Blending both reggae and funk influences with contemporary commentary that displayed a concise and fluid rap style, Reggie Noble's introduction into the Hip Hop scene on a solo tip came in the form of the 1992 debut album Whut? Thee Album. Establishing him as one of the top MCs on the east coast, his aggressive delivery was more than hardcore enough for the streets. Containing now classic cuts such as 'Time 4 Some Akshun' and 'Tonight's The Night', listeners fell in love with his hilarious accounts of weed toking, alter-ego arguing, and sexual encounters of the deviant kind. The album was hailed a critical success thanks in no small part to mentor Erick Sermon's muggy beats and P-Funk inspired party jams.
With his name beginning to ring bells left, right and centre, Whut? Thee Album peaked at number 49 on the Billboard 200 chart and was certified gold, and Red himself was named 'Rap Artist of the Year' by The Source magazine. Keeping the momentum going he released his next album Dare Iz A Darkside in 1994. With some saying it was an album of confusing persona switch ups and inaccessible subject matters, it still sits well with Red's core fan base. Producing much of the album himself, the title for the new platter came easily being that personally Red had gone through his fair share of stress, trials and tribulations leading up to its release. Funky and dark (as the title suggests), it was an album full of bass heavy backdrops and sporadic ramblings of the puzzling kind.
Due in part to his unforgettable quirks and comedic traits, Redman was slowly but surely becoming one of the most loveable characters in rap. However, it was his ever-growing friendship with Wu-Tang Clan rhymer Method Man that would solidify his hard-not-to-like position in rap. Appearing on features together - most notably 2Pac's 'Got My Mind Made Up' taken from his multi-platinum selling album All Eyez On Me - the partnership continued to grow organically in a way that was often only seen in duos who had started from the bottom together - Gang Starr, EPMD, Mobb Deep, Pete Rock & CL Smooth.
On his third album, 1996's Muddy Waters, Redman edged closer to the type of recognition his boisterous jokes and exciting wordplay deserved. Stepping away from the inconstancies of Dare Iz A Darkside, Red and Erick Sermon reinstated the funk-driven melodies and reggae-tinged instrumentals that made his debut the popular set that it was. His lyrics may not have evolved all that much - weed and women were still the main talking points - but his metaphors and elastic flows grew to a new high on this one.
The teaming with Meth on 'Do What Ya Feel' was a good lyrical introduction to the Meth & Red show but the album stand out proved to be 'Whateva Man'. In the track's video the world was then introduced to the visual comedy of the rhyme duo. Channelling John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd's characters from movie The Blues Brothers (but with a Hip Hop twist), through laughter fans would eventually fall in love with Red and Meth.
Originally named the Hit Squad (and also featuring a selection of other members), Red is also a member of the Def Squad crew - alongside Erick Sermon and Keith Murray. Releasing their first and only album in 1998, El Nino went on to reach gold certification. The same year Red released his next solo album, Doc's Da Name 2000. Exceeding his previous sales record, the album hit platinum status and spawned the hits 'I'll Bee Dat', 'Da Goodness' (featuring a stellar verse from Busta Rhymes), and 'Let Da Monkey Out'. Hip Hop was mainstream but the pop element hadn't yet been added the way it did a few years later, and Redman's "keeping it real" attitude mixed with his hilarious storytelling and futuristic beats meant that people from all over the world could relate without having to be from the hood.
His close partnership with Def Jam labelmate Method Man went on to become a business partnership in 1999 when the two formed as an official duo and dropped the album Blackout!. Originally titled Amerika's Most Blunted, the duo chose to rename the album as a way to extend its commercial reach. Featuring club bangers 'Y.O.U.' and 'Da Rockwilder', a new smokers anthem was also born in 'How High'. Going platinum, the album was aggressive in its approach, hyper in its delivery, and loved by fans. The pair have since released a second part to the Blackout! series and are currently planning a third instalment.
Becoming a bonafide superstar in the three year gap between his last solo album and his next, on 2001's Malpractice Redman unleashed his two biggest (commercially in the UK at least) singles to date. The Adam F helmed 'Smash Sumthin'' blew speakers up and down the country with its echoing drum 'n' bass inspired beat, while besides offering a stomping no holes barred hilarious account of club life, 'Let's Get Dirty (I Can't Get In Da Club)' also became the inspiration behind the Grammy-nominated Cristina Aguilera single 'Dirrty' (on which Red had a guest verse).
Having a long major label musical break until 2007's Red Gone Wild: Thee Album, led with the Timbaland-produced single 'Put It Down', Red continued to put out material via his Ill At Will mixtape series but his main focus became acting. Aside from having one of the most memorable MTV Cribs episodes in the show's history, Red, once again teaming with rhyme partner Method Man, filmed the cult classic weed movie How High and then together put out the short-lived TV series Method & Red. Having also appeared in video games such as Def Jam Vendetta and its subsequent sequels, as well as NBA 2K6, Red established himself as someone with unquestionable star qualities.
