Jungle Brothers – J. Beez Wit The Remedy (June 15, 1993)

In life, there are some acts that are done strictly out of obligation. If my sister calls me at midnight stuck on the side of the road and I’m making love to wifee, no matter how good and warm that poom poom feels, I gotta get up and help her. If my guy gets thrown in jail for acting a fool and calls me in the middle of the night while I’m in deep rim sleep, no matter how good that cover and pillow feels, I gotta get up and bail him out (assuming the bail is a reasonable amount and I have the cash on hand). Likewise, since the Jungle Brothers are part of my favorite hip-hop collective (Native Tongue), if I find their albums in the dollar bin I have to buy them.

If you read this blog on a regular basis you already know how I feel about the Jungle Brothers and specifically how I feel about their sophomore effort Done By The Forces of Nature. Although they started of with a pretty solid debut (Straight Out The Jungle) they quickly lost their mojo with uninspired production and less than decent rhymes on its follow-up. In fact, I was so unimpressed by Done By The Forces of Nature that I have no desire to review the rest of their output. But, out of obligation, I present to you my J. Beez Wit The Remedy review.

Legend has it that the album was originally titled Crazy Wisdom Masters and featured a hefty amount of “experimental” records, but Warner Bros was so unimpressed by the songs that they rejected them for release. The JBs were forced to go back to the lab and create more conventional hip-hop record, thus J. Beez Wit The Remedy was created (factoid: a few of the records from Crazy Wisdom Masters were kept and used for J. Beez Wit The Remedy). Like their previous two albums the Jungle Brothers would handle pretty much all of the album’s production.

I’ve never heard J. Beez Wit The Remedy before today, but based on their track record and the horrible album cover artwork, I’m not feeling optimistic about this one, folks.

40 Below Trooper – The album opens with a bouncy bass line, simple drum beat and the Jungle Brothers spewing less than spectacular rhymes over it.

Book Of Rhyme Pages – The instrumental is an improvement from the previous song and their bars are actually decent on this one. Not a great song, but it’s serviceable.

My Jimmy Weighs A Ton – Afrika and Mike G use this melodic instrumental to talk about their love affairs and the power of the D, aka jimmy. Their lyrics are cool but the beautiful instrumental is the true star of this song. By the way, I absolutely love the song title.

Good Ole Hype Shit – And all the album’s upward momentum built up on the previous song goes straight to hell with this one. This a complete train wreck, folks.

Blahbludify – WTF was that?

Spark A New Flame – Brothers Jungle are in the mood for love on this one. I love the African tribal feel the drums bring to the song. Unfortunately, everything else about the song reaks of mediocrity.

I’m In Love With Indica – You heard this concept used before: emcees using marijuana as a metaphor for a woman. The Jungle Brothers strand of choice happens to be Indica. Their lyrics are slightly clever but everything else about this song is pretty forgettable.

Simple As That – I’ll keep it simple…trash.

All I Think About Is You – This is the JB’s ode to the important women in their lives. The  sentiment slightly distracts the listener from the luke warmness of the instrumental but it’s still noticeable.

Good Lookin Out – The song opens with a verse from Afrika reminiscing on that time when he went raw dog, got burned and how his dad was their to take him to get it treated and advice him on his future sexual encounters. I thought I’d finally found a song suitable for my Father’s Day hip-hop mix, but then Mike G derails that plan with his feeble verse about his homeboys. The instrumental is all kinds of buttery, though.

JB’s Comin Through – They do come through. Unfortunately it’s with experimental music and rhymes that end of sounding like a bunch of loud noise.

Spittin Wicked Randomness – For some reason they decided to re-use the same garbage instrumental and overly abstract rhyme scheme as the previous song. It still doesn’t work.

For The Headz At Company Z – This is pretty much a weird instrumental that ends with the fellas chanting the song title. Not sure what or who Company Z is. Must be an inside thing.

Man Made Material – And the JB’s wrap up J. Beez Wit The Remedy with more experimental hot garbage

The JBs reach new lows on J. Beez Wit The Remedy. As a whole, the rhymes are weaker and the production ranges from barely bearable to down right horrible (yes, I did enjoy “My Jimmy Weighs A Ton” and “Good Lookin Out”, but for a 14 song album, those are the extreme exceptions). The album is pretty much spilt in half between conventional and experimental song ideas but the results are almost identical. If you can’t rhyme you can’t rhyme, but if you have Tip and Ali, as well as De La Soul in your corner, why not tap them for some dope beats? J. Beez Wit The Remedy proves that sometimes you can judge a book by its cover.

-Deedub

 

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Da Youngsta’s – The Aftermath (April 20, 1993)

Here’s  another one from April of 1993 that I missed. Put this one after Tim Dog’s Do Or Die. 

