing Changed:

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