by Donte Kirby
“In West Philadelphia born and raised…”
I bet 200 out of 100 people could finish that line before the word ‘Philadelphia’ was halfway out of my mouth. But if I said “Here it is, the groove slightly transformed”, I’d get “what groove? Transformed where?” from anyone that was in diapers in 1992.
“Summertime” was the Grammy winning single from DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s comeback album Homebase. It’s an album full of electric synth beats and high tempo, feet-shuffling rhythms that were the norm during the new jack swing era of hip hop. The mellow groove of “Summertime” isn’t really indicative of the sound of the whole album. “I’m All That” with its sample of the bass line and horns from Rick James’ “Give it to Me Baby” do a better job at being a taste test for the album.
Dancing and vibing is what Homebase is all about. There’s songs like “Caught in the Middle – Love and Life” where the instrumental just plays without vocals to distract your groove midway through or “This Boy is Smooth” which has over a minute long trumpet solo at the end.
Homebase could easily be played straight through at a party and it would keep everyone on the dance floor all night. That’s an accolade you can attribute to the best albums of that era of hip-hop. If this album isn’t one of the best, it’s definitely one of it’s finest.