As legend has it, a young Philly emcee named Emanuel “Mentally Gifted” Parks was in the studio working on some songs for his own project. One of Parks’ songs was called “Somethin 4 The Youngstas”, and even though he was only nineteen at the time, he felt the song needed an even younger vibe than he could bring to it. So, he tapped the song’s producer (Lawrence L.G. Goodman, aka L.G. the Teacher) and asked if he could bring his son in to add a verse to the song. Goodman’s son happened to be thirteen year old Qu’ran “Q-Ball” Goodman and he happily obliged. Parks and Goodman would later add Qu’ran’s fourteen year old brother, Taji, and fifteen year old cousin, Tarik Dawson to the song. Parks was so impressed by the trio’s verses that he gave them the song, and thus, Da Youngsta’s were formed. Pop’s Goodman would use the song as Da Youngstas’ demo and it would eventually get the boys a deal with East West Records, where they would release their debut album Somethin 4 Da Youngsta’s in March of 1992. Thanks to their singles (“Somethin 4 Da Youngsta’s and “Pass The Mic”) and their clean kiddie image, they were able to make a little noise, but would be overshadowed by another kid act named Kriss Kross, who released their debut album just a few weeks after Da Youngsta’s. Da Youngsta’s would return in 1993 with their sophomore effort, The Aftermath.

L.G. the Teacher handled all the production on Somethin 4 Da Youngsta’s, but he would yield and let a handful of hip-hop’s most elite producers (DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Marley Marl, Kay Gee from Naughty By Nature and The Beatnuts) get behind the boards and handle the bulk of the lifting for The Aftermath. The young Philly whippersnappers would also shed their cute kid image and adapt a more hardcore thugged out persona for The Aftermath, which was the trend even back in 1993. The combination would result in Da Youngsta’s most commercially successful album to date.

I’ve had this album for years and I’m just now noticing that on the cover artwork Da Youngsta’s are inside of a human skull. Not sure what that has to do with album’s title, but whatever.

The Aftermath – The album opens with a decent Qur’an produced instrumental that he uses to personally welcome the listener to The Aftermath.

Wild Child – The first actual song of the evening would also be the album’s third single. The Beatnuts get their first of three production credits on The Aftermath, and hook up a nice mid-tempo backdrop with a low-key pulsating bass line that the Da Youngsta’s use to do their best Onyx impersonation over.

Iz U Wit Me – This was the second single from The Aftermath and another example of poor punctuation in hip-hop song titles. Qur’an, Taji and Tarik bring down the volume a bit from the previous song but continue in their new found hardcore flow. Pete Rock provides a solid backdrop for the trio to pretend, I mean, spit bars over.

Handle This – The youngins match the energy of Kay Gee’s laid back but still rugged, instrumental on this one. Treach was a beast with the ghostwriting in the nineties, and it’s pretty obvious when you listen to the young boys that he penned the trio’s rhymes on this one. This was pretty dope.

Crewz Pop – This was the lead single from The Aftermath. Naughty By Nature continues to lend a helping hand, as Kay Gee hooks up monster instrumental and Treach makes a brief cameo, and he most certainly penned Da Youngsta’s rhymes for this one too. This is easily the biggest hit in Da Youngsta’s limited catalog and possibly the strongest.

Lyrical Stick Up Kids – What the hell is a lyrical stick up kid? Anyway, Marley Marl hooks up a decent backing, as the Da Youngsta’s turn the volume back up and sound like some true blue studio gangsters. Speaking of studio gangsters, this would have been the perfect song for their fellow Philly teen rhymers, Illegal, to join in on the cypher.

Who’s The Mic Wrecka – Pete Rock and CL Smooth join Q-Ball, Taj Mahal and Tarik (sorry, I can’t make my pen write or my mouth call Tarik “Reek Geez” when another more superior Philly emcee named Tariq (Black Thought) uses that alias) on this cipher joint. Pete Rock gets credit for the instrumental that’s built around a lazy and overused loop from Johnny Guitar Watson “Superman Lover”. I could do without this song.

Count If Off – Papa Goodman gets his only production credit of the evening and he makes sure it counts (no pun intended). His sons and nephew sound decent rockin’ over his quality understated and rough backdrop.

Honeycomb Hide Out – They may have been young, but not too young to be interested in the ladies, as they spend the course of this song rapping praises to punanny. The Beatnuts get credit for the decent instrumental and Lt. Stitchie adds some reggae chants to the beginning, ending and hook of the song. Not my favorite song, but it’s cool.

Da Hood – The trio put on their conscious hats for this one, as each of them describe the trials that come with living in the hood. Qur’an gets credit for the instrumental and it’s actually pretty decent. It kind of sounds like something Kay Gee might have hooked up.

