Posted On Monday, March 22, 2021

Artist of the Week! Classic Hip-Hop! – Black Sheep

The Black Sheep were dope to me. As the “Black Sheep” of the Native Tongue family they played on their unique position as the comical/tongue-in-cheek/devilishly clever members of the collective that included the “Jungle Brothers,” “De La Soul,” “A Tribe Called Quest,” “Queen Latifah,” “Monie Love” and “Chi-Ali.” Others like “Fu-Schnickens,” “The Beatnuts,” “Brand Nubian,” and later artists like “Mos Def,” “Common” and “The Pharcyde” became the logical heirs of the Native Tongue.  Overwhelmingly, the Native Tongue represented positivity, Afro-centricity and a clear movement away from the gansgta, gun-toting, violent lyrics of groups like N.W.A.   One of my favorite cuts on the Black Sheep’s first album, “A Wolfe in Sheep’s Clothing” was a parody of the absurdity of the self-indulgent lyrics in gangsta rap. The track –  “U Mean I’m Not” sees like a blueprint for “CB-4” – the Chris Rock movie with the same inspired parody of gangsta rap.   The album spawned two of the biggest hits of the early 90’s – cuts that still get it started today. With “Flavor of the Month” and “The Choice is Yours,” Black Sheep became clear standouts in Hip-Hop.  I suggest that it is not an exaggeration to say that these two tracks are foundational to the genre.  “Dres” and “Mista Lawnge” were the M.C.’s who spit with confidence, intelligence and lyrical skill beyond their years, and the production was dope with complex and layered samples to go with the boom bat. Some may argue that Black Sheep stands for “B.S.” with their overall positivity and lyrical licks against violence and sexism (tracks like “L.A.S.M.”, “Black With N.V. (No Vision)” and “U Mean I’m Not”), that seem at odds with their repeated reference to “hoes” and over the top sexual allusions.  I  think it can be said they were aiming for tongue-in-cheek while trying to play it both ways.  In the end, the Black Sheep might say something like, “you can get with this, or you can get with that.” 

Check out my Top 5 from the Black Sheep:

  1. “The Choice Is Yours (Revisted)”:
  2. “Flavor of the Month” :
  3. “Strobelite Honey”:
  4. “U Mean I’m Not”:
  5. “Black With N.V. (No Vision)”:

#Classic Hip Hop