In 1996, Loud’s Delinquent Habits often toed the line between showcasing their lyrical skills and puffing out their chest and kicking your ass to the curb. So, their self-titled debut is filled with plenty of “hey, let’s have a good time” odes as well as a fair amount of “hey, let’s kick a muhfu*kas ass” odes. Not that these three eses were pedal to the metal trigger happy. Nah, vocalists Kemo, Ives and DJ O.G. Style (yeah, not the most original moniker, right?) make it well known that they aren’t gangsters, but choose to be when in self-defense mode. Meaning, if you “wanna’ be startin’ somethin’”, they’ll more than hold their own. However, they prefer the mic. One thing is for certain, the bass line on nearly every cut on this debut thumps. The lead single, and the one cut that most would associate Delinquent Habits with, is the horn-laden “Tres Delinquents”. On this track, the self-described Blaxican (half Black-half Mexican) and “guero” (White Dude) prove they can spit, but sound much better when they’re keepin’ it strickly Hip-Hop and flippin’ it bilingual style. Hell, even Redman’s funkadelic kin Hurricane G brought her own special sauce brand of lyricism on the Spanglish banger “Underground Connection”. Oddly enough, speaking of Redman, “What It Be Like”even features a sort of Reggie Noble-ish’ hook. One cut you’ll either hate or love is “Stakes Is High” due to it’s straight up rock flavor. The same could also be said for the majority of the album, you’ll either “hate or love it”, but ultimately, I feel that the self titled debut contains enough noteworthy tracks to keep you satisfied in the long run. So, don’t hesitate to dust off this widely unnoticed Loud release from ’96.
Emerging from New Jersey, Young Zee shared a similar philosophy with his hometown croonies The Fugees. Matter of fact, it was on the Fugees critically acclaimed sophomore album, “The Score”, that Zee and his crew shined, riding bareback on “Cowboys”. On “Musical Meltdown”, The Fugees returned the favor, via the appearance of Lauryn Hill, who added a melodic elegance to the classic “Stay Gold”. However, the Refugee Camp weren’t the only famous “friends” that Zee had at his disposal on the album. How many emcees nowadays could boast an impressive supporting cast to include the legendary Krs-One, the amped Busta Rhymes, along with the aforementioned Mrs. Marley? Hell, there’s even an appearance from a “hyped up” Shaquille O’Neal who gives Zee a “shout out” via cell-phone. Thankfully, with “Musical Meltdown” Zee backs up his glowing praise and “stamp of approval” with some solid music. “Musical Meltdown” is at it’s best with tracks like “Don’t Fu*k With Jersey”, “Problems”, “Nerve Plucker”, “Juice” and “Milk”, all of which are songs that featured concepts derived from famous and not-so-famous lines from other emcees. However, Zee was no biter, and if the original writers (Redman, De La, Lyte, Shan and Audio Two) tried to “get him for his paper”, Zee would have slid like O.J., all the while cleverly twisting their words to make them his own….if that makes any sense. The thing that Zee had in common with his contemporaries is that he sure as hell liked to smoke an abundance of weed, almost to a point where he shamelessly encouraged it on the booming “Everybody Get”. With very little fanfare, this Outsidaz representative stepped into the rap game and attempted to shake sh*t up, which unfortunately would never be the case, due to the simple fact that this album would never see the light of day. Strangely enough, in a year that the Fugees undoubtedly crafted the “Album Of The Year” with “The Score”, Young Zee had all the goodies and charisma to quite possibly be “Rap’s Best New Artist” that same year had “Musical Meltdown” not been shelved by the distributing label, Perspective.
Chubb’s 1997 release “The Mind”, was…at times….a refreshing reminder of truly intelligent and sometimes comical style that made the Chubbster a sentimental favorite of mine. While Chubb Rock is definitely not for everyone, he’s a rare emcee who could speak on serious topics without taking himself and the message involved to seriously. With “The Mind”, Chubb boldly injected some fun back into a marketplace that was flooded with over-saturated gangsterisms. The album started off nicely with “Reputation”, complete with an appearance from the Blastmaster Krs-One, which is soon followed by “I Am What I Am” and “The Man”, which insightfully depicted Chubb’s remedy for his afflictions that plague male/female relationships. Also of note is “Last Poet”, which featured some of the gentle giant’s best lyrical barbs. However, “Don’t Sleep” took a painful dive towards the end of the disc as Chubb dished out a series of bland tunes, including “Shake It Up”, “Take Your Time”, “Wake Up” and “Ecstasy Baby”, all of which don’t quite hold up to the previous R & B/Hip Hop collabos that could be found on Chubb’s earlier classics. While devoted fans of Chubb Rock will find some joy in “The Mind” and skip over the mediocre moments, the majority of the public will probably just throw this one back in the old shoe box, favoring Chubb’s earlier classic output such as ”The One” or “…And The Winner Is”.