It’z Natural – Brothers Goodman and cousin Dawson take another break from the screaming, as they mellow out to match the laid back vibe of The Beatnuts’ backdrop. The instrumental doesn’t sound like a traditional Beatnuts production, but it’s still a beauty. I absolutely love the addictive low-key bass line and the sick horn loop on the hook.

Rip A Rhyme – Marley Marl gets his second and final production credit of the evening and it sounds like something the Lords of the Underground might have passed on, and that’s not a bad thing since the track is fairly decent. A more formidable group or emcee may have brought more out of it, but, it is what it is, yo.

Wake Em Up – If you’re going to have a filler song on your album you shouldn’t sequence it as the last song on the album, and that is exactly what Da Youngsta’s do here. I normally love Premo’s production, but this one is very mediocre. I never thought in a million years that I’d be referring to a Premo produced song as filler material, but you have to call a spade a spade. Side note: This is one of only four albums, that I can think of, that include both a Pete Rock and DJ Premier produced song (the other three being Blue Funk, Illmatic and Industry Shakedown).

Shout It Out – Qu’ran gets the credit for this rough instrumental, and all three members give their closing shout outs over it.

Da Youngsta’s tough guy image on The Aftermath is a bit too much at times, but the all-star cast of producers come through and provide an enjoyable soundscape, for the most part. The Aftermath is far from a classic, but you’ll find a few songs on the album you can appreciate.

-Deedub

 

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The Beatnuts – Intoxicated Demons: The EP (April 6, 1993)

Somehow I missed a few that I’ve had in the collection forever. If you’re keeping track at home, place this one in between Here Come The Lords and The Swoll Package. 

By 1993 The Beatnuts definitely had a foot in hip-hop’s door. With production work for Common, Monie Love, Fat Joe, Chi-Ali and Pete Nice (just to name a few) under their belts, The Nuts were well on their way to establishing themselves as one of hip-hop’s most respected production teams. Eventually, the trio (which at the time consisted of Juju, Psycho Les and Fashion) would connect with Chris Lighty (rip) and his Violator Management team and parlayed that relationship into a record deal with Relativity, where they would release their debut project, Intoxicated Demons: The EP.

Intoxicated Demons wouldn’t be your typical hip-hop producer project, like say, Marley Marl’s In Control series, with guest emcees rapping over the producers beats. Instead, Juju, Psycho Les and Fashion would take the bull by the horn and not only handle the production side of things, but also assume microphone duties for the entire project. It’s not like they hadn’t spit bars before (well, at least Fashion had some experience, with a small cameo he made on Chi-Ali’s “Let The Horns Blow”), but were their tongues swift enough to carry an entire EP?

World’s Famous Intro – Soundbites, a simple drum beat and horns lead into the first song of the evening…

World’s Famous – The Nuts borrow a drum beat from Lou Donaldson’s “Ode To Billie Joe” and lay a slick loop from Dizzy Gillespie’s “Matrix” over it (with a touch of Cannonball Adderley’s sax sprinkled on top) to construct this enjoyable audible treat. Fashion sits this one out and VIC (whose house, according to the liner notes, is where the whole EP was programmed) joins Psycho Les and Juju on the mic, as all three spit forgettable verses. The instrumental is dope, though.

Engineer Talking – Useless interlude.

Psycho Dwarf – This is my least favorite song on the EP. I don’t care much for the instrumental, the hook is trash and Psycho Les and Juju don’t say anything that’s worth quoting.

On The 1 + 2 – Interlude…

No Equal – This is my favorite song on the EP. I’m a sucka for xylophone samples, but when they’re as nasty as the Booker Little and Booker Ervin loop used on this one, I’m surprised I don’t pre-ejaculate in my boxers every time I hear it (the Q-Tip vocal sample on the hook is pretty dope as well). Fashion makes his first microphone appearance of the evening, as he, Juju and Psycho Les each take on a verse. Juju sounds sharp and spits the best verse of the entire EP, and also manages to take a cheap shot at Das EFX (“now punk niggas wanna test me, but all that tiggdy, tiggdy tongue twisting shit don’t impress me”). Well done, fellas.

Reign Of The Tec -This was the lone single released from Intoxicated Demons. The Nuts hook up a hard backdrop and Psycho Les and Juju go from careless party animals to hardcore heartless gangsters. If you don’t take them too serious and have fun with it (which is clearly what they intended) you won’t be offended or scared to hear threats like “I’ll kill your moms if I have to”. By the way, I absolutely love the Sadat X vocal sample on the hook (“John Wayne couldn’t even stand the reign of the tec”).

Quality & The Bushmen Off The Top – This interlude has someone spittin’ a very weak freestyle over some cool jazz instrumentation.

