Reservoir Dog

Schoolly D

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Reservoir Dog Review

by Ralph Heibutzki

Nobody should be shocked at how influential George Clinton was to his '80s- and '90s-era hiphop brethren; Philadelphia's Scholly D is among the many hip-hoppers acknowledgng the Clinton's impact -- down to the '70s-era cartoon character's exclamation ("Damn, bopped again"). The sound on Reservoir Dog is as dense as previous albums, but Schoolly doesn't skimp on the groove. Unlike other artists who produce themselves, he appreciates the virtue of simplicity and does all the keyboards, leaving the rhythm work to a small supporting cast. (Longtime DJ Code Money is present, but mixed less prominently than prior albums.) The organic approach stays largely sample-free, resulting in a sparse, but uncluttered sound. Rhyming-wise, Schoolly remains focused on the foibles and follies of urban America. The standout track is "Nigger Entertainment," which satirizes the banality of urban violence taken for granted -- a drift abundantly mined on "Hustler Life" and "Gotta Hustle to Survive." (The latter track is one of several featuring Tamika Vines's forceful vocal presence.)

Other tracks draw loose inspiration from today's film noir malaise -- notably "Date With Death" and "Eternity" (which credits its inspiration to director Abel Ferrara, who's used several Schoolly tracks in movies). But Schoolly hasn't checked his fun at the door, either, as the bumptious bass work on "Ghettofunkstylistic" and "Welcome to Funkadelica" makes clear. In many ways, Schoolly's vision hasn't moved terribly far from dark-humored classics like "I Know You Want to Kill Me," and he's hardly the deftest lyricist that picked up a microphone (rhyming "drunk" and "little punk" may well be grounds for calling out the cringe police). But the fans who've followed him this long probably couldn't care less, because his entertainment quotient is proudly intact; sometimes, that's good enough.

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