1993 Loud Records
E-Swift: 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 10
Derick Williams: 4
King Tee: 6
Loot Pack: 5, 9
1. Likwit (feat. King Tee) - 5
2. Only When I'm Drunk - 5
3. Last Call - 5
4. Can't Tell Me Shit - 4.5
5. Turn Tha Party Out (feat. Lootpack) - 5
6. Bullshit (feat. King Tee) - 5
7. Soda Pop (feat. Field Trip) - 5
8. Make Room - 5
9. Mary Jane - 4.5
10. Who Dem Niggas (feat. Threat) - 5
Overall: 5 / 5
Rappers talkin' 'bout back to the old school
You never shoulda left in the first place, fool
I love this album. Everything about it. The beats, the lyrics, the atmosphere, the length, the misconceptions, everything. It's the quintessential party album that happens to be much more. Clocking in at barely over 35 minutes and 10 tracks long, "21 & Over" isn't overly ambitious, it isn't ground-breaking, it isn't epic, but it's one of the most consistent, bumping albums ever made.
A lot of people think that Tha Alkaholiks are little more than a simple-minded party group, spitting typical party, weed/alcohol lyrics over some pretty damn good beats. Those people are wrong. Is it a great party album? Undoubtedly, but, besides that, Tash and J-Ro were amongst the best at the time. Most of their lyrics focused on their namesake, but they were versatile and clever enough to never grow stale. Only two lines, courtesy of J-Ro on "Bullshit", need to be cited:
I drive the hoes wild 'cause they love the way I talk
They can't drive me crazy 'cause I'm close enough to walk
That small, disregarded moment sums up Tha Alkaholiks playful, but technically aware style. Although they never fully explore their duo's chemistry, Tash and J-Ro compliment each other nicely, bringing slightly different styles revolving around similar subject matter. With top notch deliveries and often hilarious lyrics most people can relate to, Tash and J-Ro (and, to a lesser extent, E-Swift) provided some of the most forgotten, enjoyable performances to come out of the early 90s westcoast scene.
Aside from the notable rhyming, there's the even more notable beats, primarily provided by the overlooked, underrated E-Swift. Had he stopped producing after "21 & Over", he would still be worth remembering. Providing catchy loops mixed with gritty drums and bass, E-Swift combined an upbeat party climate with the unmistakable early 90s street sound. The beats are in constant motion, with samples weaving in and out, sometimes only making one appearance in three minutes. Thanks to E-Swift, there's no low point musically. To put it simply, almost every beat on here could have been a satisfying single.
With a stylistically westcoast album that played towards the party scene more than the gangsta one, Tha Alkaholiks were able to produce a classic on their first swing. The album's not burdeningly serious, it's not depressing, it's not a grim look at life, it's not filled with gun-talk, but it still manages to be an identifyable westcoast banger. Abandoning the trends of the time and adopting a more light-hearted mode, Tha Alkaholiks offered something fresh and switched it up enough to be excellent technical MCs, not just one-dimensional frat-boys. The album isn't very historically important to hiphop, it didn't change the scene forever, it didn't pioneer new techniques, but it did help prove that an album doesn't need to do any of those to be great and can be great in its own right. "21 & Over" is the essential party album that both manages to be technically impressive and bang for its entire duration, descriptions that few albums can live up to.