Love & Special Sauce released their debut album in 1994, the same year Beck made his major-label debut with a similar blend of folk-blues roots and slacker-rap. Though he has never quite matched Beck's aesthetic or commercial success, Love continues to tinker with the formula in interesting ways and has come up with his best album yet in 1997's Yeah, It's That Easy
. Like Beck, Love is at his best when he allows pop pleasures to shine through the montage of archival roots and hip-hop experiments. This album, for example, kicks off with "Stepping Stone," which, for all its blues motifs and street-wise beats, is at its best when it reaches its irresistible, sing-along chorus.
Yeah, It's That Easy is an unusual hip-hop album in that it includes a powerful pro-police, anti-gangster number, but it also takes time to make fun of Larry Bird. The latter insult comes on "I-76," a funny, funky number about Love's boyhood hoops team, the Philadelphia 76ers. Less persuasive are the mumbling, monotonous rap numbers such as the title track, but when Love pulls together hip-hop beats, blues guitar licks, and pop hooks, as he does on "Lay Down the Law," an elegy for a street-life victim, he finally lives up to all the great claims made for him at his debut. --Geoffrey Himes