Cousins, Kelton McDonald and Deon Barnett, respectively know as KK and D (or Gangsta D), and together as 2nd II None, were the home boys of fellow Compton native, DJ Quik. After Profile Records heard Quik’s now legendary “The Red Tape” (which has multiple meanings, including being a shoutout to the Piru Blood set that both Quik and 2nd II None rep), they signed him to what was at the time, the label’s most lucrative deal. 2nd II None, who appeared on “The Red Tape”, would also sign with Profile, releasing their self titled debut album in the fall of 1991.
DJ Quik would handle the production duties for the entire album, but unlike his debut album Quik Is The Name, 2nd II None would not have anywhere near the same level of commercial success as the former. 2nd II None would be the only album the duo would release on Profile. They would sign to Death Row Records, and like several other nineties acts, got lost in the shuffle and wouldn’t release a proper follow-up to 2nd II None until signing with Arista and releasing Classic 220 in 1999. And after eight long years, nobody was checking for them anymore.
I bought 2nd II None on cassette when it came out back in the day, but like most of my tapes, it fell victim to the teeth of my Walkman. A few months ago I stumbled upon a copy of the cd at Cheapos, and since it had been on my “want list” for sometime, it felt like destiny. And here we are.
Intro – To kicks things off, KK and D (in that order) each spit a quick verse about foes, hoes, and more hoes, over a nasty Quik instrumental.
More Than A Player – Warning: pimps and hoes are very popular subjects throughout 2nd II None. On the first official song of the evening, KK and D use their verses to discuss just that. Quik samples a portion of Al Green’s “Love And Happiness” for the solid backdrop.
If You Want It – The moral of this song is summed up best by the last line of the song: “Young hoochies, we love coochies, if we want it, let us up on it”. Quik samples the same Isaac Hayes record the Geto Boys would use a few months prior on, what is without question the biggest hit in their catalog (“Mind Playing Tricks On Me”), but of course Quik’s interpretation has a cleaner and smoother feel than the southern trio’s take. After listening to this song once you’ll be stuck bobbing your head while singing the soft porn hook. Resistance is futile.
Be True To Yourself – This was the lead single from 2nd II None. The duo temporarily deviate from their favorite subject (hoes) to discuss the importance of one being true to him/herself. KK spits a verse about a chick who spends all her money flossin’ to keep up with the Jones’, and after blowing all her money she can’t afford to get her hair done, to which K says “now you’re unhappy cause your head all nappy”; after all these years that simple but effective line still cracks me up. Quik continues his streak of dope production, as he builds this beauty around a vintage Curtis Mayfield loop. This one sounds better today than it did back in ’91. Fine wine, baby.
Let The Rhythm Take You – AMG (who sounds a lot better than I remembered him sounding) joins KK and D on this one, as they each get a verse and drop lines over yet another brilliant DJ Quik produced backdrop. The crispy clean melodic instrumental is so pleasing to the ear, no one should have a problem following the instructions given in the song title.
Comin’ Like This – Quik, AMG, and Hi-C join 2nd II None for this cipher joint, as they collectively rep the 304 Posse over a dope reggae tinged instrumental. None of them are amazing emcees, but Quik, who is easily the most polished of the group, steals the show with his swift flow on the second verse.
Underground Terror – The Compton duo give us their version of battle raps on this one, and neither one of them provide any memorable quotes. The instrumental (which uses a rarely used sample of Marvin Gaye’s “Life Is For Learning”) is decent but not as potent as the first six songs on the album.
Just Ain’t Me – Never liked this one and I still don’t today.
The Life Of A Player – Quik samples The Fatback Band’s “I like Girls” and turns it into another nasty backdrop, as his buddies continue to talk about pimpin’ bitches and mackin’ hoes. By this point KK and D’s repetitive content starts to become a bit too much, but just ignore them and enjoy the instrumental.
Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong – The song title and the funky smooth sample, both come from KC & the Sunshine Band. While KC and company’s content was clean and innocent, D, KK and Quik’s verses give the song title a much raunchier meaning.
What Goes Up – D and KK share a few tales of those who were once on top but didn’t stay level-headed and eventually hit rock bottom. D’s last verse is about a church girl who gets wrapped up with a drug dealer, and D curiously points out that she was “seventeen but she lookeded twenty”. No, “lookeded” was not a typo, that is actually how D says it, which unfortunately gives merit to the Young Black Teenagers’ use of “likeded” (click here to read that post). And what exactly are the physical differences between a seventeen and twenty year old bodies? Hell, I’ve seen thirteen year old girls built like grown women. The line might have gone over better had he said thirty, or at least twenty-five… and if he said “looked” instead of “lookeded”. The instrumental is built around a frequently used James Brown loop and a vocal sample from Blood, Sweat & Tears’ “Spinning Wheel”. Decent song, but definitely one of my least favorites on the album.
Mystic – Quik builds a mysterious instrumental around a loop from Bobbi Humphrey’s “My Little Girl”, which serves as the perfect backdrop for D and KK’s story about a pretty young seductive girl named Mystic. This was a nice.
Punk Mutha Fuckaz – This one is both a dedication to the dead homies and to those who killed and turned their back on the dead homies. I know that last sentence sounds weird, but listen to the song and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. The instrumental isn’t terrible, but it pales when compared to the incredible production work on the songs before it.
Niggaz Trippin’ – 2nd II None ends the evening with another posse joint, which features the same players involved on “Comin’ Like This”. AMG comes with a nice off beat flow and delivers another decent verse and takes what sounds like a shot, at Too Short (“I don’t joke when I talk about poking, I’m too tall cause I aint from Oakland”). Not a huge fan of the instrumental (which is built around a loop from Tom Tom Club’s “Genius Of Love”), but I’ve heard worse.
D and KK are mediocre emcees at best. Luckily, they were friends with (who would become) one of hip-hop’s most prolific producers, who was gracious enough to lace them with his crispy clean sonic brilliance throughout 2nd II None. If you’re looking for superior lyricism, you’ve come to the wrong spot. But if you’re willing to overlook 2nd II None’s mediocrity and juvenile content in exchange for exceptional production, you’ll appreciate 2nd II None.