March 26, 2015

Whodini - Escape (1984)

Anyone who listened to hip hop in its early years knows Whodini. You might know them from Next Friday. Remember that scene "friends/ how many of us have them?" Maybe you know them from Pac's shoutout in his song Old School: "Whodini had me puffin on that buddha getting buzzed". But I doubt you heard about them from a 'most influential/best artists from the old school' list. Sadly, many who laud the favorites like Flash, Bambaataa, and Run completely ignore Whodini. 

I would argue that Whodini trumps every other rap group at the time, being the first to release a complete album. All other albums at the time, including The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash (I know Otto will disagree with me on this one), were essentially pieced together around a few good singles, with a bunch of filler to sell it. Escape is solid from start to end. There are obvious favorites, but any of the tracks could have been a single with the possible exception of Five Minutes of Funk, an instrumental that Bambaataa would have been proud of. 

While their self-titled debut was respectable, it pales in comparison to Escape in production skill, lyrical ability, and consistency, as it was more similar to the single-driven albums mentioned earlier. Melle Mel allowed rap to advance with his verse in The Message, but Whodini took this new style, expanded upon it, and Jahlil and Ecstasy did this for a whole album. It sounds like that missing link between Melle and the next revolutionary MC Rakim. They've been sampled by Outkast, Pac, Nas, The Pharcyde, Bone Thugs, and Scarface among many others. Classic old school beats with some of the best rapping from that time, a necessity for anyone who likes old school.