We received our first glimpse of Heather B on Boogie Down Productions’ “Edutainment” on the bonus track “7 Deejays”. Since that verse, Heather B has tried her hand at a little bit of everything. Whether it was opening up her own beauty shop in her native New Jersey or showcasing her “acting” talent on MTV’s “The Real World”, the last thing that you’d expect from her would have been a single the caliber of “All Glocks Down” and a consistent album in the vein of “Takin’ Mine”. An irresistible head-nodder that never received much significant airplay on mix shows, yet become sort of an underground classic, “…Glocks Down” showcased Heather B’s moving delivery and graceful yet rough lyrics over a bangin’ Kenny Parker track. “If Headz Only Knew” had some heartfelt entreaties about lasting in the microcosm of Hip Hop, urging spread eagle women to shut their legs tight. The lyrics were extremely on point as Heather exclaimed: “It’s more to it than a Lex and a duplex/Don’t sell sex, although sex sells/I got more respect.” She even goes on to state, “See now/It’s time that I get more agile/Style versatile/Fuck doin’ a minute in the penile/Attitude hostile/Intelligently hostile/Not just the rhymes but my frame of mind will drop you.” The highlight of Heather’s debut “Takin’ Mine” had to be “My Kinda’ Nigga” which featured the incomparable lyrics of Brownsville bad boys, M.O.P. The widespread theme of entrepreneurship resonates throughout much of the lyrics on the album, there’s also the incorporation of your traditional “beat-down” lines that Heather has become known for. She may have had the ability to take out most male lyricists during her heyday, which is a true testament to her lyrical acrobatics. The Beatminerz’ Mr. Walt lends a helping hand on the incredible track “Real Niggas Up”, which featured Tone 2000 and Thorough Bo over a domino-effect bassline that complimented Heather’s lyrics perfectly. While the emergence of female lyricists in general has also been a bit cloudy of the years, talented emcees such as Heather were more often than not put on the back shelf. Yet it was evident with “Takin’ Mine” that Heather B grew from her earlier days of touring and learning alongside the historical BDP, needless to say, Kris Parker must have taught her well.
Dark Sun Riders Featuring Brother J? Could this have been the same liberating, grand-verbalizing Brohter J from the educating X-Clan? Without a doubt. Yet, Dark Sun Riders was an alias that sounded more like a flurry of Middle Eastern camel jockeys ready for combat than a second effort from a member of one of Hip Hop’s most political and controversial rap groups. All pretenses aside, “Seeds Of Evolution” (released in 96′ on Island Records) was actually a very fulfilling yet confusing album. It was actually refreshing to hear verbal shogun Brother J, after a two and a half year hiatus from the release of X-Clan’s “X-Odus”, unveil his smooth vocal tone over tracks that took you back to “..The East Blackwards” days. Upon first listen, Brother J came full circle from the alchemical mixture of Pan-African sensibilities, nationalist politics and funkadelic traditions displayed on the two prior X-Clan offerings. On “Seeds..”, Brother J espoused non-racially-biased universal philosophies dealing with topics that spawned the movement from chaos to universal order. Not focusing on the conflict between Black and White men in general, but present man and original man, values that dominated the majority of the album. The better half of the album is completely solid with lyrics and production like that of the eponymous initial track. A thick substitution break accompanied by a humming bassline and a synthesized bell tone compliment the style of Brother J as he ran through the letters of his chaotic moniker. The last half of the album tends to drag a bit and hardly ever lets up with it’s relentlessly tiring subject matter. I got the picture, Brother J! Dark Sun Riders featuring Brother J was an acute change (read: new image) from the post-X-Clan, pro-original-man subject matter which, honestly, suited the image that most lyricists were portraying in ’92. However between ’92-’95, all images of any lyricist seemed somewhat suitable. Nevertheless, prompting a second coming of Hip Hop consciousness is what Dark Sun Riders aimed for….however, a susceptible and pretentious trend bandwagon is more what it sounded like to my ears, “sisssieeeeeeeeessss!”
The Hyenas, with their debut EP “Die Laughing”, represented what had become of civilized beings once placed in a culturally deprived environment: these dudes sounded straight hungry and hunger is always a great developmental tool for a new project. Released as a nine-cut EP, my guess is that the Hyenas didn’t feel the pressure of putting out 15 songs and only coming up with 3-4 real hits. Songs like “Can You Feel It” get things moving in the right direction from the jump, smart move for making this the first track on “Die Laughing”. The EP shines because it exhibits lyrics, raw dawg lyrics that aren’t boosted up by popular ’70′s samples, only complemented by hard charging drum breaks and conceptually creative hooks. Trust me, tracks such as the album’s title cut, “Other Side Of Midnight” and “Wild Dogs” proved to be hits that had some major potential. The album’s first and only single “Concubinz” proved that they could run with some big dogs in the Rap game, with lyrics like: “Never sparked a blunt/God makes me wonder/Busta Rhymes is my man but I’m still the dragon hunter/My tongue like raw/It’s different than before/Main Source cut me off cause’ my shit was hardcore”. And like all groups, you had your MTV-friendly, “I was a bad ass kid runnin’ with hardrocks” song labeled “Why?”, complete with the Ahmad/Da’ Youngstas happy shi*t in the background. Okay, maybe one little miscue on the whole EP. Still, the piece is redeemed thanks to it’s creative sampling of Scarface’s “I still have to wonder why” and Slick Rick’s “Hey young world-the world is yours”. I guess the president of Slam Jamz (the label that released “Die Laughing”), Chuck D, knew what he was doing by only dropping an EP, that way the artist got paid. He also knew how to market skills, ’cause on the whole album only one of the emcees’ identities is known, a kid named Kenya Parker. However, word on the street is that one of the emcees was Melquan of the “Krunchtime” fame. Recognizing the rhyme before the artists proved to be an interesting listening experience. Sadly, this was yet another solid piece of work that got fronted on.