MC Lyte – Ain’t No Other (June 22, 1993)

The next two are new additions to my collection, which also happen to be released on the same day. It would have been perfect if I could have got these done last week for International Women’s Day, but a brother was busy. Place this one right before Professor X’s Puss ‘N Boots.

I’ve always appreciated and respected MC Lyte as an emcee. Yes, she had some help writing her material (especially early on in her career), but through the years she’s given us quality rhymes and one of the dopest female rapping voices in hip-hop history. On the flipside, none of her first three albums were consistent. They may have had a handful of decent songs, but none of the albums were good enough to be considered classics, in my humble opinion. Regardless of a classic album or even a commercially successful one, she would return in 1993 to release her fourth, and final album on First Priority/Atlantic, Ain’t No Other.

On her last effort Act Like You Know, Lyte slightly curved the hard edge she established on her first two releases, for a more feminine feel, and incorporated a little r&b vibe, thanks to the production duo of Wolf & Epic, who produced a third of that album. Wolf & Epic’s footprint is nowhere to be found on Ain’t No Other, as Lyte would recruit producers she’s worked with in the past (Audio Two) and some new heads (Backspin, K-Cut & Sir Scratch (from Main Source) and Markell Riley & team), hoping to bring back the raw sound that Lyte fans were accustom to.

Ain’t No Other didn’t do huge numbers, but it did give Lyte her first gold selling single. You’ll have to read the full post to find out which song it was. Or you can just Google it. The choice is yours.

Intro – The first voice you hear on Ain’t No Other is no other, than the Blastmaster KRS-One introducing the listener to the album.

Brooklyn  – Lyte uses the first song of the evening to represent her borough. The Markell Riley/Tyron Fyffe/Franklin Grant (who from here on out I will only refer to as Funk Mama Production) concocted instrumental is solid, but Lyte’s overly aggressive rhyme style sounds forced.

Ruffneck – This was the first single from Ain’t No Other, and the first gold selling single of Lyte’s career. I didn’t like this song back in the day for a few different reasons. First off, the Funk Mama produced instrumental sounds corny, and I’m not buying Lyte’s new-found gangster bitch image. This is pretty much the female answer to Apache’s (RIP) “Gangsta Bitch”, only with a trash instrumental.

What’s My Name Yo – K-Cut & Sir Scratch get credit for the jazzy backdrop (the sample at the end of the song could have been used as its own instrumental for a different song…it’s pretty dope), as Lyte demands that anybody within earshot put respec’ on her name.

Lil Paul – Apparently Lyte was a victim of a “hit it and quit it”, and now that the culprit won’t call her back, her salt and hurt feelings have her dissin’ his skills in the bed and bangin’ out his boy, Lil Paul (who according to Lyte has the wrong adjective before his name). Someone going by Funk provides a very nice instrumental that compliments Lyte’s rhymes, well. This was pretty dope.

Ain’t No Other – For the title track, Backspin samples the hardest organ loop I’ve heard in a while and turns it into a sick instrumental for Lyte to talk her shit over. This one goes extra hard, folks.

Hard Copy – Lyte invites Lin Que (who gets credit for writing the lyrics on this one) and Kink Ez to join her on this one, as each of the ladies does their best Onyx impersonation while reciting the same rhymes on three different verses, hence the song title. Backspin’s instrumental (with a co-production credit going to Master Tee) is kind of dope, but conceptually this was pretty weak.

Fuck That Motherfucking Bullshit – Yes, that is really the song title. Lyte revisits her “I’m Not Having It” with Positive K days, as her guest Big Vaughn (who get the writing credit for this one) gets brutally honest and explicit with his intentions, and Lyte shoots him down with each attempt (wait..did she just tell him to get his friends to suck is own dick? Unless the “friends” she referring to are his lips, that line doesn’t make sense) The back and forth is mildly entertainment, but the hook is embarrassingly bad and Milk’s backdrop is trash.

Intro – KRS-One returns to introduce the listener to side two of the album, which really only applies if you’re listening to Ain’t No Other on vinyl or a cassette player that doesn’t have auto-reverse.

I Go On – This was the second single from Ain’t No Other and probably my favorite song on the album. The Funky Mama Production team hooks up a super mellow instrumental that Lyte blesses beautifully with her dope vocal and solid rhymes.

One Nine Nine Three – Backspin hooks up another dope backdrop that our host rocks over, very well.

Never Heard Nothin’ Like This – Audio Two lays down a decent instrumental and Lyte brags and boasts her way through it. She even manages to mix a little Spanish, pig-Latin and French into her rhymes. I’m not mad at this one.

Can I Get Some Dap – This one reeks of filler material.

Let Me Adem – The first few times I listened to this one it was a yawner, but after a few more listens Backspin’s instrumental starts to grow on you. Lyte’s rhymes aren’t great on this one, but still serviceable.

