A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing

A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing

While not as idiosyncratic as De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising, or as effortlessly cool as A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing nonetheless represents everything the Native Tongues crew stood for in 1991: intelligence (“Black With N.V.”), comicality (“Gimme the Finga”) and individuality (“Similak Child”). The skits poke fun at everything from gangsta rap (the dead-on N.W.A. parody “U Mean I’m Not”) to sexism in hip-hop (“L.A.S.M.”). The duo of Dres and Mista Lawnge crafted all the tracks themselves, and the album displays a denser, stickier palette of funk samples than their Native Tongues peers. The layers of samples on the hit single “The Choice is Yours” makes it feel like a rubbery rejoinder to the bombastic montages of Public Enemy. Black Sheep’s sound design was remarkably sophisticated, but that didn’t mean they were less obsessed with sex than the average teenager. Even as misogyny began to infect hip-hop, Dres and Lawnge were able to address their raging libidos in a way that was playful without being preachy (“Flavor of the Month,” “La Menage”). Along with Tribe and De La, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing helped to turn rap into a party for the smart kids.

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