Sunday, January 25, 2015

CooLiO`s "iT TaKeS A THieF [HeRBaN DeLuXe VeRSioN]"...





I hope y`all have been having a good start to the new year so far! Mine has been alright, I won`t complain. Anyway, I have another album to share with ya that I decided to give the ol` HeRBaN DeLuXe treatment to. I actually had this album put together before the end of 2014 & forgot about it because I had misplaced it in a different folder on my PC. Well I just so happened to stumble across it a few days ago & figured that it was about time to share it with y`all. So without any more waiting let`s get down to it shall we? So the album in question is Coolio`s 1994 debut titled "It Takes A Thief" which was released by Tommy Boy Records. Folks may clown him now~a~days because of his TV appearances & well that lil` video he did with PornHub didn`t help his case either, but early on in his career his music was pretty DaMn good -- at least his first 3 albums anyway (this is of course my opinion)...





Now if for some reason you never took the 'Fantastic Voyage' with Mr. 'Gangsta`s Paradise' & have no clue about who Coolio is I guess after I laugh a lil` at that corny pun I could school ya real quick. Ha~hah, anyway Coolio reps Compton, California & first stepped on the scene in 1987 on a Electro style Hip Hop track titled "You`re Gonna Miss Me" by Nu-Skool (which consisted of Coolio & Spoony I believe, if I`m wrong please correct me!). Very few liked this love song overall & it was a flop sales~wise so Nu-Skool recorded another track titled "(I Wanna Know) What Makes You Dance" & released it the following year in 1988. This joint was more on the Bass Music vibe but still has some Electro elements to it. Again it wasn`t anything super spectacular although it was better than their first outing that`s for sure. Then in 1991 he linked up with WC & his group The Maad Circle & landed a feature on their hit single "Dress Code"...






Later in that same year, now a member of The Maad Circle, they released their debut album titled "Ain`t A Damn Thang Changed". Coolio was featured on 5 of the album`s tracks; "Back To The Underground", "Behind Closed Doors", "Get Up On That Funk", "You Don`t Work, U Don`t Eat" & the album`s title track "Ain`t A Damn Thang Changed". Then in 1994 Coolio signs a contract with Tommy Boy Records & they release his debut album titled "It Takes A Thief". The album does well, becomes certified Platinum reaching the #8 spot on the Billboard 200 with the help of it`s lead single "Fantastic Voyage". "County Line" & "I Remember", the albums other singles were also minor hits as well. The following year, 1995, Coolio released his best selling album to date "Gangsta`s Paradise", but I`m not going to get into all of the because I want to focus on his debut so I`ll save that for another post...


With this HeRBaN DeLuXe VeRSioN I mainly just boosted the volume up on a few tracks & added some joints from a few of Coolio`s singles. There`s not really any rare B-sides that he released during that period of time around "It Takes A Thief" so that`s why I just added the 2 remixes of "Fantastic Voyage". Sure wish that there was an uncensored version of that Funk Flex Remix, the Dave Bellochio Mix is decent though. I added the Radio Versions of "County Line" & "Sticky Fingers" because they have alternate lyrics instead of just being censored annoyingly with beeps. The Original Version of "I Remember" is pretty similar to the album version, but there is a slight difference in the beat & honestly I think that they should have just used the Original Version for the album instead because it does sound better. Now let`s get into my thoughts on the album...