Steady Fucking – After KRS-One warns all within earshot not to test MC Lyte on the mic(the exact same way he did about himself before Sex And Violence‘s “Like A Throttle”), Audio Two drops the worst instrumental imaginable for a dis record, and guess what our host does with it? She goes at her arch nemesis, Roxanne Shante. Lyte does land some decent blows, but never delivers that knock out punch. Maybe the dryness of the instrumental zapped her motivation.

The following songs are listed as bonus tracks on the CD version of Ain’t No Other:

Who’s House – While feuding with the Fugees, Jeru Da Damaja once said “I heard some emcees wanna bring it but a female is one of their strongest men”. That line can be applied to this song. Lyte bows out of this one and lets her all male crew jump on the mic (including Big Vaughn, for the second time tonight) and they all fail, miserably. I’m still trying to figure out which was worse: the malnourished rhyming or Audio Two’s feeble instrumental.

I Cram To Understand U – Lyte gives one of the singles from her debut album Lyte As A Rock, a remake, as D.J. Doc breathes new life into Audio Two’s empty drumbeat, with a new drum pattern and a well-welcomed Barry White loop. Lyte even re-raps the lyrics and you can hear the maturation of her voice from 1990 to ’93.

Lyte sounds strong on the mic (although at times, a little too strong (i.e. “Brooklyn” and “Ruffneck” )) throughout Ain’t No Other, but like her past projects, the inconsistency on the production side brings down the overall quality of the album. There are some good moments on Ain’t No Other (all of the Backspin produced joints shine), it’s just the mediocre ones outweigh the good ones. Maybe she got it right her fifth go round. Stay tuned.

-Deedub

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2 Low – Funky Lil Brotha (1993)

The success of Kris Kross’ 1992 debut album Totally Krossed Out, had everybody and their mama looking to sign the next kid rap sensation. Michael Bivens had ABC. The Native Tongues gave us Chi-Ali. And then their was Da’ Youngsta’s and Illegal out of Philly. Rap-A-Lot soon decided it was their turn to take part in the kid thing, and would introduce 2 Low to the world.

The Houston native, Cedric “2 Low” White was thirteen when he signed with Rap-A-Lot Records. He made his debut on Scarface’s The World Is Yours album, where Face pretty much blessed him with his own solo joint “Funky Lil Aggin”. That would lead to 2 Low releasing his debut album Funky Lil Brotha later that same year. Funky Lil Brotha would feature production from the names that shaped the Rap-A-Lot sound: Scarface, N.O. Joe and the production team of John Bido, Tony “Big Chief” Randle & James Smith. I don’t know anyone who actually bought this album when it was released, so I can’t imagine it sold that many copies. I found it in the dollar bins a few years ago and bought it out of curiosity.

A few years later, 2 Low would file a Federal lawsuit against Rap-A-Lot Records for fraud, negligence and breach of fiduciary duty, which basically means they didn’t pay him for show performances and record sales. Needless to say, that would be the end of his relationship with Rap-A-Lot, and pretty much the end of his rap career. Rap-A-Lot did settle out of court with 2 Low, so hopefully he go a nice portion of the 28 million he originally sued for. But I digress.

Low In – Short intro to Funky Lil Brotha. Come on Face, was anybody really waiting for a 2 Low album?

Class Clown – The first song of the evening features some southern fried instrumentation courtesy of N.O. Joe, that 2 Low uses to talk about some of the shenanigans he takes part in, which include: grabbing the teachers ass, stabbing a snitchin’ kid in his booty hole with a pencil and smoking weed in the school gym. Uh, these are not acts of a class clown, more like a thug/future inmate. I’m not buying what 2 Low’s selling on this one, but I did enjoy N.O.’s instrumental, and Devin the Dude’s hook was mildly entertaining.

Growing Up Ain’t Easy – 2 Low uses this one to talk about the trials of being a kid and covers everything from getting in trouble with his moms to his homeboy having to deal with a drug addicted mother. John Bido and company hook up a mean southern style groove, and Devin the Dude stops by for the second song in a row, and sings the catchy hook. I like this one.

Funky Lil Brother – This song originally appeared on Scarface’s The World Is Yours, and was titled Funky Lil Aggin”” (which is “nigga” spelled backwards). N.O. Joe, who was responsible for the production on the original mix, also gets credit for this remix, and I definitely prefer the original over the heavily synth commercial feel of this version. Face and Low pretty much use the same lyrics as the original, with an edit here and there in an attempt to give 2 Low a cleaner image (which is pretty ridiculous considering just two songs ago he was smoking weed in the school gym and now he claims he doesn’t smoke when Face offers him a joint during the final verse of this song). This was corny on The World Is Yours and even cornier on this album. By the way, if the album is titled Funky Lil Brotha, why the hell did you put “Brother” in the song title?

Pain – John Bido and company slide Low a funky smooth backdrop that he uses to talk about what a pain in the ass girls and teachers can be. This was cool.

Here We Go – 2 Low’s rhymes are rushed and slurred and N.O. Joe’s instrumental is pretty plain. I may like my burgers that way but not my instrumentals.

