Over the last few years my waning (now pretty much non-existent) interest in new Hip Hop has meant I've gone back and discovered a new found appreciation for artists who I'd previously enjoyed, but perhaps never delved to deep into their catalogues. I've already hit you off with a Sauce Money compilation, and on a similar tip is this Herb McGruff collection.
Signed by Heavy D to Uptown after the rest of his Children Of The Corn crew had found deals elsewhere, McGruff's debut album Destined To Be suffered from his label's attempts to jump on the Bad Boy bandwagon of the moment and have him dropping jiggy club efforts rather than the more thugged out Harlem-centric content that was his strong suit. Kind of understandable given that Uptown properly dropped the ball with Biggie (worst label decision ever in rap?) but history has shown us that the industry has a track record of signing acts with a big street buzz and then getting them to move away from the style that made them popular to chase radio play. In McGruff's case he got off to a good start with the Harlem Kids Get Biz promo 12", but the album had far too many lukewarm, middle of the road joints like Gruff Express and didn't really make much of an impression. What was interesting was the amount of collabs, features, and mixtape only/bootleg tracks that were circulating around the same time, and that's what makes up the bulk of this compilation.
I'm not sure if it was just bad timing, people stealing his ideas or vice versa but Herbert seems to have a issue in the jackin for beats department which probably hindered his progress somewhat. Creep is dope, but it's based around the same break Biggie used on Warning. Nasty with Foxy Brown uses the World Famous Supreme Team beat that's far too similar to the Firm Biz remix which dropped around the same time. Make It Hot has the same Eugene Wild sample recognisable from Foxy and Blackstreet's monster Get Me Home. I've included them all because 20+ years on it's not much of an issue but you can see how it may have been a problem at the time.
I haven't really ventured into his re-emergence with Dipset in the 2000s so its mostly mid-late 90s material, and although it's pretty heavy on collaborations and guest appearances it's a decent representation of the man's work. Pick of the bunch for me is Harlem World with Mase on the hook, which samples Strawberry Letter 23. There's also East And Police produced by Godfather Don off 2008's The Demo EP, a couple of the better tracks off the album in Reppin Uptown with The Lox and the aforementioned Harlem Kids Get Biz and some looseys like Bow Down with Mob Style and the mixtape only Hell Up In Harlem with Black Rob, Cardan & Cam'ron.
East And Police
Harlem World ft Mase
Reppin Uptown ft The LOX
Harlem NYC - Beats 2 Blow remix with Bootsie & Big L
Uptown Connection ft Mase & Big L
Harlem Kids Get Biz
Hell Up In Harlem with Black Rob, Cam'ron & Cardan
Pure Uncut Raw with Eightball, Canibus & DMX
Bow Down ft Mob Style & Meeno
Nasty ft Foxy Brown
Kay Slay freestyle
Obviously these were taken from a variety of sources - CD, vinyl, digital, some official, some less so. If you've got anything else that should've been included let me know.