Do you riggiddy-riggiddy remember Das Efx?
Das Efx was the dreadlocked duo made up of Brooklyn native William “Skoob” Hines and Andre “Krazy Drayz” Weston, who was born in Jamaica and moved to New Jersey as a kid. Even though the two lived pretty close by each other, they didn’t meet until their college days at Virginia State University. They met, clicked up and formed Das Efx (“DAS” is an acronym for “Drayz And Skoob”, and the “Efx” is short for “effects”, which is a reference to their love of reverb on their vocals, in their early days). While performing at a local talent show in Virginia, the duo caught the attention of EPMD, who was impressed by their original style. This would eventually lead to the duo becoming a part of EPMD’s well-respected Hit Squad and a deal with East/West Records, where they would release their debut album (on my birthday) Dead Serious.
Surprisingly, Dead Serious would not include production from PMD or the Green-eyed Bandit, nor would it include any cameos from the hit squad or anybody else for that matter. Instead, Das would give Skoob’s Brooklyn homeboys, Chris Charity (rip) and Derek Lynch, who together made up the production team of Solid Scheme, a shot to produce the entire album with the exception of two songs, which Das would produce themselves.
Das’ signature stuttering style, would propel Dead Serious to platinum success, critical acclaim, and a slew of copy cats (i.e. Ice Cube and a young Common, to name a few). The duo knew their stutter style had an expiration date, so they would switch things up on the next few albums, but were never able to match the success (at least commercially) they received with Dead Serious.
I’ve always loved the album title, as it’s in complete contrast to the album’s content. It’s almost like Das knew heads would hear the album and ask “Are these dudes serious?”. The album title is their response.
Mic Checka – Now this is how you kick off your debut album. This was the second single and easily my favorite song on Dead Serious. Solid Scheme hooks up an aggressively pounding backdrop that Skoob and Krazy flip all over, introducing the world to their signature style. This is a certified banger and a classic.
Jussummen – Solid Scheme changes the mood a bit with this mid-tempo instrumental that includes some live guitar licks from Bobby Sitchran (rip). Krazy sticks with the signature stutter style, while Skoob actually plays things straight, as if to prove he is more than just a “jibby-jabber” rapper. All in all, this was solid.
They Want Efx – The first single and easily the biggest hit in the Das Efx catalog. Skoob and Krazy get the production credit (with co-production credits going to Marcus Logan and Kevin Birdsong) on this one that is built around an ill James Brown sample (the same “Blind Man Can See It” sample that Diamond D used on Lord Finesse’s “Funky Technician”). The duo’s animated style and delivery combined with the funky instrumental make this an undeniable classic.
Looseys – I guess I never really paid attention to the lyrics on this song back in the day, but as I listened to them closely today, I was taken back to discover Skoob and Krazy actually wrote a whole song dedicated to literally shittin’ their pants. I’ve had the looseys (which is slang for diarrhea), but never to the point that I couldn’t make it to the bathroom. The instrumental is built around the same Booker T & The M.G.’s sample used on Cube’s “Givin’ Up The Nappy Dug Out” and Lord Finesse’s “I Like My Girls With A Boom”. This song is pretty wild.
Dum Dum – Cleverly, Solid Scheme takes a soulful Otis Redding loop, along with some live guitar licks (courtesy of Bobby Sitchran) and turn it into a solid backdrop, as our hosts display more of their storytelling abilities. Krazy and Skoob each take two verses to share the life and times of two different chicks whose deeds have earned them the label of dumb-dumbs. This one actually sounds better today than it did 23 years ago.
East Coast – This is probably one of my least favorite songs on Dead Serious. That said, it’s still not a terrible song.
If Only – This song sticks out like a sore thumb, but in a good way. Skoob and Krazy stick with their stuttering-nimble-tongued-style, but Solid Scheme mixes things up with the instrumental that has a jazzier feel than anything else on Dead Serious. This was dope.
Brooklyn To T-Neck – The title is a reference to the duo’s hometowns (Brooklyn, NY and Teaneck, New Jersey). The mushed together funk sound of Solid Scheme’s instrumental sounds like something EPMD would have concocted. Overall, a decent listen.
Klap Ya Handz – This is probably the most underrated song on the album. Dexter (Dexx) James (another one of Skoob’s Brooklyn homeboys) gets the production credit (with a co-production credit going to Das Efx), and it’s a thing of beauty. The mid-tempo melodic groove has an almost heavenly feel, and Skoob and Krazy tippidy tip-toe all over it, nicely. This is actually the song EPMD heard Das performing at the talent show in Virginia when they discovered them.
Straight Out The Sewer – Das ends the album with another track that sounds like it could have been produced by EPMD, but of course it’s credited to Solid Scheme. They could have left this one in the sewer. Easily my least favorite song on the album.
There’s a thin line between gimmick and original, and twenty plus years after Das Efx’ debut release, it’s safe to say they straddled that line to perfection. Over hard boom bap production that hits the mark more than it misses, the stuttering dreaded duo sew together nursery rhymes, random pop culture references, nonsense and random boasts, making it all sound fun, dope and entertaining, for the most part. It was also a genius idea to leave the track count at ten, so the listener doesn’t become overwhelmed by the duo’s antics. Dead Serious may sound a bit juvenile today, but it’s still an enjoyable listen, which has me looking forward to revisiting their sophomore effort Straight Up Sewaside. I’m dead serious.