Lighter Shade Of Brown - Layin' In The Cut
It’s 1994 and with two other releases, Lighter Shade of Brown hailing from the Inland Empire, strikes back with another one. Chicano Rap forerunners and pioneers, LSOB had been making jams since the beginning of the decade just as West Coast rap started making a buzz. With their third album, "Layin' In The Cut", they dropped a G-Funk gem nearly a quarter century ago. In fact, last July was 24 years ago. It was their most successful album, commercially and even made it on the Billboard chart for Top R&B/ Hip Hop albums. But I think it still goes largely unnoticed even by the avid Chicano Rap enthusiasts.
This is just pure speculation, but I would attribute this album getting slept on due to the fact that they were big targets and subject to several disses, from Brownside, NMW, CLS and countless others. Despite the hate, they continued making records and this, by far, is my favorite. The album is a perfect length, standing at a sweet eleven songs. First off was the lead single "Dip Into My Ride", the controversial song that CLS claims LSOB ruined (both groups sampled the same beat). I can’t say whose I enjoyed more, considering the fact that both groups had a good approach to the song. The LSOB version is smoother while CLS has a higher decibel and somewhat louder sound. Personally, I like the Gangsta Mix version by the Shade best. ODM recently made a reaction video to this music video alongside his wife, which gives a new perspective to the song and video. Also he addressed some of pedo they had with CLS in the comment section. Moving on to the second track, it's a great interpolation of SOS Band's "Even When You Sleep", it commences with some hypnotic drums and a smooth synth that pieces it together. DTTX rides the first verse, it starts off rough (his rhymes sound like they're not his own, especially with the "so how you gonna act, black?" and "yo, black, that's a fact") but he ultimately saves it, as for ODM he could have handled this rola on his own, given as he was the superior emcee of the group. The song is an ode to understanding the G-Funk concept.
The masterful synthesizers playing on "Talkin' 'Bout (Gettin' It On)" are powerful, the chorus is dope (it's not overpowering and blends well with the melody). The innuendos are hilarious, almost like they're trying to convince you that they're great romantics. Picking up from the Hip Hop vibe from the second track, sounding like it can be an East Coast jam but simultaneously retaining that West Coast feel, "Hey D.J [RADIO REMIX]" boasts the Shade's lyrical skills, both members gave it their best and captivates with a hyped up chorus. The instrumental is unlike the rest of the songs, yet it perfectly is in sync with the rest of the body of work. Progressing to the middle of the album, "Playin' In The Shade" continues the dope G-Funk vibes of the era, again kicking that addictive synth in the beginning. Makes you appreciate ODM's skill as an emcee and producer, the flow matches the tempo.
Her comes the O dropping funk in your trunk on "If You Wanna Groove". The song is the only song that features a guest appearance, some guy named Novelist. The instrumental is dope, sampled Parliament's "Agony of Defeet" with another smooth synth to bring it all together. The production kept its consistency on "I Like It", providing a smooth synth over the drums kicking with a sample I can't name. Part of the appeal of the next song is the deep bass line and the infectious sample of "I Think My Heart is Telling" by Evelyn Champagne King (also sampled by another favorite Chicano emcee). "Things Ain't The Same" should have been a lead single in my opinion, it's dope enough to make anybody listen to the message, however it does lend itself to the reason why Brownside throws shade at them for talking gangster shit but never busting a grape.
Slow jams really can’t hold my attention too much, and "Doin' The Same Thing" bores me a little. The song itself is well composed, the production is clean and smooth, too smooth that it bores me, nothing breaks the songs monotony. A loud synth, deeper cuts and scratches along with a thumping bass line would improve the song. I can't say the tone improves on the following song. "Everyday All Day" has a good melody but it's too soft. Breaking the the monotony of the previous songs with its catchy chorus sampled from World Famous Supreme Team. The beat itself is hyped, makes you wanna tap your foot a little. Great way to bring the record to an end with a lighthearted party jam. If this ain't a radio song I don’t know what is.
My final thoughts: they're way underrated even by the brown underground. Listening to "Layin' In The Cut" thoroughly made me realize that ODM was a more appealing artist than his contemporary, no disrespect to the late DTTX or his memory. Rapper, producer (tracks 1,4 & 6) and radio personality, ODM lives up to his acronym: he is One Dope Mexican. Though the album does get dull on a few tracks, it is masterfully crafted, smooth and ranks among the best produced albums in the realm of Chicano Rap. This emphasizes what I’ve been saying, we need more party jams and less gangster rap, more balance in the genre.
01. Dip Into My Ride
02. Where Ya At
03. Talkin' 'Bout (Gettin' It On)
04. Hey D.J [RADIO REMIX]
05. Playin' In The Shade
06. If You Wanna Groove
07. I Like It
08. Things Ain't The Same
09. Doin' The Same Thing
10. Everyday All Day
11. Hey D.J