DAR Hip Hop: Redman's Muddy Waters

By @CherchezLaPorsh

1. Intro 
2. Iz He 4 Real 
3. Rock Da Spot
4. Welcome (Interlude)
5. Case Closed
6. Pick It Up
7. N.I.N. (Skit)
8. Smoke Buddah
9. Whateva Man
10. Chicken Head Convention (Skit)
11. On Fire
12. Do What You Feel
13. The Stick Up (Skit)
14. Creepin
15. It's Like That (My Big Brother)
16. Da Bump
17. Uncle Quilly (Skit)
18. Yesh Yesh Y'all
19. What You Lookin 4
20. Soopaman Luva 3 Interview
21. Soopaman Luva 3
22. Rollin 
23. Da Ill Out

Reggie Noble, The Funk Doctor Spock, Soopaman Luva...whichever moniker you use to refer to him, it all boils down to a 90’s gem and one of the most heavily underrated MC’s. Here’s a little bit of Redman's background: His introduction to the rap industry would be from none other than Erick Sermon, who took him under his wing. The first real exposure Redman had to the rap scene was in 1990, when he was invited on stage to do a freestyle, and unlike any freestyle before it, Red got on stage and freestyled a song that described himself  using every letter in the alphabet. This ultimately got him signed by Sermon. After being featured on EPMD’s “Business As Usual” album in 1990, Redman hit the studio and would debut his own solo in 1992. Let’s fast forward a few years to 1996: This would prove to be a very busy year for the “funk doctor”, not only would he join forces with Keith Murray and Erick Sermon to bring us Def Squad, but he would also release what the hip hop world would recognize as his best work and my favorite in his catalog, “Muddy Waters”. There’s no way we can cover all 23 tracks, but we’ll take a look at the highlights.

As much as I enjoy this album and appreciate the lyricism, metaphors, flow and overall delivery, the album is packed with skits and super short songs, so it leaves itself open for  some criticism. However, there is enough of Redman’s talent and personality laced in each track that it remains a fantastic piece of work, after all he is an unofficial member of the Wu pretty much. Let’s take a closer look.

Now much like most albums in the history of hip hop music, this one starts off with an intro track. I bring this up for a couple of reasons, one the synthesized voice sounds like Freddie Krueger and the repetitive chant is very seance-like, but fitting  since this album is known for it’s bass-heavy beats. The only thing is, as a featured MC, Redman has always been laid-back, fun-loving and incredibly chill. This almost seems outside of character, but we know his dark side exists, and we've seen it.

“Iz He 4 Real” is the first track on the album and one of my go to tracks for a few reasons. Redman reminds me of not-as-crazy Busta Rhymes with the abundance of “hooooa’s” and “haaaaaaaa’s”, not to mention the way he accentuates the last word in every line. I like the approach because we need more gutsy rappers and of course, I love some of the references he makes in this:

“To all these crews/
Who can't NBA Jam with the shoes/
That double shot Hennessy, got my mind trippin/
Drunk enough to start a campaign on ass kickin/
With my nigga Keith who give assists like Scott Pippen/”

Referencing his fellow Def Squad member, Keith Murray is dope,  and mentioning the NBA alongside my second favorite basketball player is brilliant! He doesn’t stop there, when he says “Me and mic’s together roll tighter than Slick and Vance Wright”, I was left with a little smirk. For those who are familiar with Slick Rick, they will catch the reference. Unfortunately, this track is extra short, but the lyrical flexing is plenty. This is such an easy and entertaining listen.

Next up, Redman hits us with “Rock Da Spot”, another Erick Sermon produced track, but this time, he's assisted by Ty Fyffe. This guy details each project with the signature NY hip hop sound as well as dark and seemingly hardcore type beats. He’s incredible and it shows yet again on this. Lyrically, Redman shines and this might be the line that cemented his abilities and consistency...here take a look:

“I's a nice nigga that wanna get diced/
Slice the mic device/
Like the body of Christ twice/”

7 rhyming words in a span of two bars... how many have done this with the same ease and comfortability? Not many that’s for sure. This track is a lengthy one, so listeners get to hear much more wordplay, flow and Redman’s abundant use of metaphors. Once again, fantastic and one of my favorites on this album.

I’m going to skip over the skit and visit “ Case Closed”. There’s a lot going on in this track, first off the production is great and we have Rockwilder to thank for that. I think these two just mesh so well together seeing as though Red and Rock are friends and had worked together on previous albums, so the familiarity is dope. Our first exposure to a track with a featured MC, Redman pairs up with Xrossbreed (Crossbreed) and the two are great together and complimentary, and although Red only has one verse, neither outshines the other. The flow and delivery between the two are almost identical, so it makes the song incredibly seamless. This is where we hear a bit more aggression, but the hook balances it out a bit. The last verse is noteworthy, there’s a break in the beat, so you almost hear Xrossbreed a cappella, and his delivery is dizzying but much appreciated.  I like what he says here:

“Things ain't easy, cuz we be, strugglin day to day/
A bunch of stressed black men with not really much to say/
Twistin up some brown paper that we struggle just to get”

After that one, we hear the third single off the album “Pick It Up”, and then another skit “N.I.N”. I won’t spend too much time on these, but the track is lyrically strong although a tiny bit exhaustive. It’s then followed by “Smoke Buddah”, and this is a fun track, knowing how critical weed is to Redman. This is an album staple and he has a ton of fun with it. The beat uses the ever popular Rick James track “Mary Jane”, which is fitting, so the funk sounds are extremely prevalent. Like I said, this song is fun and speaks to exactly what you would expect, just take a look at the hook:

