April 16, 2007

Group Home - Livin' Proof (November 21, 1995)

Group Home is a duo that is (was?) part of the Gang Starr Foundation, along with fellow members Jeru the Damaja and (duh) Gang Starr (made up of Guru and producer extraordinaire DJ Premier). They both made their debuts on Gang Starr albums and, through some sort of deal with the devil, were able to secure Primo's work behind the boards of their debut, Livin' Proof.

Lil' Dap and Melachi the Nutcracker are proof positive that anyone, truly anyone, can be made to sound good over a Primo-blessed instrumental. You don't listen to Livin' Proof for hard-hitting lyrics or helpful insight on ghetto life; you can't. Shit, you don't listen to Livin' Proof for the lyrics at all. You listen to hear a master at work. This album cements the legend of DJ Premier as one of the top five hip hop producers of all time, even more so that his Gang Starr albums, because this album shows, beyond a doubt, that he can make people who aren't in his core group sound good.

1. INTRO
Yeah yeah, I see it; another useless rap album intro.

2. INNA CITI LIFE
Hard drums, check. Nas vocal sample, check. Weak ass lyrics, especially from the Nutcracker ("I'll make you jump/Psych!"), triple check.

3. LIVIN' PROOF
Listening to this track almost, almost makes you wish Inspectah Deck (of the Wu) was a group member, as his vocal sample on the chorus sounds better than the actual rhymes.

4. SERIOUS RAP SHIT (FEAT GURU & BIG SHUG)
One fact that many Primo stans overlook is that he didn't produce the entirety of this album. This track, for instance, is produced by his Gang Starr cohort Guru. Upon a return listen, it's pretty obvious Primo had nothing to do with the track.

5. SUSPENDED IN TIME
The crown jewel of the album. The vinyl single features the "Groovy Mix", which is the exact same song, but it features a sung chorus from Amel Larrieux (of Groove Theory) that fits the song perfectly, so everyone should seek that version out online. Now. Go already! Wel'll wait.

6. SACRIFICE (FEAT ABSALOOT)
After a brief interlude from an uncredited Jeru the Damaja, Melachi talks into one of those vocal distortion box things that Warren G uses to portray that ridiculous high-pitched "G-Child" on his solo albums. Roger Troutman he ain't.

7. UP AGAINST THE WALL (LOW BUDGET MIX)
My guess is, the title implies this mix was either straight-to-video, or filmed in Toronto, doubling for New York.

8. 4 GIVE MY SINS
Produced by Jay-Z's former mentor/current nemesis Big Jaz. Sounds like shit. No wait, not just shit; boring shit.

9. BABY PA
The majority of this three-minute opus is an overlong skit. So it will be technically accurate when I classify this as a "fucking skit" and move on.

10. 2 THOUSAND
Not every Primo song is golden, as this track proves.

11. SUPA STAR
The first single, which I never really liked upon its release. (I bought the CD based on the strength of "Suspended In Time", and was very disappointed that the "Groovy Mix" wasn't included.) If you take all of the artists that Primo has 'clicked' with and toss them in a hat, any name you pull out could rock this shit better. (Royce da 5'9" comes to mind.**)

12. UP AGAINST THA WALL (GETAWAY CAR MIX)
If any song didn't really need two different versions recorded....

13. THA REALNESS (FEAT JACK THE RIPPER & SMILEY A/K/A THE GHETTO CHILD)
Probably one of the darker Primo contributions, built around a somber yet eerie track and a Prodigy (of Mobb Deep, not the electronica group) vocal sample.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Livin' Proof is a conceptual mess that sounds good, thanks in no small part to Primo (who really should get back to producing that hardcore hip hop shit, instead of just simply cashing Aguilera checks). Any aspiring emcee should practice over the instrumentals of these songs; at least you can't sound as bad as these guys.

BUY OR BURN? I like to believe that readers of my blog appreciate beats as well as rhymes. I've written a couple of reviews where I've mentioned that the lyrics aren't thought provoking or require much attention, but the artists in question are capable wordsmiths who are able to ride the beats effortlessly, whereas Melachi and Lil' Dap just...can't. As such, you can easily find the instrumental version of this album on some other blogs, so I would go that route.

BEST TRACKS: "Suspended In Time"; "Tha Realness"; "Livin' Proof"

-Max

(**EDIT: I swear, I hadn't heard the Royce da 5'9" mixtape The Bar Exam (where he actually rhymes over this beat) at the time I wrote the review. So I'm considering myself to be a little bit psychic right now.)

