Play with Toys

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Play with Toys
Basehead Play with Toys.jpg
Studio album by
GenreAlternative hip hop
ProducerMichael Ivey
Basehead chronology
Play with Toys
Not in Kansas Anymore

Play with Toys is the debut album by American alternative hip hop group Basehead. It was voted one of the top 50 albums of 1992 in Q magazine,[2] and listed as number 43 in NME's top albums of 1992.[3]

Music and lyrics[edit]

The music style of Play with Toys fuses elements of rock, blues,[4][5] funk,[6] hip hop,[7] pop,[7] psychedelic[8] and reggae,[9] and was described as an alternative hip hop "cult favorite".[7] David Jeffries described Play with Toys as "slacker rap".[1] According to Michael Ivey, "There are hip-hop elements in there, but if a hardcore hip-hop fan bought it, they might be disappointed".[9] Ivey also stated that Basehead's music "doesn't have the expected samples and sounds."[10] The lyrical themes of Play with Toys focus on diverse subjects, including alcohol and marijuana use,[5] depression,[1] philosophy,[4] politics,[4] and relationship breakups.[4] Francis Davis wrote that Ivey's lyrics "[subvert] both rock music and gangsta-rap conventions."[5] The instrumentation of Play with Toys was created largely with live instruments rather than samples, which differentiates the album's sound from that of mainstream hip hop.[10] Instruments were altered with studio techniques for effect,[10] and Ivey altered the pitch of his voice for sketches in which he voiced the friends of the album's protagonist. Ivey's vocals mix singing and rapping.[4]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[1]
Chicago Tribune4/4 stars[11]
Christgau's Consumer Guide(3-star Honorable Mention)(3-star Honorable Mention)(3-star Honorable Mention)[12]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[13]
Q3/5 stars[14]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[4]
Spin Alternative Record Guide9/10[15]

Rolling Stone reviewer Kevin Powell wrote that "Without being preachy, Basehead's unconventional style challenges listeners to get beyond their basic instincts and open their minds, search their souls."[4]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Michael Ivey.

2."2000 BC"4:15
3."Brand New Day"4:52
4."Not Over You"4:38
5."Better Days"3:09
6."Ode to My Favorite Beer"3:42
8."Evening News"4:37
9."I Try"3:53
10."Play with Toys"4:03
Total length:40:59


  • Michael Ivey – guitar, vocals
  • Brian Hendrix – live drums
  • Bruce 'Kool Aid' Gardner – live drums on "2000 BC"
  • Paul 'DJ Unique' Howard – scratches
  • Bob Dewald – bass on "Play with Toys"
  • Marco Delmar – feedback solo on "Play with Toys"


  1. ^ a b c d Jeffries, David. "Play with Toys – Basehead". AllMusic. Retrieved December 6, 2009.
  2. ^ Q - End of Year Lists
  3. ^ 1992 NME Lists
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Powell, Kevin (July 9, 1992). "Play with Toys: Basehead". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on November 12, 2007. Retrieved February 18, 2009.
  5. ^ a b c Davis, Francis (2004). "Black Faces, Black Masks". Jazz and its Discontents. A Francis Davis Reader. Da Capo Press. p. 264. ISBN 0-306-81055-7.
  6. ^ Kiviat, Steve (October 11, 1996). "You Gotta Have Faith". Washington City Paper. Retrieved February 18, 2009.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Basehead". AllMusic. Retrieved February 18, 2009.
  8. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Not in Kansas Anymore – Basehead". AllMusic. Retrieved February 18, 2009.
  9. ^ a b Larkin, Colin (1998). "Basehead". The Virgin Encyclopedia of Dance Music. Virgin. p. 27. ISBN 0-7535-0252-6.
  10. ^ a b c Morris, Chris (March 6, 1993). "Basehead Asks: Do You Wanna (Moan)?". Billboard. 105 (10): 26.
  11. ^ Kot, Greg (May 14, 1992). "Basehead: Play With Toys (Imago)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 29, 2017.
  12. ^ Christgau, Robert (2000). "Basehead: Play With Toys". Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-24560-2. Retrieved April 29, 2017.
  13. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). "Basehead". The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  14. ^ "Basehead: Play with Toys". Q (72): 70. September 1992.
  15. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). "Basehead". Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.