Artist: Tha Alkaholiks
Title: "Read My Lips"
Album: Coast II Coast (1995)
"Read My Lips" is the second track on Cali-based merrymakers Tha Alkaholiks' sophomore album, Coast II Coast, but it plays as the introduction, or rather, the re-introduction to the booze-filled antics of rappers Tash and J-Ro, along with primary producer and sometimes-rapper E-Swift. Some of that is because the actual first song on Coast II Coast, "WLIX", is a showcase for other Likwit Crew affiliates and, as such,is dominated by producer Madlib's team, Lootpack, so even though Tash and J-Ro make appearances, it's tantamount to them making cameos on their own shit.
But most of that is because "Read My Lips" hits you in the chest from the first note.
Longtime readers will recall that I frequently name Tash as one of the most underrated rappers in the game, even with his spotty solo career, so it should surprise absolutely nobody to learn that he's the dude that kicks the track off. The rhymes throughout are all boasts 'n bullshit: hell, Tash's very first bar contains a dick joke. But they're delivered in such a brash, cocky style that heads that slept through their debut, 21 & Over, are forced to at least acknowledge the guy has fucking skills behind the microphone.
J-Ro, in turn, is forced to match his partner's performance, and does so well, with rhymes that come across in writing as more rudimentary than his peers, but sound damn pleasing to the ears. Each man gets a verse-and-a-half to get their shared point across: Tha Alkaholiks, jokey name aside, aren't playing around. Producer E-Swift gives his boys a hard instrumental that is playful and melodic, and yet semi-threatening all at once. He even contributes a hook, one that is unobtrusive and actually keeps things moving, which was nice.
Coast II Coast struck a chord with the right people, I suppose, since it gave their label, Loud Records, two hit singles and a truckload of critical acclaim. But you're only able to get that far if you give the listeners something that demands to be heard right away. That's why "Read My Lips" is essentially a rap album intro, albeit the best kind: the one where the artists rap their asses off to set the tone.
Do you agree or disagree with this selection? Discuss below.