Down to Earth cover

Down to Earth

Released

A short discography and a lighthearted style might’ve left UK-born rapper Monie Love at least somewhat prone to being underrated — at least, more underrated than her Grammy nominations and brief yet prominent early ’90s chart success would account for. Even her affiliation with Native Tongues — note the if you like De La Soul… cover art on the US version of her solo debut Down to Earth — isn’t always enough of a co-sign for heads who prefer their golden era hip-hop to be strictly hyperlyrical boom-bap. In other words, Down to Earth is pop-rap — and excellent pop-rap at that, with the snarky love triangle scenario “Monie in the Middle” and the post-breakup commiseration of Spinners rework “It’s a Shame (My Sister)” bringing Monie’s sweet-yet-sharp MCing to #1 on the US rap charts. You don’t have to dig much deeper to find more gold, though; uptempo club singles like the disco-funk title cut and Ultra Naté feature “Ring My Bell” are the kind of tracks that made hip-house feel more promising than corny at the turn of the decade, and she runs the gamut of relationship issues through deep cuts like “R U Single” (flirting with a guy while going all the way with ’80s R&B), “Pups Lickin Bone” (dripping venom at other womens’ trifling efforts to homewreck), and “Just Don’t Give a Damn” (an all-timer in the admittedly narrow category of Divorce Rap).

Nate Patrin

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