You are not dreaming but… are Leaders Of The New School back? While Busty Rhymes’ solo success leaves him out of the equation, the one and only LONS have returned with a new song produced by DJ Johnny Juice called “Bring That Strong Island Sound Back”. If you ever wondered if LONS could do their magic without Busta, then maybe you weren’t listening to their two albums all too well, of course they retain the magic but will fans accept what they feel is missing? They should.
Jesse Dangerously (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Ah, Leaders Of The New School… the Lil B of their day.
James Browne (Bellevue, Washington)
For me “Sobb Story” stood out on the album because a.) I’m a sucker for story raps period. b.) Eric Sadler (I believe) killed it on production. and C.) The song was basically about not having a whip, and the freedom and prestige that (not) having one (can) bring. That’s something most of us can relate to. Plus the rhymes themselves are hilarious! My favorite is Dinco D’s because just like in his rhyme, I knew a kid who had a nice whip and never had money for gas and always had cats he really didn’t know with him in the car.
Samfry Cephus Jenkinson and Channing Smith (Seattle, Washington)
SCJ: I might have to go back and listen……..it was one of those albums that I was “supposed” to like, but I was underwhelmed….I only liked “Feminine Fatt”…and the single.
CS: I don’t remember the album being that great. I will have to listen to it again as well. There were a lot of classic albums that came out in 1991.
SCJ: and that LONS album was not one of them.
Spain Rodriguez (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
Released on July 2, 1991, Leaders of the New School’s “Future Without a Past” was a vibrant, colorful, unique and creative blast of original hip-hop for me. It dropped the summer before my senior year of high school and I immediately put it into my NY-heavy listening rotation next to Tribe, De La, 3rd Bass, Gangstarr, Brand Nubian, KMD & Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth. The 4 cats from Uniondale embodied a more tree-lined, green grass view of hip-hop (check out the “Sobb Story” video). It felt suburban to me compared with the more concrete and city streets feel of some other contemporaries. I was immediately hooked by the supremely dusted-out piano jazziness of the 1st single “Case of the P.T.A.” (they just don’t make beats like that anymore). Dinco, Bust and Charlie Brown were almost cartoonish in many ways, from the gear to the flows, L.O.N.S. were sonic technicolor. Production-wise the LP was mix of 2 of my fav production crews – the Bomb Squad (represented by Eric ‘Vietnam” Sadler) and the crate dug breaks and jazz samples of the SD50’s. The album had and almost retro-future feel in my ears, the way the MC’s flowed harkened back to the days of the Cold Crush & the Fantastic Five and bobbed and weaved over adventurous tracks (check out “Sound Of The Zeekers @#^**?!”…damn) . Another standout track and one of my faves, “Sobb Story” had an almost ragtime feel in the chorus along with the breezy springtime beat and it went along perfectly with my own car-less dilemma at that time The Leaders had major personality on the mic; a young Busta Rhymes sounded like no MC before him, Charlie Brown (to this day still one of my favorite MC’s) had such an ill flow with the “oohs” and “aaahs” and Dinco D. kept it subdued and mellow. The overall tag-team feel of the voices reminded me of an afterschool freestyle session, except the Leaders were much more creative and intricate with the lyrics and cadences. Listening the album takes me back to simpler times, both in my life and in hip-hop music. The early 90’s was the pinnacle for hip-hop IMO. Creatively speaking, it was the absolute apex of the art form. And personally the music was just a lot more “fun”. “A Future Without A Past” is a definite sonic time capsule of an early 90’s teen right before the rigors of “real life” appear on the horizon. The East Coast stomp lives on.
While the group started out as one with a fun vibe and one with infinite potential, the internal struggles seemed doom everything for the start. Despite Busta Rhymes going out of his way to maintain some level of unity and cohesiveness within the group, it became obvious to him that this was a formula that could not work. In fact, according to an interview Busta did for Vlad TV (see video below), the group had already split up when Dante Ross approached the group after seeing all of them at the Payday club. Busta already had his solo career planned, and the other members of LONS (or at least Charlie Brown) were more than ready to work without him. Busta reveals that when he said he was already out of the group, Ross told him that if he was truly not with LONS, as he saw them at the club that night, he was no longer interested in signing them. In many ways Busta went above and beyond expectations to keep the group together, perhaps as a means to try to salvage whatever could be saved, if possible.
As they were doing prep work for the second album, the staff at Elektra did not like what they were hearing. Some were saying that the second album should have never seen the light of day, even going so far as to say that Milo should have never rapped on the album. One might say that should’ve been the moment Busta Rhymes’s solo career started, but the second album made it out anyway with “What’s Next” being the initial focus on an album that was beyond blurred. T.I.M.E. (The Inner Mind’s Eye), received mixed reviews upon release, and quickly lost momentum among fans. The group fell apart, and Busta was eventually signed as a solo artist. For a brief moment it seemed Busta was popping up in everyone else’s songs and videos, and as the video below indicates, he was more comfortable with A Tribe Called Quest than he was with LONS. Once he had control of his talents as a rapper and what he wanted to do to build his brand name, he never stopped. See the man running in the laundromat in A Tribe Called Quest’s “1nce Again”? Consider that running away from a bad situation and towards a better future without that past.