Society of Soul – Pushin’ & Right Tonight
from Brainchild (La Face, 1995)
Mista – Tears, Scars & Lies
from Mista (Elektra, 1996)
Either great minds think alike or laziness breeds similarity, because Noz and I both came up with the idea of doing posts on Organized Noize’s R&B goodies totally independently of one another. The good thing is that ONP were so prolific and overlooked that there’s a bevy of slumped-out backwater stankness to offer your whining, critical asses.
I’ve always held the unpopular opinion that Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik was Outkast’s best album — better than the ones that white people like. Southernplayalistic was a coherent statement, both musically and politicallly, and it came apart like stripper’s good lies: slowly and surely while revealing interwoven layers of human complexity. Subsequent albums may have had more adventurous moments, more highs, more chitterling bucket funk, but none remain as smooth a testimony to sound and vision as the first platter held down by ONP. And that’s because when the ATLien production troupe fronted by Rico Wade gets into a full-length zone, ain’t no one taking them out — not even AI.
If Society of Soul came off more like an expermental collective than a group, that’s because they were. Comprised of Organized Noize (Wade, Sleepy Brown, and Ray Murray) with Big Rube (the guy that does the spoken word interludes on Dungeon Family records) and singer Espraronza (whom I should know more about than I actually do, since I interviewed these guy ten years back), the group sqeeze out the kind of sweet sounding, soul-fucking jism that sounded like it never cared if it made it to the radio or not. Their first (and only) album, Brainchild took all of the accouterments of a great ONP production — Big Rube’s wordplay, muddy water grooves drizzled atop eclectic mothership funk, simmered over blue flame rhythm and blues and garnished with gospel — and placed them front and center. “Pushin'” is blue-collar lament from behind a Buick with a fifth of cognac riding shotgun (“In my Regal, got my yak/With that fifth wheel on the back”) with a late-night run to the golden arches thrown in to allow Rube to muse on haters, genetic disorders, racist pigs and the flaws of the G.I. Bill. All this and it still comes off as a reclined paean to all things beautiful about ghetto life. Now that’s what I call music. “Right Tonight” may suffer from an unnecessary moment of 8-bar rap from the DF’s Odd-Ball and Back Bone (Slic Patna), but it also featured the four mackadocious kids known as Mista getting ready to go to the club (“Check the mirror to make sure my hat is tilted to the siiide . . . Say a prayer before I slide”), making it a favorite among favorites.
Mista were that shit. One of the kids recently dropped a single on a major label, but I’d be damned if I could tell you which one right now. And that’s immaterial, anyway. What is of essence is that you realize that the kids who made “Blackberry Molasses” put out an album full of longing, sorrows, heartbreak and hope that was like, “No fucking way are these kids sixteen. I need to see birth certificates.” “Tears, Scars & Lies” hits you like these shorties found out somebody fucked their old Earths and the ONP gods said, “Chill. That’s a wis form, god. Handle that in the lab.” And handle that they did. Ghostface musta been proud.
[GunYoga: So fresh, so clean, like ‘Kast.]