Nineties hip-hop gave us several abstract artists and one-off projects, but no one project or group may have epitomized both those things more than the subject of today’s post, Son of Bazerk.
Son of Bazerk (government name: Tony Allen) and his 4 man crew (Almighty Jahwell, Daddy Rawe, Sandman and Half Pint) collectively known as No Self Control, were based out of Long Island, New York. SOB actually met Chuck D back in the early eighties when he was doing college radio (legend has it that SOB actually introduced Chuck D to his future partner in rhyme, Flava Flav). His relationship with Chuck would turn out to be an important key in getting his foot in the door, as it would help him build a connection with one of Public Enemy’s Bomb Squad production team members, Hank Shocklee. Shocklee (along with the other parts of the Bomb Squad) would help SOB with the demo tapes that would eventually lead to he and his crew signing a deal with MCA, where they would release their debut album Bazerk Bazerk Bazerk in the spring of 1991.
The album’s title pays homage to James Brown’s debut album Please, Please, Please and the artwork also pays respect to the Godfather of Soul (JB is also the first named SOB and the gang mention in the liner notes as a “musical and lyrical” influence for the album). The Bomb Squad (aka the band) would produce the entire album, and even though it didn’t sell a ton of units, it did receive positive reviews upon its release, and through the years, has developed a cult like following amongst fans.
I bought the album used a few months ago because a song that I absolutely loved back in the day was on it (more on that in a minute), and because I was curious how the Bomb Squad’s production would sound. This is my first time listening to Bazerk Bazerk Bazerk in its entirety, and I’m only familiar with a couple of the songs.
So, let’s see if it lives up to all it’s positive feedback.
The Band Gets Swivey On The Wheels – The first song of the evening finds Son of Bazerk mixing nursery rhymes, James Brown lingo and shit talk, all in around about way to introduce himself and his band to the world. I’m assuming “swivey” is another way of saying “busy” or “jiggy”, or insert what other slang term applies. Right from the jump you can tell that Son of Bazerk’s rhyme style was heavily influenced by his buddy, Chuck D, as he sound almost identical to him on this song. The Bomb Squad’s instrumental isn’t great, but the more times you listen to it, the better it sounds.
Part One – Over a less than spectacular instrumental, SOB continues to spit his bars and sound like a hybrid of James Brown and Chuck D.
Change The Style – This was the first single from Bazerk Bazerk Bazerk. The instrumental is centered around a James Brown soul vibe that randomly changes to reggae, doo-wop and rock at certain points, hence he name of the song. I didn’t care much for this song back in the day, but now I kind of get it. SOB continues to do his JB/Chuck D thing and actually succeeds in making the whole new-wave James Brown hip-hop fusion work. Questlove once put this song on his list of 50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs. I wouldn’t go that far, but it is pretty dope.
One Time For The Rebel – The Bomb Squad lays down some tough guitar riffs over rough drums, as SOB, Daddy Rawe, and Almighty Jahwell take turns spitting over the fiery backdrop. None of them are great lyricists (although SOB did make me chuckle with his line “like Mack Daddy, drive a black Caddy, I’ll take slim you take fatty”), but they all manage to sound serviceable. The real star of this one is the monster instrumental, though.
What Could Be Better Bitch – I first heard this song on the Juice Soundtrack, that was actually released a few months after Bazerk Bazerk Bazerk. The Bomb Squad slides SOB hard stripped down drums, funky keys and a dark loop, that he puts to good use. No, he’s not a great lyricist, but his boomin’ vocal and swag, along with the catchy hook and nasty backdrop make this a certified banger…even if they left the question mark off the song title.
Bang (Get Down, Get Down)! – A brief break from our regularly scheduled program. Daddy Rawe showcases is struggling vocals, as he croons in an attempt to get a girl to go down on him, aka give him some head. Again, Daddy Rawe’s vocals are not good, and the lyrics, that sound like a bad freestyle, are even worse. On the bright side, the Bomb Squad’s melodic hyper-tempo instrumental turns out to be a pretty dope groove.
Trapped Inside The Rage Of Jahwell – As you might have guessed from the song title, this is an Almighty Jahwell solo joint. He uses the dark and raw backdrop to spit one verse before he gets the hell out of Dodge. He’s no Big Daddy Kane, but the instrumental was kind of enjoyable.
Sex, Sex & More Sex – SOB returns after taking a short break on the last two songs (technically, his break was only for one song, since he did spit a few muffled bars on “Bang (Get Down, Get Down)!”). He comes back in mack mode, throwing on his silk suit as he brags about having a pocket full of money and a 12″ cock, looking for a woman to spend it on and put it in, respectively. This was a fun song, and the instrumental was pretty slick,
N41 – SOB invites all of the crew to join him on this posse cut. Well, most of the crew. Jahwell, Daddy Rawe and Half-Pint all contribute verses, but Sandman never shows up to the party. I’m still trying to figure out how Sandman fits in this whole Son Of Bazerk/No Self Control equation…but I digress. It was mildly funny to hear the fellas block Half-Pint from getting her verse off , but she finally sneaks it in at the tail end of the song (and then you understand that her crew was probably trying to save her from embarrassing herself). Again, if you’re looking for memorizing lyricism from SOB and No Self Control, you’ve come to the wrong spot. The Bomb Squad makes this an entertaining listen with their super understated drums and a dark hypnotic bass line to fill in the tracks empty spots.
Are You Wit Me – SOB takes it back to the old school with this one as he pays homage to the early eighties emcee with his rhyme style. I like what he does with this one, but I like the Bomb Squad’s hard instrumental even more. I don’t like the fact they left out the question mark in the song title for the second time tonight.
J Dubs Theme – The Bomb Squad slides our hosts a reggae-tinged backdrop, and SOB sounds identical to Chuck D on this one, as he rides the dope drums and thick bass line to perfection. Unfortunately, SOB lets Daddy Rawe sing, which derails the whole train.
Lifestyles Of The Blacks In The Brick – We’ve already gotten a chance to hear Daddy Rawe’s singing (I use the term loosely) on Bazerk Bazerk Bazerk, but this time around he gets a solo joint to display his bars, only. His rhymes and the instrumental are both trash; but on the bright side, his rhymes aren’t as bad as his singing.
Honesty – Speaking of Daddy Rawe and his bad singing, the Bomb Squad slides him a cheesy James Brown-esque funk track that he uses to beg his cheating woman to be honest about her infidelity. Again, he sounds like he’s making up his lyrics as he goes along, and his vocals reach new levels of horrible on this one. Terrible way to end Bazerk Bazerk Bazerk.
Bazerk Bazerk Bazerk starts off slow and ends on a downward spiral, but sandwiched in between the two is a uniquely enjoyable hip-hop experience. Son of Bazerk is far from a master wordsmith (and that’s even more true for his crew), and the whole Chuck D rhyme and vocal style is a bit much at times, but his strong raspy voice is entertaining when placed over the slew of quality Bomb Squad produced instrumentals (Bazerk Bazerk Bazerk would be the swan song for the Bomb Squad’s busy infinite samples per song style of production, which I’m sure was largely due to sample clearance issues and the excessive amounts of money artists and labels were beginning to request for sampling their shit). I get what Son of Bazerk and the Bomb Squad were aiming for on Bazerk Bazerk Bazerk: to pay homage to the Godfather of Soul while fusing his soulful sound with hard hitting hip-hop beats, without it sounding corny. And they succeed. Well done, gents…and lady. And can someone please tell me what the hell Sandman contributed to this album?