Author Topic: Hammer - The Funky Headhunter  (Read 743 times)

Lord Funk

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Hammer - The Funky Headhunter
« on: January 04, 2003, 08:49:32 AM »
The year was 1994. Dre and Snoop were at the forefront of a West Coast revolution, while on the opposite coast albums like Illmatic and Ready To Die were raising the profile of New York once more. Meanwhile, Hammer, the man who just a few years before had sold millions with his own brand of watered down pop rap, was sitting at home damn near bankrupt.

The Funky Headhunter was the Hammer’s chance to reassert himself in the new hip-hop climate. Gathering up his own Whole 9 posse, as well as associates from Daz and Kurupt to Teddy Riley, and throwing in a few Roger Troutman samples for good measure, he set out to prove his Oakland credentials made him just as much of a west coast rider as the next man.

But could he do it?

1.Intro – A slow, rolling beat and bassline kick off the album, as Hammer’s homie Ben Ross lets us know the man is back. Then, as the strings and synths kick in, Hammer himself appears – “I’m back to reclaim the fame, the funk, and the true mackin’” he says. Whatever, but after two minutes of the pair just talking, you wish they’d get the fuck on with the rest of the album.

2.Oaktown – Hammer’s beat is a dope mix of his own up-tempo style and the classic Bay Area sound; deep, synthesised bass, handclap percussion and a high-pitched G-funk whistle replayed from Prince’s Get It Up. Hammer spends the track shouting out various Oakland hoods and homies. A good first track, and introduces the album’s main theme of hammer proving his OG credentials. 3.5 / 5

3.It’s All Good – The first single, and a return to the old school Hammer sound. The beat is fast without sounding aimed at the clubs, and classic hip-hop samples from Brick’s Dusic and Malcolm McLaren’s Buffalo Girls are cut up throughout. Hammer makes several tongue-in-cheek references to his old hits (“You tricks be talking that mess but I’m calling your bluff trick / I thought you knew, and boy you still can’t touch this” and “If you ever come my way, line I used to say / Homeboy you better pray just to make it today”) and even slips in a couple of disses to Black Sheep and Redman. 4/4

4.Somethin’ For The O.G.s – A wicked beat, produced by Grand Jury and Teddy Riley. Think of the phat beats on the first side of Blackstreet’s first album and you’ve got it – G-funk whistles, talk-box in the hook and a funky sample from Dance Floor by Roger Troutman. Hammer’s flow is amazing, with a lot of tongue-twisting but always staying on beat. He basically spits about growing up in Oakland and selling tapes out of his trunk – “People used to swear up and down that rap would soon play out / Now they’re walking with a frown / Cuz till this day its still around / Lasting year after year / Now when it began Mama said it was a hobby but it could never be a career.” Dope. 5/5

5.Don’t Stop – One of the more blatant commercial attempts on the album, with Teddy Riley behind the board and Wrecks-N-Effects writing the rhymes, which are a lot worse than the ones Hammer writes for himself on the rest of the album. The beat is OK but gets a little tired – the saving factor is the hook, which borrows Tom Browne’s Funkin’ Fo’ Jamaica; “That old G-funk is what it is / Hammer bringing it to you.” 3/5

6.Pumps And A Bump – Oh my gosh – wack, wack, wack. One for dancefloor, but the beat is horrendous – someone needed to tell Hammer that you don’t take a two-bar whistle and then loop it throughout the entire track, you need to bring it in and out of the mix. After the first verse I’m skipping this one. 1/5

7.One Mo’ Time – A tight, summertime beat, perfect for a hot day when you’re just relaxing – crisp drums, G-funk bass and some smooth keyboards and chimes. Hammer makes the rhymes out of all his old song titles – “You see I’m too legit to ever quit / I started gaining momentum when they put me in the mix.” The break in the middle with a synth solo is crazy too, and the chanted chorus (“One mo time / Hey! I gotta get mine, get mine”) is nice. 5/5

8.Clap Yo’ Hands – Another come up song about Hammer’s early days in the O. The beat is classic Bay Area, with funky rhythm guitar and smooth pianos. Hammer addresses some of what he sees as misconceptions about his career in a nice second verse – “Now check it out, how can it be / Seven years work and fools still try to dis me / They label me the bad guy / Straight flipped on the Hammer and all I could do is ask why? / … I used to say I’d never go out / But a couple of white people bought my record so black people said I’d sold out.” 5/5

