If you've never heard of Funky Hobo #1, you're probably not alone as this is his first release. The fact that he's a white guy from New Jersey really means nothing as far as music talent goes, but it's usually mentioned in reviews, so it has become sort of a hip hop review standard. But there are no lyrical gimmicks here, and it's obvious Funky takes his craft seriously.
Equipped with the hunger of a new artist, and a voice on par with Danny Boy's (from House of Pain), Funky Hobo #1 presents his debut, Come Follow Me. The opening track, "Hip Hop (Music)," displays Funky's eagerness to convey his genuine love of hip hop and his ability to make sly, pop culture references as he chops up his flow over a pulsating beat:
"Follow me now
I rock it/rocket like a Palestinian on the hillside
Getting on takes a long time it's a long ride, but still I
Rise like Maya and keep coming with more fire
And I won't stop rocking 'til I retire
‘Cause love is... what I got
Can y'all handle that? Sublime said it
But I reiterate it, so savor the flavor
Later, you'll appreciate it
But don't expect me to spit or sing about the bling-bling
‘Cause the fact of the matter is I ain't made a damn thing
Except a mountain of bills and a pocket full of lint
Even the dough I made yet is already been spent
So I keep Grindin' man, just like The Clipse
They said my ship will come in but I never saw no ships
If it came to sail then, what got me through it?
Only my love of hip-hop music"
What's strange about this track, like many others on Come Follow Me, is that Funky's flow and delivery can range from anywhere between mediocre to pretty damn good. Often times, he'll sound a bit out of place on the first verse and then grow continually stronger as each verse passes.
The R&B, love-flavored vocals on the chorus of "It's a Wrap (Bye, Bye)" work surprisingly well with Funky's somewhat-abrasive voice. The smooth beat is also a plus. Another love song, "Stay," features a melodramatic bass loop that sounds as though it could have come from an ‘80s love ballad, and the Robert Plant-esque vocals on the chorus stir up memories of Common's "The Light," though the temp is much slower.
The hybrid dancehall reggae/middle-east beat of "Move it Like a Snake" also comes off unexpectedly well as Funky assumes a pseudo Islands accent. He keeps up his witty lines as he references a reggae legend: "I'm not Jamaican but you got me feeling Irie/The way you move extremely, excites me!" The scaly guitar plucking on "Why is That?!" is one of the high points of production on Come Follow Me, and Funky may bring his mic skills the nicest on this track:
"It never ceases to amaze me how the world turns
No matter how many times I looked out and got burned
I try to keep it moving with my positive vibes
I ain't gonna lie
Sometimes I feel like 'Fuck it, why try?' But my nanny used to say 'Don't hate the person hate their ways and actions'
To change a negative to a positive
Is the greatest satisfaction you'll experience in life
So if you life in trife
Change your ways tonight"
This is the best example where Funky smoothens-out his flow and brings down the pitch of his voice to a range that sounds a lot more like what his natural speaking-voice presumably sounds like.
The melancholy horn and light guitar beat on "Ain't it a Shame" is another high point of the production, and topically Funky goes a bit beyond his usual as he narrates some tales of the troubles plaguing today's society like violence and poverty. The playful beat on "Feel Me" helps make the track one of the better. The rhymes of "PieRats (Ballad of Many A Hungry MC)" describe well the struggles of those up-and-comers, and even features the sampled vocals of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song:" "Oh pirates, yes they rob I." The bass is thick and percussive and the light piano tickling in the background is spooky.
The strengths of Come Follow Me are fairly easy to distinguish: The lyrical content, such Funky's witty puns and punchlines are often times humorous and impressive, and the production is, for the most part, above average. He covers a good range of topics-usually with success-and he sounds pretty comfortable with all of those topics. There really aren't any tracks that need to be skipped; all are, at least, bearable.
The drawbacks are equally as recognizable. Funky's actual flow and delivery of those lyrics is another story. He seems to lack focus and gets sloppy with his flow pretty often, though there's no reason to believe that can't improve with time and experience. One might be more impressed by these lyrics if read than actually heard on the album. Some may find his high pitched voice a bit annoying, though that will probably vary from listener-to-listener.
One theme of note which is prevalent throughout Come Follow Me, which is good and bad, is that Funky seems to have a chip on his shoulder regarding his place in hip hop culture. He's not afraid to mention in his lyrics that he is true to hip hop and partakes in the culture for the love of it-not for money or fame. This is undoubtedly the byproduct of two facts: Firstly, he's young and fresh on the scene, and therefore still feels compelled to prove himself, and secondly, because he doesn't want to draw the criticism like that drawn by Eminem, who is frequently called-out for "pillaging hip hop." Regardless, this is a pretty good album, and he Funky definitely shows flashes of potential as a lyricist, which should leaves room for improvement and hope for the future.
Music Vibes: 6.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6.5 of 10
Originally posted: October 7, 2003