In the immortal words of Rakim “It’s been a long time” since Ed O.G. seemingly vanished off the hip-hop radar screen. How long? Well, it has been a full decade since ED, and Da Bulldogs made their initial splash, with the under-appreciated Life Of A Kid In The Ghetto (which spawned Yo MTV Raps favorites “I Got To Have It”, “Bug-A-Boo”, and the moralizing classic “Be A Father To Your Child”). Though the phrase is thrown around liberally, and ED has spent the last few years kicking around the 12″ circuit, it is safe to call his return a comeback. After all, his reclamation project, The Truth Hurts, appears eight-years after Ed O.G & Da Bulldogs were given the pink slip by Mercury Records.
On the LP’s lead single, “Sayin’ Somethin’”, ED O. proclaims “If the opportunity was to present itself, I might just have to go and reinvent myself.” Well, that opportunity has finally arisen. Yet, lyrically ED reappears just as he left. And although the same old-school traits that hip-hop fans circa 1991 became so enamored with have not been replenished, they are still effective.
While ED may have dropped Da Bulldogs, listening to The Truth Hurts is like reminiscing with an old high-school friend that you lost touch with. Yet, in doing so, you realize that 8-years encompasses a lot of catching up. The same issues (responsible parenting) ED once tackled with such diligence have undoubtedly become clouded over the years. Though ED struck an everlasting chord with “Be A Father To Your Child”, he has moved on to dealing with the other half of the parental equation with “Bitch Up Off Me”. Father time has obviously soured any hopes of having a cordial relationship with ED’s baby mama, as over the tracks weeping harpsichord strings he scornfully laments “Every time we argue it cost me, how could something so beautiful come out of something so ugly.”
While a few clumsy tracks are created to meet current fads; the Swizz Beatz like electronic keyboards of “On Dogz”, and the horribly misplaced posse cut “Last Word” is an attempted club track gone awry. The producer by committee approach (Nottz, DJ Spinna, Dialek and DJ Roddy Rod) ED implements, much like ED himself, works when things are kept simple “Too Much To Live Fo” , and “Extreme”). This is most evident on the Pete Rock produced “Situations”, and the DJ Premier laced “Sayin’ Somethin’”, where ED delivers his strongest vocal performance—-”alcohol and weed is my vices, to see my daughter smile is priceless, I leave the nicest lifeless, return like Christ in a crisis, take this American pie, and distribute out slices.”
While vets who re-enter the fray after extended hiatus’ (Big Daddy Kane, Dres, Run DMC) always manage to tug on the heartstrings, they are rarely ever able to recreate the magic of previous endeavors. And while ED still scores enough points with his on-point flow, and witty punchlines, to make up for a slew of unimaginative hooks. His limited lyrical range is highlighted when matched up against Black Thought (“Nothing Ventured”), and Guru (“Work For It”).
Will hip-hop’s now largely pretentious fanbase re-embrace the man who put Boston hip-hop on the map? Probably not, and as ED states on “Situations” he has a pretty good idea why— “It ain’t about how you flow, its about who you know, and who gon’ get behind you with dough to make you blow.” Now, if we could only uncover the whereabouts of K-Solo, Digable Planets, and Special Ed.
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