Third Of The Trio – The Nuts hook up a dope laid back instrumental and take turns showcasing just how mediocre their flows are.

Phone Call – Short interlude: There is something extremely sexy about hearing a girl you’re bangin’ tell you not to be “getting too much pussy” while she’s out of town. Yum. This sets up the next song…

Story – Juju sits this one out and lets Psycho Les and Fashion share porn stories. The eerie backdrop complements their X-rated content, very well.

It has one too many skits (or four) and a one garbage song, but overall Intoxicated Demons: The EP is a pretty solid debut project from The Nuts. If you listen to the EP not expecting much from them lyrically, their production will be an enjoyable audible appetizer. They don’t call themselves The Beatnuts for nothing, folks.

-Deedub

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Ice Cube – Lethal Injection (December 7, 1993)

We last heard from Ice Cube in 1992 with his multi-platinum third full-length release, The Predator. If y’all read this blog on a regular basis, you already know how I feel about that album. But if you don’t: I felt The Predator was a solid album, but Cube’s flow was deteriorating and his messages weren’t as potent as his past output, and even though he could still move units, it kind of marked the end of Cube’s reign as the hottest rapper in the game. He would return at the tail end of  1993 with his fourth album, Lethal Injection.

For Lethal Injection Cube would bring in Little Quincy Jones (QD III) to handle a chunk of the production, with contributions from Laylaw, Sir Jinx and a few relatively unknown producers as well. Of course the album went platinum, but the reviews from critics and fans were mixed.

Let’s review and see if the South Central native could regain his swag or would continue down the path that history has already written.

The Shot (Intro)Lethal Injection opens with a skit that has “Mr. White” going to the doctor (played by Ice Cube) to get a shot, and boy, what a shot it is.

Really Doe – This was the lead single from Lethal Injection. Laylaw and Derrick McDowell get credit for the nasty instrumental (I love the soulful Pointer Sisters vocal sample on the hook) that Cube sounds solid rockin’ over, even if he doesn’t sound as focused as he did in his Amerikkka Most Wanted/Death Certificate days. I completely forgot about this one, but it was a pleasant refreshment hearing it today.

Ghetto Bird – Is slang for the Police helicopter that hovers over the hood looking for criminal suspects. Cube uses this one to detail his run in with (or run from) the Ghetto Bird and how he escaped it’s watchful eye. QDIII gets his first production credit of the evening and I’m not a fan of it, or the song for that matter.

You Know How We Do It – Now this is more like. QDIII redeems himself from the previous track and hooks up a smooth west coast groove that Cube uses to describe how a west coast brother chills on the west side. No, you won’t get a deep message from Cube, just random bars spilled over a groove perfect for listening to as the sun goes down on a beautiful summer day.

Cave Bitch –  Brian G (yeah, I never heard of him, either) obeys Cube’s demands and makes a rough backdrop for Cube to dis white women, that he affectionately refers to as “cave bitches”. I chuckled a little when I heard our host call out Charles “Turrible” Barkley for dating white women, and when he refers to white girls as “she-devils”. I wonder if Cube still finds white women unattractive today or if this was just a phase. All in all, this song was and still is mildly entertaining.

Bop Gun (One Nation) – This was the third single released from Lethal Injection and may be the worst song in Ice Cube’s entire catalog. QD III replays portions of Funkadelic’s “One Nation Under A Groove” as Cube spends the entire eleven plus minutes of the song quoting pieces of songs from the seventies and finding random things to rhyme them (for example: “put a glide in your stride a dip in your hip, got Daytons on the mothership”). This was REALLY bad.

What Can I Do? – Cube comes from the perspective of a drug dealer who gets caught, serves his time, and when he comes back home he has a hard time readjusting to the legit life. Someone going by The 88 X Unit gets credit for the instrumental (which is built around an interpolation of Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You”) and he churns out a pretty smooth groove. Not one of Cube’s best storytelling songs, but it’s solid. Plus, I have to give him props for shouting out my home state…even though the Dome and Prince are now gone. Time is truly illmatic.

Lil Ass Gee – Cube uses this Sir Jinx instrumental to share a tale of a young gangster and where his life of ill deeds leads him to. Unfortunately, Jinx’ backdrop is trash, Cube’s storyline is uninteresting and his flow gets corny at certain points, like during the second verse when he turns “tomorrow” in to “tommari” so it will rhyme with “Atari”. Come on, Cube.

Make It Ruff, Make It Smooth – Cube’s Lench Mob brethren, K-Dee joins him on this duet, as they take turns spewing random lyrics about absolutely nothing. Cube and K-Dee might not give you much lyrically, but QD III’s instrumental is tough.

Down For Whatever – Trash.

