A Season of Songs, Day 91: Flavor of the Month

A Season of Songs is a type of Fun-A-Day project that I plan to do throughout this spring.  I’ll hit shuffle on the ol’ iPod and see what comes up.  I’ll then write a bit about that song, the band, the record, whatever.  Enjoy!

Today’s song is “Flavor of the Month” by Black Sheep, taken from their 1991 album “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”.

Now I catch a number when before I caught a glare
Now I give a pound when before I gave a stare
Now I guess I kinda got it going on
I get a wake-up call on the norm
I used to try and push a demo now I have a Coupe
That’s a bit more than a little, but then not quite a few
Funny how they find you when they told you get lost
Tell me why you’re gritting when you have no dental floss

Black Sheep are best known for their second single from this album “The Choice Is Yours”, a hip-hop classic that now has the indignity of having been used in JC Penney commercials; nonetheless still a great song.  Black Sheep were members of the Native Tongue family (De La Soul, Tribe Called Quest, Jungle Brothers) and on the opening track of the record they described themselves as “the black sheep…the lowlifes of the family tree…the doo-doo eating, vomit tasting, pee drinking, jelly doughnut making, hoe slapping, kitty cat licking, cesspool swimming, pre-marital sex having, you know the whole nine….”

They aren’t all that bad but they certainly tended to put forth a bit more of an irreverent and kinda dirtball persona.  The album as a whole has a more misogynistic feel than your other Native Tongue records with a bit more “hoes” and “bitches” dropped throughout.  Members Dres and Mr. Lawnge go about this in a very self-aware and tongue in cheek way and do give space to playfully acknowledge it with the track “L.A.S.M.” — a skit track of a fake talk show, “Ladies Against Sexist Motherfuckers” where the hosts call out the members of Black Sheep:  “Look I’ve had enough of your egotistical, chauvinistic, pimp daddy, immature, couldn’t get a real woman even if you want to attitude.”  It would be tough to say this makes up for the rest of the album’s (or even this track’s) transgressions, but I always thought it was interesting that they included it.

“Flavor of the Month” was the first single of the album and highlights another one of the dominant themes of the album, which is how they used to get disrespected and/or ignored before they had this record deal.  But now they have a record deal and now everyone wants a piece of them and life is fine.  Once again there is a sense of self-awareness that this attention is potentially fleeting – hence the title of the song – the Sheep are this month’s Flavor of the Month.

If you are able to hold the casual sexism of Black Sheep at arm’s length, this is a really fun album.  Like we talked about with Dr Dre, many parts of this album could fall under the category of “creatively offensive”.  Musically, at its finest moments (“U Mean I’m Not”, “The Choice Is Yours”, “Gimme The Finga”, “Pass The 40”), the Black Sheep are as good as Tribe and De La Soul.  Of course they didn’t have the staying power that those other groups had.  Instead of multiple excellent albums, they put out one really good one.  Not one of my top 10 hip-hop records, but worth having a copy laying around.

The choice is yours…

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