Sleeping with the Enemy

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The Devil Made Me Do It established Paris as a pro-black radical, a firebrand. The follow-up, 1992's Sleeping With the Enemy, saw the MC unleash his most provocative rhymes to such an extent that WEA, Tommy Boy's distributor at the time, opted to have no part in it. This forced Paris to reactivate his Scarface imprint; it delayed the album's release, but attention from the press helped take it to the Top 25 of the top R&B/hip-hop album chart. While Paris spent much of his debut relating his distrust of authority, two inflammatory songs -- "Bush Killa" and "Coffee, Donuts & Death" -- took that anger into revenge-fantasy territory. The former, formed on a grinding guitar riff and an "Atomic Dog"-based groove, goes into detail about his anger over the then president's neglect of the inner city; though it opens with a mock assassination and features graphic lyrical content, the rationale for Paris' last-resort approach is revealed thusly: "'Cause when I'm violent is the only time the devils hear it." This goes directly into "Coffee, Donuts & Death," in which Paris avenges racist policemen who rape females and abuse power in his community. Lost in all the controversy were some of Paris' most somber and compelling tracks, including "Thinka 'Bout It," "The Days of Old," and "Assata's Song." Worlds apart from the menacing tones of his best-known work, these are introspective, pensive, and frankly beautiful songs that look at the way blacks hurt their own and the value and resilience of black women. The album's production honestly comes close to rivaling the Bomb Squad, with samples -- from a young DJ Shadow -- and a tense, chaotic mix swirling throughout the more agitated tracks. The only true gripe is the number of lengthy interludes.

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