Classic Imaginary EP: Black Sheep’s Non Fiction Abridged

I am adamant in my claim that Dres stood ably amongst the very best to do it circa ’91. On the microphone he was just as smooth as Grand Puba, as witty as BDK, as distinctive as any of his Native Tongue Brethren and undeniably a virtuoso with the flow. He never appeared on a posse cut where he didn’t steal the show and I dare any rap nerd to make a claim to the contrary. He murdered “Roll Wit Tha Flava,” killed shit on “Let The Horns Blow,” and beasted some cut from Fu-Schnickens’ first album that nobody remembers, just to name a few. His rapping was trancendent even when backed by a tepid funk band like Brand New Heavies or shoehorned onto an insipid Vanessa Williams single. Mista Lawnge’s deep crates production fit the raps so perfectly that the expectations for the duo’s second album were probably unreasonably high.

Non-Fiction was either ignored by those who thought of Black Sheep as one hit wonders or panned by those who wanted them to recreate A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing. Both responses are extreme. “The Choice Is Yours” is catchy, but only because Black Sheep convinced you – it’s as unlikely a hit as any and yet has somehow avoided wearing out its welcome. Their debut album was a strange flower in the late 80s/early 90s meadow of tolerated absurdity. It would have been laughed out of existence had they attempted to release it in 1994, by which time screwfaces and camo had supplanted goofy grins and day-glo. They had to bend with the wind to some extent, especially after such a long break between albums.

Admittedly, their attempts to ingratiate themselves into the whole D.I.T.C. uptown aesthetic felt a bit forced, and Mista Lawnge’s increased mic time was a horrific error of judgement. Some of the songs on Non-Fiction are admittedly wack, almost to the point of being embarrassing. “North South East West” is the kind of pandering drivel that had to have been inspired by the pressure of trying to recoup some rent money from a shady contract. But amidst a little detritus there are genuine jewels. Dusty, hardcore, jazzy, dare I say sophisticated songs.

“Autobiographical” has literally no equal. Almost all life writing in rap winds up melodramatic, self-indulgent, solipsistic or just corny, but this song is just … on another level altogether. “Bubblin’ Brown Sugar” is pure debonair Harlem Nights flamboyance. “Freak Freak Ya’ll” has the kind of stream of consciousness that good rappers gave up on years ago, for reasons I’ll never fathom. “Me & My Brother” and “Peace To The Niggas” extol brotherhood and unity over bassy beats without sacrificing cool. Throw in some great remixes to the anemic singles “Without A Doubt” and “North South East West” and you have yourself one hell of a seven track EP. Sit back, enjoy, and pulverize your prior misconceptions.


1. Autobiographical
2. B.B.S.
3. Freak Freak Ya’ll
4. Me & My Brother
5. Peace To The Niggas
6. Without A Doubt (Lawnge’s Mix)
7. North South East West (Buckwild Remix)

Let us know what you think!

— Thun

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18 Responses to “Classic Imaginary EP: Black Sheep’s Non Fiction Abridged”

  1. Boothe says:

    Lawnge's chest thumping on E.F.F.E.C.T. was probably your reason for excluding this track, but I would have kept it on only because Dres deSTROYED that track. The beat also hits, and it's always good to hear Show's voice on a track (even if he only appears at the end).

    I might have also included H.A.A.

  2. Kimani17 says:

    Great, I always thoroughly enjoy the second LP as long as I keep my finger poised to skip when necessary.

  3. Cenzi Stiles says:

    "Peace To The Niggas" was teh dopest track on that album! I would put it on repeat… I was a bit sad when the supposed "Chi Ali Featuring" was just Chi talking with a fucked up voice.

    I hadn't really given it a thought, but I agree, Dres kills all posse cuts, including "Fanatic of the B Word" and the forgotten Fu Shnick song "Check it Out". That track was actually "produced" by Dres too.. which came to me as a surprise, since I never thought he had produced anything!

    I have, to this day, never been able to hear the whole album, so I appreciate the EP. I would have left the original "Without a Doubt" as well though.

  4. dave the dope fiend says:

    The intro/outro beat on that album was hot. Jazzy with almost a 4 on the floor house beat.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I thnk u should a added da joint wit Da Legion, "We Boyz" waz a banga2…

  6. Kool Max Power says:

    Nice thread, Thun. Dres literally murdered all tracks on Non Fiction, so maybe a mix excluding Lawnge's lyrics would sound great.

  7. hisp says:

    am i the only one who liked all the trakcs on Non Fiction?

  8. Anonymous says:

    "Summa tha Time" was a good joint too.

  9. Anonymous says:

    " He never appeared on a posse cut where he didn't steal the show and I dare any rap nerd to make a claim to the contrary. He murdered "Roll Wit Tha Flava," "

    I always thought dres's verse on 'Roll Wit Tha Flava' was somewhat superfluous compared to all the other verses. treach, freddie foxxx, d-nice, and dare I say it queen latifah outshined him on this. his verse just comes in at the end like some kind of post-script… whatever though.

    also you forgot 'who's next' as well. that poobli sample is classic. best track on the album except for 'Autobiographical' IMO

    a necessary post overall though – an album that needed re-addressing in some form or other, whatever the various opinions on it may be…peace

  10. Klay Doe says:

    North, South, East, West (Buckwild Remix) has gotten rotation almost daily for years now. Way better than the OG. That MJ "I Can't Help It" sample is my sh*t!

  11. Liam says:

    c/s Klay Doe, Buckwild killed that remix, great song

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