A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing…is not a pillow by Dennis Lehto

When the Professor asked me to write this entry, I was happy to do so. It gave me a good reason to dig up a classic album I haven’t heard in years. Back in ’91, grade 8, I was the only kid on my block sporting a Black Sheep t-shirt (still got the school photos to prove it). It’s been a while but I’m glad to say the record aged well. Of course the record I speak of is …

Black Sheep – A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Breakdown …

The album starts with a standard “Intro” where they give shout-out to their fellow Native Tongues MC’s, then it gets right into a track called “U Mean I’m Not” where Dres does an over-the-top impression of all the gangsta shit of the day (I dreamed that I was.. hard). It’s a concept track reminiscent of the Masta Ace SlaughtaHouse album, purposely out of character for Black Sheep, but funny and sets the theme for the albums skits, showing off their unique sense of humor. I miss the days when a Hiphop record could be on a comedy tip and still be considered dope … The vibe of the album really kicks in by the third track “Butt in the Meantime” and from that point on there’s no going back.

Now, at 18 tracks and 4 skits, clocking in at about 70 minutes, I can’t get into extensive detail about everyone of them. I’d be here all day. Let’s just say you should get your hands on a copy and check it for yourself and leave it at that. But I do need to give special mention to the albums 3 big singles …

1ST : there’s “Flavor of the Month“. This track was my introduction to Black Sheep. The video looks much like the album cover. The title is self explanatory, but it’s the way they tell the tale. It’s some of Dres at his finest lyrically and the beat is equally great. 20 years later, the horns that kick in during the chorus can still cause goosebumps.

2ND : there’s “Strobelight Honey” – basically a story track, discussing the trials and tribulations of meeting ugly people at the club when alcohol and bad lighting can impair vision and better judgment. It also serves as one of the more upbeat moments on the record … Also noteworthy is “Similak Child” – a later single with its own video. With its laid back vibe and barking dogs, Similak Child serves as a great counterpart to Strobelight Honey.

3RD : their biggest track to date and still popular everywhere from Hiphop jams to Frat parties to to ya mama, we have “The Choice is Yours” – or more specifically, “The Choice is Yours (Revisited)”. The original version is OK, but pales in comparison to the remix, which comes in the form of a bonus track near the end of the record. This is that rare breed of track that can have massive commercial appeal and maintain its street cred at the same time. The party starts when that bassline kicks in, and when Dres says ” I made it look easy because it is to me” he pretty much explained their entire style with that line … Back to the whole “revisited” remix thing for a second, it’s funny how a remix took one of the weaker moments on the record and turned it into the definitive track of their career. Sadly, if you bought this album on vinyl, the remix and bonus tracks weren’t included.

Unlike many albums of today, Black Sheep didn’t fill up the record with special guest appearances… just a couple… The first one is  “La Menage” featuring fellow Native Tongue member Q-Tip. Think of it as a cross between Similak Child mentioned earlier and Buddy off 3 Feet High, leading into a skit called LASM which I’ll touch on later … The other is “Pass the 40“, a greasy posse cut featuring a young Chi-Ali and a handful of other dudes … Chi-Ali also appears earlier on the record, albeit not in a lyrical capacity, on a highlight track called “Have U.N.E. Pull” with a memorable horn sample and hook. (Side Note: despite rumors, Chi-Ali is not the younger brother of Dres… just saying)

There’s a handful of skits on the album. I’ve always had mixed feelings about skits. Usually they annoy me, but when they work they work. I think they work well here with the records satirical theme and don’t feel intrusive. Aside from the intro, skits include “Are You Mad?”, “L.A.S.M.” (an acronym for “Ladies Against Sexist Motherfuckers”) & “Go to Hail”. They’re in the tradition of the skits on De La’s 3 Feet High or De La Soul is Dead records … Also, not quite skit and not quite song is “Blunted 10” – a 2 minute beatbox / verse track. There’s also the bonus track “For Doz That Slept” which samples Millie Jackson’s “Phuck U Symphony” with some of the few times you hear Mista Lwange cutting .Also, noteworthy in that Slept features more “F” bombs per capita than any other track I can think of in the history of ever without a single verse being spit.

Understand, that even with such a large tracklist, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing contains little to no filler. Tracks like “To Whom It May Concern” with its playful beat featuring Dres and Mista Lawnge trading verses, “Hoes We Knows” with its memorable flute loop, tracks like “Try Counting Sheep” and “Gimme the Finga” with their patented Black Sheep sense of humor and braggadocio in tact, “Black with N.V. (No Vision)” with its Freddie Hubbard sample and a little speed rhyming for good measure, plus the bonus track “Yes” closing the album, every track serves its purpose. The consistent and clever use of samples in the production (usually horns and the like) gives A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing a certain feel like no other album you’ve ever heard before or since.

Recap …

To whom it may concern, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing is not a flavor of the month, and is most certainly not a pillow. Don’t try counting sheep on this one (there are 2 of them, for the record). Many of you already know, but in the meantime for those that slept, you can either gimme the finger or you can check the record ASAP and act like you knew the whole time, the choice is yours… I recommend the latter.

Ya Man,

Dennis Lehto

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~ by Professor Mike on January 13, 2011.

2 Responses to “A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing…is not a pillow by Dennis Lehto”

  1. Great piece

  2. I have great memoies tied to this album. Thanks for this!

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