In the early 00’s, Nas was in the middle of a war of words with Jay-Z. After Jay-Z released the monster dis track “Take Over”, it appeared he had ended Escobar’s career, which was seemingly on life support at the time anyway, since as Jay-Z put it, he had a “1 hot album every 10 year average” at the time. With his back against the wall and the world ready to stick a fork in him, Nas wiped the dirt off his shirt, grabbed Eric B & Rakim’s classic “Paid In Full” instrumental and recorded a song called “Stillmatic (Freestyle)” (not the intro to his album with the same name), firing shots back at his adversary and his team. This of course would set the stage for his classic dis record “Ether”, that would solidified Nas’ victory in this epic clash of titans. But I digress.
Few remember Jay-Z during his pre-Reasonable Doubt days, when he made a few cameos on other artist’s songs (i.e. Big Daddy Kane’s “Show And Prove” and Original Flavor’s “Can I Get Open”). During those days, Jay didn’t have the laid back conversational flow that we’ve all come to know and love, but instead he used to rhyme with a quick rapid fire delivery. On “Stillmatic (Freestyle)” Nas calls him out on this and says “I rule you, before you used to rhyme like the Fu-Schnickens, Nas designed your blueprint who you kidding”. This line obviously accuses Jay of being a biter, but I’ve always perceived it as an unintentional jab at the Fu-Schnickens as well. In hindsight, many viewed the Fu-Schnickens as a corny gimmick. Do you, remember the Fu?
The Fu-Schnickens were the Brooklyn trio made up of Moc-Fu, Poc-Fu, and the chief emcee of their three-man crew (and the emcee Nas’ compared Jay-Z’s early sound to), Chip-Fu. Like the UMC’s before them (and a few years before the Wu-Tang Clan) the trio was influenced by Asian culture, as they would often makes references to Chinese food and Kung-Fu movies, and could often be found rockin’ Chinese tunic suits in videos, photo shoots, and at shows. The trio created a bit of a buzz with their first single “Ring The Alarm” in ’91 and followed up on the buzz in ’92, releasing their debut album F.U. “Dont Take It Personal” on Jive.
On the strength of the groups non-threating and almost cartoonish persona, mixed with a few strong singles, the Fu-Schnickens were able to parley F.U. “Dont Take It Personal”
into a gold plaque. They would release one more album in ’94 (Nervous Breakdown) that failed commercial before the group disbanded.
Gimmick or not a gimmick, that is the question.
True Fuschnick – This was the third and final single released from F.U. “Dont Take It Personal”. A Tribe Called Quest is given the production credit for this hard-driving instrumental that Chip, Poc, and Moc (who sounds a lot like Phife) use to proclaim how true they are to the Fu-Schnicken name. It’s been said that Chip-Fu’s style is the father to Das-EFX’ early diggidy-fliggidy flow. Listen closely to Chip’s verse on this song and I’m sure you hear some similarities. None of the trio sounds great on the mic, but the hyped hook and sick instrumental will keep your head bobbing. Which should come as no surprise considered who constructed it. I’m just sayin’.
Movie Scene – This one opens with reenactments of what is supposed to be scenes from old karate flicks (hence the song title). Then the beats drops and things fall a part quicker than Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries marriage. From the basic drum beat, to the annoying Chinese singing sample on the hook, to our hosts rhymes, nothing went right on this song.
Ring The Alarm – As I mentioned in the intro, this was the first single and the song that put the Fu-Schnickens on the map. Lyvio G samples dancehall artist Tenor Saw’s eighties hit of the same name, and turns it into a banger that Chip-Fu uses to go dolo over. Although I can’t make out half of what Chip is saying, his slightly dancehall rapid fire flow sounds nice over the backdrop. I completely slept on this song back in the day.
Back Off – The Fu-Schnickens and Lyvio G are credited for the instrumental as Chip-Fu gets his second consecutive solo joint. The backdrop samples the same haunting Lowell Fulsom (“Tramp”) bass line that EPMD used for “Rampage” and Cypress Hill borrowed for “How I Can Just Kill A Man”, with a nicely placed Grand Puba vocal sample for the hook. Chip-Fu uses it to spray his rapid fire flow every where and he even takes a shot at Rob Base, Too-Short, and every rapper’s favorite targets in the early nineties, Young MC and Vanilla Ice. I just wish I could understand what Chip’s saying without having to read the lyrics from the liner notes.
Heavenly Father – A Tribe Called Quest gets their 2nd production credit of the evening as they borrow liberally from Alicia Myers eighties hit “I Want To Thank You”. Moc and Poc return from their short vacation and join Chip as they each get a verse to give praise to God, and they all submit pretty solid verses. If you’re looking for substance this is about all your going to get on F.U. “Dont Take It Personal”, so feel free to check out now. As unoriginal as the instrumental is, I still dig this one. I guess I’m a sucker for praise and worships raps. And A Tribe Called Quest.
La Schmoove – This is easily my favorite Fu-Schnickens song in their limited catalog. A Tribe Called Quest gets their third and final production credit of the evening for this one, which was also the second single released from F.U. “Dont Take It Personal”. Over a mid-tempo groove with an infectious bass line, the Fu-Schnickens invite Phife-Dawg to the cipher as all parties involved spit a verse. Like “True Fuschnick” none of the emcees spit life changing rhymes but the instrumental and energetic hook with get you into this one.
Props – I didn’t care much for this one back in the day. It’s still not a great song but I do dig the trumpet sample on the break during the hook.
Generals – Over a boring instrumental, our Fu brethren do their best Cold Crush Brothers rendition. Next…
Check It Out – Riding high off the success of Black Sheep’s debut A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing, Dres cooks up a mildly interesting instrumental and spits a quick verse on this one. Brothers Fu also invite 40 Love, Kung-Fu (who is given props a few different times during the course of the album), and B5 to the cipher. Dres spits a nice verse and Chip, who closes this one out, spits another rapid fire flow that sound interesting but the lyrics for this one aren’t printed in the liner notes, so I’m left in the dark to what he was saying for most of his verse.
Bebo – Nothing like a nice warm bowl of hot garbage to close things out. I’ve never a sample of George Clinton’s “Atomic Dog” sound so unfunky.
F.U. is definitely not fine wine. Chip-Fu shows potential on the mic but his brethren come to the battle with empty guns, and as a unit their rhyme style sounds a bit dated and cartoonish. F.U. is not all bad, though. Chip-Fu’s solo songs are solid, and A Tribe Called Quest’s presence adds a nice touch as they produce probably the three strongest songs on the album, with Phife dropping a verse on one of them, and ATCQ’s Native Tongue brethren, Dres producing and rhyming on a fourth song.
Thankfully, F.U. “Dont Take It Personal” is only 10 tracks in length, so you won’t have to sit and listen through too much filler material, in case you’re doing a stunt blog like this or you own a copy of F.U. “Dont Take It Personal” in it’s 8-track format. Listening to F.U. “Dont Take It Personal” today definitely confirms the Fu-Schnickens were yesteryear’s flavor of the month, without any truly timeless quality in their music. Time is definitely illmatic.