of Black Sheep: For Doz that Slept
By: Todd Davis
"Who's the Black Sheep, what's the Black Sheep?
Don't know who I am, or when I'm coming so you sleep,
Wasn't in my room, wasn't in my sphere;
Knew not who I was, but listen here:
Legendary Queens, New York, Hip-Hop duo, Black Sheep, comprised of rappers Dres and Mista Lawnge, are most famously known for their gold certified 1991 debut A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing, which spawned a succession of hits; including, "Flavor of the Month," "The Choice is Yours," "Strobelite Honey," and "Similak Child."
In '94, Black Sheep's lackluster sophomore album, Non-Fiction, was released, meeting with mixed reviews and poor sales. Titus and McClean would soon part ways.
Following their break-up, individual solo endeavors were sought, and, unfortunately, suffered the exact same fate, as Dres and Mista Lawnge sadly failed to connect and were just unable to reclaim their past glory days.
In 2008, Black Sheep's monster single "The Choice is Yours" was ranked number #73 on VH1's 100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs.
"You can get with this, or you can get with that?!"
So, man, where ya been? And, what exactly's been up, since the release of your last studio effort, 8WM/novakane ? And, did that project signify an "official" Black Sheep reunion, of sorts, because of the little bit of involvement that Mista Lawnge had on it?
Though I never really
went anywhere, I've been some of everywhere thanks to the love 8wm/novakane
received. It definitely reacquainted the masses to the brand, more so than
"The Choice Is Yours" has done over the years. It was supposed to
be Lawnge and I working together, but it didn't work out that way. Lawnge
felt he wanted to do his own thing. I respected his wish and only wanted the
best for him, but kept it moving nonetheless.
done better! Given that, it is a very solid project. Having an understanding
of the climate of music, to a degree, shed some light on the situation. Very
different time in music, and it was a great project to illustrate some of
the do's and don'ts moving forward. Being that there wasn't going to be a
"major" label backing the project, I knew it would be all uphill.
But, sometimes the beauty isn't in the perception, but the effort. I stand
on the shoulders of that project with this one, so it will do better.
The words were uttered
by Donny Hathaway on a live version of a Stevie Wonder song; "Superwoman."
It struck me immediately as a vast pool of artists overtime that I wanted
to find myself amongst. I don't see it as being a pool of black people. Instead,
I see black as the color that absorbs light. Any artist that shares light
had to absorb it to share it. Hence, any artist that shares "art,"
may find themselves in the pool.
Production includes Beanone (outta) Seattle, Urban Soul Music Group (from) N.Y.C., Tough Junkie, Paten Locke, Willie Evans, all (from) Jacksonville, Florida, and Showbiz (from the) BX. Guests on the project include Q-Tip, Dave (from) De La Soul, Mike Gee (of) Jungle Brothers (fame), AZ, Rhymefest, Tough Junkie. Maybe a surprise as well.
Because it's carrying
the Black Sheep moniker, does that mean Mista Lawnge was/is also involved
in the creation of this CD?
Just grew apart...Life.
Well, both of my parents
sung lead in bands at different points in their lives. Music has always had
my heart. I recall being 'bout 9 or 10 years old (and) having memorized every
word of Stevie Wonder's SONGS IN THE KEY OF LIFE, even the Spanish and Swahili!
I've been part of marching bands, jazz ensembles, choirs, won talent shows
*Dres laughs* Engineering class, emcee/deejay crews -- Music for life! My
mother still wants me to sing! *More laughter ensues*
Lawnge and I met in Carolina
my senior year of high school. We had a mutual friend who would have been
the third member who had turntables, mics, and recording equipment in his
room. We'd meet there everyday to cut and rhyme. We all got down. Lawnge,
who was younger, graduated a few years later. We bumped heads on the streets
of N.Y.C.. He had been in cahoots with (Kool DJ) Red Alert since we had parted.
I had an apartment in the BX, and he needed a spot. So, he moved in. He introduced
me to Red and the Natives in turn. It was the beginning of a luvlee situation.
After locking in with the Natives, it was obvious, at a glance, we were a
little different. Hence, "Black Sheep" were born.
Michael Jackson was, and
will forever be, an influence. His early Jackson 5 records introduced me to
harmonies, melodies, and song structure. He was grown before he was grown.
And, having the understanding of what the music biz is today, (I) understand
some of what he went through and the unfortunate situation that extreme successes
can afford you. In his latter years, I always felt "a way" about
his appearance and demeanor...Realizing now that I, like many others, passed
a judgement that maybe should have been kept to myself. Sometime hindsight
is 20/20. I wish I had identified "help" instead of "odd"
-- He will be missed and forever loved.