Enemy – The song opens with a sound bite from a speaker dissing Martin Luther King for wanting blacks to sup with white folks when blacks can’t even get along with each other. Then Madness 4 Real drops a decent beat (that sound like it could have been on The Predator album) and Cube continues his verbal assault on the white devil.

When I Get To Heaven – The last song on the proper album finds our host questioning the validity of Christianity for the black man in America (which has been a common theme throughout hip-hop’s history). Brian G gets his second and final, production credit of the evening as he builds a mellow soundscape around an interpolation of Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues”. Not a bad way to end things.

The following are bonus tracks that were included on the 2003 reissue of Lethal Injection, which I happen to have:

What Can I Do? (Westside Remix) – This remix was the single release version for this song. Laylaw & D Maq give it a complete makeover, replacing the smooth laid back vibe of the original mix with a heavily funked out backdrop this time around. Cube’s future Westside Connection brethren, Mack 10, makes a quick cameo on the last verse, which slightly alters the ending of Cube’s original storyline. I absolutely hate this version of the song.

What Can I Do? (Eastside Remix) – This is my favorite version out of the three mixes on the album, and not just because the DJ from my favorite hip-hop group of all-time, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, produced it. I mean, that may play a part, but it’s still dope on its own merit.

You Know How We Do It (Remix) – Cube gets credit for this remix. Interestingly, both the original mix and the remix use different samples from Evelyn Champagne King’s “The Show Is Over”, and their equally as dope. Like “What Can I Do? (Westside Remix)” Cube adds a few new bars at the end of the song that don’t add much to it, but whatever.

Lil Ass Gee (Eerie Gumbo Remix) – N.O. Joe (best known for his production work for Scarface) gets the production credit for this one, and the song’s subtitle actually describes the instrumental, perfectly. Even though the instrumental sounds ten times better than the original, I still don’t like the song.

Lethal Injection helps Ice Cube continue his journey from being one of the most respected emcees (on any coast) to hip-hop irrelevancy. It’s not a terrible listen. The production hits more often than it misses, but Cube’s not as focused, as the songs structures, themes and lyrics aren’t nearly as strong as they once were, circa 1991. Lethal Injection is almost like watching Kevin Garnett at the end of his career. He could show up and give you 12 points and 6 rebounds from time to time, but was far from the player that he was in his prime (bars!). But don’t feel bad for Cube, the dude just put his energy into making movies, and that has worked out well for the man.

-Deedub

 

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Domino – Domino (December 7, 1993)

After the Rodney King verdict and just days before the 1992 Los Angeles riots, a few high-ranking leaders from some of the L.A. Crips and Blood sets, Football Hall of Famer, Jim Brown and others, met to discuss a peace treaty amongst the rivals gangs. The treaty was established and would grow outside of just the Bloods and Crips, as most of the other Black and Latino gangs in L.A. would follow suit, which would ultimately help decrease the gang-related violence that helped ravage the L.A./Watts area in the eighties and early nineties. West coast hip-hop and gang culture have always been synonymous, and even though a lot of the left coast emcees were affiliated with a set, they didn’t openly claim one on records…but that would soon change.

Ronnie M Phillips, better known to the world as Ronnie Ron, was a producer and the founder of Dangerous Records. After the truce, Ronnie had the bright idea to bring together some of the Crips and Bloods with rhyming skills and put together an album. This idea would birth Bangin’ On Wax and Bangin’ On Wax 2, which would give the rivals a chance to set trip and kill each other on records instead of shooting each other with guns and dying in the streets. Bangin’ On Wax would go on to earn the bangin’ brethren a gold plaque. One of the rappers representing the blue corner on Bangin’ On Wax was a rapper named Genuine Draft, who made a big enough impression on the album to earn himself a solo deal on a small label called Outburst (that was distributed by Def Jam/Columbia), He would change his rap moniker from Genuine Draft to Domino for his self-titled debut.

Domino would call on DJ Battlecat (who also worked on Bangin’ On Wax) and Robert “Fonksta” Bacon to handle the production for the entire album, and on the strength of two pretty successful singles, Domino would go on to earn the Crip claiming emcee another gold plaque. Domino would continue to spew out music after his debut album, but would never match its commercial success, and I honestly couldn’t name one song or album after his debut…unless I Googled it, of course…which I did and is how I know his catalog exist in the first place. But I digress.

Diggady Domino – The album begins with a cool up-tempo instrumental and Domino introducing himself to the world as the reformed gangster now rapper/singer/party animal. This was a decent start to the evening.

Getto Jam – This was the lead single from Domino and is easily the biggest hit in his catalog. Over a smooth laid back groove, Domino harmonizes about a day (or a whole weekend) in the life of a brother from Long Beach. Domino’s lyrics are a bit elementary, but his harmonized rhyming style still sounds slick, today.

