Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Black Sheep - Non-Fiction 2xLP


Mercury (1994) 

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.

Like just about everybody in 1991, I loved the first Black Sheep album, A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing.   Fueled by the massive hit "The Choice Is Yours," Black Sheep were inescapable yet not overplayed.  It's a difficult thing to describe.  I definitely got sick of hearing "O.P.P." after the millionth time, but I could listen to "The Choice Is Yours" a million times a day.  Black Sheep didn't come back with a follow up until 1994 and in those three years, a lot changed in hip hop.  

In hindsight, Black Sheep probably should have tried harder to strike while the iron was hot and get something out in 1992 or early '93 at the latest.  But they waited.  Dres made a ton of guest appearances and then in DECEMBER of 1994, Non-Fiction was released.  I don't want to say it was a flop, because honestly I don't know the particulars, but there was certainly no buzz that I ever heard back then.  As I've said a million times, 1994 was the year I stared checking out following hip hop as the sounds were becoming too homogenized.  I didn't buy Non-Fiction when it came out and I honestly never thought much about it for decades.  It doesn't really seem like a lot of other folks did either.

Revisiting this album many years later, we were all wrong.  Now, I can't and won't pretend the record as a whole is as strong as the group's debut.  Nor will I say there are any songs even close to the caliber of "The Choice Is Yours."  But, it's still a really good record.  It's a bit more laid back, but the jazzy samples and thumping drums are still here.  It just further supports my feeling that this album was probably a victim of timing more than anything else.  You can't convince me that "City Lights" wouldn't have blown up on Yo! MTV raps if they played it in early 1993.  Granted, that's not one of the singles they picked for the album, but the point remains.

The vinyl has never been repressed in the nearly thirty years since it's original release.  But it's also not super difficult or pricy to find.  I waited a while trying to find a copy in the condition I wanted and was at at a price I was comfortable paying.  I'm glad to have it in the collection and it's an album I think people should give another chance to.  There's a lot to like here.

Black Sheep - Non-Fiction:

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