Edo G f/ Pete Rock

My Own Worst Enemy

(Fat Beats; 2004)

By Aaron Newell | 19 January 2005

“Edo G?” But who’s that?

In an obvious attempt to artistically distance himself from his back-catalogue of basic Boston boom-bap, Roxbury hip hop pioneer (and one of the few NY foreigners to actually get local-caliber props from inside the impenetrable fortress of NYC hip hop) has assumed a new personality. The artist formerly known as Ed OG has done a 180 not unlike the drastic change of approach that occurred when Fat Joe dropped “Da Gangsta” from his passport; or when Snoop Dogg extricated his middle name (“Doggy”) from his performing alias. Ed OG will now only answer to the bizarre, out-of-nowhere nom de plume: “Edo G.” And as you might expect, the new music resembles his past work about as much as this new name does the old.

Back when we still recognized him, Edo G recorded with his Da Bulldogs crew and debuted with the 1991 classic Life of a Kid in the Ghetto which included, amongst such canonized staples as “Bug-a-boo” and “Be A Father to Your Child”, the Aceyalone-updated “I Got To Have It” one of the few hip hop songs to ever be covered (“Ladi Dadi” and “Rappers Delight” being the other notables, putting Ed and Edo in some pretty good company). "I Got To Have It" is, bar none, one of the penultimate best-of-the-golden-era recordings, flaunting positive, pro-unity (if somewhat homophobic) lyrics and one of the most killer key loop / jingle-break combos ever to be committed to analog. It also contains one of the most charmingly memorable, simply-put waxings on mortality ever to be found in a semi-thugged-out, mini-political rap song: “You can buy some new Adidas but you can’t buy my life back / Hey yo what’s up with that? / Why is it like that?” “I Got To Have It” is simple hip hop magic along the lines of Special Ed’s “I Got It Made” and K-Solo’s “Fugitive," and, much like those two songs, has never been topped by the respective artist. In fact, with the exception of 2000’s fantastic Primo-produced banger “Sayin Somethin,” “I Got To Have It” renders much of E’s subsequent work quite sterile by comparison.

But that’s just this writer’s opinion, and fourteen years is a long, successful career for someone who’s never topped his first single. While Edo has been largely unremarkable in his more recent output, he has been consistent in maintaining a gameface that never wanes: much like the very-missed Big L, Edo G can be counted on to swagger into the studio, confidently drop his verse with birth-control timing, purge some entertaining semiliterate nonsense, two or three great punchlines, and one instance of thug-shit eternal truth. He’s the best kind of B+ mc in the game, and would have made a welcome addition to any D&D posse track back when Primo, DITC, and BCC basically took over that studio. If you loved old OC, and still remember the Fat Joe from “Flow Joe” and “Bronx Tale” (before he turned all of his creative energies to grammatically-idiotic acronyms), I can highly recommend this record, My Own Worst Enemy, as a welcome shot of nostalgia. If you thought Ashanti discovered Fat Joe, think Boston hip hop begins with Mr. Lif and Esoterrible, and just heard about Life of a Kid in the Ghetto for the first time, you should go pick that up before Enemy, as this record, while solid, falls too readily into a formula that’s tough to love unless you grew up on it.

How: “Boston” is a grimey (not UK grimey, which is sweaty ballet slipper grimey, grimey as in the smell of Das EFX’s boots grimey) blatant DJ Premier rip off with its pitched-and-played keyboard bassline, go-nowhere chopped drum hits and darkfunk string cutups. Edo basically tells you everything I just did: “I’m a throwback from the ‘90s / Whose return is timely / For hip hop consciousness that’s grimey” and reliably punches in with his mandatory on-point oneliner: “I know you’re wack, don’t put out records to remind me." After the first track it’s safe to make some conclusions: the drum hits will stay hip-hop-by-numbers for the duration of the album, the samples will be the best case scenario for what Pete Rock hasn’t yet pulled from his crates, and Edo’s style will be largely okay wordplay and AABBCC rhymes. And you’ll probably dig most of it, not just despite the fact that it sounds dated, but for that very reason. Edo’s a little harder than he was in ’91, but he’s no less likable.

Where things amount to a whole lot more than the sum of their parts: “School’em’s” beat features a nimble break, a positive chopped melody progression and a too-brief saxophone at the end of the hook (gone are the days when Pete Rock was known as the having the best hip hop horns in the world, the type you could build a whole beat around) to amount to a dj-friendly mixtape maker. “Right Now” chops what sounds like it could be an old Barry White sample, has remarkably stoic drum hits, but somehow retains that magic element that presents when beat pastiche comes together perfectly, right down to the Soul Brother’s trademarked (he did it way before Puffy) adlibbing over the chorus (“uh, that’s right”). Album closer “Revolution” is similarly special, as Edo’s crusty positivity shines through: “It’s like the blind leading the blind / Can’t write without alcohol and weed in your mind.”

You don’t go to Edo G when you’re looking for someone to out-style Busdriver or Mikah 9 (Edo G’s never heard of Busdriver or Mikah 9).You go to Edo when you realize that the last four “hip hop” albums you’ve purchased feature (in order) middle-aged preppies talking like old men, no vocals, singsongy tribal cult-sounding word associators, and slam poets convinced that no one who’s not them is worth their conversation. My Own Worst Enemy attempts to put the ground back together, and balances out hip hop’s bazaar of bizarre by retaining some of the same feel that was circulating back in 1991. It’s unfortunate that Enemy is so content to reretread the same styles and ground to that extent, but then again there’s always a little guilty nostalgia found in saying, “Ain’t shit changed but the name.”