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The Queens, New York rapper Grand Daddy I.U. made his debut when he released "Smooth Assassin" in 1990 as his debut album. Affiliated with Cold Chillin' Records and The Juice Crew, this project was one of many for him and came in addition to ghostwriting for the likes of Biz Markie and Roxanne Shanté when Big Daddy Kane wasn't partaking in that role - allowing him to build up quite a reputation for his lyrical abilities.
1. "U Is Smooth"
The album gets going well with a cut which reflects the sort of direction which will be taken by the artist through the release. Here he comes in through with a style that really sets him far apart from all others who were doing their thing around about this time as he shows us what he's about and the extremely laid-back way in which he rhymes (far cooler than even Snoop Doggy Dogg when he finally made his debut alongside Dr. Dre on "Deep Cover."
2. "Pick Up The Pace"
Working off a jagged break, this one has him showing that although he may be a cool cat and is all about coming with the nice and mellow material to contrast with what you get with all the fresh new jacks of around this time, he's still able to keep up with those and come out with the goods when operating and flowing with the same intensity of the likes of Rakim, Big Daddy Kane and Kool G Rap.
3. "Something New"
One of the album's singles, this one is much more well-known than the majority of what's found here. I felt that the feel of the thing lent itself well to such a form of release when you consider that the thing has a fairly decent commercial feel about it to draw in those who may not typically get down with this sort of underground Hip Hop material, but has an edge which forces you to liken it to what the likes of what Biz Markie were doing around this time.
4. "I Kick A*s"
This track has Grand Daddy I.U. going with a fresh cut where he jumps into the New Jack Swing sort of material, but in the harder end of things, as was being done by fellow Juice Crew members and numerous other contemporaries. He comes with a pretty rough approach to doing things this time around and although some may say it shows a lack of consistency, I thought that it reflected a desire to show how hard he can go when he does lose control.
5. "Mass Destruction"
It seemed that with this one things calmed right down as he goes for something with a nice and gentle Smooth Jazz backing. I felt that what you got here was a true representation of what he wanted to be known for. Although he didn't quite stick to it as well as he probably would have hoped, I thought that it was better that he gave listeners more to choose from than a pretty samey record.
6. "Gals Dem So Hot"
As the Jamaican patois in the title suggests, this one has him taking things down the Dancehall route for this track. I found that what he did here was pretty successful as many around this sort of time were doing this and if it was this, it would be a Love Rap (which simply doesn't suit what he's about). Unlike many others, he really pulls it off here and makes for something which adds to the variety of the album.
7. "Girls In The Mall"
This is a rather cold one from him and one which has him backed-up by some deep and dark beats, but he contrasts this massively with a decision to go for rhymes which have him speaking on how he treats the girls who he's with by taking them out to buy whatever they desire. I thought that it was a bit of a strange mix of things, however is something you get used to after a few rimes going through it.
8. "Kay Cee Is Nasty"
This one has some bouncy beats to it and I felt that it offered a challenge to listeners getting into his work, who must be able to effectively get in the swing with the way Kay Cee (his brother) takes things, and tries to manipulate styles which were already in popping well around the time. The rapper holds up well with the rhymes as ever and puts up another performance that few would be able to mess with.
9. "Nobody Move"
A James Brown-sampling piece, this one has a lot to it and the sort of thing which all are bound to be into if Cold Chillin' Records was to your taste. By this point, it becomes apparent that what we're got here is a much more underground version of Big Daddy Kane and someone who's able to appeal even more directly to the streets, but more so towards a higher class of those who you'd typically expect to be into Hip Hop culture at the time.
With this one he's backed up by a combination of beatboxing and regular beats from around the time. The simplistic feel makes it funky and inviting to the listeners and I felt that it was a great way to ease people into the swing of things and get you in the mood for how things could develop a little later. It was my kind of thing, and showed me that he was a great addition to what the Rap world had to offer around that time.
11. "Behind Bars"
Supported here by some Jazz piano work, this one has him making great use of the fact that there was a sudden shift towards Jazz Rap around the late eighties, but he puts on a massive twist to it all by going for a much more up-market style and one that shows that he doesn't really associate himself with the younger acts operating in this genre around the time and is more down for music which demands an acquired taste from the listener.
12. "Soul Touch"
Showing just how commanding he is with such a laid-back approach, he draws listeners in invitingly with the opening line and seems to just go on from there as he gives the audience as he does one dedicated towards Soul music. I felt that in spite of the fact I thought that he may have restricted himself someone in the subject matter, he was able to find a number of ways to manipulate it and ensure excitement from all who engage with it.
13. "This Is A Recording"
The pace is almost too slow with this one and shows just how far he's willing to go in order to simply make a point of displaying his smoothness and how it was unmatched at the time. I thought that it was made to make a massive statement in contrasting this from what you get from all the other top names at the time who were all about getting up over speedy Breakbeats because speed-raps were 'in'.
14. "Sugar Free"
Things are seen to get a little harder as we move right on towards another of the more popular recordings from the album. This one has much more weight to it and draws in those who will have been well into the recent developments (at the time) away from much more naive rap (which was also on the rise as this was the time in which hip Hop managed to reach the masses as a music style here to stay).
15. "Phuck 'Em Up U"
The album is seen to end in a big way and a manner that I felt meant that he would be able to ensure that listeners stay u and try to keep in-the-know of what he would follow this up with (which wouldn't come for four years before retiring... and then returning over ten years after that). He does all this before a remix of a past tune from earlier on with harder, Old School beats and then a few shoutouts.
16. "Sugar Free" (Remix)
17. "Shoutout" (Outro)
I thought that this was a very nice album and the sort of thing which would appeal to many who are into more underground Hip Hop. It takes thing to another level with the themed stuff and shows how far times have come, but represents the first changes towards the sorts of thing here in modern Rap and Hip Hop and the types of things which can be heard in the lyrics.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 U Is Smooth
2 Pick Up The Pace
3 Something New
4 I Kick Ass
5 Mass Destruction
6 Gals Dem So Hot
7 Girl In The Mall
8 Kay Cee Is Nasty
9 Nobody Move
11 Behind Bars
12 Soul Touch
13 This Is A Recording
14 Sugar Free
15 Phuck 'Em Up U
16 Sugar Free
17 Shout Outs