If the mid to late 1980s of hip-hop can be best described as the age of the shell-top Adidas sneaker, then the late ‘90s to the present is the throwback jersey period for rap. From Chamberlain to Unitas, no past sporting legend was left untouched in the Mitchell & Ness craze. But with the resurgence of emcees like Ed O.G., the jerseys are not the only throwbacks still surviving in hip-hop today.
Following in the footsteps of fellow collaborator Masta Ace (Ed recently appeared on Ace’s “Long Hot Summer” LP) comes Ed O.G., a Boston native (who, until this past October, at least) took the role of his hometown Red Sox by naming his album, “My Own Worst Enemy.” And the previously skipped-over Bostonian makes good on his promise, as he not only outshines his past work but also almost makes you forget that “Worst Enemy” is an album produced with the help of Soul Brother #1 Pete Rock.
From the righteously representing hometown anthem, “Boston,” where Edo proclaims, “I’m mad lethal, never had equal, ‘Cause Boston’s a good place to meet bad people,” to the more toned-down and serious “Voices,” Edo and Pete Rock demonstrate a one-two punch with more hits than a Manny Ramirez-David Ortiz home run contest.
The hopeful “Wishing” finds Edo paired again with hip-hop veteran Masta Ace, as the two discuss their wishes for a better world. Do not think of world peace or curing cancer as their wishes though, as Edo proves, spitting, “I wish the world wouldn’t give us funny looks, think we all just dummies and crooks, athletes, and entertainers singing hooks.” After Ace did him one better on “Long Hot Summer,” Edo returns the favor by one-upping the Masta and hitting line-after-line about everything from religion to race to health care in two tight verses.
Even when Rock leaves the boards for a moment, Edo continues on his lyrical path of destruction tearing over the simplistic production of Diamond D on “Streets is Callin. (“I spit the factual, Planned out tactical to capture you, No preservatives, additives, All-natural, I’m too practical, making hits, don’t tackle you, Ball in two eras like Shaq or Bob McAdoo.”)
Tracks like “School ‘em” and the preachy “Revolution” only serve to round out an album that may see its only flaw lie in the fact that it stretches just 10 tracks deep and 40 minutes long (with 7 of those cuts being Pete Rock productions). Unlike other albums that drag their feet for endless stretches of vinyl, “Worst Enemy” may in fact be its own worst enemy (in length, that is).
So soon hip-hoppers forget the thick laces and hard outers of the shell-top Adidas sneakers. So soon they will also forget the importance of an O.J. Simpson jersey from several decades ago. But one thing remains for certain. Ed O.G. and Pete Rock on a disc together? That is one throwback that, unlike its $300 counterparts, is well worth its wait.