Lil Noid’s 1995 album Paranoid Funk is seeing reissue! Crucial Memphis rap famed both within the scene and without: interesting to hear how vividly it parallels with some contemporary trap sounds. The full ten tracks, reissued in a limited edition by the L.A. Club Resource label. Vinyl LP complete with original stark sleeve art.
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- Paranoid Funk by Lil Noid
8/10 Ant Staff review, 10 September 2015
Delroy Edwards’ L.A. Club Resource label present another Memphis rap tape vinylization following the excellent and now highly sought after Shawty Pimp record. I first heard this through the invaluable Mid 90’s Underground Memphis Rap Tapes Blog. Part of me thinks it would have been cool to reissue this on cassette, preserving the inherent sound quality of tape which really compliments the lo-fi production, but hey it’s on vinyl and I’m not complaining.
‘Paranoid Funk’ really sums up the atmosphere of the record. Opening with producer Blackout’s crisp beats and gloopy bassline of ‘Introlude’ and into the hazy codeine laced synth of ‘Criminalistic Knowledge’ with its gritty tales from the streets about slingin’ rocks (selling crack) and the constant paranoia of being busted by narcotics agents or being shot by rival gang members. Rolling in droptops, carrying firearms, gang violence and making money are to an extent glamorized but I guess this mentality is essential to survival in the hood.
The record is a snapshot of the harsh reality that many young African American men face. This album is 20 years old and even two decades later, little in their society appears to have changed-- young men born into a life of survival through crime, filling up state penitentiary’s and many ending up on death row. I would never condone violence but I find listening to these autobiographical stories to be humbling, giving me a greater appreciation of the privileged life that I have. The track ‘Death Row’ really provokes this type of empathy in me, where Lil Noid imagines being in a prison cell facing execution, remorsefully reflecting on his life. This is followed by the grim murder rap of ‘Load My Clip’ and ‘In The Dark’ with it’s horror synth, gun shot samples and funeral bells. Lyrically it becomes difficult to differentiate reality from fantasy but again in this world bravado becomes a necessity.
Closer ‘Binghampton Niggaz’ is an epic shoutout to Lil Noid’s rather large posse, and gives the impression of an extended family, the love he has for his community and despite the violence, that just perhaps love could conquer all. Lyrical content aside the production from Blackout is clouded in dense weed smoke and on a purely musical level there's much to enjoy, effortlessly transporting the listener to the streets of Memphis, Tennessee.
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