Boss. Total Devastation. Mad Kap. Capital Tax. These are just a few of the hip-hop groups that dropped debut albums in 1993, only to disappear, never to be heard from again and become trivia questions in the annals of hip-hop. Today we’ll add another group to the ever-growing list of “one and doners”. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Da King & I.
Da King & I was a Brooklyn-based duo consisting of Izzy (the emcee and the “I” of the group) and Majesty (the deejay/producer and the “Da King” of the duo). I don’t know a whole lot about their back story and how they came together, but somehow they did, and released their debut album, Contemporary Jeep Music, on Rowdy Records (now there’s a blast from the past) in the summer of 1993. With Majesty handling the production for the entirety of the album, and Izzy holding down microphone duties completely by himself, Contemporary Jeep Music received pretty positive reviews, even though it didn’t move a lot of units.
Contemporary Jeep Music would be the only album from the duo, who disbanded shortly after the album’s release. Majesty would go onto to have a short-lived career producing songs for a few different r&b acts (most notably, a song for SWV, which came well after their “Weak” days (no pun intended)), while Izzy would go on to have his picture posted on the back of milk cartons throughout the country.
Contemporary Jeep Music – The album opens with a jazzy instrumental playing and Izzy giving an explanation for the album title.
Let’s Take A Trip – This one starts out with heavy drums, and a few seconds in, a nasty piano loop bleeds into the track. Then the bouncy bass line is added as Izzy makes his introduction to the world through rhyme. And with that, Contemporary Jeep Music gets off to pretty nice start.
Flip Da Scrip – This was the lead single from Contemporary Jeep Music. Izzy delivers semi-battle rhymes over Majesty’s mega-mellow jazz flavored backdrop. Izzy has a tendency to get too nasally with his tone and sounds like the Hanna-Barbera character, Snagglepuss, at times, And some of his bars are questionable (i.e. “talkin’ loud and aint saying nothing, your styles are more shitty than butt fucking” and “if your girl tried to diss me I wouldn’t care, because her nigga’s on my dick like pubic hairs”). All in all, this was a solid lead single for the duo.
Interlude 1 / Mc Asshole – Useless interlude.
Krak Da Weazel – This was the second single from the album. Over a hard and slightly dark instrumental, Izzy attempts to get gangsta as he shares a tale about his deejay/producer getting kidnapped and the lengths he goes through to get him back, which include him having to “krak da weasel”, which is slang for “having to use his gun” (a slang term that didn’t catch on, obviously). Izzy’s attempts at sounding like a hard rock aren’t even slightly believable, but Majesty’s instrumental is a thing of beauty (especially the sick break loop that comes in on the hook).
Interlude 2/ Amusement Park – Apparently Izzy never heard Ice Cube’s “Gangsta’s Fairytale”, or maybe he did and still decided to rip Cube’s whole idea for this song. The instrumental and Izzy’s animated flow sound like something that could have been on Pharcyde’s Bizarre Ride album. It’s not that it’s a terrible song, it’s just not original.
Brain 2 U – Majesty’s instrumental work on this one is really nice. Izzy, who is far from being an upper echelon emcee, actually rides Majesty’s backdrop beautifully on this one. But don’t expect this caliber of performance from Izzy for the duration of Contemporary Jeep Music.
Tears – This was the third single released from Contemporary Jeep Music. Majesty hooks up a bluesy backdrop built around a loop from The Ohio Players’ “Our Love Has Died”, as Izzy sheds a few tears after finding out he’s getting played by his main squeeze. This is a slept on classic, folks.
Soul Shack Interlude – Jazz meets hip-hop on this pleasant instrumental interlude.
Ghetto Instinct – This is a song I completely forgot was on Contemporary Jeep Music. Majesty lays a lovely mid-tempo backdrop built around a flute loop that Izzy uses to discuss things he deems as “ghetto”. Hearing this song today was like finding a $100 bill that you forgot you stuck in a drawer for a raining day.
Mr. All That – Izzy gets cocky on this one, and his Snagglepuss tendencies rise to new heights. But Majesty’s lovely instrumental blots out all of Izzy’s transgressions.
Interlude 3 /Jazz Skit – Dope jazzy instrumental interlude. My buddy actually used this loop for the instrumental on a demo he recorded back in the day. But I digress.
This Is How We Do – Never could really get into this one. It’s not a terrible song, but it’s definitely one of the weaker songs on the album.
Interlude 4/Izzy Sings Da Blues – Today it’s common place, but there was a time when emcees lost credibility for mixing hip-hop with r&b. Da King & I take a jab at the trend, as Izzy sings over a r&b track, before suddenly being interrupted by Majesty who smacks him up for “selling out”. This all sets up the next song…
Lost My Mind – And I actually enjoyed the smooth r&b groove on the previous song more than this trash.
Represent – I’m pretty sure between ’92 and ’95 it was a prerequisite for all hip-hop artist and groups to have a song called “Represent” or “Representin'” on their album. Over a bouncy up-tempo backdrop, Izzy does his best to represent and winds up doing a decent job.
Crack Da Weasel (Dat Other S***) – This sort of works as the remix to “Krak Da Weazel” (and I’m not sure if they intentionally changed the spelling in the song title or if they completely forgot how they spelled “Crack” and “Weasel” the first time around). This time around Izzy leaves the kidnapping tale behind and instead gives us three verses to brag about how dope he is. Majesty’s instrumental is dope, but not quite as dope as the instrumental on the original.
What’s Up Doc – This may be my favorite song on Contemporary Jeep Music. Majesty builds a beautiful backdrop around a Young-Holt Unlimited piano loop, as Izzy gets introspective, gives thanks and his shout outs. The only problem I have with this song is the corny hook, Izzy’s whiney vocal tone when he says the song title on the hook and the missing question mark in the song title.
After you listen to Majesty’s production work on Contemporary Jeep Music it’ll become crystal clear why he’s referred to as “Da King” of the duo. It’s not to say that Izzy is a terrible emcee, but at best he’s average. And without Majesty’s quality jazz drenched backings to support Izzy, I’m not sure if he would even reach the average territory. Majesty has a few mediocre moments (see “Lost My Mind” and “Represent”), but the majority of his instrumentals are fire. So, from a production standpoint Contemporary Jeep Music is a great listen, just don’t expect mind-blowing rhyming. I’m still curious to why Majesty didn’t get tapped to produce for more emcees after his masterful production work on Contemporary Jeep Music.