We gave it a C-
With its song defending the use of sampling, its deft Prince Paul production, and its rap/doo-wop ballad, Stetsasonic’s 1988 album In Full Gear was more adventurous than your typical hip-hop record. It may not have been entirely successful, but the band was still finding its voice. On the heels of that release, the members of the group, particularly head rapper Daddy-O, seem to be taking themselves a bit too seriously as rap visionaries. The liner notes for this belated follow-up claim Stet is ”the one and only Hip Hop Band” — ”band” refers to their use of real drums, instead of drum machines — ”and the future of soul music.” Soul bands ought to have consistent grooves and good songs, though, and Blood, Sweat & No Tears doesn’t have much of either; it’s a concept album in search of a concept. Daddy-O hits all the politically correct topics — against the Klan and black-on-black violence, for South African liberation — without adding new insights (unless an offensive, lamebrained reference to ”faggot M.C.s” represents a new way of thinking). The music is pieced together well enough but still scattershot — solid if not innovative beats in one place, an L.L. Cool J-like ballad (”Walkin’ in the Rain”) in another, a novelty throwaway or a stark beat somewhere else. Blood, Sweat & No Tears may be eclectic, but so are dozens of other forgettable pop records.