After breaking new territory by becoming the first rap group to be commercially successful, The Sugarhill Gang found themselves on the outside looking in as countless MCs and rap groups expanded on the sound the group made popular.
By the time the group released Livin’ In the Fast Lane in 1984, the group was no longer in vogue, as other rap groups like Run D.M.C. and Whodini were taking rap into the album age. Livin’ In the Fast Lane was more of an artifact in 1984 than a viable record because the sound and the party raps were so out of date at the time.
Adding to the commercial misery was the fact that the album was all over the place sonically. Did Sugarhill want to be a rap group, or a singing group? The group tried to be both, and rap audiences in 1984 just wasn't buying what Sugarhill was selling.
To be fair, the rap tracks on Livin’ In the Fast Lane were the best tracks on the album. “Fast Lane” has a nice back beat and the lyrics were solid. “Girls,” which surprisingly became a minor hit for the group, had a nice mid-tempo sound to it, and although “Kick It Live from 9 to 5” sounded horribly out of date in 1984, it was a track that took you back to the party rap days.
But the other half of the album, where the group tried to show off their singing chops, were the tracks that sunk this album. “Real Funky” sounded real formulaic and dry, the rap/singing hybird “Space Race” went overboard on the studio technology, and the track came off as robotic and lacking a human touch; and “I Like What You’re Doing” is a truly bizarre new wave track, and should be avoided like the plague.
If Livin’ In the Fast Lane would had just stuck to rapping, this album may have had a chance, a small one, but a chance nevertheless. But the singing tracks are lifeless and horrible, and it really weighed this album down. No wonder The Sugarhill Gang called it quits after this album.
Because the rap tracks were decent, Livin’ In the Fast Lane is recommended for Sugarhill Gang fans only. For other fans of rap and hip-hop, skip this album altogether.