Journey Throo The Past: Celebrating 25 Years of Redman’s Dare Iz A Darkside

In 1994, Reggie Noble embraced his Funkadelic roots on his second album

Redman ’94 / illustrated by Ron Hart

Redman (Reggie Noble) released his highly anticipated sophomore album, Dare Iz A Darkside, just one week after Method Man would drop his solo debut. Part of Def Jam Records “Month of the Man” promotional campaign in 1994, the record essentially laid the foundation for their many future collaborations.

Debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Top R&B / Hip-Hop Album charts, Dare Iz A Darkside, was one of the New Jersey native’s earliest commercial successes. It was recorded during a rather dark period of time for the emcee, who told Vibe Magazine in 2010, ranks as his “least favorite” in his catalog. 

“I was doing a lot of drugs on Dare Iz A Darkside,” Redman said in an interview with HipHopDX.  “I have chicks that come up to me and say, ‘Yo, Dare Iz A Darkside is my favorite fuckin’ album, ever.’ I swear, I have not played Dare Iz A Darkside damn near since I did it. Seriously! I was so lost, I was so fucked up during that album.”

Redman Dare Iz A Darkside, Def Jam 1994

His drug use caused executive producer Erick Sermon to be less involved in the project, which was a notable departure from the more EPMD-inspired sound of his 1992 debut, Whut? Thee Album. Sermon only co-produced five of the whopping 20 tracks on the album, which became a cult classic because of its darker, more cynical lyrics and themes. 

The artwork features a photo of Redman buried up to his neck in dirt, which he reenacted as a tribute to one of the most iconic album covers of all-time, Maggot Brain (1971) by George Clinton and Funkadelic—who are also credited for several of the album’s biggest tracks, including “Slide and Rock On,” “Bobyahedtothis” (co-produced by Rockwilder) and the lead single, “Rockafella.” Funkadelic was also the inspiration behind the aptly titled “Cosmic Slop,” which bears the same name as their 1973 album. 

Dare Iz A Darkside is not a traditional concept album by any means. Redman uses the fictional persona, Dr. Trevis, to paint an unclear picture of a mad scientist with the ability to travel between parallel universes. 

Redman on the cover of The Source, Nov. 1994

While it is not quite his best record (that would be 1996’s Muddy Waters), the album has its moments, which include special guest appearances by Keith Murray and Hurricane G of the Def Squad

The album’s second single, “Can’t Wait,” isn’t one Redman will perform live, but it would become his first song to top the Billboard Hot 100 charts. 

Much as one would expect from a Redman album, weed smoke was a major source of inspiration behind such tracks as “A Million and One Budda Spots” and “Green Island.” 

Longtime friends and mutual ganja aficionados, Method Man and Redman later teamed up to record “How High,” the 1995 hit single that would help pave the way for such future collaborations as Blackout! (1999) and its sequel Blackout! 2 (2009). 

But in 1994, it was Reggie Noble who had to journey through the darkness on the edge of his hood to get to that promised land where he and Meth would evolve into the Cheech & Chong of the Legalized Era.


VIDEO: Def Jam’s TV ad for Dare Iz A Darkside

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Daniel Offner is a contributing writer for Follow him @OffnerOffbeat.

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