Redman's "Whut? Thee Album" Turns 31

Redman has conquered multiple creative career paths, but his debut album, “Whut? Thee Album,” is proof of his superiority as an MC.

BYDemi Phillips
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Although Redman has many talents, let’s get one thing straight- he’s untouchable as a rapper. It’s no surprise why he’s widely regarded as one of the classic MCs of the ‘90s. Contributing to his legacy is his debut album, Whut? Thee Album, a seminal work in the realm of East Coast Hip Hop. Its impact has been immense since its release, and Redman has received unending praise for creating a timeless, trippy body of work. 

Even though Redman still sounds as fresh as he did in 1992, Whut? Thee Album is now, remarkably, 31 years old. Throughout his impressive catalog, it has remained one of the MC’s best musical projects. Indeed, Redman is a versatile industry vet, but his rap skills stand far above his other talents. With Whut?, Redman began a stellar musical run.  

The Rise Of Redman & The Birth Of Whut? 

Before releasing his debut album, Redman was already making waves in the Hip Hop scene. This was particularly due to his association with the Hip Hop duo EPMD. Specifically, Erick Sermon, one-half of EPMD, took Redman under his wing and mentored him. Moreover, Sermon recognized Redman’s exceptional talent and unique style, and their partnership birthed greatness.

Redman officially debuted with his appearance on the EPMD tracks “Hardcore” and “Brothers on My Jock.” These tracks were off the duo’s third album, Business as Usual. Two years later, a 22-year-old Redman dropped his debut album, Whut? Thee Album. The project was released on September 22, 1992, and was recorded between 1991 and 1992. 

Redman & Erick Sermon Make Magic 

The album was entirely produced by Erick Sermon and Redman. However, it featured additional co-production from Pete Rock and Parrish Smith on two tracks. Pete Rock has production credits on “How to Roll a Blunt,” while Parrish Smith has credits on “Hardcore” as a member of EPMD. Notably, Sermon’s production style, characterized by samples and hard-hitting beats, laid the foundation for Redman’s flows and lyrical prowess. The synergy between Redman and Sermon’s beats became a defining feature of the album.

Meanwhile, Redman also exuded great confidence and self-assuredness throughout the project. His lyrics are filled with bravado, reflecting his belief in his abilities as a rapper. Furthermore, his pen was marked by playful and humorous wit that added an element of fun to the album. Whut? Thee Album also showcased Redman's ability to incorporate social commentary into his lyrics. For example, tracks like “So Ruff,” “Tonight’s Da Night,” and “Rated R” explored darker themes like crime and violence.

A Masterclass In Solo Strength 

Redman is left to his own devices for most of this record. There are only three featured acts on the 21-track album. “So Ruff” features scratches by the iconic DJ Scratch, while Sermon and Charlie Marotta appear on “Watch Yo Nuggets.” The three singles released from the album were “Blow Your Mind,” “Time 4 Sum Aksion,” and “Tonight’s Da Night.” The only single to appear on the charts, however, was “Time 4 Sum Aksion,” which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart. 

Shaping A Legacy

Upon its release, Whut? Thee Album was a critical triumph for the New Jersey rapper. Additionally, retrospective reviews have been even more favorable. Consequently, it is often cited as one of the best Hip Hop albums of the ‘90s. The project's energy, clever wordplay, and infectious beats resonated with listeners, catapulting Redman to fame. 

Whut? Thee Album reinforced Redman as a force to be reckoned with in the '90s. He set a new standard for authenticity and creativity in rap music. Additionally, the psychedelic elements present in the project proved to be highly influential creative decisions. Overall, 31 years down the line, Whut? remains a classic in the Hip Hop canon, and Redman has gone down in rap history.

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