Boo Ya – Bido & Company hook up a decent west coastish instrumental for 2 Low to spit more laughable thug rhymes over. Wait…did he take a shot at Da Youngsta’s on the first verse (“Boo ya, take it like that when I punch ya, more like a grown up and far from a youngsta”)? Hmm…

Throw Ya Hands In The Air -2 Low turns up his energy and volume, which only makes it more difficult to understand what he’s saying on this track. He’s not credited anywhere in the liner notes, but it sounds like B-Real stops by and make a quick cameo during the second verse. But not even B-Real (or his clone?) can make this generic N.O. Joe instrumental sound pleasant.

The Groove With Mr. Scarface (Strictly For The Funk Lovers Pt. 2) – Trash.

Send Ya Fa Mama – More trash.

Everyday Thang – Bido & Company lay down a nice mellow instrumental for Low to discuss the everyday happenings around his way (which hi-larious includes him trying to sneak a peek at a breastfeeding mother’s titty while she feeds in public). This was decent.

Da Hood – The hook might make you think this is part two to the previous song but it’s not. As my dad might say, 2 Low sounds too manish on this one, as he tries to come across like a gangster and ends up sounding completely unbelievable. Someone going by Mr. 3-2, jumps on the final verse and his gangster sounds much more convincing than our host’s. I’m not a big fan of N.O. Joe’s instrumental, but I’ve heard worst.

Comin’ Up – For the final song of the evening, 2 Low decides to invite a few of his young Rap-A-Lot affiliates to join him on this the cipher joint: (appearing in this order) Deshira, 2 Clean, the 5th Ward Juvenilez (Nickelboy, Mr. Slimm, Daddy Lo and a mysterious fourth voice), Red Dog, Endo, Gage, Kilo and 2 Low wraps things up. The song starts off pretty corny with verses from a 13-year-old Deshira (whose rhymes are barely understandable) and the 5-year-old Bubble-gum kid, 2 Clean. The 5th Ward Juvenilez then steer the ship back in the right direction during the second verse, but Endo delivers the strongest verse of the song. Bido & Company hook up a funky backdrop for the crew to get down on, and all in all, this is not that bad of a record.

Low Out – 2 Low uses this outro to give his shoutouts. And with that, Funky Lil Brotha is done.

There are four of five quality instrumentals and one dope verse, courtesy of one of his guest (Endo on “Comin Up”), but the rest of Funky Lil Brotha is pretty useless. 2 Low spends the entire album going back and forth between sweet innocent kid and ruthless gangster, which leaves you questioning who he really is and what the hell his writing team was thinking. Ultimately, the quality of our host’s output on Funky Lil Brotha is too low. Pun intended.

-Deedub

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Jungle Brothers – J. Beez Wit The Remedy (June 15, 1993)

In life, there are some acts that are done strictly out of obligation. If my sister calls me at midnight stuck on the side of the road and I’m making love to wifee, no matter how good and warm that poom poom feels, I gotta get up and help her. If my guy gets thrown in jail for acting a fool and calls me in the middle of the night while I’m in deep rim sleep, no matter how good that cover and pillow feels, I gotta get up and bail him out (assuming the bail is a reasonable amount and I have the cash on hand). Likewise, since the Jungle Brothers are part of my favorite hip-hop collective (Native Tongue), if I find their albums in the dollar bin I have to buy them.

If you read this blog on a regular basis you already know how I feel about the Jungle Brothers and specifically how I feel about their sophomore effort Done By The Forces of Nature. Although they started of with a pretty solid debut (Straight Out The Jungle) they quickly lost their mojo with uninspired production and less than decent rhymes on its follow-up. In fact, I was so unimpressed by Done By The Forces of Nature that I have no desire to review the rest of their output. But, out of obligation, I present to you my J. Beez Wit The Remedy review.

Legend has it that the album was originally titled Crazy Wisdom Masters and featured a hefty amount of “experimental” records, but Warner Bros was so unimpressed by the songs that they rejected them for release. The JBs were forced to go back to the lab and create more conventional hip-hop record, thus J. Beez Wit The Remedy was created (factoid: a few of the records from Crazy Wisdom Masters were kept and used for J. Beez Wit The Remedy). Like their previous two albums the Jungle Brothers would handle pretty much all of the album’s production.

I’ve never heard J. Beez Wit The Remedy before today, but based on their track record and the horrible album cover artwork, I’m not feeling optimistic about this one, folks.

40 Below Trooper – The album opens with a bouncy bass line, simple drum beat and the Jungle Brothers spewing less than spectacular rhymes over it.

Book Of Rhyme Pages – The instrumental is an improvement from the previous song and their bars are actually decent on this one. Not a great song, but it’s serviceable.

My Jimmy Weighs A Ton – Afrika and Mike G use this melodic instrumental to talk about their love affairs and the power of the D, aka jimmy. Their lyrics are cool but the beautiful instrumental is the true star of this song. By the way, I absolutely love the song title.

