8 Songs, 37 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

By the time Juicy Fruit appeared in 1983, Mtume had dropped any lingering indicators of the satiny '70s and completely refurbished their sound for the tough and glossy '80s. The production is at once more skeletal but also more muscular than on previous albums. “Green Light” reduces the beat to a bulbous bassline and the consistent crack of a drum machine. A twinkling of keyboard and guitar is the only extraneous decoration. In an era before hip-hop took over, songs like “Hips” and “Hip Dip Skippedabeat” assumed the demeanor of what would become gangsta rap: cold, slow, ineffably heavy. The title song—clearly the album’s boldest and most beautiful work—became a huge hit, and was subsequently canonized after the Notorious B.I.G. adapted it for his career-defining rap anthem “Juicy.” As a funk-laden pop song, it's a masterpiece; there's something undeniably human about the melody and the way Tawatha Agee sings it, even as the beat’s roomy beat leaves an eerie chill in its wake. The instrumental reprise (“The After 6 Mix [Juicy Fruit Part II]”) gives the album the perfect ending by letting it bask in the afterglow of its best song.

EDITORS’ NOTES

By the time Juicy Fruit appeared in 1983, Mtume had dropped any lingering indicators of the satiny '70s and completely refurbished their sound for the tough and glossy '80s. The production is at once more skeletal but also more muscular than on previous albums. “Green Light” reduces the beat to a bulbous bassline and the consistent crack of a drum machine. A twinkling of keyboard and guitar is the only extraneous decoration. In an era before hip-hop took over, songs like “Hips” and “Hip Dip Skippedabeat” assumed the demeanor of what would become gangsta rap: cold, slow, ineffably heavy. The title song—clearly the album’s boldest and most beautiful work—became a huge hit, and was subsequently canonized after the Notorious B.I.G. adapted it for his career-defining rap anthem “Juicy.” As a funk-laden pop song, it's a masterpiece; there's something undeniably human about the melody and the way Tawatha Agee sings it, even as the beat’s roomy beat leaves an eerie chill in its wake. The instrumental reprise (“The After 6 Mix [Juicy Fruit Part II]”) gives the album the perfect ending by letting it bask in the afterglow of its best song.

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