20 Definitive Blerd Rap Albums
4. To Whom It May Concern by Freestyle Fellowship (1991)
Acknowledging rap as an art form, we break the rules and set new standards in the vocal arena by experimenting in tonal and harmonic inflections and sporadic pitch changes and deliveries. We’ll stir your emotion and take rap music to its threshold of enlightenment… — Aceyalone
Against the backdrop of live avant-garde jazz, Freestyle Fellowship’s mission statement was declared, sparking the alternative hip-hop movement in the west. Using their mouths as instruments, members Aceyalone, All in All, J. Sumbi, Mikay 9, P.E.A.C.E., and Self Jupiter delivered abstract streams of consciousness with the intensity and fidelity of John Coltrane.
They didn’t just delight in lyrical gymnastics, however. On “Legal Alien,” they lament about the second class citizen status of Black people in the U.S. They attack fakes who move from the East to cash in on West Coast gangsta stereotypes on “Sunshine Men.”
Rumor has it this criminally under-appreciated classic only had 1,000 records pressed when it was first released. However, its influence can be found in later West Coast artists like Hieroglyphics, The Pharcyde, Blackalicious, Lightheaded, and Jurassic 5. — Brendon Spencer