Born Reggie Noble on April 17, 1970, in Newark, NJ. Addresses: Record company--Def Jam, 825 8th Ave., New York, NY 10019, website: http://www.defjam.com.
Redman made his name by blending reggae and funk with choppy lyrics, offbeat rhymes, and silly ghetto-comedy skits. According to critic Chris Ryan in the Village Voice,"hip-hop's class clown" is a "throwback" to the days of rap when being a "Microphone Fiend" was important--a refreshing change from the ghetto-fabulous, style-conscious rappers of the 1990s. His first performances, cameos on songs by popular hip-hop group EPMD, fueled him to release his debut, Whut? Thee Album, in 1992 to critical success. The pro-marijuana rapper then earned platinum status for record sales of Muddy Waters, released in 1996, and Doc's Da Name 2000, released in 1998. His songs "Tonight's da Night" and "Da Goodness" became nightclub anthems. The hip-hop magazine the Source called Redman one of rap's "most consistent MCs" and named Redman Live Performer of the Year in 2000.
Born Reggie Noble on April 17, 1970, in Newark, New Jersey, Redman grew up in a rough neighborhood, a place he affectionately calls "Da Bricks" and honors often in his songs. He played drums in church as a kid and credits a college creative-writing teacher for encouraging him to write in his own style. "He was always an individual, very different, with a very vivid imagination," Darlene Noble, Redman's mother, said of her son in Vibe. Redman got his start in 1991 as a protege of the legendary--and now-defunct--hip-hop group EPMD and with the group's offshoot, Def Squad. Redman met EPMD's Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith in a local New Jersey nightclub while deejaying for a group called One, Two Plus Three. He then wrote and performed rhymes on the classic EPMD track "Hardcore." Redman also lived with Sermon for two years after each of his parents kicked him out of their respective homes for alleged involvement with drugs. Redman later performed with Def Squad on El Niño and Def Squad Presents Erick Onasis.
On his debut, Whut? Thee Album, produced by EPMD's Sermon, Redman "displayed a unique unpredictability and supreme funk sensibility," according to Rolling Stone critic S. H. Fernando Jr. Redman clearly stated his position on marijuana on the pro-cannabis song "How to Roll a Blunt" and boasted of his lady-killing skills on "Day of Sooperman Lover" and "I'm a Bad." Despite comment from critics who saw Whut? as a too-similar extension of EPMD, the release broke into the top 50 on the Billboard album chart and earned gold status for record sales. Redman got a bit darker and harder on his follow-up album, 1994's Dare Iz a Darkside. The record was considered a sophomore slump that masked the artist's potential.
While the trend in hip-hop was toward artists known for hype and flash, Redman "built his notoriety around a lack of them," according to Vibe. He is private and keeps a low profile. "I'm a simple man with very simple tastes and low standards," Redman told the Source. "I don't need a lot and I don't expect a lot." He hasn't made news for run-ins with the law or spats with other rappers. While filming his screen debut alongside fellow rapper Method Man in the comedy How High, Redman was the consummate professional. He "refrained from smoking his beloved marijuana," according to Vibe, often worked ten-hour days, was on-set promptly for 8 a.m. call times, and memorized his lines thoroughly. The film was released in late 2001.
Although his record sales have increased with each release, Redman has sold fewer records for the Def Jam label than labelmates Jay-Z and DMX, who have been with the label for less time. "Maybe the level of people you attract is what you supposed to attract," Redman said in an interview with Vibe. "Maybe the few people I attract are the ones who know what the real is.... There's that connection. That's what I put into my music. It's like a feeling.... Maybe the other 60 billion people that don't have my album don't know." And the rapper doesn't judge his worth by his heavy rotation on MTV or his commercial success. "I never looked out for MTV...," Redman said to Vibe. "I just looked for the approval of the streets.... The streets will always let you know."
