Typical Cats – Typical Cats (2001)

Typical Cats is the self-titled debut, from the group Typical Cats. The group’s member s are Qwazaar,Denizen Kane, DJ Natural, Kid Knish and of course, Qwel. All of which, come from Chicago, Illinois. Dubbed ‘Chicago’s best kept secret’ by HipHopDX.

The production on the album is fairly simple, sample-based, jazzy production with a lot of scracthing, but it does exactly what it needs to. It allows the emcees to display their full potential,which is all this record is really about. There’s no over-laying concept, or deeper meaning to it. It’s just a bunch of hungry emcees, having fun flexing their mic-muscles, delivering  the cleverest punchlines and wittiest lyrics, one-after-another. A lot of the album feels like a cypher. There are 2 instrumental tracks, which act as interludes. Neither of which are excessively long, or drag the album down at all.

Throughout almost every track, the emcee that really stands out is Qwel. I find myself hanging on his every word, replaying verses, and counting the seconds between verses waiting for his next one. This isn’t the Qwel you’ve heard on his later solo work. Instead, he’s like your typical young, underground rapper, but better in literally every single way. Delivering quotables one-after-another, switching between silly but clever pucnhlines and really deep metaphors . 3 of the tracks on the album are solo Qwel tracks, ‘Qweloquiallisms’, ‘The Manhattan Project’ and ‘Cliché’ which are possibly my favourites on the album. Both ‘Qweloquiallisms’ and ‘Cliché’ are packed with some of my favourite quotes ever. “Demon’s guns surround our sons, like Copernicus-tic vultures”, “I’ve won like three thirds” and “Hold nuts, like padded rooms, whack raps cant plead insanity/Just ’cause I stand over you don’t mean you understand me/” to name a few. ‘The Manhattan Project’ is Qwel rhyming about his love for graffiti, saying ‘I won’t stop painting, ’til the world looks the way it should/ I’m on a mission to make heaven look like my neighbourhood/’

Qwazaar’s solo track ‘It Won’t Stop’ is no different to the rest of the album, packed with battle rhymes – “Even the deaf are forced to listen/ The type of shit that’d convert the Four Horsemen to Christian/”, while Denizen Kane’s solo track ‘Live Forever’ is about a dream he had of him being famous, but losing himself in the process. This track differs from the rest as there is a sung chorus and the beat is just a looped piano.

It’s one of my favourite underground hip-hop albums. There’s really not much I can say about this album.  If you like punchlines, battle raps or just creative lyricism, check it out. If you though Big L was the king of punchlines, think again.

“Taking whack rappers out faster than black actors in horror flicks” – Qwel

“I’m the motherfucking King, like Oedipus” – Qwel

Standouts: Qweloquiallisms, Take A Number and Cliché

Overall: 90/100