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Ain't a Damn Thing Changed

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Album Review

Nice & Smooth returned for a second album that injected a much-needed and entirely welcome sense of the absurd into the generally far too austere and sincere New York City underground hip-hop community, which has traditionally sacrificed humor for hardcore technique when it comes to rhyming. Greg Nice and Smooth B., however, are often downright silly and goofball on Ain't a Damn Thing Changed. Despite the conscientious-sounding title, there is very little on the album that is concerned with anything other than, first, rocking the microphone, and second, timing the punch line perfectly. There are certainly serious themes tossed out from time to time. The major hit "Sometimes I Rhyme Slow" — which is simply the track of Tracy Chapman's sober, solemn "Fast Car" matched with the duo's superimposed rhyming — makes references to guns, violence, and drug abuse, and several of the other songs contain similar allusions. But far more frequently, the album is characterized by a reckless old-school (think Audio Two) sense of fun, with loony, stream-of-consciousness lyrics that are most interested in dropping the other shoe, shouted sing-along choruses ("Sex, Sex, Sex," "Paranoia"), insanely catchy vocal hooks ("Sometimes," "One, Two and One More Makes Three"), and production filled with bouncy beats and cartoonish, electronic keyboards. The ubiquitous presence of fully harmonized (and occasionally out-of-tune) background vocals is another characteristic that gives the album a jarringly whimsical quality that most rap crews at the time would never have come within earshot of. A Partridge Family sample even plays a substantial role in "Hip Hop Junkies," and the theme song to Sanford & Son is the basic track of "Step by Step." Perhaps their sense of humor, to a certain extent, obscures the straight-up rhyming skills that the duo possesses. Greg Nice's abrupt, roughneck dramatics juxtaposed against Smooth B.'s serene, butter-slick delivery strikes the perfect vocal balance, and the posse cut, "Down the Line," which includes Gang Starr's Guru (perhaps the preeminent underground rapper), proves that they can bring it rugged and raw when they so decide. But because the duo is willing to poke fun at themselves and their craft so unsparingly, the album is completely addictive, in the same way that sugar is, because it is an energy boost and instantly brings into relief an entirely different side of rap: one that doesn't take itself so seriously.

Customer Reviews

Definately a Classic!

This album is one of many to mark the last of the "Happy Times" of the hip-hop era...way before you had to have a crime record and/or get shot to get a record deal. You must add this to your collection!


Hip Hop in it's golden age !!! even if you never listened to hip hop before you will love this !!!

Straight from the Golden Age of Hip Hop

You know these guys from Gang Starr "DWYCK" and Big Daddy Kane's "Pimpin' Ain't Easy," and it's not hard to see why every rapper in the Golden Age of Hip Hop had them do a guest spot. The drums, the lyrics -- it's early '90s party music, no question. Things falter a bit when they sing (remember, this was the new jack era) but anyone with the guts to rhyme "pneumonia" with "cubic zirconia" gets an A in my book; "Sometimes I Rhyme Slow" and "Hip Hop Junkies" are bona fide classics. Also, the CD is out of print, so iTunes may be your best option...


Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '00s

Nice is an American band with a very British sound. The alternative pop/rock unit comes from Orange County, CA, which is just south of Los Angeles, but the members of Nice are so heavily influenced by Brit-pop that they might as well be from London, Liverpool, or Manchester. Orange County's Nice should not be confused with a late '60s psychedelic rock/progressive rock band from England called the Nice, whose keyboardist Keith Emerson went on to join the famous Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Nor should the...
Full Bio

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Ain't a Damn Thing Changed, Nice
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