Album Spotlight # 6

Word…Life by O.C.

The year is 1994. I faithfully tune into the Mastermind Street Jam on Energy 108 every Saturday afternoon from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. It’s about the only time that real hip-hop music makes it to the commercial airwaves in Hamilton. The show is a blessing and I take full advantage of it. I tape every show using a 90-minute cassette tape and skip out the commercials. I then have an excellent mix tape to listen to for the rest of the week.

I remember the time I first took notice of this album. Mastermind had played the lead single off of the album a lot. He kept talking about when the album would come out and how amazing it was. I really enjoyed his show so his opinion carried a lot of weight with me. I really didn’t take too much notice of O.C. at the time but I was open to hearing more.

Mastermind highlighted this album one show and played a few of the tracks. He had a contest for “true fans,” he said. He played an album cut that only fans would know the title of and invited listeners to call into the show and win an album. The song was awesome. I was feeling the vibe of it so much. The other songs he played that day were nice too. I knew that I wanted to win the album so I called in and made a wild guess.

I wasn’t even close. It was one of those song titles that you could never decipher from listening to it. I didn’t win but I had the show on tape and I played it over and over again for the next few weeks.

I finally went to the store to buy it and it was crazy expensive. It was released on a small label and I couldn’t bring myself to spend that much money on an album. I can’t remember exactly how much it was at the time. I waited for the annual Boxing Day sale at Dr. Disc and paid $15.99 for the cassette. That was still a lot to pay but by this time I was a fan and really wanted it. I now own this album on cassette, vinyl and CD. I even transferred it to MP3 too.

This album never achieved commercial success. It should have. It is brilliantly written, well produced, and O.C. has a great voice and flow. This release is an underground classic. It has been sampled countless times and is can be heard on the hook of many a great song. It truly deserves to be immortalized in hip-hop history as one of the all-time great albums.