If you read this blog on a regular basis, then you already know that I’m a vinyl and compact disc collector (I’m not big on cassettes, but I do have the cassette version of Nas’ It Was Written on my want list, only for the brilliant cassette exclusive track, “Silent Murder”. I didn’t heed Nas’ warning and my boombox ate my first cassette copy of it). There are some random and obscure pieces in my collection, but the subject of today’s write up might take the cake. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you The W.I.S.E. Guys: eF yoU eN Kay E.
There’s not much info on the internet about The W.I.S.E Guyz, but I did find out that they were a four-man team, based out of Long Island, NY, consisting of Tron, Big Ill, Stretch and Extra Caliber. The odd album title (which is just a fancy and ridiculous way to say spell F-U-N-K-E or say “funky”) caught my eye, and my curiosity was peaked when I looked at the back of the album cover and discovered that DJ Muffla and Stretch of the underappreciated L.A. Posse, pretty much produced the entire album. And if you’re not familiar with the L.A. Posse, do your Googles, kids.
Without knowing or hearing one song on eF yoU eN Kay E, I copped a used vinyl copy of the album with the thought process that even if The W.I.S.E Guyz are terrible rappers, at least some of the production would enjoyable.
Intro – Our hosts start the album off with an eight second intro that they use to explain the acronym in “The W.I.S.E.” (Tron’s Housing Everything With Ill, Stretch and E, as in Extra Caliber), which is so ridiculous it makes the revised meaning of “J.J. Fad” sound genius.
Kick It Off – The first song of the night is backed by a slow-moving instrumental that Stretch and one other member of the crew (sorry, I don’t recognize the guyz’s voices well enough to decipher who is who) use to spit verses to warm things up for the evening. The verses were cool, and despite the low energy in Muffla and E’s backdrop, I enjoyed the muddled melodic feel of it.
Boom Bash – Muffla and Stretch’s backdrop sounds like a poor man’s Bomb Squad production. It makes for decent imitation, but none of the guys have a strong enough voice to compliment or combat its aggressive hard-hitting nature.
Do The Egyptian – The W.I.S.E. Guys attempt to create a new dance craze with this one. Yep, you guessed it. The Egyptian. Needless to say, the dance didn’t take off, and everything about this track is as corny as it reads.
If My Pillow Could Talk – The guyz put a twist on Connie Francis’ 1963 hit single of the same name. Muffla hooks up a jazzy piano interpolation of the bass line from James Brown’s “The Payback”, and the fellas use it to take turns discussing their sexual exploits and fantasies. The concept sounds more interesting written than it does executed, but I did enjoy Muffla’s instrumental.
New York, New York – The W.I.S.E. Guyz wrap-up side one of FUNKE with this homage to their hometown. Then again, I don’t know if “homage” is the right term, since they mostly talk about the negative aspects of the city and punctuate it all with the hook that advertises New York as the city where the “roaches bite and your rats run around, your house gets robbed, and you don’t hear a sound”. Wow. Sounds like a great place to live. I didn’t care much for this one, mainly due to the flat instrumental.
The eF yoU eN Kay E – The W.I.S.E Guyz kick-off side two of the album (if you’re listening on vinyl) with the title track and a bangin’ backdrop (credited to Muffla and E) that the whole team gets a chance to rhyme on. No one spits anything memorable, but this instrumental is tough.
Let’s Rock The House – Like most hip-hop albums from this time period, The W.I.S.E. Guyz felt the need to include a house track. Stretch lays the beat and the fellas add a few adlibs to it. Next…
Time For Peace – The fellas use this one to call for world peace. Specifically, peace between the two super-powers: USA and Russia, as to avoid World War III. I appreciate the sentiment, but the bars were boring, and it was musically mundane.
Fools – Short interlude.
Watt U Got 2 Say – Trash.
This House Is Smokin’ – Stretch loops up a portion of BT Express’ song of the same title, but the loop doesn’t hit as hard as it did on 3rd Bass’ “Triple Stage Darkness”, which is proof that sampling is an art. I wouldn’t necessarily call this one trash, but it’s definitely recycling bin material.
I won’t call The W.I.S.E. Guyz terrible rappers, as they deliver a few decent bars on eF yoU eN Kay E, but they never establish a true identity or direction, and collectively, struggle to carry the vocal weight required for an entire album. On the production side, Muffla and Stretch manage to muster up a couple of dope instrumentals, but much like the rhymes, most of the musical backings are underwhelming and forgettable. As a whole body of work, eF yoU eN Kay E is not funky, but most of it stinks.