A.F.D. – Is an acronym for “Ass For Days” (which if you can’t tell by Domino’s rhymes, you’ll quickly put together when the hook comes in). Battlecat and Robert Bacon hook up a breezy backdrop that Domino uses to praise women who are plentiful in the gluteus maximus area. Speaking of ass for days, I recently stumbled on an Instagram model named Mindy “Sittinpretty” Harwood the other day and this chick has so much ass she’s worthy of her own acronym: A.F.Y. (Ass For Years). You think I’m playing? Check for yourself. It’s so ridiculous I thought it was Photoshopped. Oh yeah, the song. It’s pretty decent.

Do You Quality – Can I get a question mark on the song title, please? Domino delves into the topic of underage girls deceiving well-intentioned men into sleeping with them. Believe it or not, it does happen, folks. Battlecat samples a portion of Kool & The Gang’s “Summer Madness” and he and Mr. Bacon give it a bit of a g-funkish twist, turning it into a smooth groove. And remember, when in doubt, go ahead and ask her: Do you qualify?

Jam – Not to be confused with “Getto Jam”, Battlecat and Bacon continue their synthesized heavy production style, and Domino is in full party mode. This was kind of trash…next.

Money Is Everything – Over some laid back jazzy keys, Domino makes his version of Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.”. Battlecat’s keys on this one remind me of the instrumental I first heard Domino on, which was “Mackin’ To Slob Bitches” from the Bloods & Crips’ Bangin’ On Wax album, and I believe Battlecat produced that song as well. This was pretty dope.

Sweet Potatoe Pie – This was the second single from Domino, and blame Domino for the misspelling of “potato” in the song title, not me. Battlecat’s instrumental sounds like it may have borrowed some elements of the bass line from The SOS Band’s “Take Your Time (Do It Right)” record and mixed it with some high pitch keys, and the end result is pretty dope. Of course Domino doesn’t bring anything new to the table, lyrically. Just more drinking, smoking, and thirstin’ for putang.

Raincoat – For those who don’t know, a raincoat is another name for a condom. Over a breezy backdrop Domino drops this safe sex PSA and stresses the importance of using the “rubber that’s in the plastic”, the “jacket in the packet”, not “testing the rain without a raincoat”…you get the point.

Long Beach Thang – Over an up-tempo instrumental that screams “west coast”, Domino shows love to the city he represents. He also manages to slip in a low-key shoutout to his Crip set (“and color’s a muthafucka aint it, ya just bought a red card yo’ ass better paint it”)before shrugging it off as a joke and holding true to the peace treaty. This was pretty dope. The only that could have made it better would have been a cameo from Mr. LBC himself, Snoop D-O-double G.

That’s Real – For the last song of the evening Domino invites AMG and La Quan to join him on this feast in misogyny, so, lyrically you know what you’re getting. Not a great song, but AMG’s laid back funk instrumental will grow on you after a few listens.

Even though I found both his singles (“Getto Jam” and “Sweet Potatoe Pie”) pretty solid back in 1993, there were so many good new albums coming out, almost weekly, I never checked for Domino back in the day. Thanks to Down In The Valley’s dollar bin, I was able to experience it twenty odd years later, and it’s actually a pretty decent listen. Domino is not a great lyricist or a great rapper, but his tone and the singy rapping thing he does (years before Drake did it, may I add…oh, and by the way, even though he claims on “Diggady Domino” that he can “rap, but singing is his trade”, he definitely raps more than he sings on this album) is entertaining and sounds nice over DJ Battlecat’s clean production. Domino is not a great album, but good enough to keep your head bobbin’ and your feet C-walkin’.

-Deedub

 

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MC Ren – Shock of The Hour (November 16, 1993)

Before we start December of 1993, I figured I’d slip this November release in, as it somehow got removed from my spreadsheet. If you’re keeping track at home, insert this one after Black Reign. 

We last heard from MC Ren with the release of his debut solo project, that was the 6 song EP affectionately titled, Kizz My Black Azz. For those who read this blog on a regular basis, in the wrap up of the Kizz My Black Azz review I mentioned that I wondered what a full-length project from the former NWA emcee would sound like. Well, lucky for me, I came across a copy of his full length debut Shock of the Hour, a while back.

Like Kizz My Black Azz, Shock Of The Hour would be released on his long-time homie, Eazy-E’s (rip) Ruthless label. DJ Bobcat was at the helm for most of the production work on Kizz My Black Azz, but he would not be present for Shock of the Hour. Instead, Ren would bring in a few relatively unknown producers, Tootie and Dr. Jam to handle the bulk of the production load. It’s worth noting that the album is divided into two parts, as the first half of songs were recorded before Ren converted to the Nation of Islam and the second half after his conversion.

