One of the common complaints about rap by its numerous enemies is its apparent lack of content. Hell, one of the common complaints about rap by many rap fans is its lack of content. The enemies claim that profanity, mysogyny and violence are all that rap is about and, no matter how profound the lyrics might seem to be, there's no way any positive message could carry through. The fans claim that the more you dilute the content with battle rhymes, diss tracks and odes to drugs and women, the weaker the actual content seems and rap looks bad all around. As someone who got into rap listening to Black Star, The Roots, Tribe and other mostly concious groups, it took me a while to get anywhere near the hundreds of classic-but-offensive hip-hop classics. And I can thank "Home Field Advantage" for showing me that you don't really have to say anything to drop an entire dope album.
On paper, there isn't really much to The High and Mighty's full-length - it's basically battle jam after battle jam with the obligatory smokin' anthem wedged somewhere in there, right between the masturbation track and one of many skits. Fine; I have a short attetion span for most rappers and unless you can switch shit up one way or another every few tracks, I get bored. On paper. On wax, however, the idea never wears thin and there's no monotony. The lyrics don't switch up much, but that doesn't matter for a number of reasons. When you have a variety of beats (mos tly from one versatile producer), you don't need too many topics. The beats are handled primarily by Mighty Mi, but he gets some back-up from the ever-solid Alchemist and Reef. But Mighty Mi gets his props by switching up the tracks so much, but still keeping a definite style. The funky synths ring through from the traditional "Dirty Decibels" and "The Last Hit," to the chilled-the-fuck-out "Hands On Experience pt. II," to the off-kilter "B-Boy Document '99." And, to keep it that much more interesting, "Dick Starbuck" and "Friendly Game of Football" sound nothing like the rest of the album.
There's nothing really to complain about lyrically either. Mr. Eon has a stupid dope voice and, even if his lyrics look simple on paper, his flow saves them. Even though "keep that shit tight like grandpa's speedo" is a dumb as hell line, E makes it sound good. The punchlines are numerous and the rhyme scheme is relatively complex, but his slow flow with the ridiculous voice keeps shit interesting through the whole album. Plus E trades verses with more than a few guest emcees to keep shit fresh on seven of the 15 non-skit, non-intro tracks. On "In-Outs," Cage guests, debuting the Smut Peddlers, and on "Top Prospects," Evidence spits probably his only decent ever. Lots of people have a problem with too many collabs on debut albums, but, honestly, as long as they come off, there's really nothing wrong, right? (How you gonna front on Wordsworth in his prime when he says "I'm so ahead of my time when I talk there's a seven second delay"?) Plus, this album also introduced me to all kinds of new emcees I hadn't heard much from. To this day, when people ask me for a good place to start in hip-hop, I direct them to "Home Field Advantage" on the steady.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 9 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8.5 of 10
Originally posted: July 12, 2001