Redman is the consummate lyricists lyricist. Its been that way since the EPMD protégé made his album debut with 1992s classic Whut? Thee Album.
Throughout his nearly 20 year-career, the New Jersey MC has taken his
wild, irreverent, hilarious, and at times smoked-out rhymes to the
masses. The underground MC that made good never forgot his two-fisted
hood star beginnings, even when he became a household name appearing on
a pop smash with Christina Aguilera (Dirrty) and starring alongside partner-in-rhyme Method Man in the 2001s Hollywood cult comedy hit How High. Now the undaunted MC, who has been praised by everyone from Eminem to Ludacris, is set to drop his new release Reggie on December 7th. In between, there are plenty of stories to tell. And Redman gives more than a hit.Keith Murphy
“Hardcore”–EPMD feat. Redman (1991)
It all started at this club called Sensations, which was one of the biggest hip-hop clubs in New Jersey. Everybody went to it on Friday and Saturday even out-of-towners went there. I was Djing for DoItAll of Lords Of The Underground at the time and this was in 1990. I was cutting everybodys record from Rakim to Big Daddy Kane and I rapped on the side. So, MC Lyte was supposed to perform one night and I was going to stay home [because I had something to do.] But they told me, Nah, man. Come out. We went down there and Lyte ended up canceling and EPMD performed. Now when I first heard EPMDs first joint You Gots to Chill and later So Whatcha Sayin? I said, I can do this! Right before they performed we went to the back room and talked to them. And one of the Djs told EPMD, Yo, hes a DJ, but he spits too. So they asked me to spit and ten minutes later Im onstage with EPMD rapping!
My boys are looking at me like what the fuck is this nigga doing? [laughs]. What is going on with this kid right here? Erick Sermon says, Yeah, this is my new artist coming out. And I stopped and looked at him onstage like, Are you serious, nigga? I actually walked into this shit?!!! The ill part about this is I was letting my boy handle the business. At the end of the show, we went to the back of the dressing room where E was giving me his number. My hand goes to meet his hand but my boys hand comes in between and gets the number. But Im like, Cool. Because he was handling my business. But let me tell you something. Within that moment that the number was being passed I saw the paper and memorized the last seven digits. I figured the area code was Long Island.
So because my boy tells me he has the number I stepped back because Im that kind of nigga. I know how to play my position hes handles the business, I handle the music. So the first week I didnt even ask him if he called EPMD. But after a couple of weeks, Im like, Did you call them? And hes like, No. A couple of days pass by and he tells me he called EPMD but he didnt get an answer yet. This goes on for months. And then he tells me he lost the number! So I ended up calling Erick myself and I didnt get an answer. I finally reached Ericks mom, but he was on tour. Im like, This is Doc from Jersey. Could you tell Erick to call me back? I finally reach E and hes like, Yo what the fuck! We were waiting for you to call. He told me to come to Long Island and I ended up staying with the nigga for three years [laughs]. When I appeared in EPMDs Hardcore song and video that was just crazy. Def Jam had these little virals back then on VHS tape. Q-Tip was another very important person to my career. He had me in A Tribe Called Quests Scenario video when I was first coming out. Niggas in the hood couldnt believe it. It was amazing to me.
Whut? Thee Album (1992)
My first impression when I was working on Whut? Thee Album is that I had to stand out. Im coming from the [the Hit Squad camp] of EPMD, K-Solo, and then Das EFX, who did a million back then, which was incredible. So I was like, Yo, what do I have to give? The thing with me is I wasnt just doing it for the money. Im contributing to the world good music because I feel like my music could help somebody in a certain way whether its negative or not. So how can I get this point across my way and stand out? The music that played a big part of my life was Johnny Guitar Watson and Parliament Funkadelic but it was also NWA, Ice Cube, KRS-One, and Slick Rick. I had a lot of info to give out. So thats why I was one of the first dudes on the East Coast hitting them with those skits and that real funk. I was able to adapt to the East Coast and the West Coast because I was listening to everybody.
I had that knowledge of the West Coast feel and the East Coast feel. And I brought that lyricism. But I was also bringing a new era of [weed hip-hop] to the table. It was just what I did. Even though me and Method Man are stars we dont promote weed; we just let people know that we smoke it. But the fans have to know that we probably lost out on a lot of endorsements because we smoke weed. But even if I knew that back then, I still would have been smoking. As far as creating that whole Dr. Trevis character for the album, that was an alter ego. It was something different that I thought was funny to me. And Im not going to lie I was doing a lot of motherfucking drugs back then [laughs]. I was a young cat and I was wilding. I didnt have any kids until I was 27. I remember shooting the video for Time For Sum Akshen. It was incredible. Back then we had real guns in our videos heavy [laughs]. And it was cool to show them.
The idea back then was more on a mental level, not just a show-and-tell level like it is now where I have to show you my jewels or I have to show you my car. Back then, it was about who is the wildest? Who got the wild rap style? Who has the wild hair? Who got the bangers in the video? Thats how you knew you were straight up hood about your whole outlook. Big up to DJ Twinz. Them boys were riding with me from day one and they definitely put me on hard shit as far as New York is concerned. Because them boys were banging out [in Brooklyn]. Im not a thug [laughs]. I let everybody know that. I aint no killer. I love my mama and your mama.
But I definitely ran with some wild boys. So you had to be wild back then to be going from set to set and city to city like we did. I loved it. Tonights da Night featured a great sample, but I never looked at the record as a real lyrical song like some of those other tracks. I looked at it like something I was having fun on and that was different. I got some records on there that I really like and that are really lyrical. Watch Yo Nuggets on that one me and E were going at it. He had that George Clinton Atomic Dog in there and we really went at it. And I liked Im a Bad, which was also lyrical. Those are some of my favorites from that album.
Dare Iz A Darkside (1994)
On this album I was still definitely doing some drugs [laughs]. But there was a real chemistry with me and E. I got into it more on the production side on Dare Iz A Darkside. It was my idea to do the Funkadelic album cover (which was a nod to Funkadelics classic 1971 work Maggot Brain). But the overall darkness just came from something different I wanted to do with Dr. Trevis. I was living in a real dark world at that time. I was doing a lot of acid and I was seeing shit [laughs].
As far as E goes, he kind of let me go in and do what I wanted to do for the album. A lot of women hit me about that goddamn album. They tell me Dare is one of their favorite albums which is the weirdest shit to me. I dont even do Cant Wait at my shows today. I know thats horrible, right? I suck. I need to be doing that shit. In fact, I hardly do anything off of Dare Iz A Darkside. I think the reason why is because it reminds me of a darker time in my life. It was a weird time. When that record went gold I was like, Damn are you serious?
Muddy Waters (1996)
Muddy Waters is my album! I came into the light on this one. I left some of those drugs alone and started smoking more weed and I was in the gym. I had a kid and I started to slow down. So I was getting grown on this album, finding myself and getting more in-tuned with the rap game. Whatever Man is one of those fan favorites. I love doing that one live. I do Sooperman Luva 3 here and there. I picked that up from my mentors EPMD who had their own [reoccurring song] Jane. I thought it would be cool if I had a continuous story I rapped about on each album. Sooperman Luva just ended up being one of those songs. And I always do Pick It Up. Those are the records motherfuckers be bumping to.CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL LIST