Solo Albums: Whut? Thee Album (1992), Dare Iz a Darkside (1994), Muddy Waters (1996)
Group Albums: n/a
Biggest Hits: "Blow Your Mind" (1992), "Time 4 Sum Aksion" (1993), "How High" (1995), "Can't Wait" (1995), "Whateva Man" f/ Erick Sermon (1996)
Rap fans of today may not know how absolutely top-level Reggie "Redman" Noble once was as a lyricist. That's because he faded into the obscurity of tossing out somewhat subpar music videos and freestyles. His last album, Reggie, came out nearly three years ago and was a flop in every way possible. At this point, he might be better known for his legendary MTV Cribs episode, which resurfaced earlier this summer and subsequently went viral, than for earlier material.
However, there is a reason Eminem listed Redman on his list of best rappers.
While two of Redman's most commercially successful albums came out in 1998 and 1999 (Doc's Da Name 2000 and Blackout! with Method Man), his run from 1992 to 1996 was his creative peak. It all started with Erick Sermon and EPMD. Bringing him into their Hit Squad fold, the duo gave him his first opportunities to prove himself on record. On 1992's Strictly Business, EPMD featured Redman on the closing verse of "Head Banger." The song was later released as the album's second single, and Redman stole the show with his rapidfire flow. After hearing "Head Banger," then-Def Jam executive Lyor Cohen is believed to have said, "We made the right choice" in signing Redman to the label.
On September 22, 1992, Redman released his debut album, Whut? Thee Album. The Newark native, who was a DJ before he became a rapper, had his hands on almost all of the album's beats, receiving some assistance from Erick Sermon along the way. Redman spent most of 1991 and 1992 crafting the album, and the result was an album that blended old-school funk with Redman's razor sharp flow, wild storytelling, and colorful punchlines. Whut? Thee Album spawned three singles: "Blow Your Mind," the hard-hitting "Time 4 Sum Aksion," and "Tonight's Da Night." It also had cult classics like "How To Roll A Blunt."
In 1994, Redman released Dare Iz A Darkside. As the album's intro, "Dr. Trevis," indicated, this was a departure from his debut effort. His staccato flow was just as sharp as it had been on Whut? Thee Album, and the funk influence could still be heard in the multiple samples of The Parliament. But Dare Iz A Darkside's production was more minimalistic and edgier than its predecessor, and Redman's personality got even wilder. Two singles came out for this album: "Rockafella" and "Can't Wait."
Two years later, Redman returned with his third solo album, Muddy Waters. The album is considered Redman's finest body of work, so much so that Redman has been talking about working on a sequel even before he released Reggie. Muddy Waters is the perfect blend of funk, hardcore grittiness, and more laidback offerings like "On Fire." This was the album where Reggie Noble cemented himself as one of the finest rappers of this era. It would go on to have three singles: "It's Like That (My Big Brother)," "Whatever Man" with Erick Sermon, and "Pick It Up."
In between these years, there was a diverse range of guest appearances. How diverse? In 1993, he started off Jodeci's "You Got It," an album cut off Diary Of A Mad Band. The following year, he jumped on a song called "My Style, My Steelo" with Shaq. Redman takes the second verse, and it is apparent in Shaq's closing verse that the basketball superstar is trying to emulate the swing and fluidity of his guest's delivery. In 1996, he appeared alongside Method Man and The Dogg Pound on 2Pac's "Got My Mind Made Up," a song off All Eyez On Me.
And none of that included the release of Redman's biggest song, "How High," which came out in 1995. The collaboration with Method Man, which was originally just intended for The Show soundtrack, peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts (despite Redman saying "Fuck the Billboards" in the song) and triggered the pairing of Redman and Method Man as a duo. Red and Meth's first single together set the stage for the wildly successful Blackout! album and How High movie. On it's own, "How High" is the best stoner anthem ever.
Altogether, that's two classic albums, one very good album, several show-stealing guest appearances, and a stoner anthem that inspired a cult classic film. Not bad for five years' work. — Dharmic X