Just like Top Quality, Dred Scott, The UMC’s and Ill Al Skratch, the Boogiemonsters are another group that came on scene and, as Nas once said, “popped for a minute, spit a sentence” then the game got rid of them. The four man crew (consisting of Vex, Mondo, Yodared and Myntric) met while attending Virginia State University. The fellas clicked, decided to formed a group and begin working on demos and doing shows around campus. They continued to work the college scene and eventually struck a deal with Pendulum/EMI where they would release their debut album, Riders Of The Storm: The Underwater Album in 1994.
The Boogiemonsters would render most of the production duties to the relatively unknown producer Derek Jackson (who goes by the alias “D!”), with The LG Experience (remember him from the Ill Al Skratch post?) lending some help on a handful of tracks. The album didn’t move a ton of units or receive a lot of praise, but it did gain a cult-like following from some of the true heads.
And I’m one of them.
Jugganauts – Juggernaut: A huge, powerful and overwhelming force or institution. I don’t know if this song supports that definition, but Vex, Mondo and them other two dudes sound nice spitting their abstract rhymes over the thumpin’ bass line, beautiful strings and melodic groove.
Recognized Thresholds Of Negative Stress – This was the first single from Riders Of The Storm. Vex and Mondo use D!’s ill backdrop to discuss membranes, cytoplasm, electro spectroscopic storms, the impending apocalypse, and the frustration of having Nikes that don’t match your gear. You know, real nerd shit. But when you have an instrumental as dope as this, you could rap about the elements on the periodic table and it would still sound good. By the way, I absolutely love the organ sample (or is it played live?) sprinkled throughout song.
Boogie – The Boogiemonsters keep the good times rollin’ with this one. D! (with a co-production credit going to the Boogiemonsters) hooks up a smooth up-tempo-feel-good groove that Vex and Mondo flex their abstract styling all over. Side note: Scott Storch is credited for the keyboard play on this one.
Muzic Appreciation (Sweet Music) – The first solo joint of the evening goes to Vex. D! slows things down with this beautifully soulful backdrop that Vex uses to express his affection for his first and only love, music. Vex cleverly compares music to a woman as he raps “I wish I could undress her, I wish I could caress her, like she does my soul, but I am so much lesser, she’s always there for me when I need her like my moms, relaxin’ all my drama, I come into her arms”. Sometimes all you need is one verse to get your point across, and Vex does just that with this one.
Mark Of The Beast – Shit just got REAL serious, folks. Vex and Mondo dive deep into the book of Revelation and discuss the apocalypse, the rapture and the mark of the beast. You don’t know what the mark of the beast is? Go read the book of Revelation then, foo! The Boogiemonsters are credited for the bleak instrumental, which matches the song’s content, perfectly.
Altered States Of Consciousness – Thankfully, D! lightens up the mood with this breezy mid-tempo bop (that borrows part of its bass line from The Gap Band’s “Outstanding”). I think all four members contribute verses to this one, but sometimes it’s hard to tell, since Vex is the only member with a unique rap voice. Their rhymes are all over the place, but the soulful backdrop will keep you entertained.
Honeydips In Gotham – The second single from the album finds the Boogiemonsters rapping praises to all the fly sistas in the city over a fly melodic instrumental. This one was definitely inspired by ATCQ’s “Bonita Applebum” (Tribe Degrees of Separation: check); not only in content, but the “wah wah” loop the instrumental is built around sounds a lot like the background noise that Q-Tip is speaking over at the beginning of “Bonita Applebum” (go ahead and listen to both of them…I’ll wait). I remember a remix of this song around a loop of the Isley Brothers’ “Living For The Love Of You”. It was cool, but doesn’t compare to the original.
Strange – I believe this was the third single released from Riders Of The Storm. D! hooks up another bangin’ bass line and throws in a slick Cameo vocal sample, as Vex and Mondo continue to dish out their abstract one-two punch.
Old Man Jacob’s Well – This may be the saddest hip-hop song ever created. The somber instrumental creates the mood for the BM’s to go inside the psyche of a serial killer named Old Man Jacob, whose killed 14 kids and is looking for his 15th victim. The first verse introduces the listener to the self-loathing psychopath, but the second verse is probably the hardest to listen to, as we hear the little boy that will soon become Old man Jacob’s next victim get abducted. The song ends with Old Man Jacob indulging in more self-loathing and almost trying to justify his actions, as he disposes of the child’s body in his well. It’s a painful listen (even harder today since I’m now a father), but good music should evoke your emotions, whether good, bad, or indifferent.
Bronx Bombas – I’m not sure if there is a way to smoothly transition out of the morbid subject matter from the previous song, but the Boogiemonsters chose to hit us with a Mondo solo joint. D! provides a dope groove, dripping with good vibes and West Coast sensibilities, for Mondo to spit one quick verse about a night at a club that quickly turns into a rap battle. He never says if he won the battle or not, but D! damn sure wins with this instrumental.
Salt Water Taffy (Slo Jam) – More of the usual: Decent rhymes and beautiful production (Scott Storch gets his second keyboard credit of the evening on this one).
Riders Of The Storm – The BM’s throw their jazzy melodic formula out the window on this one. D! (with a co-production credit going to the Boogiemonsters) hooks up a hectic paced backdrop with another thumpin’ bass line, as all four members spit a verse, and I think they each invited a cousin to spit a verse as well. It’s not the strongest song on the album, but still solid.
Recognized Thresholds Of Negative Stress (Stressless Mix) – The instrumental for this remix is very soothing, pleasing to the ear, and makes for a great ending to the album.
The Boogiemonsters rhyming style may be too eclectic and abstract for some hip-hop fans (though I personally think Vex and Mondo are competent emcees; and Vex would only get sharper by the time their sophomore effort rolled around), and I’ll give you that. But there is absolutely no way you can front on the production work on Riders Of The Storm. D!along with the Boogiemonsters and friends, craft a nearly flawless batch of instrumentals, that will make you feel the full gamut of emotions. If anything, they could have done a better job of mixing it, as sometimes the vocals sound drowned out by the music (or maybe that was intentional, playing off the whole “Underwater Album” thing), but even with that minor discrepancy, Riders Of The Storm is a great debut by the Boogiemonsters, that even A Tribe Called Quest would be proud of.
Truly a great album, they released a follow up in 97 which wasnt as good
I didn’t hear about Boogie Monsters until seeing the video for “Strange” on BET Rap City in late 94. They didn’t hit due to the popularity of Gangsta Rap. They were more well known in the college crowd/alternative circles. “Old Man Jacob” I agree is one of the creepiest and scariest songs in Hip Hop. I still can’t listen to it and always skip it. Another forgotten note was that DJ Lord Jazz of LOTUG did the scratches on “Bronx Bombas”. Due to they were labelmates. I’m friends with Vex and I emailed him a link of the review.
Good album, in my opinion, the only sad thing is the low level of sound, a remaster of the album would be great! There’s Limited Edition 2015 Reissue for Japan, but I’m not sure if it’s a remastered version.
thanks 4 da review!
Agreed. It could definitely use a mean remastering. Thanks for reading!