Dare Iz a Darkside was the second among a trio of albums Redman released during a five-year period between 1992 and 1996, the other two being his debut, Whut? Thee Album ('92), and Muddy Waters ('96). Those three projects cemented Redman's legacy as being one of the greatest rappers to ever do it, as few artists can match up with his incredible discography.
Redman, known for his comical raps and witty punchlines, is the type of rapper that you simply cannot hate. Outside of his most recent work, he has always put out quality material throughout the duration of his illustrious career, both in terms of his solo projects and his popular albums with Method Man, those albums being Blackout! and Blackout! 2. Of course, Redman is also part of the group Def Squad, a trio that also includes Keith Murray and Erick Sermon. The group released one album, El Niño, to both commercial and critical acclaim in 1998, adding yet another notch to Red's belt.
It says a lot about an artist (in a good way) when the masses cannot seem to come to an agreement on which album is their best work, and that is the case with Redman. Although I have noticed that the majority tends to lean toward Muddy Waters (Sean Price has labeled it as his favorite album of all-time, as a matter of fact), plenty of his fans swear by either his debut or Dare Iz a Darkside. Count me in as favoring Dare Iz a Darkside, as I have always felt that it is his most complete and consistent piece of work, although you cannot go wrong with any of this first three releases.
It should also be said that Redman produces a significant amount of his songs, making him one of hip-hop's few Renaissance men.
So, without further ado, I give you the review for Dare Iz a Darkside.
Rockwilder utilizes a sample of George Clinton's famous song "Atomic Dog" (which is actually sampled multiple times on this album) on Dare Iz a Darkside's opening cut, and he makes a banger out of it. The actual rapping by Redman doesn't start until about the 1:20 mark, but, nevertheless, "Bobyahed2dis" has already built momentum for the rest of the album.
2. Journey Throo Da Darkside
And here I thought Boot Camp Clik was the worst at intentionally butchering its song titles. Anyway, I was never all that crazy about this track, as it really isn't anything more than ordinary, although I found Red's "Did I mention my lyrical format gets more ahs than a dentist?" line to be particularly amusing. This cut was co-produced by Redman and Erick Sermon.
3. Da Journee
Although it may not feel like it given the length is only two minutes and twelve seconds and Redman doesn't start rapping until a minute in, this is an actual song, and it's one that I dig, mainly because of Redman's head-nodder of a beat.
4. A Million and 1 Buddah Spots
This Erick Sermon/Redman-laced production sounds like something Smif-N-Wessun would rhyme over, and that is a damn good thing. While I have never been a big fan of smoking songs (as I have always felt they're, well, stupid), no one does them better than Red. The snare drum in this bangs.
Redman's beat and rhymes fit perfectly with one another on this track. That's all I've got.
6. Cosmic Slop
Redman's Def Squad buddies join him on this relatively short cut, as both Keith Murray and Erick Sermon (the latter of whom co-produced this record with Red) drop guest verses. Keith Murray steals the show, rapping: "With amazing manifestations, I'll dictate to nations, more Cosmic Funk innovations in my creation." Rockwilder's instrumental does leave something to be desired, though.
Even the casual listener will immediately recognize "Rockafella" (produced by Red himself) as containing the same sample as Dr. Dre's famous track "Nuthin' But a G Thang," making it rather hard to listen to this cut without thinking you're listening to The Chronic. However, Redman, who sounds great over this, is obviously a superior rapper to Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, so you'll promptly learn to treat the two songs as separate entities. This is one of the best records on the album, the annoying, high-pitched chipmunk voices that surface over the final minute-and-change notwithstanding. It was also Dare Iz a Darkside's first single.
8. Green Island
Redman's production on this is extremely simple and laid-back, but it works. The snare is sick, and Red kills the track. However, "Green Island" runs a bit too long for its own good (five minutes and forty-two seconds), as the beat, as nice as it is, does grow tiresome after a while.
A very short song, spanning two minutes and three seconds, but it knocks, as Redman lays down an instrumental that contains some banging drums. Also, you've gotta love the part where Red says "woooord" at the end of every line for a span of four bars.
10. Can't Wait
This was the album's second single, and what a choice it was, as "Can't Wait" is, without a doubt, the best song on Dare Iz a Darkside. The track is co-produced by Erick Sermon and Red, and they use two great samples: Bob James' "Caribbean Nights" (hey, would you look at that; a Bob James-sampled song that isn't "Nautilus"!) and the Mary Jane Girls' "All Night Long." Also, I'm not one to get into music videos, but the video for this cut is grimy as hell, as it features Redman rapping outside in freezing temperatures, as evident by the steam coming out of his mouth. This is probably my favorite Redman track, period.
I don't like this one too much. Erick Sermon and Redman's beat just seems a bit too busy for my taste. P.S.: "Winicumuharound" is the second of three songs on this album to sample "Atomic Dog."
Remember when I said "A Million and 1 Buddah Spots" sounded like something Smif-N-Wessun would rap over, and I said that was a damn good thing? Well, "Wuditlooklike," produced by Redman, sounds like something Heltah Skeltah would rap over, and if you've been following this blog at all, you'd know I'd think that's even better.
13. Slide and Rock On
Sorry, but this one was really, really boring. Oh, and this marks the third and final time that "Atomic Dog" is sampled on Dare Iz a Darkside.
14. Sooperman Luva II
Just like he did on "A Day Of Sooperman Lover" on Whut? Thee Album, Redman flashes his incredible storytelling ability here, even if the story is somewhat twisted. His beat is also pretty solid.
15. We Run N.Y.
Redman's beat bangs and he sounds great on this, but Hurricane G's guest appearance really ruins what could be a brilliant song. Plain and simply, she sucks, and her voice is nearly as annoying as Nicki Minaj's. No; seriously.
16. Tonight's Da Night (Remix)
The original (off of Whut? Thee Album) was good, but the remix is even better, featuring some bouncy production from Red instead of a laid-back beat. Like "Can't Wait," it also samples the Mary Jane Girls' "All Night Long," although the sample is not nearly as pronounced on this record. This is just a phenomenal song overall.
One common criticism of Dare Iz a Darkside is that the beats all sound the same, and while that may be a valid concern for stretches of this album, who gives a damn if all of the beats knock? This is simply a great record by Redman from start-to-finish, as the production is great, Red's rhymes and punchlines are in prime form, and it maintains a steady feel throughout.
Of Redman's first three albums (and, let's not kid ourselves; his three best albums), I would probably say that Dare Iz a Darkside would be the best place to start for someone who may be new to Redman, as it combines the sounds from Whut? Thee Album and Muddy Waters into one whole project. That way, you get a taste of both worlds.
Just like any of Redman's albums, Dare Iz a Darkside makes for an incredibly entertaining listen. The subject matter is generally upbeat and funny, and Red doesn't delve into anything that will make you think and potentially cause your head to explode. He is very up front, forthright, and simple, making him easily accessible for all audiences.
Redman's consistency in the rap game is certainly something to marvel at, as he put out three classics to begin his career, and then released the very solid Doc's Da Name 2000, that along with his aforementioned very impressive collaborative efforts. At this point, it's fairly clear that Red is past his prime (just listen to his latest work, Reggie, if you need verification), but his fantastic early work (all of which will be reviewed on this blog at some point) cannot be ignored.
TOP FIVE TRACKS
1. Can't Wait
3. Tonight's Da Night (Remix)