Sir Fresh and DJ Critical were a rap duo from Brooklyn during the mid to late eighties, under the independent label Solid Goals. DJ Dee-Ville from Bust the Facts has assembled a wicked compilation that highlights the group’s body of work over their short career. Much too short. Like DJ Dee-Ville, I had trouble finding almost any information about this crew online, which makes this collection all the more worthwhile.
The production on these songs is great, combining the best of both worlds from newer James Brown samples to older LinnDrum beats, with the loosely coiled snares, hollow “thump-thump” bass drums and sharp high-hats. DJ Critical handles the turntables with the best of them in the 80’s, and Sir Fresh proves to be the best rapper you’ve never heard of. He switches up his flow multiple times, and his style, though distinctly his, is reminiscent of some of the more well-known artists of the era. Think of him as Schoolly D’s voice matched with Rakim’s and The D.O.C.’s flows. Ehh, maybe not the strongest comparison, but that’s who he reminds me of.
My favorite cuts have to be “Sally & Dee,” where Fresh describes a series of rap battles with the drama and suspense of a Western (not actually a Western); “Sir-Vere,” the most well-known single by the group; and “Sit’em Down,” the most impressive lyrical display on the album, with Fresh spitting out of his mind over a tight beat sampling Bobby Byrd’s “I Know You Got Soul” (made famous by Eric B. & Rakim). “We Can’t Have It” is a short little track that plays out like a poem, raising an interesting question on the cesspool of drugs in neglected inner-city neighborhoods: “The minority / is a majority of users of narcotics / But what authority / allows this to happen?” Sir Fresh is a natural lyricist.
Sir Fresh and DJ Critical are yet another indie rap group from the eighties that torments us with great singles and unreleased tracks, leaving us only to imagine what a full-length LP would have sounded like.
But for now, the comp will do them justice.
Major, major props to DJ Dee-Ville. For additional information be sure to visit Bust the Facts. There is also a great link on the site to Brooklyn photography–a nice complement to the music.
Sir Fresh & DJ Critical- “I’m Smooth”
Sir Fresh & DJ Critical- “Sally & Dee”
Sir Fresh & DJ Critical- “Sir-Vere”
Sir Fresh & DJ Critical- “Sit’em Down”
Sir Fresh & DJ Critical- “We Can’t Have It”
â€” Teddy C.D.