Takin Mine is an extremely underrated album that is rarely mentioned when people discuss mid-nineties Hip-Hop music. That’s pretty odd because Heather B’s first LP is one of the strongest début albums I’ve ever heard and its rugged sound fitted perfectly into 1996 where an abundance of hardcore Hip-Hop was bubbling underground. Unfortunately, like most credible Hip-Hop music released that year, it was overlooked and grossly underrated. Even to this day Takin Mine is ignored by those who claim they love nineties Hip-Hop music, so with only ignorant mainstream critics to rate this CD we have sites like Allmusic giving this album a paltry 3 stars! This kind of underrating and underexposure has been plaguing Hip-Hop music since the mid-nineties and this type of absurdity and ignorance is indicative of how real Hip-Hop has been hushed over the years to make way for less credible shit.
Almost entirely produced by Kenny Parker (of Boogie Down Productions and brother of KRS-One) Takin Mine is an example of nineties Hip-Hop done right. The LP flows brilliantly from beginning to end, there isn’t any shifting of moods, and with only ten tracks on the album it doesn’t feel like it’s overstaying its welcome or becoming repetitive in any way. Takin Mine is one of those albums that you can listen to from start to finish and you don’t want to skip a single track, the entire album is consistent and it’s great to listen to however and whenever you chose. Listen to it with your earphones like I did (I almost wore the cassette out during ’96 and ’97) but it’s also great for playing on loudspeakers at a BBQ. It sounds particularly good if you play it through a high-powered car speaker system, in fact the stubborn lyrics and somewhat aggressive soundscape compliments most situations where you desire a strong and lively atmosphere.
The album begins without any intro, there’s no superfluous songs or unnecessary skits. The mean opening track is “Da Heartbreaka”, a hardcore song which features a dirty piano, a steady beat, and a simplistic chorus. Heather compliments the production with her unflagging, hardcore lyrics. With lines like these, you know Heather B wasn’t up for being another stereotypical female rapper: “Now who was it that said females can’t rhyme? I’m wit’ you, that’s why a real niggas got to keep this shit true”.
The second offering “All Glocks Down” (which features a sample of Black Moon‘s “How Many MC’s”) is a head-knodding track in the real sense of the word. Put this song on, turn up the volume, and just try to resist your neck moving back and forth…
“If Headz Only Knew” then follows and it’s another potent, bass-thumping track and it features some great lines about how Heather feels about the rap game. With other mainstream MC’s flashing their designer clothes during the mid-nineties, Heather instead rapped; “You wanna know why I keep it real? ’cause it’s easy. Fuck the fancy shit, it’s the simple things that please me. I sports fat gear, along with no name shit, as long as I got me some cash, I don’t care whose name on my hip”…
She then goes on to tear down the sex-focussed aesthetic that began to gain traction in Hip-Hop music, especially with mainstream female rappers: “It’s more to it than a Lex and duplex. Don’t sell sex or [pro]mote sex sells, I got more respect”.
The next track is “My Kinda Nigga” featuring the fiery M.O.P. and together they make a mean sounding joint with an epistrophe-esque chorus that’s catchy as hell with each line ending in “My Kinda Nigga!”…
The title track “Takin’ Mine” is a more sedate song with a summery feel and the lyrics speak on trying to make it big in the music business. Heather raps: “From now on I’m making moves, fuck plans. That’s the shit I’m on as my front door slams. And fuck these neighbours, they’ll never understand, but one day I’m gonna make ’em all big fans”.
The next song “Mad Bent” is a steady track with a simple hook. The production is solid and there’s decent lyrics with Heather declaring “Heather B; no gimmicks, no tricks, no niggas in the background writing my shit”. Then comes “Sendin ‘Em Back” and it’s back to Heather’s more hardcore sound. The lyrics themselves are also scathing with certain lines possibly targeting any fake female rappers out there: “I chip tooths, knockin’ ’em lose at one time, that’s for all them hoes that don’t write they own rhymes. Repeat after me, ‘Heather B, Heather B’. Lyrically, lyrically got all these hoes shook… You rhyme but I write, you fuss but I fight. I am all the truth and you are all the fucking hype. I don’t like no fake-ass MC’s, so any problems with that, you come see me”. For all the naysayers and sexist twats who didn’t approve of women in Hip-Hop, Heather B also spits the hilarious line “If I ever grown a dick you’d be on it”. This is just a classic Heather B track in every way.
Then comes “No Doubt” (which features a sample from Notorious Big’s “Warning” in the chorus) and it’s another bass-thumping, head-knodding joint. This song features fantastically funny lines like “Y’all corny mother-effers and y’all slick-talking heifers, your upper and your lower lips need sewing together. Y’all talk more shit than Al Sharpton when the mic on, In person you’s a bitch with tight white panties on”. The song also ends with the amusing line “I don’t know who lied and told you it was all good, not around here and that’s word. Leaving teeth on the corner and ass on the curb”.
“Real Niggaz Up” is next and it’s produced by Da Beatminerz (Mr. Walt and Black Moon‘s DJ Evil Dee). The track sports a great bassline and a catchy yet rowdy chorus and the song features Heather’s crew The 54th Regiment who unfortunately never dropped an album of their own. The album then ends with “What Goes On” a more mellow song which is still rugged if you compare it to the other Hip-Hop songs out there at the time. The track contains lyrics which speak on real friendship and surrounding yourself with trustworthy people: “And when were you when my lights went out? And my moms put me out and I slept on the couch. Check this out, I need no new friends, son. I runs with the nuccas that been down since day one. No gravy train riding on these tracks, and fuck all them jacks that’s down after the fact” and this more relaxed and sometimes personal song is a nice way of bringing the album to a close.
With Heather B rapping “I wanna be more Illmatic than Nas” on “No Doubt”, I have to say that with her own 10 track CD she came pretty close. This album may not appeal to University graduates and scholars like Nas’ début, but in terms of length, in terms of sound, in terms of credibility, and in terms of consistency, Takin Mine is a short and sweet album filled with personality just like Illmatic.
So forget what the mainstream critics tell you was popular in 1996, and fuck what all the regular people liked back then, this is what was playing in the streets. While deaf pricks were making Master P’s Ice Cream Man a platinum selling album which reached number 6 on Billboard’s R&B Album chart, Takin Mine only made it as high as 36. Three singles were released (“All Glocks Down”, “If Headz Only Knew”, and “My Kinda Nigga”) and each of them made a little noise in the underground but the mainstream slept on this album in a major way. This underexposure was strange because surely people wanted something other than the typical Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown (both of who released their début album in November that year)? I guess the media didn’t want the masses to hear a female MC with a hardcore sound a few months before their “tits-n-ass” experiment was unleashed.
Bringing a hardcore aesthetic that could easily match the rowdiest rappers in a male dominated genre, it’s pretty strange that all the fake feminists (even to this day) keep bringing up Missy Elliot like she was the only non-conformist female in 90’s Hip-Hop music. For those who actually listened to Hip-Hop during the nineties (rather than these retrospective Hipster types) and for those without a selective memory, we all know Heather B was an a whole other level.
If an album like Takin Mine was played a little more on radio and music television, maybe we could have avoided all that sexist shit in the late nineties and noughties where women were portrayed as sluts and sex objects. Heather B was the antithesis of that horrid stereotype and her album Takin Mine was proof that she was as much (if not more) rugged than her male counterparts. In a world still dominated by sexism and stereotyping, Heather B and her 1996 album are still a refreshing listen today, it’s just unfortunate that more people didn’t get behind a genuinely talented MC and her classic LP back when it mattered. I guess sex sells and everything else undersells.
What Goes On?