After releasing another album, 2010's auto tune-guided Reggie, Redman is currently working on the sequel to his much applauded Muddy Waters LP.
Words: Will "ill Will" Lavin
Whut? Thee Album is a terrific debut that established Redman as one of the top MCs on the East Coast. His aggressive delivery is more than hardcore enough for the streets, but Whut? is first and foremost a party record. Redman's subject matter centers around his love of funk and his equal love of pot, with some sex and violence thrown in for good measure. He's able to carry it all off with a singular sense of style, thanks to a wild sense of humor that results in some outlandish boasts, surreal threats, and hilarious left-field jokes. In "Blow Your Mind," for example, he announces, "watch me freak it in Korean!," stumbles through part of a verse, and mutters "ah, forget it"; another great moment is "Redman Meets Reggie Noble," a brief duet between himself and his own alter ego in the great Slick Rick tradition. Other offbeat highlights include the genuinely useful instructional track "How to Roll a Blunt" and the hilarious sexcapade story song "A Day With Sooperman Lover." Credit for the album's infectious vibe also has to go to producer Erick Sermon, who fills Whut? with deep, loose-limbed beats cribbed from P-Funk and Zapp. Slamming party jams like "Time 4 Sum Aksion," "Rated R," and "Watch Yo Nuggets" are the real meat and potatoes of the record, and Redman's driving, forceful rhyme style makes them all the more invigorating. Still the strongest, most consistent outing in his catalog, Whut? Thee Album clearly heralds the arrival of a major talent.
Words: Steve Huey
Redman may have become a household name among the rap community by the end of the '90s, but there was a time when he garnered little more than a cult following. Why? Well, Dare Iz a Darkside illustrates this better than any of his other '90s albums -- nowhere else has Redman ever been this odd, to be quite frank. It's fairly evident here that he'd been listening to his George Clinton records and that he wasn't fronting when he alluded to "A Million and 1 Buddah Spots" that he'd visited. In fact, this album often divides his fans. Many admire it for its eccentricities, while others deride it for being quite simply too inaccessible. It's almost as if Redman is trying to puzzle listeners on Dare Iz a Darkside with his continually morphing persona. In fact, there's actually little questioning his motives -- it's a matter of fact that Redman's trying to be as crazy as he can without alienating too many of those who first knew him for his affiliation with EPMD.
Words: Jason Birchmeier
Despite a heavy dose of Redman's eccentric humor, Dare Iz a Darkside often threatened to disappear in a haze of blunt smoke, so for his third album, he and producer Erick Sermon backed off the muddled sonics of Darkside and returned to the hard funk of his debut set. There isn't as blatant a P-Funk/Zapp influence on Muddy Waters; the beats are more indebted to the new New York hardcore movement, and the tracks themselves are sparer and more bass-driven. Lyrically, Redman is as strong as ever, and if his subject matter hasn't changed all that much, he's still coming up with clever metaphors and loose, elastic rhyme flows. He projects more energy than Method Man (who appears on "Do What Ya Feel"), but isn't quite at the madman level of Busta Rhymes. The numerous skits tend to drag the album's momentum down a little, but overall, Muddy Waters solidifies Redman's growing reputation as one of the most consistent rappers of the '90s.
Words: Steve Huey
In 1998, rap music experienced a high level of commercial acceptance and exploitation, the magnitude of which had scarcely been seen before. Most major record labels embraced artists whose images and portrayals revolved around financial decadence, violence, and substance abuse. These are issues that have always been somewhere in the mix of hip-hop culture, but in the late '90s such subjects took total precedence over previously, at least equally, appreciated subjects such as lyrical agility, humor, positivity, and self-awareness. Redman represents a few of these attributes -- humor and lyrical agility in particular -- on Doc's da Name 2000. The sound Redman achieves on this album is characteristic of his previous albums. With production credits going mostly to Erick Sermon, the bass-intensive and melodic beats on Doc's da Name 2000 allow Redman to deliver the raw Newark, NJ, flow for which he's known and liked. Redman produced a few of the songs on this album, including "Jersey Yo!." A mildly funny skit that describes the attitude of a certain "Little Bricks" resident precedes this selection. There are actually five skits on the album, which, like most skits on an often-played album, become very unfunny after a few repetitions. On "Jersey Yo!" Redman uses a slow and funky guitar sound over tight drums and a fluid bassline. Redman is also responsible for the production of "Da Goodness," a song that features Busta Rhymes. The instrumentation in this song has a futuristic, almost minimal, sound that mimics the music Busta Rhymes frequently flows over. Not stopping there, Redman spits lyrics in "Da Goodness" with what could be identified as Busta's lyrical style -- and he does it well. The result is an entertaining song that exemplifies Redman's skill as a talented lyricist and producer. "Beet Drop," another cut produced by Redman, is a brief but funny cover of the Beastie Boys' "It's the New Style." Other MCs that join Redman here include Method Man on "Well All Rite Cha"; Double O, Tame, Diezzel Don, Gov-Mattic, and Young Z (of the Outsiders) on "Close Ya Doorz"; Markie and Shooga Bear on "My Zone!"; and Erick Sermon and Keith Murray on "Down South Funk." Fans should note that the latest episode of "Sooperman Lova (IV)" is witness to "sooperman lova switching to sooperman villain." The last selection on this album is a gem -- a rhyme delivered over a jungle (aka drum'n'bass) rhythm track that was produced by the well-known Roni Size. A close look at the liner notes reveals an additional unique item on Doc's da Name 2000: Redman had A&R, marketing, and project coordination responsibilities on this album -- a scenario not often seen in the music industry.
