Whodini was (is?) a rap group consisting of rappers Jalil Hutchins (unique at the time in that he didn’t use a rap name, he was simply Jalil) and Ecstasy (John Fletcher) and their D.J. Grandmaster Dee (Drew Carter). Released in 1984 on Jive/Arista Records Escape is Whodini’s second album, and the one that catapulted them to stardom, just as hip-hop was gaining mainstream attention. Mostly produced by Larry Smith, the album consists of 8 songs (standard length for the time period).
Opening with FIVE MINUTES OF FUNK (which is actually 5 minutes and 25 seconds long) has an hard-pounding infectious beat designed for parties and dance floors. Lyrically it’s pretty simple (Five, minutes of funk, this ain’t no junk/So pull your bottom off the tree stump/Ladies real pretty, from city to city/But now we’re gettin down to the nitty gritty) but altogether this song is a definite hip-hop classic. I defy you to sit still while listening to this song.
Next up is another classic track, the catchy sing-along FREAKS COME OUT AT NIGHT.
FEATURING GRANDMASTER DEE is just the instrumental track to 5 Minutes of Funk. I’m not really sure what purpose that serves. But that’s followed by BIG MOUTH another hit single of theirs, back when rappers weren’t afraid to have fun.
The title track ESCAPE (I NEED A BREAK) has another funky dance track, but with serious lyrics about the frustrations of everyday working people (I left my house this morning on my way to work/Some lady on the train spilled coffee on my shirt/And people started laughing like the whole thing was funny/I woulda went home except I need the money/Cause times is hard, my boss is crazy, the guy that works with me he’s so damn lazy/Sits around all day drinks coffee and tea, he expects all the work to be done by me) I know a lot of us can relate to things like that. FRIENDS is of course another classic, with a catchy chorus with serious message. Friends, how many of us have them? Friends, ones we can depend on? Indeed.
OUT OF CONTROL is another mostly instrumental track, it’s a nice beat, but I’d prefer some rapping on it. And then the album closes out with WE ARE WHODINI, another funky dance track with typical braggadocio rhymes about their skills. It’s a decent ending to this collection.
So, really only 6 songs, discounting the instrumentals. But 4 of them are all rap classics that stand the test of time 30 years later, so that’s one Hell of an accomplishment. Escape gets FOUR STARS
Strangely, the complete album is not available on iTunes, although you can get copies (for a hefty price) in CD or vinyl(!) on Amazon. But iTunes does have all of Whodini’s hit singles available either as singles or via a Greatest Hits album.