Houston Music

Bobbie Fine

Bobbie Fine's debut long player walks the fine line between underground and commercial hip-hop with deft precision. Fine's forward-thinking production is rough enough to appeal to the most underground diehard and yet never so far outside the box to give the average rap fan pause. The beats hang tough with some of the best mainstream producers in the game today (hell, there are only a couple of them). Overall the record defies convention, reeks of DIY ethos and has the stamina to stay playa all the same.

This New Jersey native spent a lot of time in Houston, beginning when his early rhyme partner YZ came down on tour in 1991. Fine was in a group with YZ's brother called the ESD Posse, and as Z's career progressed, the two worked closely together. Bobbie even penned some of the lyrics on YZ's 1990 debut, Sons of the Father, which spawned the classic "Thinking of a Master Plan." Fine has recorded with the Fu-Schnickens and Black Sheep; as part of Blaque Sperm, he was signed to American Records in the mid-'90s. And yet somehow, even with the impressive résumé, he has never been fully recognized as the hip-hop force that he is.

Twelve years into his career, he's still hustling and doesn't waste time complaining about his days on the come-up. For the most part, he plugs the pleasures of the good life and touts himself as one of the sharpest in the game. On "Y'all Can't Ball," he raps, "I got this rap game in the cobra clutch / from your city sky line to West Bubblefuck." It's the kind of creative braggadocio that got most folks into rap in the first place.

While Fine's not popping Cristal and riding on 20-inch rims through the whole album, he's certainly not opposed to it, either. "Touch Some" is a slinky, raw ode to the ladies who tickle his fancy and other things, while "ATM" asks those same women if he's merely their anytime money man. (If this one had come out a month after Destiny's Child's "Bills," it would have been a certified hit.) "Move with Me" bridges the gap between the East Coast and the Dirty South with a simple, airy track that'll nice up the club, while "Something Serious" is straight-up Jersey bounce. Fans who feel hip-hop's heyday was back in the elder Bush's regime can hold hands and vibe to this one start to finish.

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Matt Sonzala
Contact: Matt Sonzala