So continuing on the Native Tongues series, we have Black Sheep who I first heard in my later years of high school through a an older more musically savvy friend. I slept on it for a little while, then one day in a record store and P’s to spend I saw ‘A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing’ at a bargain price so I copped it and from then on much love for that. I remember walkin away feeling quite smug about my crafty purchase (sometimes I’m a cheapskate). Anyways usual drill so lets get down to it.
The group originally consisted (more on that later) of 2 members, Andres “Dres” Titus (MC) and William “Mista Lawnge” McLean (DJ/Producer/MC). The duo both hailing from New York originally met as teenagers while coincidentally both living in North Carolina with their respective families. They both became good friends and had a great mutual love for hip hop. Lawnge later moved to New York to pursue a career in the music industry. Lawnge met DJ Red Alert while they played a gig together, from this he was then introduced to Mike Gee of the Jungle Brothers and became friends and even sat in on their recording sessions. These experiences inspired Lawnge to form the Black Sheep and went onto recruit old friend Dres to become the other half.
The group then went onto gel musically and start to produce demos and were signed to Mercury records. Soon there after the group released their first single ‘Flavor Of The Month’ in 1991 and became one of the most popular singles of the year. also at that time the group became the first hip hop act to appear on ‘The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.
CLICK IMAGE TO WATCH VIDEO FOR ‘FLAVOR OF THE MONTH’
Later on in 1991 the group released their first album ‘A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing’ to much critical acclaim and commercial success their second single The ‘Choice Is Yours (Revisited)’. The single obtained heavy airplay on many TV and radio stations and this wasn’t confined to just the niche hip hop shows either. The album itself was also well received reaching 30 o the US album charts cementing the group as a force to be reckoned with.
Click The Images Below To Watch Interview on YoMTV Raps In 1991, Music video, and an interview with Dres on The making of ‘The Choice Is Yours’
They were also one of the first groups to parody gangsta rap (still in its infancy when A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing was released) in the hilariously over the top “U Mean I’m Not.” In the song, Dres describes in detail killing his sister, his parents, and his letter carrier. At the end, he is roused from his sleep and tells his friends bewilderingly, “I dreamed that I was…hard.”
Black Sheep was also featured on the remix of Vanessa Williams’s single “Work to Do“. Little extra info for you the track ‘Work To Do’ was originally recorded by the Isley Brothers, covered by The Average White Band and more recently by Mayer Hawthorne on his Impressions EP (check it here its also free and dope). The group’s relationship with its label, Mercury/PolyGram, allowed Dres to establish a boutique label through which he could sign his own acts. Mercury distributed the imprint, which was called One Love, through PolyGram’s Independent Label Sales division rather than PolyGram Group Distribution. However, only one full-length title was ever released, the only album by affiliated act the Legion, titled Theme + Echo = Krill from 1994. (It’s an alright album you should check it)
Note: ALL TRACKS ARE STREAMING ONLY
The Legion – Legion Groove
The group’s second album, ‘Non-Fiction‘, was released later that year. Because of virtually no promotion and a generally poor reception, the album managed only lackluster sales. But its in my music stash and I kinda like it the 90’s seemed a bit fickle to me at times, but by no means is this as good as their debut.
Dres and Lawnge would take a break afterward to work on various independent projects and left the label. This resulted in Dres’s solo album ‘Sure Shot Redemption’ and being billed as Dres the Black Sheep. Mista Lawnge who was already established doing production work on such songs as Chi Ali’s ‘Age Ain’t Nothin But A#’ and Zimbabwe Legit’s track ‘To Bead Or Not To Bead’ continued his production work. with the likes of Red Hot chilli Peppers, Simple E, and many more including remixes.
Zimbabwe Legit – To Bead Or not To Bea
Mista Lawnge – Flash Theme Remix (Queen)
In 2000, Dres recorded the title track of the movie Once in the Life, in which Dres had an acting role. In the same year, the duo reunited and released an EP called Redlight, Greenlight (EP). It was released two years later but received little attention( I can’t find it anywhere).
