Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Freestyle Fellowship - Innercity Griots 2xLP


Be With (2022, 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 wrote about the reissue of the first Freestyle Fellowship album a few months ago and while I liked it, I wasn't blown away.  Some of that certainly stems from it not being a record that I heard in context when it actually came out.  I think I can probably say something similar about their follow-up, 1993's Innercity Griots.

Right off the bat, I can say that I think this album is a little be stronger in the production department.  The beats feel fuller with a lot more low end.  I'm not sure that it means the album is better than the group's debut, but it definitely lands in that golden era 1993 style sweet spot for me.  It's the lyrics that might be something of a step backwards for me.

I had mentioned on their debut that sometimes it sounded like the lyrics were complex just for the sake of complexity.  That's the case here a bit as well, but I'd take it a step further and say that a lot of the lyrics and rhyme structures seem weird just for the sake of being weird.  The flows go offbeat, the internal rhyme schemes layer on top of each other and the vocal deliveries can just be kind of odd at times.  

It probably sounds like I don't like the record, but that's not true.  It is good, but when I listen to it I tend to feel like it could have been even better if they just calmed down with the wacky a little bit.  As Del famously said, "If he go off beat and it's on purpose/he gotta come back on beat or the effort is worthless."

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