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Ego Trip's "20 To Grow On": "Slept On Albums For Dat' Ass" Vol. II (4-6)

by Eric on September 8, 2007

4. Two Kings In A Cypher-”From Pyramids To Projects”

From Ego Trip’s “Book Of Rap Lists”: “Future Bad Boy Hitmen Deric “D-Dot ” Angelettie & Ron “Amen-Ra” Lawrene say it loud: they’re Afrocentric and they’re proud (and they’ve got hot beats)”.

From Eric: “By now everyone knows the story of Two Kings In A Cipher, but to make a long story short here goes: Two young Howard students are introduced to one another and later go on to form a group. Those two students names were Deric “D-Dot” Angelettie & Ron “Amen Ra” Lawrence…yes, of Puffy’s Hitmen production team. Needless to say, I’m sure that not only did those two make Puffy a butt load of money but it’s probably also safe to say they only made their pockets fatter in the process. Now, I’m sure some smartass is going to post a comment or drop a c-box comment stating “you know that D-Dot was the Madd Rapper and dropped “Tell Em’ Why You Madd Son”….okay, great! Anyway, back to the duo’s debut “From Pyramids To Projects” which still contains elements that sound funky fresh today. First and foremost, Ron & D-Dot really had a nice lyrical chemistry, you can definitely hear a HUGE Rakim influence in their wordplay and flow. “Definition Of A King” starts the album off nicely, with it’s 5% discussion and “do the knowledge” mind state. Without a doubt what pushed me to purchase this album was Two Kings single “Movin‘ On Em” which utilizes the same track as on Positive K’s “I Gotta Man”. It’s kinda’ hard to believe that this album dropped in 91′, I mean sh*t that was 16 years ago!!! Damn, album’s like this sure make me feel old!! “Pyramids To Projects” is really an enjoyable listen and is sure to take you back to the days of Cross Colours and Hoodies.”

5. UMC’s-”Fruits Of Nature”

From Ego Trip’s “Book Of Rap Lists”: “An eclectic, perpetually overlooked post-D.A.I.S.Y. Age jewel in the rough. Forget the image of the group sparring with a bizarre puppet in it’s “Blue Cheese” video and drift away to the funky fresh beats of this Shaolin never-never land.”

From Eric: “Uh huh, yet another blast from 1991… a year in Hip Hop that most folks overlook when compared to say…1994 or 1988. Kool Kim & Hass G blasted onto the scene with a similar vibe that rivaled that of their more established Native Tongue camp (De La Soul, ATCQ & The Jungle Brothers). In what more than rubbed a few “hardrocks” the wrong way the UMC’s scored an interesting and unique hit with “Blue Cheese” ( those damn whistles!!) Although, I’m not quite sure if it was indeed their debut single or if it may have been “One To Grow On”. The UMC’s were an acquired taste, for lack of better wording as both Hass G & Kool Kim essentially were very nonthreatening and borderline corny on the mic (but very enjoyable…if that makes any sense). So why is this album “slept on”? Well, quite simply the more you listen to “Fruits Of Nature” the more you grow to appreciate the jazzy loops interlined with the melodic and “sing songy” wordplay of both the aforementioned emcees. Released on the ever so popular and now defunct (thanks Serch!) Wild Pitch label, the production duties on this album were split between Hass G (who also surprisingly mixed the album as well) and RNS (whom, if I recall produced a few cuts on Shyheim’s debut as well) While “Fruits Of Nature” is not for everyone, would one dare to say that this album may have opened a few doors for groups like say…Digable Planets, who capitalized on same formula that the UMCs held true to….well, at least up until the release of their disastrous “Unleashed”. Oh, and if you’ve been sleepin’ under a rock peep Kool Kim’s aka NYOil’s impressive mixtape/album “Hood Treason”.

6. Group Home-”Livin‘ Proof”

From Ego Trip’s “Book Of Rap Lists”: “From sequencing to interludes to the actual tracks, this shamefully neglected LP remains one of DJ Premier’s finest top-to-bottom production efforts. Low Budget environments striving for perfection”.