The album opens up with it`s lead single "Fantastic Voyage", Coolio puts his twist on the Lakeside`s `80's hit with the same title. It`s a nice funky & danceable joint produced by Dobbs The Wino with Stan "The Guitar Man" Jones rockin` the guitar on the track while G.A.T. a.k.a. Gangstas & Thugs (Snappz, Blue, Drew Baby & Tycco) a singing quartet from Compton, California sings on the hook. It opens the album up on a light~hearted funky party vibe & of course it`s the track that most folks remember the album for because it received a lot of radio & music video play during the time of it`s release. "County Line" follows with it`s funky vibes provided again by Dobbs The Wino. On this joint Coolio kicks the somewhat humorous tale about his experiences while waiting in the County Line trying to get a check. "Mama, I`m In Love With A Gangsta" features female emcee LeShaun, that`s right before she was 'Doin` It' with Mr. Smith she was rappin` love songs about her locked up gangsta boyfriend with Coolio. The two trade verses back & forth; Coolio rappin` from the perspective of the locked down gangsta while LeShaun plays the role of the down~ass girlfriend on the outside waiting for her man. It`s a decent song as far as love songs with a gangsta twist go, Dobbs The Wino`s beat also helps make this joint a lot more enjoyable with it`s laid~back funky vibe...







"Hand On My Nutsac" is basically a joint for Coolio to flex some braggadocio style lyrics over another Dobbs The Wino beat, it`s alright but nothing that`ll blow your mind. The Reggae influenced "Ghetto Cartoon" follows, it features Junior P. on the hook & is produced by Rashad Coles. Coolio kicks a ghetto tale using famous cartoon characters in the story, similar to Spice 1`s "187 Proof" except without the drug & liquor references. I find it to be entertaining & it gives Coolio a chance to flex some of his storytelling skills. "Smokin` Stix" is produced by Billy Boy & it has Coolio detailing his experience smokin` Stix (Sherm` mixed with embalming fluid & a cigarette). Although I can`t relate to the experience myself I can`t deny that the beat will have your head bobbin` & maybe it`ll even get ya up dancing. Dobbs The Wino handles the production for the somewhat depressing but Jazzy vibes of "Can-O-Corn", a joint that has Coolio speaking on the struggles of growin` up on the poor side of the tracks. Coolio keeps The Maad Circle vibe alive by featuring WC on the Crazy Toones produced "U Know Hoo!", it`s a decent rugged track...


The album`s title track "It Takes A Thief" follows The Maad Circle reunion, CS Coleman provides a great backdrop for Coolio to flex his tales of thievery. This joint is one of my favorites on the album, the storytelling is done well & definitely captures the vibes of thieving. Coolio`s Nu-Skool homie Spoon a.k.a. Spoony even shows up on the track providing background vocals. Dobbs The Wino hits the boards again to provide the beat for the decent sounds of the 'don`t forget where you`ve come from anthem' "Bring Back Something Fo` Da Hood" while Stan "The Guitar Man" Jones handles the Bass G-tar action. Coolio decides to delve into the dark days of his past as a Crack~head with the Dobbs The Wino produced "`N Da Closet" which features G.A.T. providing some of the background vocals. Clinton Sands plays the Bass while Coolio utilizes his lyrics to capture & express the experience that only one that was truly on the pipe could describe. "On My Way To Harlem" is a Jazzy~vibed joint that has Coolio taking a trip out to the East Coast detailing his experiences. It`s a decent joint, I really dig the beat so I don`t mind that the song doesn`t have a hook...


Much to the disappointment of any Onyx fans "Sticky Fingers" isn`t an ode or tribute to Mr. Black Trash, but rather the tales of Coolio`s career as a thief before he was a rapper. It`s a humorous track with a simplistic beat, but overall it`s not too bad. PS of 40 Thevz fame & Billy Boy are featured on "Thought You Knew" another braggadocio joint. All three deliver decent G`d up verses over the bangin` instrumental provided by Dobbs The Wino. The album`s humor continues with "Ugly Bitches" a cautionary tale warning the fellas about the iLLs of linkin` up with women from the ugly side of the tracks. To this day it still makes me laugh whenever I give it a listen, maybe it`s because I used to bump whenever I was chillin` with my homie Forbes because he was always braggin` about the chicks he was baggin` when most of them came from the side to the tracks I was just referring to in the previous sentence....LoL, "I Remember" closes out the album & features Billy Boy & J-Ro from the Alkaholiks. It`s a nice way to finish off things, each emcee spits verses reminiscing about their childhood over a good & funky beat while it`s hook is sung well by some uncredited artist...





