Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Dred Scott - Breakin' Combs 2xLP


Vinyl Digital (2017, 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 Age' 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.

Breakin' Combs originally came out back in 1994, the year I always say is the last year of the Golden Age.  When it was originally released on Tuff Break records, a subsidiary of A&M, it didn't make any waves.  At least none that I was aware of.  I don't remember reading about Dred Scott in The Source and I certainly have no memory of him being on Yo! MTV Raps.  It came out in June of 94, so while I certainly was starting to get into punk and indie rock at that point, I was still paying reasonably close attention to what was going on in hip hop land.

As has been the case with many of the records I have been writing about recently, this is an album I discovered much later in life, only a few years ago really.  It was once again perusing those 'best forgotten rap albums of the 90s' type lists and Dred Scott popped up.  I listened to a couple of songs and was completely blown away.  Luckily it had been rereleased on vinyl somewhat recently, so obtaining a copy on vinyl wasn't as challenging as some of the others I've had to hunt down.  I'm so psyched I was able to discover this record and add it to the collection as it's pretty phenomenal.

The production is killer, leaning heavily on the East coast boom bap sound that's got one foot in a somewhat rugged, but is smoothed out just a bit by pulling in jazzy loops and samples.  It's not as rough as EPMD and it's not as chilled out as a Tribe Called Quest, but it's somewhere in the middle without sounding too much like either of those other groups.  I'm not sure if that's a description that helps much, but if you dig early 90s production, this one will be right in your wheelhouse.

Lyrically, Dred Scott can certainly hold his own with anyone that was dropping rhymes in 1994.  He flow is mostly straightforward and doesn't veer into ultra complicated off beat type deliveries, but he's not rapping simplistically, his rhyme structures have interesting internal rhyme schemes at times and he's doing a masterful job of weaving stories into his songs.  As another comparison that makes absolutely no sense, he reminds me a little bit of how Kool G Rap composes songs.  Now, he doesn't sound anything like Kool G Rap, there's not mafioso or super hard core stuff here, but just the way he approaches writing his rhymes strikes me as being similar in the way he's able to put out a finished product that accomplishes multiple goals.

This is definitely one of the better albums I discovered way after the fact.  I'd guess there's a better than average chance this might have fallen under your radar as it did mine.  It's definitely worth correcting that and checking out Breakin' Combs.

Dred Scott - Breakin' Combs:

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