There’s a portion of modern hip-hop that reflects on the music made 20 years ago, but sometimes it captures only an element of what was originally felt. Back then, it was about being forward thinking while honoring the music of the past, along with family and friends. The Other Guys seem to get all of these elements and deliver an exceptional album called Joe & Insanante’s Excellent LP (Fearless Music).
What I find exceptional about this album is that lyrically, they bring their confidence and experience to the table but also a bit of uncertaintly and nerves, which I feel brings their music closer to the listener who also feels the same way. Sure, everyone wants to live the good life and be able to make millions from selling cocaine and bacon, but the real world for most is what they see outside of their front door and when they look in the mirror. They speak about going to college but also about meeting up with failure without fear, so yes, being The Other Guys is very much about talking of “other” things that aren’t part of today’s hip-hop norm but should be. It’s stories both positive and sometimes tragic, but we take the good and the bad and we thus have the fact of life.
On the production side, this could easily measure up alongside Pete Rock, King Shameek, and DJ Pooh where the soul and funk is there but the sample use is done tastefully. Some of the tracks sound like raw demos, as if they went into a basement, borrowed someone’s recording gear and said “hey, this is what we have, let’s just do this.” There are certain spoken word samples that come off too loud into the mix and while I might frown upon that in normal circumstances, here I don’t. It could be a demo or at least has that demo feel, as if I lived in a neighborhood with great MC’s and producers on my block, or I went to the good part of down that everyone hates, but I know I can find some awesome music there. That’s The Other Guys. This album works for me because while it has that classic feel I enjoy, it sounds like now and isn’t solely stuck in another era just to be retro. Music is timeless, and so will be these songs.