Filed under: Album Reviews
Original Flavor were one of those crews that proved to be less than the sum of their parts. Despite the presence of Ski on the boards and competent mic skills all round, there still remains something slightly lacklustre about the group’s sophomore release ‘Beyond Flavor’. As with all albums of this ilk, it has its moments, but the overall feeling I am left with is one of vague disappointment. Coppin’ this off the back of the crew’s classic ‘Can I Get Open’, I was hoping for more of the same high grade mid-school, but it seems that they could not maintain this sort of quality over the length of an LP in its entirety.
‘Can I Get Open’ is of course excellent, with a phat beat and the verse that catapulted Jay Z into a career that has seen him become one of the figureheads of modern hip hop. Whether this is a good thing or not remains debatable, but his appearance on this track is sensational, clearly overshadowing the other MCs’ contributions. Although none of the other tracks live up to the album’s opener and group’s trademark cut, there are other good tracks on this album. ‘Beyond Flavor’ rolls along nicely with a piano loop and tight drums and ‘Blowin’ Up Da Spot’ features some early ’90s style sleighbells that swing from left to right in your headphones. ‘Hit’ is also good, although I’ve spoiled it for myself somewhat because I used to play it at about +6% on my turntables so it now sounds a little slow, and I also dig ‘All That’ despite its incredibly cheesy chorus hook and bridge vocals.
It isn’t that the other songs here are necessarily bad, but they certainly lack something, particularly in contrast to the stronger cuts on the album. The verses are perfectly well delivered and the content is as you would expect for the era, but as with the beats, nothing really stands out and demands your attention like quality hip hop should do. I can understand why the reception towards this album wasn’t great at the time, particularly with the plethora of truly great releases that dropped in ’93/’94, pushing this into the shadows. Still, it is worth a listen, and if you are a fan of Ski’s later production work then it is interesting to hear where he honed his skills back in the day.