Hopefully the songs sound as epic as the album cover’s artwork looks.

11:55 – The album opens with a dark instrumental and a few sound bites, before Ren’s buddy Laywiy gives the listener a spoken word piece that touches on everything from the Apocalypse to drive-bys, and everything in between. I found this pretty useless, but at least it’s short.

Same Old Shit – This was the lead single from Shock of the Hour, and boy is it a dandy. Tootie hooks up a dark and very hard instrumental that Ren uses to discuss the scandalous deeds he commits on a daily basis. Ren sounds right at home and his booming baritone compliments the edgy backdrop, perfectly.

Fuck What Ya Heard – Ren uses this one to address all the rumors floating around about himself, and to talk random shit. Dr. Jam provides a decent extremely west coast sounding backdrop for Ren to vent over. Not great, but I’ve heard worst.

All Bullshit Aside – Ren continues his tough guy talk over a Dr. Jam & Madness 4 Real produced track. It’s not a great song, but the instrumental’s mystic low-key vibe will grow on you and win you over.

One False Move – Ren invites hid buddies Da Konvicted Felon and Dollar Bill to rhyme next to him on this one, with Don Jaguar adding a reggae chant on the hook. Ren sounds decent, but his boys stink up the place, along with Tootie’s instrumental which is pretty  weak as well.

You Wanna Fuck Her – Dr. Jam slides Ren some old smoothness that he uses to get his misogyny on. As disturbing as this may sound, he sounds pretty damn good disrespecting women over it. Guilty pleasure.

Mayday On The Front Line – This was originally released as a single from the CB4 Soundtrack. Ren does a complete one-eighty as he goes from a full-blown gangster on the first half of the album to a Black Militant activist on this song. I guess it’s not a complete one-eighty, because he still has his hardcore edge. He just redirects his aim at the white man instead of his own brother.  Initially, I wasn’t crazy about Dr. Jam’s instrumental, but the more I listen to it the more I love it.

Attack On Babylon – If hip-hop were around back in Nat Turner’s day this song would have definitely been on his rebellion playlist (right in between P.E.’s “Fight The Power” and N.W.A.’s “Fuck The Police”). David “Rhythm D” Weldon hooks up a dark unsettling instrumental for Ren to paint the gory details of the day the black man takes over America by force. Ren’s very convincing on this one, and sure to make even the coolest white boy a little uncomfortable.

Do You Believe – Can a brother get a question mark, please? Tootie serves up a solid backdrop, as Ren continues his militant rants, calling out black men who marry white women, worship a white Jesus, keep their slave master’s name, eat pork and gangbang. I don’t agree with a lot of his opinions, but it’s interesting to hear the reformed gangster spilling some consciousness in his rhymes.

Mr. Fuck Up – Our host takes a bathroom break and lets his crew, The Whole Click (yes, that is actually the name of their crew): Grinch, Bone, Juvenile and J-Rocc, take over this one. Unfortunately, none of them impress on the mic and Tootie’s instrumental sounds lazy, so all parties involved live up to the song title.

Shock Of The Hour – Ren saves the title track for last and invites Laywiy and KAM to join him on this warning of the looming apocalypse. Ren and KAM sound decent enough, I guess, but listening to this Laywiy dude is like listening to someone press a piece of chalk against a chalkboard. I see what Tootie was going for with the instrumental and he succeeds with its unnerving dark feel, but overall it’s pretty anticlimactic and doesn’t complete what it set out to accomplish.

This may sound wrong, but I think I prefer the ratchet Ren over the righteous Ren that shows up for the second half of Shock of the Hour. In my opinion, Ren’s strongest attributes have always been his strong booming vocal tone and his direct rhyming approach. Both attributes are present throughout Shock of the Hour, but his direct rhyming comes across more effective when he’s thuggin’ opposed to when he’s trying to enlighten the listener. I was less impressed with Tootie and Dr. Jam’s production. Even though they manage to slip Ren a dope instrumental, here and there, most of their work is average and mediocre. All that said, Shock of the Hour isn’t a terrible album, but it leads me to believe that Ren may be stronger in a group than as a solo artist.

-Deedub

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The Conscious Daughters – Ear To The Street (November 30, 1993)

I hope this post finds everyone enjoying the Holiday season! As 2017 comes to an end we are also close to wrapping up 1993 hip-hop reviews. This is my last post of the year, so may you all have a Happy New Year!  

