1992 was a big year for Hip-Hop. Apart from the release of one of the most acclaimed albums of all time, the debut EP from legendary Texas duo UGK and Ice Cube releasing ‘The Predator’ in response to the violent LA riots. However, lurking in the clubs, freestyling and DJing, Redman was introduced to the Hip-Hop community and in October of that year, released his debut album ‘Whut? Thee Album’.
Using samples of Sly & The Family Stone, Kool & The Gang, Bill Withers and George Clinton, Redman created an album that isn’t only just gritty in lyrical content, but also contains bouncy and funky Hip-Hop instrumentals that allow the listener to gain a brief insight into the hysterical and hazed mind of Reggie Noble.
Erick Sermon, Redman and Pete Rock provide the majority of the production on the album. Over the lazy and heavy smoking session instrumentals, Redman discusses multiple subjects and themes relevant to the time of the recording as well as today. On the opening record, “Time 4 Sumaksion”, Redman jumps over the instrumental with a flow that is irresistible to bump your head to. He asserts his weight as a newcomer to the game and shows off that at that point in time, while he wasn’t as acclaimed as he was now, he was an MC that would have a highly successful career. “So Ruff”, the fifth track on the album is a supported primarily by a funky bassline and low quality drums, and while the track could be seen as a response for racial tension in America at the time, it’s also a darkly comical take on sexual diseases.
On the following track “Rated “R””, Redman gives his fans insight into growing up with his mum, scaring the competition at the time and drug dealing. Other tracks that stand out on the debut album are “Hardcore”, a short forceful two-minute, syllable-tongue-twisting record. “Tonight’s Da Night” is my final highlight off the album. Over lazy horn samples, simple drum kicks and a guitar loop, Redman rhymes easily over the beat and reminds other rappers that “I don’t claim to be a big rap star, Cause no matter who you are, you’ll still catch a bullet scar.”
While the album is heavily dense with political themes, growing up in a stigmatised community and other typical subjects expected to land on a Hip-Hop album, Redman’s debut is like a mint copy of your favourite comic book. It’s energetic, funny, moving and most of all; undoubtedly a classic.