Group Home is a two-man, um, group, consisting of Lil' Dap and Melachi The Nutcracker. Affiliates of Gang Starr, they had the fortune of being able to hit up DJ Premier for some of the best beats in the business back in 1995.
Lil' Dap and Melachi tend to draw criticism from many hip-hop aficionados due to the fact that they weren't the slickest lyricists, but thanks to Premo, Livin' Proof was able to stand on the shelf next to some of the stronger albums in the game during the mid 90s.
Since Livin' Proof, Group Home had a bit of a falling out with DJ Premier, and, perhaps appropriately, they have vanished into obscurity ever since. Lil' Dap eventually explored life as a solo artist, but with very little success.
Regardless, Group Home did put out a record that was worth a damn in '95, so it's time to review it.
It is what it is: an intro.
2. Inna Citi Life
The first song on the album happens to be its best. DJ Premier uses Bob James' famous "Nautlius" as a sample, and it works masterfully. The beat suits Lil' Dap and Melachi The Nutcracker to a T, and you'll immediately find yourself ignoring the fact that they aren't exactly gifted lyricists because of it. Not only that, but you know what? Group Home sounds really good over the instrumental. The Nas "It Ain't Hard To Tell" vocal sample on this is also awesome. I just absolutely love this song.
3. Livin' Proof
What a start for Group Home's debut album. While the title track isn't as dope as "Inna Citi Life," it's still great. The incredibly simple Premo instrumental is ridiculously good, containing a sparse sample, hard-hitting drums and a very effective bassline. Sometimes, simplicity is better. "Livin' Proof" is a perfect example of that.
4. Serious Rap Shit
This track wasn't produced by Premo, and, consequently and unsurpisingly, it's one of the worst (okay; the worst) cuts on Livin' Proof. It was actually laced by Guru, who also drops a guest verse. Hey Guru; if you're gonna rap on a song, you should probably have DJ Premier produce it; not you. That's why you teamed up with him in the first place. Just saying. Big Shug is on this, too, but it doesn't matter. The beat is extremely out of place on this album, and it just isn't very good.
5. Suspended In Time
Ahh, back to Premo. This is one of those put-you-in-a-trance type instrumentals, and Lil' Dap and Melachi ride it seamlessly. Songs like "Suspended In Time" are proof that DJ Premier's beats can make anyone sound comfortable. The vocal sample in the background on the hook is also awesome.
The vocorder (or whatever the hell that is) that Melachi uses at the beginning of the track is really, really creepy (it actually sounds like he's speaking right into a freaking fan). Once you get past that, though, you'll be treated to a very smooth and subdued beat by Premo. Nice record.
7. Up Against The Wall (Low Budget Mix)
I have absolutely no idea why this is called the "Low Budget Mix," but regardless of what the name of the song is, it's really good. DJ Premier's instrumental is extremely effective, and, much like on the rest of Livin' Proof, Lil' Dap and Melachi The Nutcracker sound right at home.
8. 4 Give My Sins
Like "Serious Rap Shit," this track was not produced by Premo. Instead, Jaz-O gets behind the boards to provide Group Home with a beat. Unlike "Serious Rap Shit," though, this actually wasn't bad. The aggressive instrumental is blessed with some ominous horns, and Lil' Dap and Melachi do a solid job of attacking it. It's not DJ Premier-level, but it's still decent.
9. Baby Pa
I really hate it when rappers waste really good beats on skits, and that is exactly what Group Home does here (unless you consider what Lil' Dap does about two-and-a-half minutes in a "verse"). The worst part is that this "track" runs three minutes and 13 seconds in length. Thanks for wasting some of my valuable time, fellas.
10. 2 Thousand
Not one of the better Premo beats that you will hear. To put it plainly, this song is just boring, and by this point, this album is beginning to lose some momentum.
11. Supa Star
Until now. "Supa Star," the most well-known cut off of Livin' Proof, is undoubtedly one of the best tracks on the project. DJ Premier's instrumental is outstanding, evoking an almost nostalgic feeling in the minds of the listeners, and Group Home sounds fantastic on it. I can't imagine not liking this song.
12. Up Against Tha Wall (Getaway Car Mix)
Much like its cousin, the "Low Budget Mix," I have no idea why this version is called the "Getaway Car Mix," but who cares? It's ill. The sleek piano sample utilized by Premo is hypnotizing, and the drums fit in perfectly. Many people say this is one of DJ Premier's best beats, and with good reason.
13. Tha Realness
A very dark way to end the album. Premo's beat isn't all that great, though. Overall, "Tha Realness" was fairly underwhelming. That's all I've got.
Lack of good lyrics aside, Livin' Proof is a very dope album. It contains some of the best beats DJ Premier has ever done, and that is enough to allow the less-than-stellar performances on the mic from Lil' Dap and Melachi The Nutcracker.
Also, while Lil' Dap and Melachi may not be the best rappers in the world, they sound very good over Premo's instrumentals. The beats seem to suit them incredibly well, and you'll promptly find yourself ignoring their mediocre skills because of it.
Plus, hip-hop isn't only about lyrics. Group Home is able to convey their subject matter in a way that hits home, and even if they don't have the deepest vocabulary, they get their point across. That's always important.
If you haven't listened to Livin' Proof yet, do yourself a favor and do so. It is an album that withstands the test of time, and, again, the beats are absolutely phenomenal.
1. Inna Citi Life
2. Supa Star
3. Livin' Proof
4. Up Against Tha Wall (Getaway Car Mix)
5. Suspended In Time