There was once a time in hip-hop when female emcees didn’t have to talk dirty and walk around in thongs and heels to be heard. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy that method sometimes, but…I’m just sayin’. During those good old days, female emcees like Queen Latifah, MC Lyte and Roxanne Shante gripped the mic looking to be noticed and respected for their lyricism, not their bodies. As the gangster rap sub-genre begin to grow in the early nineties, the ladies started to gravitate toward the style as well, with groups like Boss having commercial success with it. Another female group that came out of this era with a hardcore edge was the Oakland duo of Carla “CMG” Green and Karryl “Special One” Smith, together known as The Conscious Daughters.

The Conscious Daughters were put on by their bay area brethren, Paris, who would sign them to his Scarface imprint and go on to produce their entire debut album, Ear To The Street. Ear To The Street would spawn a couple of minor hits for the duo, who would release two more albums as a group: 1996’s Gamers and 2009’s The Nutcracker Suite. Sadly, on December 10, 2o11, Special One was found dead in her home due to complications with blood clots. May she rest in peace.

I found Ear To The Street a couple of years ago for a few bucks in the clearance bin at one of my favorite books stores (what up Half Price Books?!!!). I’m familiar with a few of the singles from Ear To The Street, but this is my first time listening to the album in its entirety. So, with no further adieu, let’s take a journey and see how funky this expedition really is.

Princess Of Poetry – TCD get things off to an energetic start, as both CMG and K show they can actually spit over a sick instrumental, courtesy of Paris. Great start to the evening, and thank you ladies for keeping it humble and not proclaiming yourselves queens of this here genre.

Shitty Situation – Paris uses an interpolation of Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You” for the instrumental, and CMG goes dolo on this one as she explains how a night of hot buckey naked sex (I had to chuckle when CMG says her lover was “diggin’ up in the guts like the muthafucka lost something”) turns into a lifetime of responsibility. This makes for a cool PSA , but not a great song. Hopefully it helped some young lady make a wise decision, though.

TCD In Da Front – CMG and K rekindle the fire they started with on “Princess Of Poetry” and sound nice rockin’ over Paris’ Parliament influenced backdrop. Both emcees spit one quick verse (with K bringing the stronger bars on this one) and jump out of it, quickly. Then Easy-E ends the song dropping a co-sign for the duo. Well done, ladies.

Somethin’ To Ride To (Funky Expedition) – This was the lead single from Ear To The Street. CMG and K take turns glorifying smoking, drinking, hunting down their rivals, avoiding 5-0 and all the other stereotypical hood shit you can think of. To make matters worse, Paris’ instrumental sounds cheesy and the whistling sample sound on the hook is enough to drive a brotha insane after a few listens.

We Roll Deep – This was the only other song I was familiar with before listening to Ear To The Street today. Over a breezy instrumental TCD continues their tough guy talk. This one is suitable for summertime cruising.

Showdown – Paris brings the funk (and a verse) for TCD to get their swerve on, and they wind up rapping circles around their mentor. It’s not that TCD sound spectacular, but Paris’ sixteen sounds like the audio equivalent of a decrepit old man trying to bend over to tie his shoes. The true star of this song is the instrumental, though; it makes me want to get in the six-four and hit them switches…before I remember I don’t have one.

Wife Of A Gangsta – K and CMG use a slick Paris backdrop to glorify the life a being married to a gangsta and all the perks that come with: money, scandalous women scheming to take your man and the constant fear of rivals plotting to take you and your husband’s lives. Fun stuff! The only thing enjoyable about this one is the instrumental and CMG’s line “taking them out in twosies”, which makes me chuckle every time I listen to this song.

Dex Dog – Apparently Dex Dog is TCD’s homeboy and they wanted him to get a little shine, so they let him vent and ramble on for about fifteen second.

Crazybitchmadness – Special One spits a quick verse over a basic drum beat. The song is super short, but very unimpressive.

Da Mac Flow – I didn’t care for this one either.

What’s A Girl To Do? – This song is all over the place. K spends her bars talking about what she won’t do for her man, while CMG uses her verses to spit battle rhymes (wait…did she just take a shot at the UMC’s? What beef could CMG possibly have with Haas G and Kool Kim?). I like the funky yet smooth guitar sample that Paris uses (which Unknown DJ (of CMW) used the previous year for the instrumental for the female emcee, Paradise’s song “Down With My Nigga” from the Deep Cover Soundtrack), but everything else about this song is trash.

Don’t let the name fool you. With the exception of “Shitty Situation” there is not much conscious about these daughters’ content on Ear To The Street. In fact, while they both can actually rap, it sounds like they and Paris was trying to capitalize on the success of Boss and borrowed their gangsta image for Ear To The Street (which is ironic, considering Paris’ conscious black militant persona). Paris does manage to muster up a couple of pretty dope instrumentals for the ladies, but most of his production falls flat, while most of TCD’s rhymes ring hollow and inauthentic. Maybe they should have held their ears to the street a tad bit longer.

-Deedub

 

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