Monday, January 26, 2009
Ok. I have a feeling Cold 187um (the producer, he also raps tho), smokes PCP while doing ATL albums. There is just a very specific sound that they have. It's not not typical 90's West Coast Gangsta Shit, but it's not typical, either.
Back story is like Above The Law got signed to Ruthless Records (NWA/Eazy-E's label) around the time 100 Miles & Runnin' came out, and just after the D.O.C. was in the car accident, iirc. You can tell, on the first album, without looking for the date by the structure of the album. Ruthless was trying to do something specific with their pre-NWA break up signed artists, with crew songs at the end, etc etc. Blood Of Abraham and those post-break up guys don't count because Ruthless just got weird - outside of Bone Thugs of course - after that. Eazy didn't really have any idea without Dre and Cube. What I am trying to get at, more than that, is that this is when you can start to see the evolution of Dr. Dre's production career. People have always said that he has these sort of ghost-producers, guys who are coming up with skeleton beats, and Dre just knows how to take an outline and fill it in well (at least well enough to be mainstream and sell gazillions of records). Well, Straight Outta Compton wasn't really anything dynamic production-wise, but after that, after Ice Cube left, Dre got real good at producing. Like his drums were different, he was using these deep funk gloom Moog lines, and this is something that, at least for the Efil4Zaggin and partly into The Chronic, can be directly attributed to Cold 187um. He had a particular style, esp on their first album, Livin Like Hustlers (which, fwiw, had a song called Ballin like two decades before half these fools were yelling that). But it was still unbalanced, and was generally jumbled sounding.
Anyhow, Time Will Reveal is an ATL album from after their days at Ruthless, when they were signed to Tommy Boy, during a weird part of West Coast rap where guys had kind of figured out what worked and what sold, and everyone was trying to make gangsta albums to make a quick buck. But what's different about this is that it's almost like post-west coast rap. Above The Law, here in my opinion, came out with an album well after people really were paying attention to their records that sounds like an 'I don't care' sort of attitude, but not completely. The synths creep around like no other album from that time period. Stuff that shouldn't be put together on a song is put together here, and it works. I've been listening to the single 100 Spokes non stop since finding this, and it's crazy. Like a demo, it has parts where you can imagine there should be more vocals, namely the end of the first verse, and the bridge. There is a girl singing in a style that shouldn't fit the sound. The synth is a low end key preset on what sounds like a Microkorg, which, being that it was put out in 96 may or may not be correct, as I'm not sure how long that keyboard has been around, that fuzzes around another wobbly banged out two or three keys from a more normal sounding piano. I'm gushing now and realize people probably won't make it this far, but whatever. These are the things I hold dear, and nostalgia is as significant as any other reason to like things like music.
Above The Law - Time Will Reveal