The success of Kris Kross’ 1992 debut album Totally Krossed Out, had everybody and their mama looking to sign the next kid rap sensation. Michael Bivens had ABC. The Native Tongues gave us Chi-Ali. And then their was Da’ Youngsta’s and Illegal out of Philly. Rap-A-Lot soon decided it was their turn to take part in the kid thing, and would introduce 2 Low to the world.
The Houston native, Cedric “2 Low” White was thirteen when he signed with Rap-A-Lot Records. He made his debut on Scarface’s The World Is Yours album, where Face pretty much blessed him with his own solo joint “Funky Lil Aggin”. That would lead to 2 Low releasing his debut album Funky Lil Brotha later that same year. Funky Lil Brotha would feature production from the names that shaped the Rap-A-Lot sound: Scarface, N.O. Joe and the production team of John Bido, Tony “Big Chief” Randle & James Smith. I don’t know anyone who actually bought this album when it was released, so I can’t imagine it sold that many copies. I found it in the dollar bins a few years ago and bought it out of curiosity.
A few years later, 2 Low would file a Federal lawsuit against Rap-A-Lot Records for fraud, negligence and breach of fiduciary duty, which basically means they didn’t pay him for show performances and record sales. Needless to say, that would be the end of his relationship with Rap-A-Lot, and pretty much the end of his rap career. Rap-A-Lot did settle out of court with 2 Low, so hopefully he go a nice portion of the 28 million he originally sued for. But I digress.
Low In – Short intro to Funky Lil Brotha. Come on Face, was anybody really waiting for a 2 Low album?
Class Clown – The first song of the evening features some southern fried instrumentation courtesy of N.O. Joe, that 2 Low uses to talk about some of the shenanigans he takes part in, which include: grabbing the teachers ass, stabbing a snitchin’ kid in his booty hole with a pencil and smoking weed in the school gym. Uh, these are not acts of a class clown, more like a thug/future inmate. I’m not buying what 2 Low’s selling on this one, but I did enjoy N.O.’s instrumental, and Devin the Dude’s hook was mildly entertaining.
Growing Up Ain’t Easy – 2 Low uses this one to talk about the trials of being a kid and covers everything from getting in trouble with his moms to his homeboy having to deal with a drug addicted mother. John Bido and company hook up a mean southern style groove, and Devin the Dude stops by for the second song in a row, and sings the catchy hook. I like this one.
Funky Lil Brother – This song originally appeared on Scarface’s The World Is Yours, and was titled Funky Lil Aggin”” (which is “nigga” spelled backwards). N.O. Joe, who was responsible for the production on the original mix, also gets credit for this remix, and I definitely prefer the original over the heavily synth commercial feel of this version. Face and Low pretty much use the same lyrics as the original, with an edit here and there in an attempt to give 2 Low a cleaner image (which is pretty ridiculous considering just two songs ago he was smoking weed in the school gym and now he claims he doesn’t smoke when Face offers him a joint during the final verse of this song). This was corny on The World Is Yours and even cornier on this album. By the way, if the album is titled Funky Lil Brotha, why the hell did you put “Brother” in the song title?
Pain – John Bido and company slide Low a funky smooth backdrop that he uses to talk about what a pain in the ass girls and teachers can be. This was cool.
Here We Go – 2 Low’s rhymes are rushed and slurred and N.O. Joe’s instrumental is pretty plain. I may like my burgers that way but not my instrumentals.
Boo Ya – Bido & Company hook up a decent west coastish instrumental for 2 Low to spit more laughable thug rhymes over. Wait…did he take a shot at Da Youngsta’s on the first verse (“Boo ya, take it like that when I punch ya, more like a grown up and far from a youngsta”)? Hmm…
Throw Ya Hands In The Air -2 Low turns up his energy and volume, which only makes it more difficult to understand what he’s saying on this track. He’s not credited anywhere in the liner notes, but it sounds like B-Real stops by and make a quick cameo during the second verse. But not even B-Real (or his clone?) can make this generic N.O. Joe instrumental sound pleasant.
The Groove With Mr. Scarface (Strictly For The Funk Lovers Pt. 2) – Trash.
Send Ya Fa Mama – More trash.
Everyday Thang – Bido & Company lay down a nice mellow instrumental for Low to discuss the everyday happenings around his way (which hi-larious includes him trying to sneak a peek at a breastfeeding mother’s titty while she feeds in public). This was decent.
Da Hood – The hook might make you think this is part two to the previous song but it’s not. As my dad might say, 2 Low sounds too manish on this one, as he tries to come across like a gangster and ends up sounding completely unbelievable. Someone going by Mr. 3-2, jumps on the final verse and his gangster sounds much more convincing than our host’s. I’m not a big fan of N.O. Joe’s instrumental, but I’ve heard worst.
Comin’ Up – For the final song of the evening, 2 Low decides to invite a few of his young Rap-A-Lot affiliates to join him on this the cipher joint: (appearing in this order) Deshira, 2 Clean, the 5th Ward Juvenilez (Nickelboy, Mr. Slimm, Daddy Lo and a mysterious fourth voice), Red Dog, Endo, Gage, Kilo and 2 Low wraps things up. The song starts off pretty corny with verses from a 13-year-old Deshira (whose rhymes are barely understandable) and the 5-year-old Bubble-gum kid, 2 Clean. The 5th Ward Juvenilez then steer the ship back in the right direction during the second verse, but Endo delivers the strongest verse of the song. Bido & Company hook up a funky backdrop for the crew to get down on, and all in all, this is not that bad of a record.
Low Out – 2 Low uses this outro to give his shoutouts. And with that, Funky Lil Brotha is done.
There are four of five quality instrumentals and one dope verse, courtesy of one of his guest (Endo on “Comin Up”), but the rest of Funky Lil Brotha is pretty useless. 2 Low spends the entire album going back and forth between sweet innocent kid and ruthless gangster, which leaves you questioning who he really is and what the hell his writing team was thinking. Ultimately, the quality of our host’s output on Funky Lil Brotha is too low. Pun intended.