Good Ole Hype Shit – And all the album’s upward momentum built up on the previous song goes straight to hell with this one. This a complete train wreck, folks.

Blahbludify – WTF was that?

Spark A New Flame – Brothers Jungle are in the mood for love on this one. I love the African tribal feel the drums bring to the song. Unfortunately, everything else about the song reaks of mediocrity.

I’m In Love With Indica – You heard this concept used before: emcees using marijuana as a metaphor for a woman. The Jungle Brothers strand of choice happens to be Indica. Their lyrics are slightly clever but everything else about this song is pretty forgettable.

Simple As That – I’ll keep it simple…trash.

All I Think About Is You – This is the JB’s ode to the important women in their lives. The  sentiment slightly distracts the listener from the luke warmness of the instrumental but it’s still noticeable.

Good Lookin Out – The song opens with a verse from Afrika reminiscing on that time when he went raw dog, got burned and how his dad was their to take him to get it treated and advice him on his future sexual encounters. I thought I’d finally found a song suitable for my Father’s Day hip-hop mix, but then Mike G derails that plan with his feeble verse about his homeboys. The instrumental is all kinds of buttery, though.

JB’s Comin Through – They do come through. Unfortunately it’s with experimental music and rhymes that end of sounding like a bunch of loud noise.

Spittin Wicked Randomness – For some reason they decided to re-use the same garbage instrumental and overly abstract rhyme scheme as the previous song. It still doesn’t work.

For The Headz At Company Z – This is pretty much a weird instrumental that ends with the fellas chanting the song title. Not sure what or who Company Z is. Must be an inside thing.

Man Made Material – And the JB’s wrap up J. Beez Wit The Remedy with more experimental hot garbage

The JBs reach new lows on J. Beez Wit The Remedy. As a whole, the rhymes are weaker and the production ranges from barely bearable to down right horrible (yes, I did enjoy “My Jimmy Weighs A Ton” and “Good Lookin Out”, but for a 14 song album, those are the extreme exceptions). The album is pretty much spilt in half between conventional and experimental song ideas but the results are almost identical. If you can’t rhyme you can’t rhyme, but if you have Tip and Ali, as well as De La Soul in your corner, why not tap them for some dope beats? J. Beez Wit The Remedy proves that sometimes you can judge a book by its cover.

-Deedub

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Da Youngsta’s – The Aftermath (April 20, 1993)

Here’s  another one from April of 1993 that I missed. Put this one after Tim Dog’s Do Or Die. 

As legend has it, a young Philly emcee named Emanuel “Mentally Gifted” Parks was in the studio working on some songs for his own project. One of Parks’ songs was called “Somethin 4 The Youngstas”, and even though he was only nineteen at the time, he felt the song needed an even younger vibe than he could bring to it. So, he tapped the song’s producer (Lawrence L.G. Goodman, aka L.G. the Teacher) and asked if he could bring his son in to add a verse to the song. Goodman’s son happened to be thirteen year old Qu’ran “Q-Ball” Goodman and he happily obliged. Parks and Goodman would later add Qu’ran’s fourteen year old brother, Taji, and fifteen year old cousin, Tarik Dawson to the song. Parks was so impressed by the trio’s verses that he gave them the song, and thus, Da Youngsta’s were formed. Pop’s Goodman would use the song as Da Youngstas’ demo and it would eventually get the boys a deal with East West Records, where they would release their debut album Somethin 4 Da Youngsta’s in March of 1992. Thanks to their singles (“Somethin 4 Da Youngsta’s and “Pass The Mic”) and their clean kiddie image, they were able to make a little noise, but would be overshadowed by another kid act named Kriss Kross, who released their debut album just a few weeks after Da Youngsta’s. Da Youngsta’s would return in 1993 with their sophomore effort, The Aftermath.

L.G. the Teacher handled all the production on Somethin 4 Da Youngsta’s, but he would yield and let a handful of hip-hop’s most elite producers (DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Marley Marl, Kay Gee from Naughty By Nature and The Beatnuts) get behind the boards and handle the bulk of the lifting for The Aftermath. The young Philly whippersnappers would also shed their cute kid image and adapt a more hardcore thugged out persona for The Aftermath, which was the trend even back in 1993. The combination would result in Da Youngsta’s most commercially successful album to date.

I’ve had this album for years and I’m just now noticing that on the cover artwork Da Youngsta’s are inside of a human skull. Not sure what that has to do with album’s title, but whatever.

The Aftermath – The album opens with a decent Qur’an produced instrumental that he uses to personally welcome the listener to The Aftermath.

Wild Child – The first actual song of the evening would also be the album’s third single. The Beatnuts get their first of three production credits on The Aftermath, and hook up a nice mid-tempo backdrop with a low-key pulsating bass line that the Da Youngsta’s use to do their best Onyx impersonation over.

Iz U Wit Me – This was the second single from The Aftermath and another example of poor punctuation in hip-hop song titles. Qur’an, Taji and Tarik bring down the volume a bit from the previous song but continue in their new found hardcore flow. Pete Rock provides a solid backdrop for the trio to pretend, I mean, spit bars over.

