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October 31st, 2014

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Beatnuts LP / Street Level Album Review

Beatnuts LP / Street Level

From the time I heard the 12" of "Rap Prime Minister & Daddy Rich (Rat Bastard)" by Prime Minister Pete Nice & Daddy Rich, I was hooked as a Beatnuts fan. Soon I was buying everything I could find with their names on it, from Monie Love to Common Sense and Chi−Ali. Then their debut INTOXICATED DEMONS came out and blew me away. It was the perfect EP, nothing but sure fire bangers, leaving the listener with the sweet pain of wanting more because the tape was just too damn short. I loved the beats, the lyrics and just the overall spirit and vibe. Most of my friends were into Cypress Hill but to me the Nuts were far more intriguing − less the laid−back stoners who meant no harm than the drunken maniacs you didn´t want to make eye contact with in the bar. I nearly wore out my cassette during that summer of ´93 and soon I went off to college, the tape hid deep inside my chest. Perhaps because of this, when THE BEATNUTS LP came out in ´94, I was initially hesitant to buy it. Maybe I was fearful it would be a let down, the Nuts surely couldn´t maintain such consistency over the course of full length. Finally, I copped the tape, put it in my walkman and felt like an effin idiot for not getting it sooner. THE BEATNUTS is one of the few perfect albums I have ever heard. There´s not a bad song on the whole thing. Plus, it is the last album of theirs that really freaks the funky jazz loops. The guest appearances are left to a minimal, Grand Puba making a nice addition on "Are You Ready". With the presence of Fashion − the third of the trio − there´s little need for extras on the mic. VIC produced the Puba collabo and, along with Lucien´s "Ya Don´t Stop", it fits perfectly into the album´s soundscape. My favorite joints are "Get Funky" and "Props Over Here". When listening to the former you realize just how great the Nuts are as producers. Anyone who has heard the original Roy Ayers sample will note that it is not particularly funky but Psycho and JuJu heard something in that loop, added some beats and made it all a monster. The same goes with "Props". I read in an interview with the group in THE SOURCE that the label wanted them to do this song and they weren´t really keen on it; well, if this is their idea of a concession, it sure don´t sound like one. "Hellraiser" is great here in its original form, and the interlude afterwards always left me fiending for more thankfully the remix soon followed.. "2−3 Break" shows that even then the fellas had beats for days and "Fried Chicken" is just the illest, the static and Bobbito loop adding up to mere perfection. "Sandwiches" is hilarious (so is the longer white label version) and the return of "Psycho Dwarf" feels less like repetition than just a perfect capper to it all, as the hook sums up the entire album perfectly. It may be unfair to compare The Beatnuts´ later work to this, as times have changed and ´94 was a special moment in hip−hop. Today jazz loops are a rarity, Fash is now Al Tariq and with Missin´ Linx, VIC is no longer doing Groove Merchants but Ghetto Pros, Relativity is long gone, and Chi−Ali is on America´s Most Wanted. Juju and Psycho have gone through labels and changes as well, yet are still one of the best in the game and still deserving of more props (over here) than they get. Nevertheless, as a loyal fan of the group for over ten years, THE BEATNUTS is, for me, their finest hour, an album that never grows tired and has definitely secured them a spot as legends in hip−hop and this record as a hallmark of their production and style.
Submited by: Lee Jacobs