RELATED POSTS:
Jeru The Damaja - Wrath Of The Math
Jeru The Damaja - The Sun Rises In The East

15 comments:

  1. Agree with you totally about the lyrical side of things max, but the getaway car mix of up against tha wall deserves more credit. One of my favourite primo productions of all time: 'such a pity..'

    Take it easy

    Dan

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  2. Morgan LouisJuly 29, 2007

    I must disagree with dissing group home on how their lyrics arent intelligent.

    you got real ghetto peeps, be they're intelligence level lower then others whatever. they are a product of their environment. the ghetto of brooklyn. they speak from the heart.

    I dont want to listen to college kids educate me. I want the streets to speak to me, thats what hip hop is.

    [to me]

    lil dap and the nut cracker shorty get infinite respect from me for being ghetto kids with a dream.

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  3. I think that this album has been the subject of much undeserved criticism in recent years. Sure, Group Home's lyrics aren't the best, but they are not bad either. A lot of Group Home's lyrics are deep, even though their flow needs significant work. Also, "Up Against the Wall (Gateway Car Mix)" is, in my opinion, a great song - the beat is so good, and the first verse is really good. But yes, I do agree that DJ Premier is the true star here.

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  4. Melachi and Lil Dap are horrible on the microphone. The title of this album should have been "Wack ass lyrics over excellent beats". I heard that Melachi is trying to start a career in boxing. As far as Lil Dap is concerned, he has released a few singles between 2003 and 2007.

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  5. i agree with you a little,dap and malachi arent great lyricist but they worked hrad on it and u gotta admit this album is straight up a hip hop classic

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  6. i have to agree w/morgan and isablogger. this album is one of my favorites, sure the mcs aren't the greatest, but they sure as hell sound world's better then lil' wayne or any of his cohorts.

    this is real hip hop. how can you not like up against the wall (getaway car mix???) that piano is so smooth! and sacrafice, come on... that beat is hard! smiley the ghetto child kills that first verse!

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  7. AnonymousJune 17, 2009

    lol @ dissing getaway car mix - THIS BEAT IS AMONG THE VERY BEST IN PREMIER CATALOGUE!!! Overall, review doesn't give tha album credit it deserves, so u better clean your ears, dude.

    kormega

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  8. AnonymousJune 21, 2009

    haha...2 thousand is one of the best beats on the album, getaway car mix is a masterfully subtle beat, and the intro beat is also beautiful and understated. you shouldnt pick up this album again, its wasted on your ears.

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  9. I discovered "up against the wall (getaway car mix)" in Four Tet DJ Kicks and I am glad. That song gives me so much strength.

    "One for one. one for all. I'm on the wall. I'm on the wall."

    I am not a expert in hip-hop but I love it a lot when I love it. And this song is incredible. The flow is excellent... and the beats, wooow, what beats....

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  10. AnonymousJuly 09, 2009

    Morgan Louis nailed it. truth dawg, they're from the heart and thats the main ingredient in all music which is missing in 95% of the bs we have today...

    Group Home deserves a lot more credit. theyre easily legends in my book and ofc primo nuff said...i grew up with them and even when i drifted from listening to hip hop regularly i never stopped listening to group home, or wu tang, gangstarr etc...and if you think lil dap sucks...you suck...he just released a sick album recently leaving no doubt he can do it alone as well..peace

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  11. if this was a lil dap album, this would of been better, because i like dap's verses on "im the man" and "speak ya clout" , he murdered them preemo beats on their gangstarr album, so without malachi, he would of had no problem rippin every preemo beat,(im kinda disapointed jeru didnt contribute a verse)

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  12. I actually like Lil Dap. Melachi the Ballbuster however is quite dreadful. Suspended in Time and Supa Star are the only songs on my ipod. The rest is.... piffle. Yep. I'm the Man and Speak Ya Clout are awesome for Lil Dap fans.

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  13. This album most certainly is a Primo showcase.

    HOWEVER,

    Group Home DO turn in a few decent performance throughout it.

    Livin' Proof & Suspended in Time come to mind.

    They are no lyrical masters, that's for sure. But Primo's beats saved their endeavors.

    I HATE Melachi MUCH more than Lil Dap

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  14. While Lil Dap and Melachi aren't the greatest lyricists they sure as shit aren't the worst. The lyrics are bearable and surprisingly great on a few tracks, but yeah, Premier's beats transcended the realm of music then became elements of space and time's fabrics.

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  15. Even though Melachi is easily the worst MC from the 90s to spit on a Primo beat, he has surprisingly pulled out a few performances outta his rectum that really aren't half bad. Supa Star in particular comes to mind.

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