Mudface (released Nov. 13, 2015)
This is the part of the album review where I talk about how underrated Reggie Noble is as a hip-hop pioneer.
You know, it’s the place where I mention his groundbreaking 1992 debut, how his sophomore album kept the momentum going, and, of course, his third album, Muddy Waters, which has become his signature work. This is where I’m supposed to remind you that he has FOUR No. 1 albums in a row, lining his walls with gold and platinum plaques.
I should tell you about how he’s the original punchline king, paving the way for the Lil Waynes and Fabolouseseses that came after him, how he’s starred in movies and TV shows, has long reigned as one of the Def Jam’s premier artists, helped establish Def Squad as a premier rap group and that he is essentially an unofficial member of the Wu-Tang Clan.
But if you’re reading this post on this site, you probably already knew that. It’s a shame that the hip-hop world seems to have forgotten its history but Funk Doc probably doesn’t care.
All he wants you to know is that he can still spit with the best of them. And if you caught his standout cypher performance at the BET Hip-Hop Awards, you know that Reggie hasn’t lost his touch.
Mudface, Redman’s eighth studio album, doesn’t sound like the work of a man begging for adulation. It’s just Redman doing what Redman does, throwing punchlines at your face like Holly Holm on Ronda Rousey.
On “Wus Really Hood,” Red’s in his element, using pop culture references for his mind-bending metaphors:
Get a quick drill then I’m back on the oven
Cooking food for thought, metaphor McNuggets
SuperBad bad and y’all McLov-it
I don’t wrestle but even Hacksaw Jim Dugg-it
This is the same man who later reminds us that “even now I’m turning cats in to Chinese food” without even flinching. Only Red can pull off that kind of insanity.
Lyrically, Red can still hold his own, rampaging through the sparse boom-bap of “Gettin’ Inside” while living up to the billing of “Bars.” To be fair, the first verse is pretty much exactly what he spit at the BET Awards already but hey, a good verse is a good verse. He also revisits familiar tropes, returning to his off-kilter crooning on “Won’t Be Fiendin – the Dez Remix” while also providing the obligatory smokers’ anthem on “High 2 Come Down.”
Although Red does his best to give his core audience what they want (minus another “Soopaman Luva” track, not that I’m bitter…) Mudface still sounds really hollow at times. Blame a lot of that on the album’s shoddy beats. The cheesy whistles on “Beastin’ (MCA),” the tinny production of “Dopeman” — many tracks not only sound dated, but unfinished. Still, sometimes Redman makes a track work by sheer willpower. “Let It Go” might sound like a beat pulled from a 2004 Dipset mixtape but Red’s charisma makes it listenable.
Fans looking for a grandiose Redman comeback will be pretty disappointed with Mudface. The album is clearly meant to be a placeholder until we finally get Muddy Waters 2 (it’s even referenced a few times here) and the inconsistent quality makes it seem like appetizer instead of a full meal. But hard core Red fans will find a few morsels to tide them over.
Regardless, this album won’t tarnish Red’s legacy. He’s still one of the best to ever do it.
But y’all already knew that.
Best tracks: “Bars,” “Let It Go,” “Gettin’ Inside”
3 stars out of 5