Special Ed was truly one of the first young rap stars and he knew it. His debut album, Youngest in Charge, was released in 1989 when he was only 17. It was recorded when he was even younger and yielded the hit record “I Got It Made” and “I’m The Magnificent” while solidifying his place in the culture.
Behind his good looks and dope raps was so much more than met the eye, largely seen through teen rap mags and rap shows. Ed, a Brooklyn native, came up in an era where only talented MCs got record deals. He had a distinctive voice, clever wordplay and a charismatic delivery that set him apart in the rap scene of his time. He also came up in a rough period where you had to be respected in your ‘hood too—not just on wax.
Special Ed is no longer a teenager and he’s evolved into an outspoken, active elder statesman of Hip-Hop culture. He’s got a perspective on everything—from his past, the difficult middle periods of his career and the present where he’s actively giving back to young people.
Special Ed’s success continued after Youngest In Charge, with his subsequent albums, including Legal released in 1990 and Revelations in 1995. Though the 1990s were a far more competitive period, he maintained a dedicated fan base and continued to release music that showcased his lyrical prowess and creativity.
Ed was also a member of the supergroup Crooklyn Dodgers. The initial lineup consisted of Buckshot, Masta Ace, and Special Ed. Together, they released their sole record titled “Crooklyn,” which was expertly produced by Q-Tip from the celebrated group A Tribe Called Quest. This track found its place in the soundtrack of the 1994 film “Crooklyn,” capturing the essence of the era. The accompanying music video even showcased appearances by two iconic athletes hailing from Brooklyn, namely Michael Jordan and Mike Tyson.
Throughout his career, Special Ed’s music often explored themes of self-confidence, personal growth and the realities of urban life. He was admired for his ability to blend insightful lyrics with catchy beats, compliments of super producer Hitman Howie Tee early in his career. Special Ed’s impact can be heard in the work of many artists and “I Got It Made” continues to get sampled to this day.
Check out Special Ed’s philanthropic efforts, SEAL Arts and Literacy at www.sealartsandliteracy.org.