Group Home – Livin’ Proof
In 1995, if you were a New York City rap group selling gritty, street-level observations over raw, sample-driven beats, it was like, “Join the club.” Post-Wu-Tang Clan, everyone was doing that. It didn’t help Group Home’s case that their star producer, DJ Premier, had been at it with his own group, Gang Starr, for four albums and their latest, ‘94s Hard To Earn, had presumably satiated the public’s need for an album like this (Group Home members Lil’ Dap and Melachi the Nutcracker had even been featured on it). Furthermore, Premier was emptying his creative reserves by throwing tracks on seemingly every NYC rap album out at the time.
Small wonder then that this thing is maybe better than any Gang Starr album or Jeru the Damaja’s first two albums. Tellingly, the worst thing on it—“Serious Rap Shit”—is produced by Guru. Jaz-O handles another track; the solid “4 Give My Sins.” Beyond that, it’s all Premier, coiled and menacing—yet rough around the edges where needed—as ever. Dap and Melachi, meanwhile, prove highly effective foils, describing their surroundings with little to none of the egocentric stance that marred Guru’s lyricism.