When Big Pun said "latins goin platinum this year" he was probably thinking of Fat Joe, Cuban Link, and the Terror Squad. That's an understandable bias, but if Pun had broadened his horizon to his hermanos on the West coast he might have realized Kid Frost is due to get his too.
Frost certainly had the credentials - he singlehandedly put "Lowriders" on the map with his hip-hop anthem that was so popular it even wound up in a beer commercial. But despite having since launched the careers of countless other hispanic rappers and blazed the trail artists such as Cypress Hill, Chino XL and Hurricane G have followed, Frost has been unfairly typecast as the "La Raza" rapper who only makes songs for his people and not for a hip-hop audience.
This album then, appropriately titled That Was Then, This is Now Vol. 1 showcases an ice-cold Frost (who dropped the Kid) who's still got the ultra smooth voice and some new compadres to back him up. Frost has not abandoned his hispanic roots, but he does broaden his appeal by working with some of the most popular artists in hip-hop. Xzibit makes an impressive cameo on the heavy thumpin funk of "Big Business", King T and Kurupt come packin heat on "Outlaws", and even the late great Roger Troutman provides his vocorder magic on the stunning "Diamonds and Pearls". Say what Prince? Nah, HE could learn a thing or two about funk from THIS brother, may he rest in peace.
The greatness of this album really lies in it's simplicity. Frost does not aspire to be a lyrical maestro or a revolutionary; though he does occasionally flash hints of both. What Frost does is stick to a formula that many of the original G-Funksters from Compton and South Central seem to have forgotten: ride a funky beat, drink a lil' somethin, smoke some kill, and chill with your homies. That's why you'll enjoy "Somethin' for the Ridas" and "Feria"; tracks that put you in that place Dr. Dre took us to with The Chronic.
Judging this album on it's merits, it's hard to find many flaws. Unless you simply have something against hispanic rappers with smooth flows and and a deep voice that could make Tone Loc jealous riding fat beats like a sixty-four Impala, you're going to enjoy That Was Then, This is Now Vol. 1.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10
Originally posted: October 3, 1999