The subject of today’s post is a crew that I’m sure most of you never heard of or completely forgot about. The Legion were a three man crew out of The Bronx, consisting of Cee-Low, Chucky Smash and Molecules (which is a dope rap alias if you ask me). Through their relationship with Black Sheep, the trio were able to parlay a deal with Mercury, who Black Sheep were also singed to. They would release their debut album in 1994, confusingly titled Theme + Echo = Krill.
The Legion would handle most of the production work on Krill, with some special guests producing a few tracks and dropping by to lend a lyric or two, here and there. Krill made so little noise it should have been titled “Mute” and it probably sold no more than 100 albums worldwide.
I bought a used cd copy of Krill for five bucks a few months ago (which is a great deal, considering a used copy is currently going for $55 on Amazon) at one of my frequent spots, only being familiar with the first two singles that I dug back in the day. I thought the album liner notes might shed some light on the meaning of the strange equation that is the album title, but it didn’t. So let’s get into the album and see if we can get some answers.
And hopefully, its dope.
Enter The Realm – Over rough drums and a hard horn loop, Cee-low, Molecules and Chucky Mash introduce themselves to the listeners on this short intro.
Jingle Jangle – This was the lead single from Krill, and my first introduction to The Legion. Dres (of Black Sheep, who invited Q-Tip to make a guest appearance on A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing’s “La Menage” (Tribe Degrees of Separation: check)) joins the trio over this dope jazzy backdrop, and smoothly breezes over it. But its Molecules aggressive flow and amusing bars that standout on this entertaining track.
Buddah Break – This short interlude has Brucie B playing a radio DJ and shouting out The Legion and other randomness.
Legion Groove – This was the second single from Krill. C.M.E. (with co-production credit going to The Legion) lays down quite the groove for this one, as the trio try their best to keep up with it.
Back In The Days – Each of the trio spit a quick verse with distorted vocals over a bunch of staticky backdrops. Thankfully, it’s very short.
Step To The Stage – With the exception of another aggressively entertaining verse from Molecules, this shit was boring. And the mix and mastering was terrible.
Makin’ Noise – Former NBA baller and three-point specialist, Dennis “3D” Scott joins The Legion on this one. It’s a good thing Dennis didn’t quit his day job to become a rapper. He’s so bad he makes Shaq sound like Rakim. The Legion don’t fare much better, and the instrumental is trash.
Krill Ill – This instrumental is tough. Cee-Low and Chucky struggle to keep pace with it, while Molecules sounds right at home rhyming over it.
Representando – Short interlude that has a Chapito Mike propping up The Legion in Spanish over a Latin flavored instrumental.
Zootie Bang – Mista Lawnge (from Black Sheep) gets his first production credit of the evening with this one. He builds the instrumental around a few dope samples from a George & Gwen McCrae joint, and throws in a thousand other changes and breaks along the way. Overall the instrumental is decent, but The Legion fail to deliver, lyrically.
Once Upon A Time – Chucky, Cee-Low and Molecules each share their life stories, from childhood to becoming The Legion. Mista Lawnge gets credit for the jazzy backdrop, and it’s pretty dope. This one sounds better the more I listen to it.
I like The Way It’s Goin’ Down – I could take or leave this one.
Bring It – The Legion invite their buddy, Droopy Dog (Really? How corny and unoriginal can you be? Mark him as a candidate for worst moniker, please) to join them on this one. The instrumental is pretty decent, but once again, the emceeing is lackluster.
It’s Thorough – I have no idea what The Legion or Droopy Dog are saying on this track, because the sickness of the instrumental captures all of my attention every time I listen to it.
Who’s It On Part 1 – The Legion invite Showbiz & A.G. and Ralo to join them on this cipher joint, which is also produced by Showbiz. None of the emcees involved impress (but if I had to choose a winner, Showbiz turns in the best verse), but even less impressive is Showbiz’s empty backdrop.
Who’s It On Part II – As if part one wasn’t bad enough, The Legion decide to come back with a sequel to the horrid posse joint. This time the trio invite Dres, Mista Lawnge, pre-America’s Most Wanted Chi-Ali and their little homies, The Legioneers (E-Dub, C.M.E., Smiley and Droopy Dog) to the party. Dres comes off on this one, but he’s also responsible for the cheesy instrumental (with a co-production credit going to The Legion), so he loses cool points.
The Word Nigga – This interlude has a man asking random people about their feelings on the word “nigga”, setting up the next song…
New Niggas – Cee-Low, Molecules and Chucky Mash each get a verse to express their feelings on the N-word. None of them spit any thought provoking bars or make any worthwhile points, but I absolutely love the dark backdrop, even in its demo-like form.
The Truth – The Legion invites Brother Elliot, who is down with the Nation of Islam, to
babble breakdown the word “nigga” over a somber instrumental. And this completes the three piece Nigga Suite.
Rest In Peace – The Legion save their best for last. The trio cooks up a moody groove with a deep bass line as they remember some of their peeps that passed away. Compared to the rest of the album, the mix on this song is incredible.
The Legion are very subpar emcees, and not even Molecules’ aggression and charisma or a slew of guest appearances, can mask that fact. On the production side, the trio put together some pretty dope instrumentals, but the mixing and mastering (with exception of the final song) are dreadful. To add insult to injury, Theme + Echo = Krill is a lengthy twenty tracks, and the twenty tracks feel never ending when listening to their limited rhyming ability, poor mixes and the handful of songs and interludes that should have been left on the cutting room floor. Plus, I still have no idea what the bullshit equation album title means!
hope we get black sheep’s non fiction in the next few reviews, for an album that paled in comparison to their first, it was actually decent
It’s probably not coming in the next few reviews (since it was released in December), but its definitely coming down the pipeline. Thanks for reading, bro!
I found an interview at http://www.uncut.com with Chucky Smash and he explained the title and I quote,” The Theme would be the beats and music that’s setting the tone. The Echo represents the voices and also represented the echo chamber you heard in the jams. And the final product was the Krill which stood for krazy ill” So there you have it my friend.
My man Tony. That’s a trash ass explanation and makes the title even cheesier. Thanks for doing that research, and as always, thanks for reading!
uncut’s got all sorts of brilliant interviews
there’s one with fashion/al tariq from the beatnuts that got deleted years back but it gives a lot of background
It’s thorough, same sample as ‘smif n wessun – nothin move but the money’ which didn’t get cleared and only dropped on white label. Wonder why it didn’t get cleared for smif n wessun but legion got it cleared.