The following is adapted from a Facebook post I made yesterday on a group page inhabited by other music fanatics. We are all–of most of us are–fans of the great, time-tested music critic Robert Christgau. He himself has tested time as few critics have. On the page, we occasionally tout albums that Christgau underrated, overrated, or…failed to rate at all. It’s that last category that fascinates me, and it just so happened I’d dusted off the above CD to reacquaint myself with in “The Lab” (my truck cab, where I engage in pure musical meditation and try to operate the vehicle simultaneously).
I’d been introduced to the album by a friend in 1992. My wife Nicole, Mark, and I had been invited to a party thrown by Nicole’s co-worker; the majority of the other partygoers would be rap and r&b fiends, and Mark, who happened to be visiting from out of town, insisted on bringing Runaway Slave to force on whoever was selecting. It (along with Redman’s debut and a 12″ of EPMD’s “Headbanger“) turned the gathering out, and I got myself a copy the following week. I listened to it constantly for several weeks (and failed to turn my 10th graders in to it), then it disappeared into the stacks for the better part of 26 years.
Played it twice in the truck yesterday, then purt-near ran into the house and wrote this:
A classic rap album Xgau didn’t even deign to acknowledge. Aside from a run of wreck-catchers (“Fat Pockets,” “Still Diggin’,” “Soul Clap,” “Silence of the Lambs,” “Party Groove,” the title song), aside from the great horn-powered, beat-bejeweled production by Showbiz and the underrated Diamond D, aside from it being light on misogyny and peeled caps, aside from the two MCs being distinct and in synch, it’s pretty fucking conscious, with self-determination a thread throughout and considerable science dropped re: systematic racism. On heavy rotation in our three-room apartment in ‘92, and it still sounds phat, yet crisp. An “A,” easy, and one of the peaks of so-called “Golden Age” hip hop.
Hours later, I’ve calmed down, played it again, and deduced that I’m exactly right…though perhaps not praising enough! Time: the revealer.