Dres was featured on the second Handsome Boy Modeling School album White People, on the track ‘First…and Then‘ (DOPE TRACK). In 2006, Dres released an online-only album titled 8WM/Novakane. 8WM stands for Women with Women with Weed with Wine with Me. According to AllHipHop.com, Mista Lawnge has changed the spelling of his name to Mr. Long. He also released a solo project called “The Class of 89” in 2006.
2010 saw the release of the Black Sheep album ‘From The Black Pool of Genius‘ which was not a return of the duo but just Dres running solo. An allround good album with great geust appearances from the likes of Rhymefest, Jean Grae, Az, Psycho Les as well as a little Native Tongues reunion with Q-Tip, and Dave. Plus a random feature of actress Rosie Perez. But with blessing of having such a great first album kind of still over shadows future efforts if you compare them to each other. Though its a good album with some real stand out tracks showing that Black Sheep are still very much relevant 20 years on which is more than can be said for some. Check some of its content below.
Black Sheep – Important Fact Feat. Psycho Les
Black Sheep – Birds Of A Feather feat. Q-Tip, Dave
Well that’s the history and as much current info as I know, any more you think I have missed hit up the comments so now onto the samples portion of the article. Usual vibe with this section so its gonna be action packed prepare yoself and get ya listening hat on. POW!!!
Flavor Of The Month
(see video for the song)
The Bubble Gum Machine – I Wonder
Herb Alpert & Tijuana Brass – In a Little Spanish Town
Joe Ferrell – Upon This Rock
Mahavishnu Orchestra – You Know, You Know
Okay so these samples right here, The bubblegum Machine track is used from the beginning and through out the song, the part used appears very early on about 5 seconds in. Also its used on a Lyod Banks track but I won’t show you that because he’s weak! The Herb Alpert track uses the brass instro from the beginning to great effect you can’t miss where its used by Black Sheep. The Joe Farrel track provides the drum break that runs through out the song and is right at the start, its also been used by Pete Rock & CL Smooth for the track ‘Searching‘ in the same manner as well as fellow Native Tongue Members ATCQ also for the drum break. Lastly the Mahavishnu Orchestra sample is used in the song very early on and through out providing a nice little guitar loop, which can be found a minute into the track. Its been sampled by many others also including Massive Attack and Mos Def but in slightly different ways and from different parts of the track, can u pick them out?
The Choice Is Yours Revisited
(see video for song)
McCoy Tyner – Impressions
The New Birth – Keep on Doin I
Sweet Linda Divine – I’ll Say It Again
So the groups arguably most famous track, the main hook which provides the basis for the track is at about the 3 minute mark on the McCoy Tyner track some mad nice jazz vibes there if your down with it, some find it a bit much bet just feel the rhythm and expression in the music. This is also sampled by former Ultra Magnetic MC’s member Tim Dog using the same sample but more subtly, McCoy Tyner’s Impressions is actually a John Coltrane cover. The New birth track provieds the drum sample which appears right at the start of the song. Its also been used by the likes of Big Daddy Kane and ATCQ all for the same drum break. Lastly there is the Beautiful Sweet Linda Divine track which adds in that signature ‘uh ah’ sample which you can pick out from just listening to this goodness all the way through. That sample has also been used to in exactly the same way by the Lootpack and strangely enough for a track called ‘Robotniks Revenge‘ by Howard Drossin for a Sonic The Hedgehog soundtrack which is quite a good little instrumental track check it out.
