Filed under: Album Reviews
Amazingly I haven’t seen this posted up anywhere else so I’m grabbing the chance and throwing up a true classic of the mid-’90s era. ‘From Where???’ is straight bangin’ from start to finish and is an essential addition to your collection if you’re feeling that second golden era flava (of course you are!).
What makes this album really stand out for me is that both production and Skillz’s mic handling abilities are as strong as one another; a rarity within the genre. I seldom find an album that combines the two arts with such finesse but ‘From Where???’ seems to do it with ease and pounds of style. Buckwild, Dilla, Shawn J. Period, The Beatnuts and Large Pro all contribute on the boards, an astonishing dream team of mid-’90s producers that speaks for itself. The beats are polished but retain that gritty straught up vibe that characterises quality hip hop. ‘Move Ya Body’ is the only cut on this album that I skip as it is a little cheesy, but every other track is absolutely slammin’. From the crazy horn loop on ‘Tongues Of The Next Shit’ to the summertime flava of ‘Get Your Groove On’, through the neck snapping ‘Nod Factor’ and the eerie sounding album closer ‘Inherit The World’, the beats here are truly on point. Crispy snares, big kicks and simple yet subtly flipped samples mean that this album represents the pinnacle of east coast hip hop production.
Skillz is tight on the mic as well, verbally throwing less accomplished MCs onto the scrapheap and then kicking them whilst they’re down. Although the content is essentially made up of bragging verses, Skillz’s delivery feels fresh and original. I always thought that there was a similarity in tone and delivery to Big L which in itself should be seen as highly complimentary, but Skillz has a unique and engaging delivery that is all his own. He has also (very publicly) ghost written for a whole host of mainstream rappers which demonstrates his lyrical prowess and ability to switch his game up without selling out his own on-mic persona.
I try to resist the temptation to label albums as ‘classic’. As I have said before this term gets banded about a little too much in this here hip hop game for my liking, taking away from those albums that truly warrant the tag. However, I’m willing to put my neck on the line with this one. This is a shining example of how great rap music can be and if you haven’t heard it you are in for a serious treat. Get your volume maxed out and bop your head until you can’t bop it anymore: this is classic material for all you true heads out there.