When I started this blog way back when, I reviewed Redman's second album, Dare Iz a Darkside. That was probably a bad idea in retrospect, as I obviously should have tackled Red's debut, Whut? Thee Album, first. Now that I have taken more of a chronological approach on this blog, I might as well go back and right my wrongs.
I did provide some background information on Redman (a.k.a. Reggie Noble) in the Dare Iz a Darkside review, so I'll save myself (and you) some time by bypassing that this time around and instead just tell you a little bit about his first LP.
Whut? Thee Album was released during a time where the New York renaissance had not begun yet. The West Coast was dominating the rap scene, with Dr. Dre putting out The Chronic that same year and Snoop Dogg's Doggystyle soon following. That's what makes Red's debut so special and important.
Produced almost entirely by EPMD's Erick Sermon (with Redman landing co-producer credits), Whut? Thee Album both revitalized and revolutionized the sound of New York hip-hop, taking elements from the 1980s and combining them with a new twist that would soon become prevalent on the East Coast.
Characterized by its witty raps and punchlines, Whut? Thee Album was only the beginning to what would become an illustrious career for Redman.
Let's get to it.
1. Psycho Ward
An incredibly creepy intro.
2. Time 4 Sum Aksion
If this doesn't get you amped, nothing on this planet will. I really have no clue how this song, which was the album's second single, isn't still playing in clubs across the country. Then again, given the collective musical taste of human beings nowadays, I guess it really isn't that surprising. This is just awesome.
3. Da Funk
It takes nearly one minute for this track to actually drop, and it isn't really worth the wait. Fortunately, "Da Funk" is very short, so it's not like Redman extends the listener's disinterest anymore than he has to. It also ends very abruptly.
4. News Break
5. So Ruff
Erick Sermon's beat here is similar in vein (not quality) to "Time 4 Sum Aksion," and that's always a good thing. That being said, the instrumental wasn't strong enough to truly grab my attention. "So Ruff" isn't a record I'll be coming back to anytime soon.
6. Rated R
You can't get much funkier of a production than this. Redman obviously feels very comfortable over E-Dub's beat, dropping rhymes that are simultaneously disturbing and hysterical. My feeling on the track as a song as a whole though? It's alright.
7. Watch Yo Nuggets
Erick Sermon hops on this cut with Red. The result? Decent, although it's clear as day that Reggie is miles ahead of E-Dub as a rapper. Also, man; the beats on this album are really, really dated.
8. Psycho Dub
9. Jam 4 U
E-Dub really knew how to integrate multiple samples within his productions back then, huh? "Jam 4 U" contains a rather eclectic combination of such samples, and while they work well together on Redman's verses, they sound like an unnecessary consolidated mess on the hook.
10. Blow Your Mind
This was Whut? Thee Album's first single, and it bangs. "Blow Your Mind" will undoubtedly get your head bobbing. Props to Erick Sermon for implementing three Zapp samples into the same beat.
E-Dub's EPMP partner-in-crime Parrish Smith (a.k.a. PMD) assists on the production here, and the outcome is really, really freaking good, even if the instrumental is a tad repetitive. Unfortunately, this song runs less than two minutes.
12. Funky Uncles
Yet another skit. Redman albums tend to have a lot of those.
13. Redman Meets Reggie Noble
This is pretty damn awesome. The second Redman's (not Erick Sermon's) beat hits, you'll feel like you were teleported back in time. The good thing is, the instrumental isn't so obsolete that you can't thoroughly enjoy it today like some of the other songs on this album.
14. Tonight's Da Night
After a short break, Erick Sermon returns for this one, and he lays down a smooth, mellow production for Reggie to drop his boasts. "Tonight's Da Night" ended up being the third single, and it was a good choice. The second half of Whut? Thee Album has certainly taken a turn for the better.
15. Blow Your Mind (Remix)
The original really didn't need a remix version. That should tell you all you need to know about my feelings toward this song, which Redman produced himself. So much for that "turn for the better."
16. Sessed One Night
Including the album intro, this is the fifth skit, and there are more to come.
17. I'm a Bad
I really don't have an opinion one way or the other about this song.
18. How To Roll a Blunt
Pete Rock produced this joint (no pun intended), and what's hilarious about it is that the title isn't a metaphor or anything of the sort. Redman is seriously teaching you how to do exactly what the title says. The only thing I really came away with after hearing "How To Roll a Blunt," however, is that it definitely isn't one of Pete Rock's stronger productions.
19. Sooper Luver Interview
Told you there were more skits to come.
20. A Day of Sooperman Lover
The first of many "Sooperman Lover" tales that Redman would tell throughout his career. While this isn't bad, it isn't exactly great either, although the beat changeup in the second half of the track is pretty cool. If that instrumental was used for the entire thing, "A Day of Sooperman Lover" would have been considerably better.
Listening to it today, Whut? Thee Album sounds incredibly dated. Sometimes, that's not necessarily a bad thing (see: Mecca and The Soul Brother), but in this case, the project just does not hold up and does not fully withstand the test of time.
It was obvious that Redman had ample talent on the mic even then, possessing the ability to tell a story in a hilarious and entertaining fashion while still maintaining a level of legitimate credibility. That boded well for the future, as Red was able to drop numerous good-to-classic albums after his debut. So, Reggie wasn't the problem here. Well, Reggie the rapper wasn't the problem, anyway.
The issue was Erick Sermon's beats, which Redman received co-production honors on throughout the album. E-Dub would soon change up his style and take on a more subdued production approach, something that would wholly complement Redman. Here, though, some of the instrumentals sound sloppy and are just not enjoyable in 2013.
All of that said, Whut? Thee Album certainly played a massive role in bringing East Coast hip-hop back to the forefront in the 90s, and that is something that can never be taken away from it.
Hey, this wasn't dated in 1992, and, for that moment in time, that was all that mattered.
1. Time For Some Aksion
2. Tonight's Da Night
3. Blow Your Mind
5. Redman Meets Reggie Noble