Friday, December 5, 2008

Hip Hop Fridays: Schoolly D "How A Black Man Feels" (1991)

For the uninitiated, Philadelphia's Schoolly D is one of the original gangster rappers, with some even claiming that he is the first. Ice-T and 2 Live Crew credit Schoolly with directly influencing their style and helping pave the way for the many freedom of speech battles they would end up. Albums like 1988's classic Smoke Some Kill had city officials across the United States demanding record stores remove the album due to it's harsh content. Unfortunately those city officials and many in the media took Schoolly's lyrics for face value rather than seeing them as a reflection on the black urban violence and drug problems that plagued his surroundings in the inner city. Rather than glorifying street crime, Schoolly was more concerned with using his realistic tales as warnings. Schoolly was quite adept at recreating his dark underworld, and, due to this uncompromising stance, his early records were quickly banned.

By 1991, well after Schoolly had paved the way for then massive groups like NWA and 2 Live Crew, he had been pretty much left in the dust by his peers and the press. The media was on the hunt for the next outrageous new rap group, and Schoolly's gritty tales just didn't bring the controversy they were looking for. I guess that rapping about selling coke just didn't have as much edge as it once had. Due to these circumstances, How A Black Man Feels, Schoolly's fifth album, was largely ignored, which is too bad because the record still manages to pack a punch 17 years after it's initial release. Jagged and quick funk samples (funk samples were always the priority for Schoolly albums) back up Schoolly's vivid tales of street life gone awry. Admittedly, this is not Schoolly's best album (see Smoke Some Kill), but it is a unique portrait of an hip hop originator doing his best to stay relevant and doing a decent job of it.

King Of New York

Where You Get That Funk From?


Great interview here

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