From Rasul: “I’m not going to bore you guys with another piece of writing about Premo’s luxuriant production skills, his enormous influence on music in general or his maintenance of artistic integrity in times of big pimping and rolling on 22s! When all is said and done, the man will go down as one of the greatest of all time and all the Gangstarr and Gangstarr-Related albums (Eric, I’m pitching you ideas here!) are fundamental testaments to that- point blank. After the release of “The Sun Rises In The East” in ’94 and the hailing of a prophet Jeru later on failed to be, the release of “Livin‘ Proof” felt well-planned and like a mere continuation of a legacy Guru and Premiere had jump-started in the late 80′s. Now, I have played shows with these guys a couple of times. I used to live in the notorious Bedford-Stuyvesant not far from Lil’ Dap’s East New York and you could say, I have developed a certain understanding for their choice of words and contents, even the lame delivery at times. But then again, this only applies to my man Lil’ Dap (who I was a fan of since his first introduction on Gangstarr’s “I’m The Man” off their “Daily Operation” LP). Melachi the Nutcracker on the other hand sounded plain ignorant! I’m not saying that to disgrace the man, I just always felt that he wa

s literally ignorant in terms of not knowing any better (I sincerely think he even misspelled his own name). “Yo I rock on the block with the real Hip Hop / As you start to clock, and jock / Yo, I’m comin‘ off with mad rage / Eighteen, and hittin‘ the real stage” is not necessarily an equivalent to lyrical prowess and sublime wordplay. Despite all of this, this was another banger from the beginning to the end and somehow you stopped caring about the two MC’s short-comings: From the simplicity of “Inna Citi Life” to the mellow madness of “Suspended In Time”, “Up Against The Wall” or “2 Thousand” (I’m leaving the singles out here on purpose!), this is the most profound example of how good beats can save mediocre rappers. After Group Home started to abandon Preme, the die-hard fans and eventually “luck” abandoned Group Home and sadly, they never found their way back to the hearts of men! I guess I have to end this one with something you’ve heard or read a billion times: DJ Premier is the man”…-words by Rasul

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{ 4 comments }

a-one September 8, 2007 at 9:17 pm

I never heard that Two Kings album. I think its on my hard drive somewhere though.

I liked UMC’s. I can’t say I was in love with the album though but there’s some good stuff on there. There’s this one song where the beat switches to a crazy dope loop. I can’t remember the name but I love that part of the song. Wish it was longer. I think Unkut has a nice interview or two with Kool Kim. I still can’t believe that dude is NYOIL.

That group home album is the shit. It’s a “hip hoppers classic” if you ask me. The real people know whats up. The No Limit converts can’t understand it. They’re perfect examples of mediocre (& poor even) emcee’s still putting out good product. I never heard any of their other albums though. How are they? I assumed not too good.

This is the longest comment ever

thisistomorrow September 9, 2007 at 10:58 am

hi there… just discovered your blog today through travis’ wydu blog… very nice selections and write up’s… i have added your link on my blog, would be cool if you could do the same… keep up the good work… mike

Perfecta September 13, 2007 at 5:27 pm

I dont think UMC’s and Group Home were slept on, but they sure are classics!

Nice write up!

Spektak1 September 20, 2007 at 3:10 pm

Fruits of Nature, for me at least, is one of the most enjoyable albums I’ve ever heard. Back when it came out, I remember EVERYBODY rocking it, even the hardcore kids in their Raiders caps and Kings jackets. Then again, back in those days, most hip hop fans I knew had a taste as broad as the genre was itself in that era.

I DO believe that their second album “Unleashed” was slept on. I think it was the bad press that did the album in. I’m the only person I knew that copped it when it came out. Everybody else complained about how ‘wannabe hardcore’ it was, despite never actually listening to the album. It was almost like ‘urban myth’ Just last week I played it for my friends (all of whom used to listen to Fruits of Nature) and they admitted that it wasn’t nearly as bad as they had heard it was. True, it was harder than the first album, the language a little saltier, but it’s not so far removed from Fruits of Nature as to be a totally different beast. Production is pretty tight as well.

Group Home?… I hated that album then, and I hate it now. Preemo’s production here is beyond fantastic, but not even he could balance out the sucking black hole that is the lyrical content and delivery of Dap and (especially) Malachi. I swear, I put on Up Against The Wall the other day, remembering it as having an amazing Premier beat. I had to stop it halfway into Malachi’s part, for the sake of staying calm.

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