Handle This – The youngins match the energy of Kay Gee’s laid back but still rugged, instrumental on this one. Treach was a beast with the ghostwriting in the nineties, and it’s pretty obvious when you listen to the young boys that he penned the trio’s rhymes on this one. This was pretty dope.

Crewz Pop – This was the lead single from The Aftermath. Naughty By Nature continues to lend a helping hand, as Kay Gee hooks up monster instrumental and Treach makes a brief cameo, and he most certainly penned Da Youngsta’s rhymes for this one too. This is easily the biggest hit in Da Youngsta’s limited catalog and possibly the strongest.

Lyrical Stick Up Kids – What the hell is a lyrical stick up kid? Anyway, Marley Marl hooks up a decent backing, as the Da Youngsta’s turn the volume back up and sound like some true blue studio gangsters. Speaking of studio gangsters, this would have been the perfect song for their fellow Philly teen rhymers, Illegal, to join in on the cypher.

Who’s The Mic Wrecka – Pete Rock and CL Smooth join Q-Ball, Taj Mahal and Tarik (sorry, I can’t make my pen write or my mouth call Tarik “Reek Geez” when another more superior Philly emcee named Tariq (Black Thought) uses that alias) on this cipher joint. Pete Rock gets credit for the instrumental that’s built around a lazy and overused loop from Johnny Guitar Watson “Superman Lover”. I could do without this song.

Count If Off – Papa Goodman gets his only production credit of the evening and he makes sure it counts (no pun intended). His sons and nephew sound decent rockin’ over his quality understated and rough backdrop.

Honeycomb Hide Out – They may have been young, but not too young to be interested in the ladies, as they spend the course of this song rapping praises to punanny. The Beatnuts get credit for the decent instrumental and Lt. Stitchie adds some reggae chants to the beginning, ending and hook of the song. Not my favorite song, but it’s cool.

Da Hood – The trio put on their conscious hats for this one, as each of them describe the trials that come with living in the hood. Qur’an gets credit for the instrumental and it’s actually pretty decent. It kind of sounds like something Kay Gee might have hooked up.

It’z Natural – Brothers Goodman and cousin Dawson take another break from the screaming, as they mellow out to match the laid back vibe of The Beatnuts’ backdrop. The instrumental doesn’t sound like a traditional Beatnuts production, but it’s still a beauty. I absolutely love the addictive low-key bass line and the sick horn loop on the hook.

Rip A Rhyme – Marley Marl gets his second and final production credit of the evening and it sounds like something the Lords of the Underground might have passed on, and that’s not a bad thing since the track is fairly decent. A more formidable group or emcee may have brought more out of it, but, it is what it is, yo.

Wake Em Up – If you’re going to have a filler song on your album you shouldn’t sequence it as the last song on the album, and that is exactly what Da Youngsta’s do here. I normally love Premo’s production, but this one is very mediocre. I never thought in a million years that I’d be referring to a Premo produced song as filler material, but you have to call a spade a spade. Side note: This is one of only four albums, that I can think of, that include both a Pete Rock and DJ Premier produced song (the other three being Blue Funk, Illmatic and Industry Shakedown).

Shout It Out – Qu’ran gets the credit for this rough instrumental, and all three members give their closing shout outs over it.

Da Youngsta’s tough guy image on The Aftermath is a bit too much at times, but the all-star cast of producers come through and provide an enjoyable soundscape, for the most part. The Aftermath is far from a classic, but you’ll find a few songs on the album you can appreciate.

-Deedub

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Beatnuts – Intoxicated Demons: The EP (April 6, 1993)

Somehow I missed a few that I’ve had in the collection forever. If you’re keeping track at home, place this one in between Here Come The Lords and The Swoll Package. 

By 1993 The Beatnuts definitely had a foot in hip-hop’s door. With production work for Common, Monie Love, Fat Joe, Chi-Ali and Pete Nice (just to name a few) under their belts, The Nuts were well on their way to establishing themselves as one of hip-hop’s most respected production teams. Eventually, the trio (which at the time consisted of Juju, Psycho Les and Fashion) would connect with Chris Lighty (rip) and his Violator Management team and parlayed that relationship into a record deal with Relativity, where they would release their debut project, Intoxicated Demons: The EP.

Intoxicated Demons wouldn’t be your typical hip-hop producer project, like say, Marley Marl’s In Control series, with guest emcees rapping over the producers beats. Instead, Juju, Psycho Les and Fashion would take the bull by the horn and not only handle the production side of things, but also assume microphone duties for the entire project. It’s not like they hadn’t spit bars before (well, at least Fashion had some experience, with a small cameo he made on Chi-Ali’s “Let The Horns Blow”), but were their tongues swift enough to carry an entire EP?

