The history of hip hop is littered with many great groups who dropped dope albums, only to fade away into obscurity. Crews like the UMC’s, Lords of the Underground, TDS Mob, and countless others released gems, but for one reason or another, were never heard from again. The Black Sheep were one of these groups.
The Black Sheep were part of the Native Tongue movement which included A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and the Jungle Brothers. These cats represented the early nineties with highly original lyrics and fresh ass beats. All of the groups mentioned had their own style and sound, which combined with many classic releases, helped define an era of hip hop.
The Black Sheep released two albums, but it is their first record, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, which will be remembered as a classic. Released in 1991, on Mercury records, this album has stood the test of time. Comprised of members Dres and Mista Lawnge, these guys did everything on the album. Their lyrics, beats, and mixing skills are all top notch on this release.
A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing is a record with humor, satire, and social awareness. Tracks like “Gimme the Finga” and “Flava of the Month” showcase the group’s adept ability at making fun of themselves. With effortless flows and astute observations, songs like “Similak Child” and “The Choice is Yours” reveal why ‘91 was one of the best years in hip hop.
But what about the beats? The production on this record is a lush soundscape of chopped up breaks, loops, and snippets of underrated soul and jazz classics. The Black Sheep sample the likes of Paul Butterfield, Joe Farrell, and Jimmy McGriff to great effect.
As an added bonus, the record has guest shots from Tribe’s Q-Tip and the underage wonder, Chi-Ali (of “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number” fame). This is an album that anyone serious about hip hop should have in their crates.
Plus, the cover of the album is hilarious, with the dark suits and high top fades. Highly recommended.
words: Joey Finck
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