Monday, August 11, 2014

LeJuan Love, The Comeback That Just Barely Was

Is this a controversial opinion? I think LeJuan Love put out pretty much the best kid rap album ever. Da Youngstas had some nice tracks, and admittedly LeJuan's album was a little uneven. But overall: killer production, a fast but tough 80s style rhymes, brilliant scratching by DJ Man. "Everybody Say Yeah," "My Hardcore Rhymes," "I Still Feel Good." You'd never guess it, but Luke put out the best kid rap act. Really, the only drawback to the album, even by adult artist standards, was that he still sounded like a little kid, and maybe a couple details haven't aged so well.

And that was pretty much solved in 1992 when LeJuan Love came back a little bit older. He was smoother and more adept and ready to grow past an already hype album with an even better one. Unfortunately, it never came out.

All we got was a compilation EP called Luke's Hitmen for the 90s. It featured some of Luke's line-up for its second era, where you could really see the label expanding beyond just the formulaic bass records they'd mastered in the late 80s. You had a track from PreCISE MC's album, one from Jiggie Gee's, and one from 2AWK's ultimately shelved Konflic Uv Interest. There was also a new group called Two True and a token 2 Live Crew "Mega Mix." Oh, and a comeback track by LeJuan Love.

And how is that track? It's brilliant! "It's Been a Long Time" is produced by Mike Fresh (who was just on the cusp of ruling the label, at least artistically) and DJ Toomp. It's high energy, fast but tough, with some killer samples. It continues Love's tradition of featuring terrific scratches, too. I'm not sure if they're by Man - since he's not credited - but whoever's doing them does a bang up job. And Lejuan sounds great on it. He's got everything going for him he had before but no he no longer sounds like a child. I mean, it's only a few years later so he must've still been pretty young, but he no longer sounds specifically like a "kid rapper." Which is great, because his first album already showed he deserved more than to be just that kind of novelty act.

But this one song on this one compilation is it. Nothing more came of it. Jiggie Gee's album came out and it was crap. But this they didn't follow up on? "It's Been a Long Time" should've been a single; it's that good. And who knows what happened. Maybe the label finally wrote him off as a gimmick, maybe there was behind-the-scenes legal drama along the lines of MC Shy D's famous law suit. Or maybe Luke Records just ran out of money and failed to back the right horse. Is there a whole shelved second album, or did they just make this one song? It's a story we'll probably never know unless I manage to interview him. ;)  But what I do know is that this is a dope track and pretty much the sole reason to buy this Hitmen EP.

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