Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Smif-N-Wessun - Dan Shinin' 2xLP


HHV (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.

I've mentioned it before, but my definition of the Golden Era stops in 1994.  That's kind of where I checked out on hip hop as a teenager.  It was partially fueled by my newfound interest in punk and indie rock, but it was also because there were fewer and fewer hip hop albums that I was getting excited about.  There was some sort of seismic shift that happened that rendered post 94 albums useless to me.

Dah Shinin' came out in 1995 and I never heard it.  I remember hearing the name Smif-N-Wessun and thinking it was kind of a goofy name, but I never listened to it.  I don't think I knew that they were affiliated with Black Moon and the Boot Camp Clik, I might have given them more of a chance at the time if I did.  But as I've been digging around for lost (to me) classics, I stumbled across Dah Shinin' and finally picked up a copy.

I can't, in good conscious, say this is top tier Golden Era stuff.  It is good and I like it way more than most records that came out after 1994, but it suffers a little bit from being kind of slow.  Both MCs are also on the more laid back side and coming in at an hour and eight minutes long, it probably goes on a little longer than it needs to.  That's a lot of criticisms for a record that I'm trying to convey that I think is actually good.  

What I can say on the positive side is that the beats are really strong.  They're full and layered and while I do wish they were a little more upbeat, they do match the vocal stylings of the group quite well.  And lyrically, Smif-N-Wessum really bring it on Dah Shinin'.  They are focused and creative.  They are laid back, for sure, but it does typically work out for them.  I do wonder what I would have thought of this record if it had come out in say 1993 and had some Yo! MTV Raps videos behind it, but for now I'm happy that I was able to discover it for the first time now, when I do have a greater appreciation for things I missed out on the first time.

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