In 1989, hip-hop was truly bona fide. It had shed the "just a gimmick" tag years before, as it showed not only artistic growth, but serious sales numbers. In short, it was here to stay. After the explosion of Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy in New York and the rise of the West Coast seen in multi-platinum successes by N.W.A. and Ice-T, the music started to truly expand, letting new voices and approaches join the party and make their own waves.
One of those was a young man from Brooklyn who went by the name Special Ed. Only 16 when his debut hit shelves (and then quickly flew off them), his age was indeed just a number. Beyond any gimmicks, Ed had serious skills. Fortunately, Ed found his way into the recording studio with fellow Brooklynite, Hitman Howie Tee. Howie had seen some success as part of the group CD III earlier in the '80s, and also did uncredited production on the worldwide smash "Roxanne, Roxanne" by UTFO in 1984. With skills and experience under his belt, he was waiting for his true "big moment."
Ed was the MC that Howie had been waiting for, and together they made history. Once it hit, Howie's instincts were proved correct – Youngest In Charge was a smash, rocked on radio, in clubs and on boomboxes around the world. It shot up the Billboard 100 and Rap / R&B album charts with ease, and hit Gold status by the late ‘90s, proving the album's staying power.
Even considering the novelty of Ed's youth, the Youngest In Charge album stands very firmly on its own as a hip-hop classic, the ultimate in late ‘80s New York brag swagger, with hit singles "I Got It Made" and "Think About It," both which showed off Ed's battle stances and Howie Tee's masterful, never-endingly catchy productions. Add to it deeper album cuts that still resonate like "Taxing," "Fly M.C." and "I'm The Magnificent" (a later single, in 1990), and it brings you back to a time when hip-hop was all about skills and chemistry. Special Ed and Howie Tee certainly had both, with dopeness to spare.