On his 1996 release, Muddy Waters--his favorite release so far, according to the Source--Redman demonstrated that versatility was his strong suit. Again produced by EPMD's Sermon, the album was anchored by Redman's offbeat verses and naughty language and also featured the rapper's crooning, R&B style on "Da Bump." Some of hip-hop's best artists made appearances on the release, including rap veteran K-Solo on "It's Like That," a remake of the Just Ice/Mantronix classic "Cold Gettin Dumb." Method Man, member of the hip-hop supergroup Wu-Tang Clan, made a lyrical cameo on "Do What Ya Feel," and Keith Murray lent a hand on "Da Ill Out." With Muddy Waters, Rolling Stone critic Fernando wondered if Redman hadn't introduced a "new era of East Coast funk."
In her review of Doc's Da Name 2000, released in late 1998, Rolling Stone critic Kathryn Farr declared "Hip-hop's archduke of excess is as exuberant and likable as ever." The album's first single, "I'll Bee Dat!" found significant airplay, considering the chorus features two four-letter words. Both Doc's Da Name 2000 and Muddy Waters earned platinum status for record sales.
The reviews of Redman's 2001 release, Malpractice, were decidedly mixed. "The album starts off like a ... masterpiece," wrote critic Chris Ryan in the Village Voice.But despite its strong beginnings, Ryan continued, he found Redman's performance on the album "diluted." According to critic Dimitri Ehrlich in Interview, the rapper once again proved he was "fast, furious, funny, and rhythmically right on point." An Entertainment Weekly critic pointed out that with so many guests--such as DJ Kool on the single "Let's Get Dirty," Missy Elliott on "Dat Bi***," Busta Rhymes on "Da Goodness," and funk legend George Clinton on "J.U.M.P."--there was little room on Malpractice for the rapper himself.
Ryan also noted in Village Voice that Malpractice, which clocks in at 78 minutes with 23 tracks, "peaks at track four." The rest, he continued, "is a lot like watching the camel cross the desert horizon in Lawrence of Arabia, if that were the whole movie." Interview's Ehrlich found the comedy skits "maddeningly stupid" but still suggested that the record may be one of the best rap releases of the century. Neil Drumming of Rolling Stone had no affection for Malpractice, calling it "sophomoric," "crude," "unfunny," and "unforgivable."
by Brenna Sanchez
Began contributing to EPMD albums, 1991; released solo debut, Whut? Thee Album, 1992; earned platinum status for Muddy Waters, 1996, and Doc's Da Name 2000, 1998; performed with Def Squad, 1998-2000; released Malpractice, 2001.
Rap Artist of the Year, the Source magazine, 1993; Live Performer of the Year Award (with Method Man), the Source, 2000.
- Selected discography
- Whut? Thee Album , Def Jam, 1992.
- Dare Iz a Darkside , Def Jam, 1994.
- Muddy Waters , Def Jam, 1996.
- Doc's Da Name 2000 , Def Jam, 1998.
- Malpractice , Def Jam, 2001.
- Appears on
- (With Def Squad) El Niño , Def Jam, 1998.
- (With Def Squad) Def Squad Presents Erick Onasis , Dreamworks, 2000.
- (With Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott) Miss E ... So Addictive , Gold Mind/Elektra, 2001.
- Larkin, Colin, Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Muze UK Ltd., 1998.
- Billboard, May 12, 2001.
- Entertainment Weekly, November 6, 1992, p. 67; June 15, 2001, p. 90.
- Interview, July 2001, p. 36.
- Rolling Stone, February 6, 1997, p. 49; February 4, 1999, p. 63; June 21, 2001.
- Source, March 1999, p. 210; May 2001, p. 148; July 2001.
- Time Out New York, May 31-June 7, 2001.
- USA Today, May 22, 2001, p. 6D.
- Vibe, June 2001, p. 102.
- Village Voice, August 8, 2001.
- "Redman," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=Bbr5ibka96akq (December 9, 2001).
- Additional information was provided by Def Jam publicity materials, 2001.