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Baker's Dozen

Origin Story: Billy Woods' Favourite Albums
Zachary Lipez , May 24th, 2023 08:25

As he releases acclaimed new album Maps alongside Kenny Segal, underground hip hop mainstay Billy Woods takes tQ through the thirteen records that have defined his life, from Goodie Mob to Ghostface Killah


Black Sheep – A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing

This is the Native Tongues album for me. I appreciated De La. I really liked Tribe, and I kind of never got into the Jungle Brothers too deep. But Black Sheep, that first album? First of all, that big single came along. I was immediately exposed to it, I fucked with it, I liked it. But then they had so many other singles and videos up. I bought the record. It was just fire all the way through. It was different from Tribe, a little more R-rated. But I love the production. I love the rapping. It was just a really, really, really well put together album, a lot of great beats and, underneath the rap bravado, there's some interesting personal stuff and interesting social commentary, and a well-formed perspective.

I look at it a little bit like how I look at Robert Townsend's Hollywood Shuffle. Not as poignant, maybe, but it was a movie that really struck me when I watched. It was funny, but then there's a political angle and also a lot of emotional depth. Not putting this on that level but, as a record, it definitely stuck with me how it managed to balance similar elements. I think it all came together for them on this record, in the same way I would say for Goodie Mob on Soul Food, where I'm not going to tell you Black Sheep are better than A Tribe Called Quest, but I think this album is better than any A Tribe Called Quest album. I just feel like on this one joint, the vision was executed almost perfectly. I think some of it was timing. And some of it is that honestly, from an album perspective, there's no misses. Some of the songs are pretty juvenile but even then they're not failed by production or skill. And I was an adolescent, so I wasn't above some juvenile stuff on a record.