The Lords Of The Underground made some noise in 1993 with their debut album Here Come The Lords, thanks in large part to Marley Marl’s stamp of approval and he and K-Def’s solid production work. The album spawned a few hits singles, building the trio’s momentum and setting up their ’94 sophomore effort, Keepers Of The Funk.
For Keepers Of The Funk, LOTUG would bring back Marley and K-Def to handle most of the production work. The album would yield a few singles, but none of them would do as well as Here Come The Lords‘ “Chief Rocka”. Keepers Of The Funk didn’t receive a ton of critical acclaim and came and went like a John after bangin’ a prostitute. The album didn’t sell well either and would be the Lords last release on the Pendulum label.
I’m curious as to who made these guys the keepers of the funk.
Intro – Keepers Of The Funk opens with a spooky instrumental and an uncredited voice (possibly Lord Jazz?) welcoming the listener to the album. The speaker then ends his short speech asking the listener to make three promises: “You will not lie. You will not cheat. And you will be ever faithful, and a loyal fan to the Lords Of The Underground”. The first two sound a lot easier to live up to than the third.
Ready Or Not – Marley Marl loops up a dope piano sample, laid over feel good vibrations, as DoItAll and Mr. Funke use it to spit mediocre verses on.
Tic Toc – This was the album’s lead single. It sounds like Marley may have been trying to recapture the magic of “Chief Rocka” with his instrumental, as the pace, tone and bass line sound very similar to K-Def’s work on the classic LOTUG record. It’s a solid record, but nowhere near as dope as “Chief Rocka”.
Keepers Of The Funk – For the title song, Marley loops up the P-Funk classic “Atomic Dog”, and the Godfather of P-Funk, George Clinton (aka Dr. Funkenstein) even stops by to sprinkle a few adlibs on the track and ordains the Lords “honorary members of the P-Funk Mob”. All respect due to George Clinton, but this song is horrid. From Marley’s production to DoItAll and Mr. Funke’s terrible rhymes, this was horrendous.
Steam From The Knot – There is absolutely no reason or justification for a DoItAll solo joint. Yet and still, this song exist. K-Def’s dark, slow building instrumental is actually decent, but DoItAll stumbles, bumbles and fumbles all over it with his annoying cadence and elementary rhymes. Even the song title is corny.
What I’m After – This was the second single from Keepers Of The Funk. K-Def provides the smooth instrumental, marinated in super warm vibes, as our hosts tell you what their goals are in this here rap game. Mr. Funke cleverly says in his second verse “I wanna be able to go out and buy a golf range, and still walk away with change”. This is easily my favorite song on the album, thanks largely to the dope instrumental and well-placed Redman vocal loop on the hook.
Faith – This was the third and final single released from Keepers Of The Funk. The Lords sample Denise Williams’ classic record “Free” for the backdrop and invite her to actually sing the hook on this inspirational hip-hop jam. Mr. Funke and DoItAll sound decent on this one, and the hook is certain to motivate you and get you through your day.
Neva Faded – Marley Marl hooks up a dark backdrop for our hosts, who invite their homey, Supreme C to spit the song’s final verse. Supreme C, who sounds a lot like Intelligent Hoodlum, easily raps circles around his gracious hosts. Even with the solid bars from Supreme, this song is still mediocre at best.
No Pain – K-Def lays down an ill instrumental for Mr. Funke to rock the mic over, as he shares the mic with female emcee, Sah-B, who spits some strong bars on this one. Mr. Funke makes several references to people dissin’ him on his verses. I wonder if his bars are directed at someone, specifically (hit me in the comments if you know). All in all, this was a solid record.
Frustrated – If Marley’s instrumentals were cars, this would be the stock base model. Next…
Yes Y’all – I didn’t care much for this one.
What U See – Marley’s drowsy instrumental is cool, but that’s about all that was decent about this one.
Outtro – The album ends with the same spooky instrumental as the “Intro”, and the same voice shares a few parting words before the album fades to black.
On “Ready Or Not” Mr Funke vows that “this album will be phat”. Well, he lied. Only about half of Keepers Of The Funk is enjoyable, while the other half ranges from mediocre (I have to stop using that word) to downright terrible. DoItAll and Mr. Funke, who have never been great lyricists, don’t even bring the same level of personality that carried them their first go round. When you couple the Lords inferior rhymes and subpar content with Marley and K-Def’s lackluster production, you get an underwhelming sophomore effort that leaves you pondering that maybe one LOTUG album was all that the world needed. And I use the term “needed” loosely.