“I smoke on and on on, ya don't stop/
I'm gettin mad fucked up and ya don't stop/
To all my real dogs, all my real pals/
who ain't smokin, get the fuck owwwwt/”

I wouldn’t expect anything else from Redman. We’re just about halfway through the album when we get the second single off the album and a certified fan favorite, “Whatever Man”. This is the song that put this album on the map. Produced by and featuring Erick Sermon, this is another fun song, maybe even the most fun. We can thank Jerry Wonda and Pras for the bouncy beat. This coupled with the lyrics just make this one of the best songs to chill to. One thing I have to mention here is Redman’s lyrics. He says some pretty clever things, and here are my favorites:

“So chinky eyed, I see people waving on a map/
I make it hotter than your thermostats/
Bomb MC's with rough megahertz/ 
So call me Funk Doctor verbal starburst/ 
Lyrical expert/”

As much as this guy talks about smoking weed and chilling, his lyrics are always on point. The next skit always makes me laugh, and that is “Chicken Head Convention”. No need to spend too much time talking about it, it is just a minute and a half of solid laughs. I love Redman for this. I’m going to skip to the midway point to “Do What Ya Feel”, and I don’t know about anyone else, but Method Man and Redman are the only duo whose friendship permeates through everything they do. These two are the perfect pair and anytime they appear on a track together it’s guaranteed to be dope. This is what I’m talking about:

“I Port 'em like Authority, and when my nigga Meth shine/
Out the inner How High mobile rollin three dimes at a time/
(Redman and Method Man still... "hiiiigh hiiiiiiiiigh")”

I love the reference to NYC’s subway station and I especially like the reference to Meth, as it’s clever and much appreciated. I’m a huge fan of the friendship these two have and it remains evident here.

Skipping a few more tracks, I have to touch on “It’s Like That (My Big Brother)”. It’s this track that leaves this album up to much criticism and with good reason. As much as I love this entire album, this track is the odd one out. This features K-Solo and honestly it sounds like a mess.... like disorganized noise. I have a hard time keeping up with Solo’s lyrics, so Red definitely carries the song. On the production side... another mess! There’s an abundance of drums it feels like and it adds to the absurdities of the delivery. This isn’t one of my favorites and I have no idea where this collaboration came from on this project. This is the only reason I’m glad this album has 23 tracks because at least this gets lost somewhere in all of that. Moving right along...

Next up and to put us back on to some sort of normalcy, “Da Bump” produced by Sermon follows and it re-established the consistency and coherence we expect from Redman and from this album. I have to mention that I love the beat on this track, it's one of those soft instrumentals that just sort of chills in the background and lets Redman's lyrics shine. It also forces him to match the tempo, so although we still get the craziness, it's softened out just a bit. Red nails it on this track and delivers lyrics that keep you wanting more.

There's another skit we'll ignore to get to "Yesh Yesh Y'all", which is approaching the ending of the album, but the reason I highlight this is the sample. I'm sure any hip hop fan would pick up on it, but it's Common's "I Used To Love H.E.R", as well as Lady of Rage's "Afro Puffs", Jay and Foxy's "Ain't No Nigga" and even a Digital Underground track, so this is guaranteed to be good and it is. It's a risky move to put yourself up against these classic tracks, but Redman is good for it. The comparisons and references in this track are interesting to say the least. Here take a look:

"MaryAnne and Ginger/
Gilligan, you need the Professor to take the rigger/
Waters out I got orders to kill em softly/
I wouldn't leave a trace if I died and police chalked/"

"This Brown Fox said Ain't No Nigga like the - Funk Doctor Spock G"

"And if you name my name/ 
I whoop ass like Steven Seagal, give you Under Siege 2 without the fuckin train/"

We go from Gilligan's Island to Foxy and Jay's song to Steven Seagal movie references, Redman's got us thinking about everything and it works. It's engaging and keeps us entertained.

We're left with just one more skit and 4 tracks, "Whatchu Lookin 4", "Soopaman Luva 3",  "Rollin" and "Da Ill Out". All the tracks follow suit, as they have the consistency in beats. The bounce and instrumentals are intact and Redman's delivery is also just as consistent. The last track "Da Ill Out" is a fantastic choice to end with, and he features fellow Def Squad member Keith Murray and Jamal. What I like most about the track is it's a perfect finisher. With lines like "Muddy Waters, yo this is the way that my intro should go drunk slow funk flow for Reggie Noble", it serves to tie the beginning to the end and have Sermon leave us with the very last line:

"Y'all know, uhh, yeah, Muddy Waters, We out for nine-seven, word up, peace"

There we have it, the 3rd studio album, but the most notable work of Redman. "Muddy Waters" singlehandedly solidified the claim that Redman could maintain the clever wordplay, consistency and lyrical abilities  he had shown years before on a stage while dropping a freestyle. And he did. Redman secured his ranks in the hip hop world as a fan favorite and a 90's legend. The success of Muddy Waters would be a stepping stone that would catapult his career more, not only as an MC, but also in the acting, producing and DJ-ing worlds and even further in streetwear fashion. 1996 was a critical year in hip hop and this release definitely had a hand in making the year a memorable one.



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