There have been several attempts by rappers who’ve had their time in the limelite and tried to make some sort of a “comeback” with the hopes of regaining the mass appeal and respect they once felt before. Life moves in circles, and it’s up to each individual to recognize when that time has come. Wise Intelligent definitely saw thattime in 1996 and took full advantage of it. After playing the lead man in the heavily respected Poor Righteous Teachers for five years, the GOD himself decided to go for dolo with his solo debut “Killin’ U…..For Fun” on Profile. Puttin’ it down the same as he did before, but taking things to the next level of consciousness and skills, Wise assumed the role of social educator throughout the entire disc, bringing attention and light to subjects that heavily affected and still affect the Black community. On the track “Shitty Inna City”, Wise built on the Third World conditions within the ghetto, touching on a variety of important issues ranging from welfare to senseless gun violence. The track’s production is as tight as a clenched fist. For those who weren’t around when Hip Hop was sending strong messages of self-love, respect and dignity, listening to this LP again will create one of two outcomes: for one, create a thirst for more knowledge, or two, headz will continue to listen to much of today’s “radio rap” which contains little or no substance. On “Rastafarian Girl” Wise speaks on a woman whom he spotted while pushing a bike. He used his quick tongue and savvy lyrical skills to give a full description of her and the things he’d like for them to do together. The beat is maad catchy and memorable. Other highlights on the album are “Black Juice”, “My Sound” and “I’ll Never Kill Again”. Growing up in Trenton, New Jersey, Wise definitely has felt all he speaks about on the album. He proved that saying something positive didn’t have to make one soft, and it was refreshing to hear something other than the monotony of today’s Hip Hop. “Killin’ U For Fun” was a great album that followed in the tradition of quality that we’ve grown to expect from anything involving the Poor Righteous Teachers.
In the mid-nineties, cats were looking for any emcee to truly represent when it came to straight up hardcore Hip Hop, right? Let the album’s title tell it-Chino XL was definitely “Here To Save You All”. Sit down with this, grab a dictionary and ready yourself for a lyrical barrage of metaphors, the likes of which you’ve never heard of before. “Here To Save You All” was 16 cuts deep, a blend of rugged rhythms that featured dope punchlines and hooks. Chino’s rhymes ran through a warped rhythm, making for a non-stop head nod. You’ve all heard the infamous first single from the album, “No Complex” so you knew that nobody was safe: “Getting the people hyped like Monday Night at the Improv/Dive in Ricki’s Lake plus I Rush like Limbaugh/…Fear and superstition could get iller than circumcision/And things could get more uglier than Coolio with his hair frizin’/My mind’s a warfield like Marsha or Justin/Psychosis be exploding like spontaneous combustion.” Now, if you were one of the fortunate who didn’t have to rearrange your face after being skewered by Chino’s razor-sharp lyrics, please proceed to “It’s All Bad” where the fellow with the braids, poignantly examined the distinction between fame and success from a tragic, misguided viewpoint. And although Chino was definitely a soloist a few friends reached out with a helping hand on “Here….”. On “Riiiot” he teamed up with one of the West’s best lyricist, Ras Kass, for an all-out assault on the wack emcee. On Side 2 you had the crazy ill Kool Keith who provided the answer to “The Shabba Doo Conspiracy” over a rubber-band beat, upstaged like a mofo by Chino’s fierce verbal heat. Each rhyme on “Here To Save You All” was packed full of visuals and Chino had plenty of stuff to say-that’s what I enjoyed most about the album. Think about something you’d just love to say aloud publicly, but would rather burn in a chamber filled with rat piss before admitting it. There’s nothing that Chino XL held back in order to get the message across, but at the end of the day the shocking similes alone couldn’t get this album over the hump.
To say the Beatnuts came off as ignorant, obnoxious assholes on their first two releases-”Intoxicated Demons” and “The Beatnuts”-would be an understatement. Queens’ kings of sexist, gun-toting, beer-guzzling rhymes were out to insult from the opening scratches of their initial ode to “gun-clappin” “Reign Of The Tec”. By the same token, to say that their music wasn’t the freshest shit on earth would be a bold-faced lie. Despite their limited scope, the inspired production of Psycho Les and Juju coupled with the lyrical excursions of “cool-ass Fash’” were, as Positive K may have put it…a “good combination”. Of course, good things don’t last forever, and the group parted ways when Fashion found Islam, changed his name to Al Tariq and went for dolo. While one might have imagined that his adopted faith would preclude the agenda of over-the-top braggadocio and descriptions of sexual escapades we grew to expect from Fash’, “God Connections” more or less picked up the rowdiness from where the World Famous trio’ self-titled full length left off. “Think Not’s” melancholy guitar strums and freaky tales from on tour responded to the happy globetrotting of “Props Over Here” with a realistic refrain, while the album’s first single “Do Ya’ Thang” had Al very capably doing just what the titled conveyed from every believable sex position. But despite Al’s crew catching wreck on the freestyled “Spectacular”, the luster from a track like “Just A Lil’ Joint”-which had the reunited Beatnuts flowing like Boone’s Farm over underwater wah-wahs-couldn’t help but outshine the majority of the LP’s remaining solo material. Crate-dug interludes and even production contributions from Al’s compatriots constituted a sincere effort at emulating the Nuts’ magic of the past. But lyrically and musically filler tracks like “Sexy La”, “No Question” and “Get Down Baby” didn’t really have enough impact to either get you open or offend you, one pitfall the trio of Corona kids always managed to avoid. Islamic axioms notwithstanding, with “God Connedctions” the most memorable lesson was that three was still the magic number.