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Lord Funk

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Re:Hammer - The Funky Headhunter
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2003, 08:51:10 AM »
9.Break Em Off Somethin’ Propa – Here it is – Hammer’s answer to the multitude of rappers who ever dissed him, and he isn’t afraid to name names. Over a beat based on the same sample as A Tribe Called Quest’s Check The Rhime, A Tribe Called Quest catch the majority of heat, and Hammer’s disses are actually pretty tight – “What ever it takes to make hits, you ain’t go it / Shoulda stayed in El Segundo with your wallet / …But I understand you’re about as manly as RuPaul / I’ll come on your block and move you out like a U-Haul.” But Q-Tip isn’t alone. By the track’s end Hammer’s called out Redman, Run DMC, Black Sheep, MC Serch and more. The close is like Hammer’s own scaled down Hit Em Up – “I’m sending this one out to all my women. All my girls that got to say Daddy Hammer’s name when they go in the studio. Dres, you’re a punk – I like the way you say Daddy Hammer’s name! Redman – you’re a punk. Trick, I LIKE the way you say Daddy’s name! I like it, I like it, I like it, I LIKE IT – YOU’RE A PUNK! Tricks, y’all gon’ learn about the Big O!” 4/5

10.Don’t Fight The Feelin’ – Class. This is straight mack material. The beat is vintage player shit, with rolling bass guitar and soulful harmonies by DRS (remember Gangsta Lean?). Hammer’s just doing some old parking lot pimpin’, rapping slow over the beat. The only criticism is that it’s only two verses – would have been nice to have a bit more, or even just to have let the beat ride out, Too Short style, at the end. Still, very dope. 5/5

11.Goldie In Me – Another very smooth track, as Hammer talks about the history of mackin’ in the Bay and how he’ll do whatever to make cash. The beat is fresh and Hammer’s delivery is very nice. Still, there’s something missing; maybe a stronger hook or even a guest vocal. A nice follow up to the previous track though. 3/5

12.Sleepin’ On A Masterplan (feat. Tha Dogg Pound) - Daz’s beat is one of his classic, eerie productions, in the same style as Dogg Pound Gangstaz from Dogg Food. You can tell Kurupt helped with the lyrics and flow, but Hammer certainly holds his own. Daz and Kurupt add some ad-libs and spit the odd line here and there, and overall the track is dope – it’s a shame that not many people even know of it as an early DPG production – appearance. 5/5

13.It’s All That – A nice summertime beat, but unfortunately this track just smacks of filler, with a weak hook and only the guitar in the bridge to really hold attention. There are a few other nice touches, such as the horns in the chorus, but it seems like a half finished idea. Next to the DPG collabo it has no merit at all. 2.5/5

14.The Funky Headhunter – The second dis track, and it’s much more energetic and aggressive than the first – “I’m looking for the punks talkin’ junk on their tracks / The ‘Hammer don’t hurt ‘em’ days are over – these are the days of the payback!” He names fewer names, but when he does the quips are nice – “Mash it, trash it, Serch couldn’t pass it / the trick’s last album didn’t even go plastic.” The beat is one of the more boring on the album, but the disses hold your attention, especially in the final verse –

“So sit up, get up, Dres will get lit up, check it / Hammer came with the unexpected / I wrecked it quick, I gets mad wicked / I didn’t ‘check the rhyme’ cuz Q-Tip couldn’t ‘kick it’ / And that punk Redman, I’ll hit ya with a bat son / Talk is cheap, it’s ‘time, time for some action’” 3.5/5

"I fornicate with porn stars, sluts and strippers.
 Well - only on the Internet but what's the difference?"

 - Mad Child from Swollen Members, 'Adrenaline'
 

Lord Funk

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Re:Hammer - The Funky Headhunter
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2003, 08:52:16 AM »
15.Pumps And A Bump (Bump Teddy Bump) – An instrumental reprise of the earlier track, but without the wack hook and some added talk-box instead. Better than the first version, but you have to ask what the fuck it’s on here for? 2/5

16.Help Lord (Won’t You Come) – A nice come-up song. The beat is cold and the hook is way too eerie, plus Hammer’s lyrics are nice – “I can’t call it but I know I got it started / Cuz my mama was broke and I was broken hearted / I can take tears and tears for years / But the tears of my mama, yo, they get me right here.” By the end of the narrative Hammer is shot while hustling and making his peace with God – nice end to the album before the bonus tracks. 3/5

17.Do It Like This (bonus) – Very similar to It’s All Good in feel, but with a funky whistle in the hook. Should have replaced another song on all formats really. 4/5

18.Heartbreaka (Is What They Call Me)  (bonus) – Wow. A smooth final track, with a catchy chorus sung by Sora Cactana and a funky beat. Again, this bonus CD track should be a regular track in place of the Pumps… reprise. 5/5

Overall: 3.5/5

It’s hard to take some of Hammer’s gangsta posturing here that seriously, and that detracts a little from the credibility of the album. But the majority of the beats bump, and if you try to forget some of the man’s past work and take the CD for what it is it’s pretty dope. If you can find it on sale or second hand it’s well worth picking up just for the Dogg Pound collabo – a good taste of what his Row debut could have sounded like.
"I fornicate with porn stars, sluts and strippers.
 Well - only on the Internet but what's the difference?"

 - Mad Child from Swollen Members, 'Adrenaline'
 

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Re:Hammer - The Funky Headhunter
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2003, 05:48:34 AM »
Thnx for the review homie, I most of underestimate this album, propz!  ;)
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