November 8, 2008

Above The Law - Vocally Pimpin' (July 16, 1991)

In researching artist discographies for this very blog, I came across a somewhat surprising consistency: nearly every artist affiliated with N.W.A. has released an EP early in their career. At this point, you should have already read about Eazy-E and Ice Cube's shorter sophomore selections. MC Ren's solo debut was an EP, as well (one which we'll get to in due time). Of the main members of N.W.A. that actually matter, only Dr. Dre seems to have bypassed the EP as a quick means to an end, but when you look at it, nothing that he does can ever be considered quick, since he's only released two solo albums in the past sixteen years. (Fucking Eazy-E has released more albums than that, and the guy is dead.) I will note, for the record, that DJ Yella, who was a founding member of the crew even if his contribution was constantly overshadowed by the good Doctor, managed to release a full album as his debut shortly after Eric Wright's passing, but since he didn't actually rap on it, it doesn't count.

Although Above The Law weren't technically part of N.W.A., they were signed to the same label (Ruthless Records) and made prominent guest appearances on what would become the final album from The World's Most Dangerous Group, the post-Cube Efil4zaggin. In spite of multiple label switches and various other bullshit, Above The Law would manage to thrive, if only on the West Coast. To whet the appetite of their core audience, they dropped the Vocally Pimpin' EP in between their debut and their second proper album, Black Mafia Life, which wouldn't actually be released for two additional years, a business move which may sound goofy when you get toward the end of the write-up. With the exception of one track, which you'll read about shortly, this EP is comprised of all original material, and at nine songs deep, it's certainly the longest EP I've come across in a while.

Read on.

One of those rap album intros where the artists wax philosophical over an instrumental. At least the music sounded good.

This is some smoothed-out pimp shit, but at times, it's actually a bit too smoothed out, in the "listeners may find themselves trying to wake up" manner. Perhaps the instrumental backdrop should have contained harder drums?

Although sampling the Tom Tom Club's "Genius Of Love" is a concept that's as old as time itself, I still thought this shit kind of rocked.

G-Funk by way of P-Funk. It's not bad, for what it is, but I didn't really care for it. So, of course, this track will reappear in two more incarnations before Vocally Pimpin' is finished.

And then Above The Law throws in some politically charged shit for good measure. This shit is nice. It manages to discuss serious topics while still maintaining a sense of humor, which isn't as easy as Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert make it look (even with the current administration).

I still haven't yet learned how exactly one can manage to eat chicken "like a motherfucker". Oh well. The original version of this song plays out much better than this remix.

Sounds exactly as it reads, although I must note that the radio edit is much shorter than the original.

A commercial for Above The Law's next project, Black Mafia Life. It's amusing, but it underscores just how unnecessary this EP actually is. Especially since it would take two more fucking years for the album to see the light of day.

And we're out.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Vocally Pimpin' should only be seen as a bridge between the gap that Livin' Like Hustlers and Black Mafia Life created. There's certainly no coherence, but it's an EP, so that's to be expected. With the exception of the "Livin' Like Hustlers" remix, though, it's clear that the songs on here weren't simply leftovers, which is a bonus. There isn't anything here that fans absolutely must hear, though.

BUY OR BURN? Good luck tracking this one down, as it's out of print, but I'll make it easy for you: don't bother. There is no reason you should go out of your way. Just pop their debut back into your car stereo and drive around your neighborhood. Trust me, you'll feel better.

BEST TRACKS: "Wicked"; "Dose Of The Mega Flex"


  1. Maybe the whole EP thing was a genius move by Eazy. Back then Studios were expensive, not like today where every punk has a setup at home. So, less recording, an album goes out, makes the money... etc... kind of good on the marketing side too...

    Eazy was that dude, even though you don't shit about him and decide to shit all over him on his solo albums...

    thats ok, you have retaurded moments Maxxie.

  2. Are you shooting an A&E biography on the man or something? I realize how a fucking EP works, thanks.

  3. I'm sure you do Max. You just had another retarded moment though... I was just putting your Sherlock mystery together FOR YOU, since you had JUST mentioned that you hadn't realized that "nearly every artist affiliated with N.W.A. has released an EP early in their career."

    Maybe replace NWA with Ruthless, and you will get the business move.

    And no, not an A&E documentary.. just that I respect the dude for more than his music.

  4. Dre would still be wearing sequins if it wasn't for eazy