Classics Revisited: Lord Finesse & Mike Smooth – Funky Technician

Written by Aaron. Posted in Reviews, Spotlight

Published on December 20, 2011 with No Comments

These days, the word “classic” is thrown around as loosely as a Nerf ball at a picnic. However, we at TRU consider classics to be something which stand the test of time and have a resounding influence on their respective fields. But how do albums considered classics sound to the ears of TRU’s young blood? Aaron J. McKrell was born in 1990 and we’ve convinced him to turn his scope on a classic from the rich history of hip-hop to view it through a contemporary lens in a weekly series we call…

I’ll be honest. Before going over a list of classics to review with Rizoh and Jaap, I had never heard of “Funky Technician” by Lord Finesse and DJ Mike Smooth. However, I heeded the advice of the Blogfather and Joda (pronounced Yoda) and gave the album a listen. Unfortunately, what I heard was an album that was heavy on redundancy.

First things first: Lord Finesse can rhyme his ever-loving butt off. The man is at once smooth and hard like a stone fresh from a creek. There’s definitely an influence of Rakim on Finesse; this is evident from the Rakim samples on the album and also from Finesse’s multi-syllabic rhymes. Finesse is also the master of the one-liner: “rhymes more fresher than a virgin in a refrigerator,” he rhymes on “Bad Mutha.” The song is served well by the same sample that can be found on NaS’ “Get Down” from “God’s Son.” Elsewhere, the production from the likes of DJ Premier and future-D.I.T.C. members Diamond D and
Showbiz is sample-heavy and extra funky. Even though DJ Mike Smooth is credited with Finesse for the album, he shows up producing on just one track, the decent-sounding “Slave to My Soundware.”

If all this is good, why then, is this album just mediocre to my ears? Let me reiterate, no Lord Finesse. The problem with this album lies in Finesse’s lyrical beat-down to a dead horse. Nearly every track is about how smooth and dope he is, and though he is good at saying it, there’s only so many ways it can be freshly done. Because of this, the album begins to tire around track six, with the songs becoming largely indistinguishable to one another. A.G. aka Andre the Giant shows up on a few tracks to liven up the show, but his presence only does so much. Songs like “Keep it Flowing” and “Just a Little Something” seem like they would have more impact if they were switched with some of the earlier tracks on the album. In contrast, songs such as “Baby, You Nasty” and “Funky Technician” would probably sound tired if they were placed near the end of the album.

To Finesse’s credit, he adds “Lessons to be Taught” to the album, a song that is deep and manages to feel authentic. However, the song by itself sounds disconnected and out of place with the rest of the album. This isn’t the only time Finesse throws a curve; “Strictly For the Ladies” is dope until he abruptly changes his target audience from women to men, and goes from playful to preachy, urging men to have safe sex. The song left me scratching my head.

At 13 tracks, I felt some of the songs could have been cut off and replaced with some of a different variety. While this album is funky, it also leaves variety to be desired.

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Aaron, by day, is a broke-college student and a journalism major with a deep passion for hip-hop culture and music. He hails from Erie, PA and loves all things Pittsburgh and the Sixers. By night, Aaron is the most-feared superhero prowling the streets, looking to apply justice wherever he sees fit. (Note: it is rumored that when Chuck Norris goes to bed at night, he checks his closet for Aaron)

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