World’s Famous Intro – Soundbites, a simple drum beat and horns lead into the first song of the evening…

World’s Famous – The Nuts borrow a drum beat from Lou Donaldson’s “Ode To Billie Joe” and lay a slick loop from Dizzy Gillespie’s “Matrix” over it (with a touch of Cannonball Adderley’s sax sprinkled on top) to construct this enjoyable audible treat. Fashion sits this one out and VIC (whose house, according to the liner notes, is where the whole EP was programmed) joins Psycho Les and Juju on the mic, as all three spit forgettable verses. The instrumental is dope, though.

Engineer Talking – Useless interlude.

Psycho Dwarf – This is my least favorite song on the EP. I don’t care much for the instrumental, the hook is trash and Psycho Les and Juju don’t say anything that’s worth quoting.

On The 1 + 2 – Interlude…

No Equal – This is my favorite song on the EP. I’m a sucka for xylophone samples, but when they’re as nasty as the Booker Little and Booker Ervin loop used on this one, I’m surprised I don’t pre-ejaculate in my boxers every time I hear it (the Q-Tip vocal sample on the hook is pretty dope as well). Fashion makes his first microphone appearance of the evening, as he, Juju and Psycho Les each take on a verse. Juju sounds sharp and spits the best verse of the entire EP, and also manages to take a cheap shot at Das EFX (“now punk niggas wanna test me, but all that tiggdy, tiggdy tongue twisting shit don’t impress me”). Well done, fellas.

Reign Of The Tec -This was the lone single released from Intoxicated Demons. The Nuts hook up a hard backdrop and Psycho Les and Juju go from careless party animals to hardcore heartless gangsters. If you don’t take them too serious and have fun with it (which is clearly what they intended) you won’t be offended or scared to hear threats like “I’ll kill your moms if I have to”. By the way, I absolutely love the Sadat X vocal sample on the hook (“John Wayne couldn’t even stand the reign of the tec”).

Quality & The Bushmen Off The Top – This interlude has someone spittin’ a very weak freestyle over some cool jazz instrumentation.

Third Of The Trio – The Nuts hook up a dope laid back instrumental and take turns showcasing just how mediocre their flows are.

Phone Call – Short interlude: There is something extremely sexy about hearing a girl you’re bangin’ tell you not to be “getting too much pussy” while she’s out of town. Yum. This sets up the next song…

Story – Juju sits this one out and lets Psycho Les and Fashion share porn stories. The eerie backdrop complements their X-rated content, very well.

It has one too many skits (or four) and a one garbage song, but overall Intoxicated Demons: The EP is a pretty solid debut project from The Nuts. If you listen to the EP not expecting much from them lyrically, their production will be an enjoyable audible appetizer. They don’t call themselves The Beatnuts for nothing, folks.

-Deedub

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ice Cube – Lethal Injection (December 7, 1993)

We last heard from Ice Cube in 1992 with his multi-platinum third full-length release, The Predator. If y’all read this blog on a regular basis, you already know how I feel about that album. But if you don’t: I felt The Predator was a solid album, but Cube’s flow was deteriorating and his messages weren’t as potent as his past output, and even though he could still move units, it kind of marked the end of Cube’s reign as the hottest rapper in the game. He would return at the tail end of  1993 with his fourth album, Lethal Injection.

For Lethal Injection Cube would bring in Little Quincy Jones (QD III) to handle a chunk of the production, with contributions from Laylaw, Sir Jinx and a few relatively unknown producers as well. Of course the album went platinum, but the reviews from critics and fans were mixed.

Let’s review and see if the South Central native could regain his swag or would continue down the path that history has already written.

The Shot (Intro)Lethal Injection opens with a skit that has “Mr. White” going to the doctor (played by Ice Cube) to get a shot, and boy, what a shot it is.

Really Doe – This was the lead single from Lethal Injection. Laylaw and Derrick McDowell get credit for the nasty instrumental (I love the soulful Pointer Sisters vocal sample on the hook) that Cube sounds solid rockin’ over, even if he doesn’t sound as focused as he did in his Amerikkka Most Wanted/Death Certificate days. I completely forgot about this one, but it was a pleasant refreshment hearing it today.

Ghetto Bird – Is slang for the Police helicopter that hovers over the hood looking for criminal suspects. Cube uses this one to detail his run in with (or run from) the Ghetto Bird and how he escaped it’s watchful eye. QDIII gets his first production credit of the evening and I’m not a fan of it, or the song for that matter.

You Know How We Do It – Now this is more like. QDIII redeems himself from the previous track and hooks up a smooth west coast groove that Cube uses to describe how a west coast brother chills on the west side. No, you won’t get a deep message from Cube, just random bars spilled over a groove perfect for listening to as the sun goes down on a beautiful summer day.

Cave Bitch –  Brian G (yeah, I never heard of him, either) obeys Cube’s demands and makes a rough backdrop for Cube to dis white women, that he affectionately refers to as “cave bitches”. I chuckled a little when I heard our host call out Charles “Turrible” Barkley for dating white women, and when he refers to white girls as “she-devils”. I wonder if Cube still finds white women unattractive today or if this was just a phase. All in all, this song was and still is mildly entertaining.

