Although I have a core list of producers who I consider to be the best to have ever taken part in the game, a conclusive winner always eludes me. One day it’ll be Pete Rock, the next I have to go with Premier, the day after that I’ll opt for Large Pro. The realms of the true geek are characterised by list making and endless debate even though a definitive conclusion can never be reached. I guess I might just be that geek.
One name that regularly crops up for me is K-Def who has already featured on From Da Bricks (see ‘Chief Rockas’). He slipped under my radar for quite a while, but I was stunned into one of those ‘how can I not have known about this before’ moments when I realised the full extent of his production credits. His work on the boards has been used by LOTUG, Da Youngsta’s and El Da Sensei amongst many other underground hip hop heroes and he continues to hold influence in the industry today, even appearing on Diddy’s new album (the track ‘We Gon’ Make It’ which is good despite Diddy’s pathetic mic skills). There are very few artists who have managed to build such a strong and consistent discography, and despite having been in the game for over a decade and a half K-Def’s contribution to hip hop seems far from over. If longevity was one of the criteria for the aforementioned lists then K-Def’s position would be undeniably strong.
‘The Turnaround: A Long Awaited Drama’ was released in ’96 and was the result of a collaboration between K-Def and his cousin Larry-O. The lyrical content is somewhat one-dimensional mainly detailing a gangster lifestyle and this feels a little played out over the course of a whole album despite effective delivery. The strength of this work for me lies in (you guessed it) the beats. ‘The Gimmicks’ and ‘Ain’t No Love’ are sensational featuring deep soul samples and soaring strings, ‘Money & Shows’ bounces along with some more of those violins as well as a nice vocal sample on the chorus loop and ‘Real Live Shit’ and ‘The Turnaround’ are truly bangin’. There are a couple of tracks that are not so hot, particularly ‘All I Ask Of You’ which looks like it was the label’s demand for a more commercial joint, but generally the production is flawless. Make sure you listen to the whole of the ‘Real Live Shit Remix’ as it concludes with K-Def on the turntables over a medley of slammin’ loops that demonstrates that the man also has some cutting skills under his belt as well.
The term ‘slept on’ has become a little difficult to define. Lost in an online community of people who clearly have a vast knowledge of hip hop, I would find it surprising if this album was not relatively widely known. Still, in terms of a wider audience there seems little doubt that this album and K-Def himself have not received the props that they deserve thereby qualifying for the ‘slept on’ tag in my opinion. If you don’t own this album, wake your sleepy head up and cop it: this genuinely is some real live shit.