Now on to the bonus treats that I have added to the album, first off is the Funkmaster Flex Remix of "Fantastic Voyage". The only thing that I don`t really like about it is that it`s a censored version, I seriously searched & searched for an uncensored one but came up short unfortunately. The horn~infused beat makes for a good backing to Coolio`s flow. The David Bellochio Mix of "Fantastic Voyage" is definitely one of the better remixes out there & yes this one`s the Street Version, the change~ups in the beat help to keep things interesting. As I previously mentioned towards the beginning of this write up the Radio Versions of "County Line" & "Sticky Fingers" were added because they contained alternate lyrics instead of just being censored with annoying beeps or muted silences, so they`re definitely worth a listen. I always respect the artists more when they choose to rewrite their lyrics for the Radio Versions because it just shows that they really want to keep the listeners listening. The last & final song that I added was the Original Version of "I Remember", overall it`s pretty much the same as the version that appears on the original album. The only things that I noticed was that the beat is slightly different, you really need to listen to both tracks side by side to hear it though. The other thing is that the Original is a few seconds longer than the version that`s on the album. Regardless of these small differences though I still prefer the Original Version over the one off the album & feel that they should have just used it instead...


So overall I really think that "It Takes A Thief" is Coolio`s best album, sure "Gangsta`s Paradise" & "My Soul" are decent but I feel that his debut didn`t really feature any forced commercial joints. True there`s "Fantastic Voyage" & even "I Remember", but honestly they come off as natural sounding songs to me whereas on his later albums is seems as though he went out of his way to ensure that he did the commercialized songs. His debut album is more honest with it`s gangsta sounds & the added humor within Coolio`s lyrics help keep the album from trying to come off as being too hard. At a time when everyone was trying to show/ front about how hardcore they were Coolio wasn`t afraid to kick rhymes that showed that he was just an average kat from the `hood even if it meant talking about a past drug habit that he had overcome. Truthfully whenever I give it a listen I don`t skip over any songs because as a whole I really dig it. The production definitely helps keep the album interesting. Dobbs The Wino did a great job with the majority of the album`s beats since he handled the bulk of it, but even the ones that he didn`t produce are good. So in a nutshell I honestly think that "It Takes A Thief" is a well executed album. I`m sure that there`s some folks out there that will disagree with my me & that`s fine. Either way I think you should give this a listen & come up with your own opinion, so check it out...


Coolio - It Takes A Thief [HeRBaN DeLuXe VeRSioN]
Label: Tommy Boy Records/ BuDD@H BLe$$eD EnT.
Released: 2015 (Originally Released In 1994)



1. Fantastic Voyage [Timber Mix] {ft. G.A.T.}
2. County Line
3. Mama I`m In Love With A Gangsta {ft. LeShaun}
4. Hand On My Nutsac
5. Ghetto Cartoon (Includes Cleo`s Mood) {ft. Junior P.}
6. Smokin` Stix {ft. The Homies}
7. Can-O-Corn {ft. The Homies}
8. U Know Hoo! {ft. WC}
9. It Takes A Thief {ft. Spoon}
10. Bring Back Something Fo` Da Hood {ft. The Homies}
11. `N Da Closet {ft. G.A.T.}
12. On My Way To Harlem
13. Sticky Fingers
14. Thought You Knew {ft. Billy Boy & PS}
15. Ugly Bitches {ft. The Homies}
16. I Remember {ft. Billy Boy & J-Ro}
17. Fantastic Voyage [Funk Master Flex Rmx (Clean Radio Edit)]
18. Fantastic Voyage [Dave Bellochio Street Mix]
19. County Line [Radio Version]
20. Sticky Fingers [Radio Version]
21. I Remember [Original Version] {ft. Billy Boy & J-Ro}





















N`JoY...

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