Words: Qa'id Jacobs
Erick Sermon again crafts a number of the beats, and Redman returns to many of the same lyrical motifs that fueled his past work. So, in a sense, you can commend Redman for his consistency; after all, his rhymes are always a grin and he even produces a good chunk of Malpractice. Unfortunately, if you've heard his previous albums, this is going to feel very familiar. It's guests like George Clinton and the aforementioned Missy Elliott who keep things fresh, and there's no shortage of guests here...
Words: Jason Birchmeier
Back once again with the ill behavior, Redman's Red Gone Wild: Thee Album is the kind of bumpy ice cream van ride through the ghetto that fans crave. The wit is there and as strong as ever with lines Kool Keith would salivate over like "I'm in my underwear like Damon Wayans in Colors" ("Pimp Nutz") or "My bitch be like 'damn, baby, wash your feet'/She say the hair on my chest look like taco meat" ("Sumtn 4 Urrbody") or a whole bunch of others that are way too nasty to repeat. Old friends like Def Squad kingpins Keith Murray and Erick Sermon are on the guest list along with a whole honor roll of old-schoolers who all feel as vital as ever. Producer Pete Rock brings a piano and horn banger to the album ("Gimme One"), Timbaland is more aggressive than usual with his beat ("Put It Down"), and Scott Storch mashes the Neptunes and Kraftwerk sounds with his inspired loops ("Freestyle Freestyle"), but as big and as diverse as the guest list is, the album hangs and flows effortlessly. It has everything to do with Red's bottomless bag of punch lines and his uplifting spirit, which could make you smile even as he's verbally cutting you to pieces. You could argue that the blaxploitation-flavored "Soopaman Luva" suite would be a better ending than the raw party starter "Suicide," but that's about it, unless you think party song followed by smoking song is redundant, which probably means you wouldn't enjoy any Redman album. That he's able to throw it back to the good old days after all this time, fame, and his ventures into other media just speaks to how much natural talent lives inside the man. How he makes it look so easy and backs up every outrageous claim of domination with whip-smart proof is nothing short of stunning.
Words: David Jeffries
By dropping words like “pop” and “crossover” while promoting an album on which he dares to use Auto-Tune, Redman gave his fans a heads-up that Reggie isn’t your everyday effort. Based on his real name, Reginald Noble, Reggie is actually an extroverted and exuberant alter ego for Redman, the kind of guy who does production for Shaq if you check your copy of Shaq-Fu: Da Return. No surprise, then, that Reggie the album is heavy on the special guests with everyone from Bun B to Kool Moe Dee landing on the track list, while Redman acts as ringleader and/or hypeman. Folks who want it strictly hardcore won’t be satisfied till the high-kicking “Tiger Style Crane” closes the show, but since the miraculous Red can go from hood cool (“Lookin’ at my rolly...”) to nerd cool (“...I got time like Culture Club”) in just one punch line, he deserves a swing at the Ghostdini-style album. Big hooks drive infectious choruses on club bombs like “That’s Where I Be” (“You pissed baby?/Don’t get pee’d on/Cuz man/I run things like cream corn”), "Def Jammable" (“Don’t gas me/I live near Amoco”), and "Full Nelson" (“I do it Big like March 9th in Brooklyn”), while “All I Do” with Faith Evans is the first track in Red’s discography that could be tagged “breezy,” paying tribute to the power of hip-hop and Michael Jackson over a lush backbeat. The Auto-Tune device is used but not abused and even the dressed-up numbers don’t come off as soft, as Red is always willing to drop a line that packs an improper punch. Uptight types who want him to save hip-hop will hate on this one, but this ain’t nuthin’ but a party y’all, and a fun one at that.
Words: David Jeffries