Extra Prolific

Like It Should Be

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By 1994, the Hieroglyphics crew had been on a scorching hot streak (in terms of album quality if not necessarily sales) that extended back to Del's I Wish My Brother George Was Here and included Souls of Mischief's '93 'Til Infinity, the sophomore Funkee Homosapien album No Need for Alarm, and Casual's Fear Itself. Extra Prolific concluded this winning run with yet another highly satisfying, if meager-selling, effort. Unsurprisingly, Like It Should Be shares many of the characteristic qualities of the other Hieroglyphics efforts, not least the brilliantly flaky production. Chiefly courtesy of a pair of the collective's in-house producers (Domino, A-Plus) as well as Extra Prolific's own resident beatsmith, DJ, MC, and mastermind Duane "Snupe" Lee (Mike G. rounds out the duo, though only nominally a presence), the album is full of clever, unusual, and flat-out playful samples that twist molasses-thick soul and smooth jazz into strangely compelling mutations. Besides Snupe's ability behind the boards, he is a solid, imaginative rhymer. His syrupy, lackadaisical way with a lyric is very much owing to the rapper's original Houston home. This separates his style from the eccentric flows of his compatriots; unfortunately, the comparison doesn't always stand Snupe in the most beneficial light. He doesn't have the sort of idiosyncratic delivery that sets apart MCs like Del and Opio (who gets the best of his guest spot on "Now What"). For instance, Casual positively steals the brief "Cash Money" with his featured verse. The album, as a result, is perhaps not quite of a piece with efforts by Extra Prolific's crewmates. Regardless, even if second-level Hieroglyphics, Like It Should Be is quite strong and possesses a plethora of exceptional tracks -- "Sweet Potato Pie," "One Motion," "In 20 Minutes," "First Sermon" -- that belong in every collection of alternative West Coast rap.

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