Hopped up on funk, skunkweed, horror movies and the urban siege, Newark, New Jersey’s Reggie Noble became Redman and — under the production wing of rap’s very own King Midas, Erick Sermon — made his full-length premiere in ’92 with Whut? Thee Album, a darkly weird old-school adventure that steps off reality into a bizarre fantasy world. “Snapped the neck on Michael Myers then I freaked it/Cause it was August and he was talkin’ this trick-or-treat shit,” Redman brags in the comically belligerent “Rated ‘R’,” which also contains the admission, “I beat up the devil with a shovel so he dropped me a level.” Rolled as thick and pungent as a major spliff (detailed free-verse instructions for which are provided in “How to Roll a Blunt”), Whut? buzzes from subject to subject — sex, drugs, violence, daydreams, bragging, superheroes, hell, insanity, money — like a remote control with a fused switch. The tracks and skits are entertaining on their own, but the bustling, soulful album gains eccentric momentum as it rolls along.
Picking up where the first album left off — literally, with a slight return of the Whut?-ending “Encore” — the red-cased Dare Iz a Darkside is so hoochified that it’s a wonder Noble could find the mic between puffs. “A Million and 1 Buddah Spots” details the geographical extent of his sedative obsessions; “Green Island” blames his sinus problems on the same hobby. Far-off bass throbs in through a cloud of incidental sound that occasionally uses altered voices (as in “Dr. Trevis” and “Rockafella”); except when a snare drum snaps to attention, there’s no focus to the music. And that’s precisely the fuzzy point. But while Redman’s delivery amazingly remains unimpaired, the album’s vagueness pollutes his rhymes (“Cosmic Slop” is a disappointingly descriptive title), which display less of the debut’s zany invention and contribute to Darkside’s debilitating fatigue factor.