“I Dreamed that I was…hard” describes Andres “Dres” Vargas Titus on the first cut on A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. The 1991 record coming from Black Sheep, the duo from Dres and William “Mista Lawnge” McLean. A direct affiliate of the Native Tongues, where the Jungle Brothers, A Tribe Called Quest, and De La Soul all lived under a similar umbrella. While Black Sheep’s rhymes might be similar, they stand out for their unique perspective toward abstract production and creative rhymes.
The flood of incoming horns and scratching percussion that has “Have U.N.E. Pull” one of the bumping first entrées coming from Black Sheep. While the record was widely successful before the 2000’s craze of hip-hop, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing does not get the same respect that A Tribe Called Quest would receive throughout the years. The legacy still lasts through the rhyme schemes with Dres explaining, “I see you grinning I’m beginning to think we’re friends, and if we are friends then we are far from fools…” in that classic, almost corny style. A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing maintains the essence of Slick Rick’s prowess to rhyme and dance. Here, Black Sheep is continually bouncing from up-beat prances to the underground attacks on the boom-snaps.
The 22-track saga gives plenty of variety to choose from and gives more than just a standing ovation from the crowd. The larger hit and monumental bounce comes from “The Choice Is Yours” which still can be heard over speakers at barbecues, sporting events, or even parties. “You can get with this, or you can get with that,” Black Sheep explains as they trade verses between Dres and Mista Lawnge. The real power comes from the sampling of various jazz records that shape the overall sound of A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.
“To Whom It May Concern” follows and stays similar with the snare creating a clasping crunch while the rhymes flow smooth as butter. The saxophone that gyrates gives some sense of soul and variation behind Black Sheep. They are fairly experimental when coming to creating beats and the techniques that went into sculpting the soundscapes. As A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing bumps from one piece to another, the transitions are created to feel almost as if the entire album is being played over a single mix.
Before reaching the mid-point, Black Sheep has displayed diversity behind their craft. Through rhyming or mastering the 1’s + 2’s, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing remains one of the better hidden hip-hop gems of yesteryear. Not only creating the dance heavy flows that move feet, but the lyrics that shift the gears in the mind and form an intelligent conversation to urban poetry.