“ Genre: Hip-Hop & Rap / Artist: Raheem / Audio CD released at Bmg Music „
"The Vigilante" was released in 1988 as the debut solo album from the Houston rapper Raheem. Starting his career as part of the original Geto Boys (prior to the days when Scarface and Willie D had been included), it finds him breaking away from the act with a little work on his own where he puts out a little more Hip Hop material to show what the south of the US had to say at a time when it was largely East Coast-dominated (reflected in the way in which he and the other Geto Boys from this time did).
1. "Dance Floor"
The album gets off to a great start as we're drawn right into the mix of the album and we're taken into the rapper's most well-known single. It's an intense track where he shows that he's all about the hardcore rapping, but as yet hasn't really been brave enough to go as far as what the likes of N.W.A had and so instead is more intent in going down the sort of route that LL Cool J was just before he went to the next level with "Mama Said Knock You Out" a couple of years later.
2. "Freak Me"
Moving things on a little here, this one has Raheem attacking things well as he comes out with a track where he jumps over more empowering percussion which reflect the harsh way in which he gets to the rhyming. I thought that he did a fairly decent job at this one as he speaks on a girl he knows and rhymes about her in a way she doesn't appear to be too pleased by. It's more typical stuff for this time from an artist who didn't have much longevity in the game.
3. "I'm Mackin'"
This one gets him rhyming about how strong his macking game is and I thought that it was a decent way to take things here. From the start it was obvious that his style was just the sort of thing which would come and go (and so it's strange that he was actually able to put out a full album) but he does well to ensure that things don't fall apart and that he can deliver consistent rhymes which will draw listeners in and then samples of both the Tom Tom Club and Michael Jackson to give more a reason to get excited.
4. "Punks Give Me Respect"
On this one he goes out with a track which I simply wasn't happy about as he tries out a Dancehall cut. Pretty much every Hip Hop artist operating around this time (other than big innovators) tried out tunes which they thought was 'Reggae' and just as the rest it's just terrible and does nothing to help things out on the album. It's a laughable track when the aim of it is to have him flowing about how he's supposed to be an intimidating person in his ends.
5. "You're The Greatest"
The slow tempo brought in with the last track is maintained for this track and I have to say that I wasn't all that happy that this was the case as I didn't think that things were really going to be helped by taking things in that direction. Here he goes out with rhymes which sound monotonous as he uses the same structure on each and every bar and simply mimics what the likes of LL Cool J and Run-D.M.C..
This one has some Metal influences in the production and so draws in further comparisons to Rick Rubin-produced Hip Hop acts from this time and the years leading up to this time. Although this may be the case, we find that he switches up his rhyming style (still not trying out anything all that original or based on his surroundings in the South) as he comes with something sounding like Chuck D's approach.
Although I wasn't feeling the Run-D.M.C. style from elsewhere (and was even more annoyed by it on the first Geto Boys album) I thought that the way he came with that style here was quite strong and comes in here. It was the type of thing which you simply wouldn't be able to have any issues with, but at the time it would have been criticised for being backwards as people had moved on by this point.
8. "You're On Notice"
On this one it sounds as though the Batman theme tune has been sampled to back him up and I thought that this was a bad move for a rapper trying to pull off a hardcore style similar to that of Just-Ice or Schooly D's. He rhymes hard, but of course the sample undermines all this intensity and makes it another track which sounds to be laughable as if it was meant to be nothing more than a joke.
This is a very light and flowery track from Raheem. I have to say that I didn't think that this one would be any good at first, but it improves once it breaks down and turns out to be another solid Rap performance from him. Of course his style still wasn't anywhere close to being original, but he ensures that he does it well and so can't be pulled down for any more reasons other than the lack of creativity in delivery.
10. "Say No"
This tune is an interesting one as it gets him trying out something quite different by going off in a style which seems to be based around contemporary Dancehall methods of flowing out the rhymes, but he masks this in a watered-down form that I thought worked well for him and made improvements from earlier-on from the opening stages of the album where he flopped on "Punks Give Me Respect".
The album comes to an end with this track. We find that on it he goes out with another track that I thought had Public Enemy influences in it, but instead of it being in the rhymes, it's with the beats. This is a final instrumental piece with cuts of Raheem samples thrown in there for extra measure to close the thing off and as this was common in albums in this style at the time, I thought that it was a nice inclusion.
Although this is a rather inconsistent album, I thought that you'd get quite a lot from this if you were into Hip Hop pre-1987. Obviously this was released after this time, however it clear that he goes off with more of a Middle-School style than the Golden Age way which took over and made the likes of Run-D.M.C. fall out of the game.