Phantom Sway

Vintage Gold: Redman

A sludgy, creepy, woozy mix of rumbling low end, Parliament-style funk, and verbal absurdism, this is a Guillermo del Toro-style journey though the shadowy corners of the ghetto, scary and amazing at the same time.

 

By roxanne jo mitchell (Redman) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By roxanne jo mitchell (Redman) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
This Vintage moment comes from Michael Goedhart-

Released in November 1994, Redman’s sophomore album Dare Iz A Darkside was unlike almost anything before it in hip-hop, and remains an underground classic to this day. For me, it recalls the sultry summer nights of my youth, windows down, cruising past the quiet cornfields of Iowa with the woofers trying to jump out of my trunk and my body just gliding along on this bizarre ride to the other side.

Redman (Reggie Noble) has admitted in interviews that he avoids the material from Darkside in his live shows because it reminds him of a dark time in his life. You can hear it in the material. A sludgy, creepy, woozy mix of rumbling low end, Parliament-style funk, and verbal absurdism. It is a Guillermo del Toro-style journey through the shadowy corners of the ghetto, scary and amazing at the same time.

The production by Noble and EPMD alum Erick Sermon is breathtaking and visceral. Tracks like “Bobyahead2dis” and “A Million And 1 Buddha Spots” crack and swing with dirty vintage snares and a rolling sub bass, while “Can’t Wait” and “Green Island” chug like LSD-soaked George Clinton jams in slow motion. It’s the sonic equivalent of a funky chain gang building a railroad to hell, striking their hammers in time against a foundation of 20Hz bedrock, and its roots the dexterous lyrical gymnastics (which are often goofy and loopy) in a real world of impending doom. By the time the album reaches its apex with “Sooperman Luva II,” we’re treated to a drug-fueled fantasy story that plays like a comic book written by Salvador Dalí, filled with pop culture references and a twisted fairy tale narrative that’s both hilarious and frightening.

Hip-hop has never been this weird, and Redman keeps the spirit just light enough to keep us from turning away in horror at the darkness. It’s accessible and challenging at the same time, a masterpiece of imagination and innovation that remains unrivaled in the genre’s history.

-Michael Goedhart lives in Park Ridge, IL and is an aficionado of cinema, music, and cat videos. He can frequently be found chatting people up about Star Wars and explaining to them why they’re wrong.

Phantom Sway

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