[wpaudio url=”http://wordisbond.data.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/09_black_sheep_-_similak_child.mp3″ text=”Black Sheep – Similak Child” dl=”0″]
[wpaudio url=”http://wordisbond.data.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/04-Today.mp3″ text=”Jefferson Airplane – Today” dl=”0″]
[wpaudio url=”http://wordisbond.data.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/01-I-Can-Hear-You-Calling.mp3″ text=”Three Dog Night – I Can Hear You Calling” dl=”0″]
Right well the Jefferson Airplane track you can’t miss the sample but there is a bit of a toss up between it being their track sampled or Ramsey Lewis’s ‘Les Fleurs’. I went with Jefferson because more sources I found concurred and I’ve already featured it in my Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf post. The Three dog night track provides the drum sample and is about a minute and 45 seconds into the track or so, can’t miss it once you find it. plus straight after that drum sample there is a sample which is used on one of my favorite hip hop tracks off all time by Diamond D, ‘Best Kept Secret‘. Straight ill.
[wpaudio url=”http://wordisbond.data.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/08_black_sheep_-_to_whom_it_may_concern.mp3″ text=”Black Sheep – To Whom It May Concern” dl=”0″]
[wpaudio url=”http://wordisbond.data.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/07-Clarence-Fuzzy-Haskins-Loves-Now-Forever.mp3″ text=”Clarence ‘Fuzzy’ Haskins – Love’s Now Forever” dl=”0″]
[wpaudio url=”http://wordisbond.data.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/05-Les-McCann-North-Carolina_1.mp3″ text=”Les McCann – North Carolina” dl=”0″]
The main meat for this track is supplied by Funkadelic band member Fuzzy Haskins track above and the sampled can’t be missed from this piece of funky isht! Then Les McCann’s track providing the drum break which appears right at the beginning of his track. Its also been used numerous times by other hip hop artists including Big L, Organized Konfusion, and Souls Of Mischief to name but a few. The 3 mentioned all lifted the same drum sample from their tracks.
[wpaudio url=”http://wordisbond.data.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/09.-Lets-Get-Cozy.mp3″ text=”Black Sheep – Let’s Get Cozy” dl=”0″]
[wpaudio url=”http://wordisbond.data.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/06-Roberta.mp3″ text=”Les McCann – Roberta” dl=”0″]
[wpaudio url=”http://wordisbond.data.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/B1-Doug-E.-Fresh-And-MC-Ricky-D-La-Di-Da-Di.mp3″ text=”Doug E. Fresh & Slick Rick – La-Di-Da-Di” dl=”0″]
Right so once again Black Sheep were on that Les McCann tip for their samples but this time not for the drum break instead they have lifted a piano sample from about 5 minute and 10 second mark of the track. This track is also used by Afu Ra’s track ‘Whirlwind Thru Cities‘ but he lifts a piano sample from the beginning of the track. and then there is the unmissable sample of Slick ricks voice on ‘La Di Da Di’. Which has been sampled so many times I thinks its a definite pension fund for both Doug E Fresh and Slick Rick.
[wpaudio url=”http://wordisbond.data.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/01.-Still-In-The-Ghetto.mp3″ text=”Black Sheep – Still In The Ghetto” dl=”0″]
OK so last track up and surprise surprise its my favourite Black Sheep tune its not actually on any of the albums but the B-side from the Similak child EP they released. truly ill, I gots to give props to DJ Format for putting this on his ‘Right Earful Mixtape Volume 1’ crackin mixtape so much goodness I nearly melted the CD blamin it so much. And its where I first heard it so BOOM! Anyway the legendary Lou Donaldson is sampled here its a self explanatory sample just have a listen to the goodness right there Lou is such a G! That track has been sampled many a time by other hip hop artists in fact so many all I can say is have a search on the net for them its mad loads.
Well that rounds up this episode hope you have found it informative and not a snooze fest. Big Props to Mr Lawnge and Dres for thier awesome contribution to the scene and we look forward to hearing more from them in the future either together or seperately either way its all good. Next post in this series is going to be the mighty Jungle Brothers so stay tuned for that one to drop much dap to be had. Peace and love homies!!!