Additional personnel: Guru, Big Shug, Absaloot, Jack The Ripper, Smiley "The Ghetto Child."
Recorded at D&D Studios, New York, New York.
Recording information: D&D Studios, New York, NY.
The debut album from tried-and-true members of the Gang Starr Foundation, Lil' Dap and Melachi the Nutcracker, illustrates the benefits of loyalty in the rap game. After paying their dues and appearing on prior Gang Starr projects such as Daily Operation and Hard to Earn, they earned the right to record their own LP, proudly waving the Gang Starr flag. As a registered battalion under the command of executive producers Guru and DJ Premier (founders of Gang Starr), the talented duo reaped the benefits of membership. The virtuoso DJ Premier provides a rugged and rich musical canvas for the gravel-throated lisp of Lil' Dap and the straight-razor sharp flow of Melachi. Both MCs pull no punches; their lyrics and deliveries are clear, concise, and to the point. While their lyrical content is profound in its simplicity, Group Home is never simple. Livin' Proof exemplifies the harsh realities of coming up in the concrete jungle and in the rap industry. Tracks like "Suspended in Time," "Serious Rap Shit," and the title cut portray the perilous struggle that faces every MC trying to rhyme and reason his way out of his constrictions. Track after track Premier astounds with his unpredictable drum sequences embellished by entrancing hints of piano, strings and horns that seem to dance in and out of the compositions. The results are nothing short of rhythmic masterpieces. Many cuts are preceded or interrupted by short instrumental interludes that leave the listener longing for more. Livin' Proof should not be reduced to a pure showcase for Premier; however, the deadpan lyrics of Lil' Dap and Melachi rise to the level of their maestro to create a fairly fantastic debut. ~ M.F. DiBella
Rolling Stone (3/7/96, p.50) - 3 Stars - Good - "After dropping two solid singles, `Supa Star' and the title track `Livin' Proof,'...they stick to the same formula of sparse, monotonic rhymes..."
Vibe (2/96, p.93) - "...a crew aided throughout their debut by the great DJ Premier....two distinct voices that mesh together to do work. And while their packaging is no-frills, the substance is there..."
Melody Maker (4/20/96, p.37) - "...naturally, it's some of the most inventive and gorgeous hip hop you'll hear....a phenomonal collage of beats and loops....a feast of mindblowing shit..."
Rap Pages (12/95, p.28) - 7 (out of 10) - "...Regardless of what side of the beats-versus-verses argument you affiliate yourself with, this joint is a litmus test with at least one clear verdict: As evidence of Premier's genius, LIVIN' PROOF is just that."