Heavy D was one of the few unabashed "pop" stars in the hip-hop world to nevertheless maintain a universal respect and admiration from all corners of the hip-hop community, even among those who increasingly felt that the prospect of crossing over into the mainstream was a major taboo. It's due to Heavy's unwavering integrity in regard to his talent and affable persona that endeared him to even the most hardcore hip-hop fan: he was an incredibly skilled MC with a deft, enthusiastic flow, and even when Heavy made tracks for the underground heads, he tailored the tracks to his own laid-back demeanor. His diverse musical ambitions made him one of the few mainstream rappers that mattered, and although he may be known more for New Jack Swing/pop smashes like "Now That We Found Love" and "Somebody For Me," he still gave those of us deeper into hip-hop's underground a solid share of classic tracks without the polish of the Top 40:
"Don't Curse," from 1991's Peaceful Journey, is arguably the greatest posse cut of all-time. The line-up is stellar: in addition to Heavy, we have Kool G. Rap, Grand Puba, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, Big Daddy Kane, and Q-Tip, all arguably in their artistic primes (even Kane in his regrettable Prince Of Darkness period shows that he still had it). The way everyone flows effortlessly over Rock's loop of the M.G.'s classic "Hip Hug-Her" is stellar.
The non-album b-side to the "Don't Curse" single was also one of Heavy's best moments, sadly left off any of his proper albums. Over a production which heavily samples the title track to Miles Davis' Bitches Brew, Heavy proved he was equally at ease over beats that aimed much grittier.
Perhaps one of the first tracks that tuned me into Heavy's considerable talents was his appearance on this posse cut from Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth's unimpeachable classic Mecca And The Soul Brother.
Blue Funk is Heavy's all-around most consistent record and still one of the most underrated hip-hop albums of all-time. Forgoing the New Jack Swing and pop inclinations of his past albums, he crafted a full-length for the more purist hip-hop heads out there. Production from Pete Rock, the heavily underrated Skeff Anselm, and DJ Premier certainly helped. This production here from Premier thankfully resurrects the Aretha Franklin loop from Gang Starr's "92 Interlude" that I'm sure many wanted to see a proper song made out of.
Blue Funk ended with this stellar posse cut, notable mostly perhaps for a hungry, pre-Bad Boy Biggie showing up pretty much everyone else on the track, though the late Guru and an absolutely manic Busta Rhymes certainly follow closely behind. It's really a shame that half of the MC's on this track have passed away.
An underrated cut from the New Jersey Drive soundtrack from 1995, with Easy Moe Bee on the beats. R.I.P. to the Heavster.