Bop Gun (One Nation) – This was the third single released from Lethal Injection and may be the worst song in Ice Cube’s entire catalog. QD III replays portions of Funkadelic’s “One Nation Under A Groove” as Cube spends the entire eleven plus minutes of the song quoting pieces of songs from the seventies and finding random things to rhyme them (for example: “put a glide in your stride a dip in your hip, got Daytons on the mothership”). This was REALLY bad.

What Can I Do? – Cube comes from the perspective of a drug dealer who gets caught, serves his time, and when he comes back home he has a hard time readjusting to the legit life. Someone going by The 88 X Unit gets credit for the instrumental (which is built around an interpolation of Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You”) and he churns out a pretty smooth groove. Not one of Cube’s best storytelling songs, but it’s solid. Plus, I have to give him props for shouting out my home state…even though the Dome and Prince are now gone. Time is truly illmatic.

Lil Ass Gee – Cube uses this Sir Jinx instrumental to share a tale of a young gangster and where his life of ill deeds leads him to. Unfortunately, Jinx’ backdrop is trash, Cube’s storyline is uninteresting and his flow gets corny at certain points, like during the second verse when he turns “tomorrow” in to “tommari” so it will rhyme with “Atari”. Come on, Cube.

Make It Ruff, Make It Smooth – Cube’s Lench Mob brethren, K-Dee joins him on this duet, as they take turns spewing random lyrics about absolutely nothing. Cube and K-Dee might not give you much lyrically, but QD III’s instrumental is tough.

Down For Whatever – Trash.

Enemy – The song opens with a sound bite from a speaker dissing Martin Luther King for wanting blacks to sup with white folks when blacks can’t even get along with each other. Then Madness 4 Real drops a decent beat (that sound like it could have been on The Predator album) and Cube continues his verbal assault on the white devil.

When I Get To Heaven – The last song on the proper album finds our host questioning the validity of Christianity for the black man in America (which has been a common theme throughout hip-hop’s history). Brian G gets his second and final, production credit of the evening as he builds a mellow soundscape around an interpolation of Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues”. Not a bad way to end things.

The following are bonus tracks that were included on the 2003 reissue of Lethal Injection, which I happen to have:

What Can I Do? (Westside Remix) – This remix was the single release version for this song. Laylaw & D Maq give it a complete makeover, replacing the smooth laid back vibe of the original mix with a heavily funked out backdrop this time around. Cube’s future Westside Connection brethren, Mack 10, makes a quick cameo on the last verse, which slightly alters the ending of Cube’s original storyline. I absolutely hate this version of the song.

What Can I Do? (Eastside Remix) – This is my favorite version out of the three mixes on the album, and not just because the DJ from my favorite hip-hop group of all-time, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, produced it. I mean, that may play a part, but it’s still dope on its own merit.

You Know How We Do It (Remix) – Cube gets credit for this remix. Interestingly, both the original mix and the remix use different samples from Evelyn Champagne King’s “The Show Is Over”, and their equally as dope. Like “What Can I Do? (Westside Remix)” Cube adds a few new bars at the end of the song that don’t add much to it, but whatever.

Lil Ass Gee (Eerie Gumbo Remix) – N.O. Joe (best known for his production work for Scarface) gets the production credit for this one, and the song’s subtitle actually describes the instrumental, perfectly. Even though the instrumental sounds ten times better than the original, I still don’t like the song.

Lethal Injection helps Ice Cube continue his journey from being one of the most respected emcees (on any coast) to hip-hop irrelevancy. It’s not a terrible listen. The production hits more often than it misses, but Cube’s not as focused, as the songs structures, themes and lyrics aren’t nearly as strong as they once were, circa 1991. Lethal Injection is almost like watching Kevin Garnett at the end of his career. He could show up and give you 12 points and 6 rebounds from time to time, but was far from the player that he was in his prime (bars!). But don’t feel bad for Cube, the dude just put his energy into making movies, and that has worked out well for the man.

-Deedub

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Domino – Domino (December 7, 1993)

After the Rodney King verdict and just days before the 1992 Los Angeles riots, a few high-ranking leaders from some of the L.A. Crips and Blood sets, Football Hall of Famer, Jim Brown and others, met to discuss a peace treaty amongst the rivals gangs. The treaty was established and would grow outside of just the Bloods and Crips, as most of the other Black and Latino gangs in L.A. would follow suit, which would ultimately help decrease the gang-related violence that helped ravage the L.A./Watts area in the eighties and early nineties. West coast hip-hop and gang culture have always been synonymous, and even though a lot of the left coast emcees were affiliated with a set, they didn’t openly claim one on records…but that would soon change.

