Thursday, May 8, 2014

Hip Hop Nostalgia 101, Session 33: A 25 Year Retrospective, Special Ed's "Youngest In Charge" (1989)

Born in Brooklyn, New York, but raised in Flatbush, NY, a then 16 year old Special Ed dropped his debut album, the nicely titled "Youngest In Charge"

Release date- May 8, 1989

All songs produced by Howie Tee

1. Taxing

This was definitely a dope opener right here. Special Ed is cool, calm, collected, and confident throughout and it shows. Speaking of those four "C's", they all come into play superbly on the next classic.
Grade- B+

2. I Got It Made

"I'm ya idol, the highest title, numero uno/I'm not a Puerto Rican but I'm speakin so that you know (Juno)/And understand I got the gift of speech/And it's a blessing, so listen to the lesson I preach"

"I'm kinda young, but my tongue speaks maturity/I'm not a child, I don't need nothin but security/I get paid when my record is played/To put it short...... I got it made!"

"I'm talented, yes I'm gifted/Never boosted, never shoplifted"

Oh man, this classic STILL holds up today and it remains Ed's best lyrical performance ever. It's simple yet effective, and he didn't need to go over the top professing how great he and his status was. Again, he was cool, calm, collected, and confident, and it worked like a charm.
*Grade- A+

3. I'm The Magnificent

This was a damn good follow up to "I Got It Made". Ed was truly not at a loss of words when it came to talking about his skills on the mic, and of course how great he is. Good stuff.
*Grade- A

4. Club Scene

Sample check #1

Sample check #2

This was truly appropriately titled, all 6:13 seconds of it. The club/party vibe was a very nice touch, as well as the beats when they switched up.
Grade- B+

5. Hoedown

Sample check

Ed flexes his storytelling muscles, in a humorous way, talking about "that certain type of female", lol (and let's continue to keep it clear, not ALL women are like this). Ed talks about two cuties he's fond of, but at the end of the day, they both turn out to be "hoes" according to Ed, lol.
*Grade- B+

6. Think About It

Sample check

"But is there anybody better, I doubt it/And if you think you are, I think you betta think about it"

Well that line above sums up this song in a nutshell. Also, Average White Band's "Schoolboy Crush" was a popular sample at the time, and when used on a hip hop record, it was done to great results, which is the case here (complete with a Rakim sample in another nice touch).
*Grade- B+

7. Ak-Shun

  Sample check

In true 80s form, Ed is giving major props to his DJ at the time, Ak-Shun.
Grade- B

8. Monster Jam

The beat is a "party monster" I'll tell you that (and Ed rides it nicely). It's in the same vein as "Club Scene" in a way, and a much better song to boot, respectively.
Grade- B+

9. The Bush

Ed was raised in Flatbush, so this song finds him showing love and respect to the place that where he experienced his coming of age.
*Grade- B

10. Fly M.C.

Sample check

Considering the title, it's not on the level of "I Got It Made" or "I'm The Magnificent," but it makes its points.
*Grade- C

11. Heds And Dreds

Well, this was quite the unique closer. Ever since KRS-One successfully blended hip hop with reggae, other MCs followed suit, and unfortunately they didn't come off as well. I got love for you Ed, but this was not one of your strongest moments. 
Grade- C-

For a debut, this was very good. I'll say it again, Special Ed was cool, calm, collected, and confident throughout this entire album, and looking back, he definitely brought a cool vibe to hip hop at a time when things were starting to heat up and become a little more serious in nature. I had no idea until years later,  after I first heard "I Got It Made,"  that he was 16 when he made that song, and listening to it you'd also have no idea how old he was. Overall, everything here was simple yet effective, deserving the Gold status it would receive. Thanks for this Special Ed!!

Final Grade- B+

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