In 1992 the Atlanta-based teenage duo Kris Kross took the world by storm with their own unique swag and their monster hit single “Jump”, which helped catapult their debut album Totally Krossed Out to multi-platinum status. The mastermind behind the duo’s success was a young up and coming producer named Jermaine Dupri, who wrote and produced the entire album. The success of Totally Krossed Out opened the lane for Jermaine (who I’ll refer to as JD from this point on) to produce Kris Kross’ follow-up album and become a highly sought after writer/producer for other hip-hop and R&B acts. He would also seek out and sign more acts to his So So Def imprint, including the R&B group Xscape and a young female emcee from Chicago, and the subject of today’s post, Da Brat.
While Kris Kross came off as a cute innocent kid act, Da Brat (who looked like a kid but was twenty years old when her album dropped) came with a harder edgier gangsta persona that JD would help manufacture. With JD as her Geppetto, Pinocchio, I mean, Da Brat would release her debut album Funkdafied in the summer of ’94.
JD would handle all the production and write most of Da Brat’s rhymes on Funkdafied.
Despite the album’s mixed reviews, Funkdafied would earn Da Brat a platinum plaque, making her the first solo female rapper to accomplish this feat.
A few years ago I found a cd copy of Funkdafied at Cheapos for a buck and bought it on the strength of the title track which I liked back in the day. This is my first time listening to the album in it’s entirety…I think.
Random factoid: Da Brat is the lovely actress, Lisa Raye’s little sister.
Da Shit Ya Can’t Fuc Wit – After Da Brat pledges her allegiance to the funk, JD drops a hard backdrop that has a little “Deep Cover” feel to it, and he even sprinkles Dr. Dre’s signature synth sirens over the track. Da Brat introduces herself to the world, spitting two verses displaying her hard no-nonsense persona.
Fa All Y’all – This was Funkdafied‘s second single. JD digs back into his west coast bag of tricks and pulls out this funky instrumental for Da Brat to continue her heavily Snoop Dogg influenced flow. JD’s funk groove carries this to being a decent song.
Fire It Up – This song finds Da Brat rapping praises to marijuana (at the end of the song some random dude even pledges his allegiance to it) and talking random shit, and she sounds pretty convincing in the process. But the true star of this song is JD’s instrumental. I absolutely love his smooth backdrop, and the Boss vocal sample on the hook is a nice added touch. The content isn’t groundbreaking, but this song is pretty damn entertaining.
Celebration Time – Super short quiet storm jazz interlude that Da Brat and JD get lifted on. This bleeds into the next song…
Funkdafied – This title track was also the lead single. JD’s instrumental, as the liner notes read, “embodies a portion of “Between The Sheets””, which has to be one of the ten most sampled songs in hip-hop history. Da Brat and JD use it to pass the mic back and forth and “freak this duet just like Ashford and Simpson”. In my opinion, this song is a classic, and it has surprisingly aged well.
May Da Funk Be Wit ‘Cha – JD continues the laid back mood he set on the previous track with this smooth funked out mid-tempo groove, as Da Brat rides it almost flawlessly. Lyrically, she doesn’t cover any new ground, but she still entertains, regardless. LaTocha Scott from Xscape stops by to contribute the hook and adds a few adlibs. This isn’t my favorite song on Funkdafied, but it’s still solid.
Ain’t No Thang – Y-Tee, one half of Da Bush Babees (remember them?), joins Da Brat on this one, as he adds a little reggae flavor with his chant at the beginning of the song, setting the stage for our host to continue her relentless tough guy (or girl) shit talking. Y-Tee and Da Brat sound cool, but its clear that JD was intentionally going for a Dr. Dre feel with this instrumental, and it comes off extra cheesy.
Come And Get Some – Mac Daddy of Kris Kross (the dark skin one aka Chris Kelly…rest in peace) joins Da Brat as they swag out over JD’s funky instrumental built around a loop from Lenny Kravitz’ “Fear”. That’s all I got.
Mind Blowin’ – JD continues to bring the head noddin’ funk while our host attempts to blow your mind with her lyrics. Her rhymes aren’t mind blowin’, but they are mildly enjoyable.
Give It 2 You – JD hooks up a smooth backdrop with a dope Al Green like vocal loop sprinkled in to give the track a little touch of soul. Da Brat continues to display her polished flow, even though she trips up a bit with her lyrics (on the final verse she refers to herself as “the baddest new bitch in this hip-hop biz” and then in the very next bar calls herself an “O.G.”). This was a great way to end Funkdafied, and is easily my favorite song on the album.
Ignorance is bliss. At face value, Funkdafied displays a confident emcee with a polished flow and a great voice bodying a batch of clean and quality JD produced instrumentals. But if you have eaten from the tree of knowledge and go beneath the surface, you’ll see JD trying to duplicate Dr. Dre’s G-funk brand of production and stealing Snoop’s flow, slang and mannerisms, only to force feed them to Da Brat to regurgitate. I think Da Brat is talented and I will eventually track down the rest of her catalog to see if she ever found her footing as a true emcee. With all that said, Funkdafied is entertaining even if it’s not authentic.