Ronnie M Phillips, better known to the world as Ronnie Ron, was a producer and the founder of Dangerous Records. After the truce, Ronnie had the bright idea to bring together some of the Crips and Bloods with rhyming skills and put together an album. This idea would birth Bangin’ On Wax and Bangin’ On Wax 2, which would give the rivals a chance to set trip and kill each other on records instead of shooting each other with guns and dying in the streets. Bangin’ On Wax would go on to earn the bangin’ brethren a gold plaque. One of the rappers representing the blue corner on Bangin’ On Wax was a rapper named Genuine Draft, who made a big enough impression on the album to earn himself a solo deal on a small label called Outburst (that was distributed by Def Jam/Columbia), He would change his rap moniker from Genuine Draft to Domino for his self-titled debut.

Domino would call on DJ Battlecat (who also worked on Bangin’ On Wax) and Robert “Fonksta” Bacon to handle the production for the entire album, and on the strength of two pretty successful singles, Domino would go on to earn the Crip claiming emcee another gold plaque. Domino would continue to spew out music after his debut album, but would never match its commercial success, and I honestly couldn’t name one song or album after his debut…unless I Googled it, of course…which I did and is how I know his catalog exist in the first place. But I digress.

Diggady Domino – The album begins with a cool up-tempo instrumental and Domino introducing himself to the world as the reformed gangster now rapper/singer/party animal. This was a decent start to the evening.

Getto Jam – This was the lead single from Domino and is easily the biggest hit in his catalog. Over a smooth laid back groove, Domino harmonizes about a day (or a whole weekend) in the life of a brother from Long Beach. Domino’s lyrics are a bit elementary, but his harmonized rhyming style still sounds slick, today.

A.F.D. – Is an acronym for “Ass For Days” (which if you can’t tell by Domino’s rhymes, you’ll quickly put together when the hook comes in). Battlecat and Robert Bacon hook up a breezy backdrop that Domino uses to praise women who are plentiful in the gluteus maximus area. Speaking of ass for days, I recently stumbled on an Instagram model named Mindy “Sittinpretty” Harwood the other day and this chick has so much ass she’s worthy of her own acronym: A.F.Y. (Ass For Years). You think I’m playing? Check for yourself. It’s so ridiculous I thought it was Photoshopped. Oh yeah, the song. It’s pretty decent.

Do You Quality – Can I get a question mark on the song title, please? Domino delves into the topic of underage girls deceiving well-intentioned men into sleeping with them. Believe it or not, it does happen, folks. Battlecat samples a portion of Kool & The Gang’s “Summer Madness” and he and Mr. Bacon give it a bit of a g-funkish twist, turning it into a smooth groove. And remember, when in doubt, go ahead and ask her: Do you qualify?

Jam – Not to be confused with “Getto Jam”, Battlecat and Bacon continue their synthesized heavy production style, and Domino is in full party mode. This was kind of trash…next.

Money Is Everything – Over some laid back jazzy keys, Domino makes his version of Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.”. Battlecat’s keys on this one remind me of the instrumental I first heard Domino on, which was “Mackin’ To Slob Bitches” from the Bloods & Crips’ Bangin’ On Wax album, and I believe Battlecat produced that song as well. This was pretty dope.

Sweet Potatoe Pie – This was the second single from Domino, and blame Domino for the misspelling of “potato” in the song title, not me. Battlecat’s instrumental sounds like it may have borrowed some elements of the bass line from The SOS Band’s “Take Your Time (Do It Right)” record and mixed it with some high pitch keys, and the end result is pretty dope. Of course Domino doesn’t bring anything new to the table, lyrically. Just more drinking, smoking, and thirstin’ for putang.

Raincoat – For those who don’t know, a raincoat is another name for a condom. Over a breezy backdrop Domino drops this safe sex PSA and stresses the importance of using the “rubber that’s in the plastic”, the “jacket in the packet”, not “testing the rain without a raincoat”…you get the point.

Long Beach Thang – Over an up-tempo instrumental that screams “west coast”, Domino shows love to the city he represents. He also manages to slip in a low-key shoutout to his Crip set (“and color’s a muthafucka aint it, ya just bought a red card yo’ ass better paint it”)before shrugging it off as a joke and holding true to the peace treaty. This was pretty dope. The only that could have made it better would have been a cameo from Mr. LBC himself, Snoop D-O-double G.

That’s Real – For the last song of the evening Domino invites AMG and La Quan to join him on this feast in misogyny, so, lyrically you know what you’re getting. Not a great song, but AMG’s laid back funk instrumental will grow on you after a few listens.

Even though I found both his singles (“Getto Jam” and “Sweet Potatoe Pie”) pretty solid back in 1993, there were so many good new albums coming out, almost weekly, I never checked for Domino back in the day. Thanks to Down In The Valley’s dollar bin, I was able to experience it twenty odd years later, and it’s actually a pretty decent listen. Domino is not a great lyricist or a great rapper, but his tone and the singy rapping thing he does (years before Drake did it, may I add…oh, and by the way, even though he claims on “Diggady Domino” that he can “rap, but singing is his trade”, he definitely raps more than he sings on this album) is entertaining and sounds nice over DJ Battlecat’s clean production. Domino is not a great album, but good enough to keep your head bobbin’ and your feet C-walkin’.

-Deedub

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment