At only 17, Special Ed gave us a few classics including “I Got It Made”.
“I get paid when my record is played. To put it short, I got it made”
A classic line from the hip-hop classic, “I Got It Made” by Special Ed. It was a video many would probably sleep on at first glance. Starting off in a junkyard in Brooklyn, it could have easily been dismissed as a cheaply produced video by a wanna be rapper at the time. But when the beat dropped, Special Ed established his place in hip hop history.
Edward Archer was 16 at the time, turning 17 when his debut album “Youngest In Charge” dropped 30 years ago today, on May 16th, 1989. Born in Brooklyn with Jamaican roots, Archer transformed into Special Ed and repped for his borough.
His debut album contained three primary hits including “I Got It Made”, “The Magnificent” and “Think About It”. All three, like the album, were produced by “Hitman” Howie Tee. They made noise as hip hop as it began its ascent in the streets and in the world of music, but none made as much noise, or maintained the test of time, as “I Got It Made”. It’s the song that Ed is most recognized for, and the track which never fails to get the party jumping, even three decades after its release.
Every real hip hop fan can recite that track word for word. It’s a fun, lyrical journey into the confident personality of a mature 16 year old. Special Ed has stated that he wrote the song at 14 or 15, but regardless of the exact age, it’s still impressive for such a young teenager, especially when his words remain embedded in our adult minds.
“I’m your idol, the highest title, numero uno. I’m not a Puerto Rican but I speak it so that ‘jou know.”
“Even got a little island of my very own. I got a frog, a dog with a solid gold bone. An accountant to account for all of the money I spent. I got a treaty with Tahiti ’cause I own a percent.”
Fun, crafty, witty and memorable.
“I’m the Magnificent” was another banger from the album. And while Ed and his crew dressed up a little with some styles straight from Oak Tree or Chess King (for my old school heads), it wasn’t until the Jamaican reggae-ska infused remix dropped that the song really hit in the house parties and clubs. Taking a sample from Desmond Dekker’s “Shanty Town”, Ed laced the track with his usual flow and gave us another version of the banger.
In “Think About It”, Ed gave us a song that made us think about things. Some that were common, others that had nothing to do with anything. But again, they became lyrics that we remembered. Not only because of his flow, but also because of they were easy to remember, flowed easy and were actually pretty funny.
“So sucker MC’s, please think twice. Would you join the navy if you didn’t like the gravy and rice? Think about it.”
“Think about that. Then think about this. If I tried to hit you do you think that I would miss?”
The album also contained a few other songs that didn’t take things too seriously and had a fun type of beat. In “Hoedown”, Ed channeled his inner “Hee-Haw” and gave us a country music inspired song about an interaction between him and a certain type of girl. In “The Bush”, he took Al Green’s “Love & Happiness” and created a tribute to Flatbush, Brooklyn.
Howie Tee and Special Ed made “Youngest In Charge” a must have for all hip hop collectors. And while the album, like Special Ed himself, is seldom mentioned in the discussions about the greatest albums and rappers, there’s no disputing that what Special Ed created verbally still hits 30 years later, with lyrics that can still be recited in its entirety by all fans today.
And that’s what makes him Special.