R.M.G. (I’m not sure what that acronym stands for…hit me in the comments if you know)was a four man crew out of Baytown Texas consisting of DJ Cue, Squeak, B. Selector and the lead emcee Rom, who most of you know as the actor Romany Malco (and who I will always specifically associate with his role as the drug dealer Conrad Shepard from the Showtime series Weeds). In 1991 the four man crew decided to leave the south for Los Angeles in pursuit of a record deal, and after signing a deal with Virgin Records, they would change their name from R.M.G. to the College Boyz, and release their debut album, Radio Fusion Radio in 1992.
Radio Fusion Radio had a couple of singles that made some noise on the charts, but the album didn’t move a ton of units nor did it receive a lot of praise from the streets. The College Boyz would go onto to release one more album on Virgin (which did even worse commercially than their debut) before fading into the dark abyss that ninety percent of hip-hop acts dwell after their 15 minutes of fame in this here rap game expires.
I’ve never listened to Radio Fusion Radio before today, but bought it used for a few dollars on the strength of the lead single that I dug back in the day.
Random Factoid: Romany Malco aka Rom, wrote MC Skat Kat’s verse on Paula Abdul’s mash 1989 hit “Opposites Attract”.
Victim of The Ghetto – This was the first single from Radio Fusion Radio, and one of two songs I was actually familiar with before today. Tony Joseph and Eric “Quicksilver” Johnson loop up the same Eddie Kendrick’s loop that Kanye and D-Dot would use many years later for Nas’ “Papa Was A Playa” instrumental, and it sounds just as dope as the latter. Rom uses it to sing praises to the hood, while simultaneously admitting to being mentally trapped by the ghetto, as he raps “born and raised on the same damn concrete, and I’ll be put to sleep in these streets”. Shoutout to Brenda Jean Sims who puts her foot into singing the hook on this one. This song sounds as dope today as it did 25 plus years ago.
Interlude: Radio Fusion – The first of many interludes that are apparently from the fictitious Radio Fusion Radio station that the album is built around.
Hollywood Paradox – This was the second single from Radio Fusion Radio. The production duo of Dez & Adonis loop up a portion of The Isley Brothers “For The Love Of You” for the backdrop, and Rom’s talking about people seeking success in Hollywood. Ironically, on the song’s finally verse Rom says “I ain’t one to front on my own kind, Hollywood ain’t nothin’ to me but a mother fuckin’ sign”, which is another paradox, considering his current occupation. But I digress. Overall, this was solid.
Politics of A Gangster – I’ve never heard of I-ROC or Jammin’ James Carter before today, but they turn a Barry White loop into a monster instrumental on this one. Rom uses it to share a tell of a young boy who gets tangled up with the Mafia. Rom’s story isn’t all that interesting, but when your instrumental bangs like this, who cares about a storyline?
Underground Blues – The CB’s slow things down a bit as Rom shares a few sad hood stories over a melodic melancholic backdrop that supports his content, perfectly. I like this one.
Interlude: The Homeless – A failed attempt at a funny interlude.
Rigmarole – This song is all over place. Over the course of three verses, Rom talks about his dislike of jeri curls and gangbangin’ and his love for bangin’ out fat girls and getting into fights on the subway. Humphrey Riley & DJ Ron Ski’s instrumental is garbage, which only adds salt to the already open wound.
Interlude: After The Messages – Useless interlude.
Interlude: Peter Pump – See comments from “Interlude: The Homeless”.
Interlude: I Gotcha – Really? Who sequences an album with three consecutive interludes? Oh yeah… the College Boyz do.
Humpin’ – Trash.
Interlude: Phone Sex – I must admit that I love the seductively funky instrumental playing underneath the moaning mistress on this short interlude.
College Boyz In The House – Rom’s opening line for this one is “we be lookin’ for the lyric and the flow”; well keep looking, fellas. While you’re at it, keep your eyes peeled for a better instrumental for the song too, because this bootleg New Jack Swing shit is trash.
Interlude: Concerned Parent – This interlude was actually pretty funny. The first one that made me laugh all night.
Real Man – Rom spits sub par cliché lines about what a “real man” does for his woman, which doesn’t go beyond sexing her and providing for her. While Rom’s rhymes sound like “wah wah wah” when Charlie Brown’s teacher, Miss Othmar is speaking, the r&b tinged Dez & Adonis instrumental kind of works. And who knew that Squeak (he is 1/4 of the College Boyz) could actually sing? He sounds pretty nice on the hook. Ultimately, the song fails because of its choppy format and numerous interruptions, courtesy of females calling into the faux radio station (I did find the comments about Freddy Jackson and Luther Vandross having big booties hi-larious).
Interlude: Highroller Parade – More uselessness.
How Ta Act – The Double Platinum Production team (which consist of Humphrey Riley, DJ Ron Ski and Wiz) samples Funkadelics’ way too often tapped “(Not Just) Knee Deep” for the backdrop, and it doesn’t even sound remotely innovative or interesting. Rom doesn’t help matters by spitting corny bars like “You know I can’t stand coffee, so wake the hell up and get a sniff of this forty”. This was terrible.
Interlude: Tips of The Day – And even more uselessness.
Funky Quartet – Doo-wop meets hip-hop on this one. The instrumental (whose production is credited to a Karl F. Stephenson) borrows the bass line from Betty Wright’s “Tonight Is The Night” and adds some pretty piano chords to it. Rom’s rhymes are unimpressive (what’s up with his obsession of overdose, suicide, homicide, DOA and genocide? This is the third song on Radio Fusion Radio that he mentions what he refers to as the “five faces of death”) but Squeak and company sound dope harmonizing on the hook over the melodic backdrop.
Interlude: Who The Fuck Is This? – And this is the final useless interlude of Radio Fusion Radio.
Politics of A Gangster Dub – This instrumental was so dope the College Boyz decided to bring it back without Rom’s rhymes, so you can enjoy it without any distractions (well, less distractions…the adlibs were left in). And Radio Fusion Radio is done.
Radio Fusion Radio could have been a strong EP, had it ended after “Underground Blues”. But it doesn’t. It continues on for 16 additional tracks, of which nine, yes, nine, are interludes (and only one of the nine is actually worth your while), and only two of the remaining six songs (excluding the “Politics of A Gangster Dub”) are worthy of your time. Hence, Radio Fusion Radio winds up being a directionless underwhelming collection of songs with way too many interludes, packaged in really bad cover artwork.