The Lords Of The Underground are the Newark-Cleveland trio that met in the early nineties while attending the Raleigh, North Carolina based HBCU, Shaw University. As the story goes, it was the Cleveland, Ohio native Lord Jazz, who brought Doitall and Mr. Funky (who ironically are both from Newark, New Jersey but didn’t meet until in Raleigh)together to form the LOTUG. Shortly after forming the group, the trio recorded a demo to shop for a deal. Lord Jazz had a connect who was working with Marley Marl, which opened the door to get their demo into the legendary producer’s hand. Marley liked what he heard and the rest is history. The Lords Of The Underground would sign a deal with Pendulum and released their debut album Here Come The Lords in 1993.
Marley Marl, along with his production protégé, K-Def, would handle all of the production on Here Come The Lords. The album didn’t move a ton of units but it did receive critical acclaim and some even refer to it as a classic.
But classic is a term that is often thrown around way too often in hip-hop.
Here Come The Lords – Here Come The Lords opens with the title track that has Mr. Funky and Doitall boasting and accusing somebody of biting their style (I’m curious who their referring to) over K-Def’s jazzy horns and smooth instrumental. Doitall takes what sounds like a quick jab at Das EFX (even though later they would publicly deny having any qualms with the dreaded duo) with his line “So catch it, no stutter in my flow but I wrecks it, and caught you on the dills from my jam called “Check It””. From the jump, you get a taste of Funky and Doitall’s animated style. And while they might not sound that impressive lyrically, their colorful personalities will keep you entertained, along with K-Def’s solid backdrop.
From Da Bricks – Mr. Funky invites his cousin Jam-C to join his self and Doitall in the booth, as they each spit a verse to show love and rep for their beloved hometown, Newark, New Jersey, which they affectionately refer to as “Da Bricks”. K-Def’s instrumental is decent, but none of the parties involved say anything memorable or worth quoting.
Funky Child – This was the second single released from Here Come The Lords. When this first came out back in the day I wasn’t really feeling it. Maybe it was the duo’s high-pitched animated voices, or the cartoonish image they presented, dancing around in diapers in the video. Whatever the reason, time has helped me appreciate the song, and there is no denying the ridiculously sick Marley Marl/K-Def produced instrumental.
Keep It Underground – Decent Marley instrumental, decent rhymes from the Lords, and an unwarranted dis aimed at PM Dawn courtesy of Doitall. Taking shots at PM Dawn is like robbing an old blind lady.
Check It (Remix) – The original version of this song was on the B-side of LOTUG’s “Psycho” single. This remix uses the same lyrics as the original but has a different, and much improved, instrumental. Decent enough, I guess.
Grave Digga – The duo uses this one to acknowledge everyday people who make bad decisions and ultimately dig their own graves. It’s a nice change of pace to hear Funky and Doitall do a song with an actually topic and not just freestyle their way through it. Marley’s instrumental (which sounds very similar to Q-Tip’s work on ATCQ’s “Sex On A Platter”, only a few bpms slower) is nice and works well underneath LOTUG’s content.
Lords Prayer – Get it? Lords Of The Underground? Lords Prayer? Pretty clever song title, guys. The Jersey boys sound decent and drop some clever punch lines (specifically the bit about Jimmy Swaggart), and Marley’s jazzy horns and mid-tempo backdrop sounds nice underneath them.
Flow On (New Symphony) – LOTUG invite Kid Deleon and Sah-B to join them on this cipher joint. Marley’s instrumental is pleasant and none of the emcees involved embarrass themselves (Doitall surprisingly gets a great jump out the block on his verse, but quickly loses his momentum), but it’s almost blasphemous for them to refer to arguably the best posse cut in hip-hop history in the song title.
Madd Skillz – K-Def and Marley combine to concoct one of the best instrumentals of the evening. And its dopeness apparently motivated the duo, as their rhymes sound stronger than the rest of their spit up to this point. This was dope.
Psycho -This was the first single released from Here Come The Lords. Marley brings a high energy instrumental for Funky and Doitall to pretend that their psychopathic emcees over. While the duo’s crazy act isn’t even remotely convincing, Marley’s dark instrumental is pretty entertaining.
Chief Rocka – This was the third single from Here Come The Lords, and the song that will always define LOTUG’s career and catalog. K-Def builds this brilliant instrumental around a sick loop of the bass line from Blood, Sweat & Tears’ “Spinning Wheel” and the somber saxophone notes from John Coltrane’s “Amen”. Mr. Funky and Doitall aren’t spectacular, but you’d have to be a pretty terrible emcee to derail this beautiful backdrop. Get ready for this: K-Def’s instrumental is arguably a top ten hip-hop instrumental of all time. Yeah, I said it.
Sleep For Dinner – This one is built around a joke from Damon Wayans’ Last Stand HBO comedy special, where he claims his family was so poor some nights all they could afford to eat was sleep for dinner. Mr. Funky and Doitall do a good job of making light of what in reality is a pretty sad and heavy dilemma. Unfortunately, Marley’s instrumental is sub par.
L.O.T.U.G. (Lords Of The Underground) – The Jersey duo use this rough K-Def backdrop to sing praises to themselves, because this is hip-hop and that’s what rappers do, son. Funky and Doitall sound decent, but K-Def’s instrumental is the true star of this one.
Lord Jazz Hit Me One Time (Make It Funky) – K-Def lays down a smooth instrumental that Doitall and Mr. Funky use to shoutout their deejay, Lord Jazz. Jazz gets a chance to showcase some of his skills on the one’s and two’s and spits a quick verse as well.
What’s Goin On – Here Come The Lords should have ended after the last song. Instead it continues on with this forgettable bonus track, and Doitall’s rhyming reaches new lows.
I’ll keep this wrap-up short and sweet, because sometimes less is more: Here Come The Lords is not great, but it is a quality debut from LOTUG. Marley Marl and K-Def do a solid job scoring the album, and while Doitall and Mr. Funky (who is clearly the more polished emcee of the two) aren’t great emcees, their personality makes up for what their rhyming ability lacks.