August 28, 2008

Bahamadia - Kollage (March 19, 1996)


Here's what I know about Bahamadia, which isn't much. She's a female rapper from Philadelphia, home of The Roots, Beanie Sigel, and Rocky Balboa. Her real name is Antonia Reed. She is (or was: I'm not sure of the status now) a part of the Gangstarr Foundation, a loose collective of rappers who are known for their work with Guru and DJ Premier of Gang Starr, but thanks to her underground roots, she may also be known to a certain faction of my two readers as a sometime collaborator with the Army Of The Pharaohs, another loosely-knit rap collective of less-mainstream rappers. And her solo debut, Kollage, was released in 1996 to critical acclaim and no real sales to speak of.

Bahamadia's monotone delivery differs from most of her counterparts in the genre, as she sounds essentially the same regardless of the backing track or collaborator, but this distinctive flow also makes her very easy to understand. Kollage is supported by grade-A backing from DJ Premier and Da Beatminerz, and Bahamadia doesn't waste the opportunity: she utilizes the majority of the tracks on Kollage to prove her worth to the hip hop audience, with mostly success.

Although Kollage didn't sell very well, I highly doubt that her label, Chrysalis, really expected it to move units: I assume that they signed her more to earn some street cred than to make any money. Nevertheless, her subsequent projects have found homes at other, more in-tune underground labels.

1. INTRO
A Primo instrumental, with a vocal sample scratched in. Mostly useless and boring.

2. WORDPLAY
This song is as boring as what you would expect the exact opposite of the song's title to sound like. This Guru-produced song fucking sucks. This can't be a good sign.

3. SPONTANEITY
Now that's more like it. The hook, or what passes for one, is pretentious as fuck, but the rest of the song sounds great, especially the calm, relaxed Beatminerz instrumental that will still get you as amped as some of their other work with Black Moon has in the past.

4. RUGGED RUFF
Nice! Unorthodox DJ Premier production work that still manages to feel familiar, and Bahamadia rips shit as an underground rapper without anything to lose should. She also manages to toss in a reference to Technotronic for good measure. Come on, move this!

5. INTERLUDE
Keithy E the Gury speaks over a dope Primo piano-laced instrumental. Still, though, music is meant to entertain, and Guru talks it up as if Kollage will change the way you perceive the world and solve the mortgage crisis in America. Groan...

6. I CONFESS
I never liked this song, but I still bought the CD maxi-single back in the day anyway. Why, you may ask? The other track showcased on the single was "3 The Hard Way", and it included the instrumental for that Primo-produced pistol-whipping of a track: I've always been kind of an instrumental fiend. In regard to "I Confess", though, I always thought that Bahamadia's attempts at love songs were weak, possibly because I'd rather hear her rhyme about almost anything else, but mainly because the track sucked.

7. UKNOWHOWEDU
The first single, I believe: I may be wrong. Bahamadia sounds good over this beat, which was co-produced by DJ Red Handed and Ski, of Camp Lo and Jay-Z fame. However, it still comes off as if it's lacking the contributions of at least two other rappers.

8. INTERLUDE
Pretty dull Beatminerz-provided 'lude.

9. TOTAL WRECK
This isn't bad at all, but one wishes the beat was a bit more engaging. Still, Bahamadia does her best with what she's presented with.

10. INNOVATION
Meh.

11. DA JAWN (FEAT THE ROOTS)
Longer than it truly needs to be, but this collaboration between Bahamadia and her Philadelphia brethren The Roots is pretty sweet. However, it's nowhere near the level of "Push Up Ya Lighter", the track from their third album, illadelph halflife, that features Bahamadia. Still, though, not bad.

12. INTERLUDE
Kind of plain. I miss the Primo interludes already.

13. TRUE HONEY BUNS (DAT FREAK SHIT)
A simple Primo beat sets up Bahamadia's tale in a fantastic fashion. There isn't much of a differentiation between the verse and the chorus (in the vocals or the instrumental), but that's a minor quibble for a song that has the ability to make you feel as if you're riding around downtown late on a Saturday night looking for the next club to hit. The obsession with the Wu-Tang Clan on the track is also pretty funny.

14. 3 THE HARD WAY (FEAT K-SWIFT & MECCA STAR)
This shit just rocks. Proof positive that women are absolutely capable of handling the pressures of a posse cut just as well as the men can. As an added bonus, none of the women outshine one another on here: they all sound great over Primo's instrumental. Almost makes you wish that they recorded as a trio, but that's probably going a bit too far. A while back, Ivan over at Hip Hop Is Read posted the video for this joint as part of his Insomniacs Club series:
you should go have a look-see.

15. BIGGEST PART OF ME
N.O. Joe has two songs on Kollage, and they're both the shittiest songs on the record. It's probably no coincidence that the subject matter on both tracks are similar, in that they're not about talking shit on wax. ("I Confess" is the other N.O. Joe-produced bomb.) Bahamadia just simply sounds awful over these beats, and this is not a good way to end your debut.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Kollage isn't bad at all. Bahamadia's voice isn't for everyone: if you find yourself getting annoyed at Guru's monotone, you should probably run for the hills, since Bahamadia's voice won't make you feel any better about your situation, but if you can get past that, you'll be rewarded with some pretty damn good tracks (with some shitty ones mixed in, but you can't win them all). The interludes, while mostly plain in nature, help break up the pace effectively, making Kollage a lot easier to digest in one sitting.

BUY OR BURN? If you come across a used copy of this CD, you should pick it up. There are some flat-out bangers on here, and you'll also be rewarded with good karma for supporting female artists that aren't all about an obsession with sex and money.

BEST TRACKS: "3 The Hard Way"; "True Honey Buns (Dat Freak Shit)"; "Rugged Ruff"; "Spontaneity"; "Uknowhowedu"; "Total Wreck"

-Max

10 comments:

  1. Wow, I was just going to recommend you review this album. The fact that you did before Eve's Ruff Ryder's album speaks volumes about your musical taste! I beg to differ on your recommendation and advise anyone lucky enough to come across it to BUY dis shit!

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  2. I think you are probably on course to review (drumroll...)Rah Digga's "Dirty Harriet"!

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  3. Yessirree! While most people will usually pick either L-Boogie, Lil Kim, Foxy or Eve as their favorite femcees, Bahamadia has proven that she's a contender.

    Great review!

    ...and thanks for the shout-out!!

    Sincerely, your elusive third reader Ivan

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  4. every fucking body (except them two) wanna be "third reader"...

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  5. AnonymousJune 09, 2009

    one of the best female MCs ever

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  6. AnonymousJune 16, 2009

    got this on CD, even with bonus track after Biggest Part Of Me (which is a GREAT way to finish). better of any female hip-hop CD, an album which should be played through witout skips.

    part of collection, no doubt

    kormega

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  7. I find it odd with you being a fan of Boot Camp Click and all, made no mention of how "Spontaneity" is almost 99% the same beat as Heltah Skeltah's "Leflaur Leflah Eshkoshka". Can't believe Da Beatminerz got away with selling the same beat twice (well maybe they didn't sell it to Heltah Skeltah, but still).

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  8. I'm actually not the biggest BCC fan, so that flew completely over my head. Nice catch.

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  9. It's not "99% the same beat", it's just the same sample on both songs.

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  10. This whole album is great, I picked this up on wax back in the 90's. The review is a little harsh and needs to give more respect to a classic underground album.

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