This album’s existence is a bit strange to me. Even though I’ve expressed a mild affection for Son Doobie’s awkward style over a few reviews, it seldom came without me noting that he was the sole reason anybody remembers Funkdoobiest. Once they dropped “The Troubleshooters” and got dropped from RCA Records, I assumed that was the end of the road for Son. If there wasn’t a demand for his stilted lyrical delivery even with guest stars or banging beats, what hope could there possibly be for him in the industry? Even as someone who has been reviewing multiple rap albums a week for over two decades now, “Funk Superhero” came and went in 2003 without once making a blip on my radar. No one asked me to cover it. Battle Axe Records didn’t send me a promo copy, nor did I ask them for one, because I didn’t know it even existed. Listening to it for this review is my first exposure to it ever. I could easily have gone my entire life without knowing Son Doobie ever dropped a solo album (or TWO as it turns out).

“Okie dokie, things are ring around the rosie.”

That incessant rhyming flow of Son’s didn’t get any less pervasive on songs like “Reinstated,” but what DID change was Rob the Viking producing the track. If this makes him sound like early 2000’s Swollen Members records, that’s certainly to Son’s benefit. He’s the classic case of a leopard who can’t change his spots. Son was always going to overdo the rhymes in his bars, but he could at least pair those bars with some new interesting beats. The newfound Battle Axe Records deal didn’t just mean he got production from Rob, it meant he got a guest appearance from Moka Only on “Put Em Up.”

Prevail also lent a hand on the Nucleus produced “Gun Talk,” leaving Madchild as the only Swollen Member to not make a cameo appearance. He’s still listed as an executive producer on the album though, so you can’t deny his fingerprint is on this project.

As hot as Swollen Members were at the time, enjoying the massive success of “Breathe” featuring Nelly Furtado along with the critical acclaim of rap fans in the U.S. and Canada, it might have seemed easy for them to sign Son Doobie and release “Funk Superhero” to the masses. What happened? Nothing. I’m aware of precisely one single off the album and that’s the Kemo produced “Por Amor.” It sounds like a sequel to “Papi Chulo” without Daz Dillinger. That doesn’t make it a bad song, but that doesn’t make it special either, coming six years after the album the prequel was on flopped. Reinventing the wheel was what Son Doobie needed, not more of the same.

The single doesn’t seem to have even moved enough units to justify a music video. (If it exists I can’t find it.) I know Battle Axe is a small imprint, but as previously noted they were doing big numbers back when “Funk Superhero” was released. This is strictly speculation but I think you’ll agree with me on this one — they had ambitions to sign a recognizable rap star with a distinctive voice and repackage him as their own. Only after they signed Son Doobie and produced the record did they realize what those of us who followed his career already knew — he had a very small fan base whose numbers had already dwindled greatly. Instead of a small imprint gaining a big rap star that could help them move units, they were a major indie label now saddled with a small rap star they had to promote hard to get anything out of. The juice wasn’t worth the squeeze, so they didn’t try.

I’m not here to proclaim that Son Doobie deserved more than what he got, but songs like the Flipout produced “Full Moon” are funky enough that they should have been heard by someone somewhere. If anything time is kind to Son Doobie’s over-emphasis on rhyming syllables multiple times per line. You can call his raps stilted (and I will) but they are RAPS from a RAPPER through and through. There’s definitely charm in “Funk Superhero” even though lack of promotion as well as foresight on the part of Battle Axe Records doomed the album from the start. Not every obscure album deserves a Record Store Day reissue, but this one just might.

Son Doobie :: Funk Superhero
7Overall Score