Despite dropping accolade after accolade towards the “Slaughtahouse” album and proclaiming it my all-time favorite album in a survey last year done by my man Jeff Weiss from Passion of the Weiss and Joey from Straight Bangin’, I’ve never really explained why I love this album so much. In all honesty, I didn’t really proclaim it as my favorite album until much later, probably around 2002, 2003. I’ve always loved it, it’s always been an album that I’ve had to have close to me at allt-times. I could listen to it everyday for the rest of my life and never grow tired of it. Over the years, it my respect and my enjoyment just kept increasing with this album. The sound, the concept, the beats, the lyrics, but it all together, it’s just an amazing album in my mind.
I honestly don’t remember the day I picked this up for the first time. My first impression with Ace didn’t leave any indication that I would be a big-time Masta Ace “stan” later on in life. “Me & The Biz” was somewhat “cute”, but it wasn’t anything that I particularity went crazy over. I wouldn’t even buy “Take A Look Around” until much later. The first thing that Ace would do that grabbed my attention was his verse on “The Symphony 2″. His verse and Kool G Rap’s verse would come in neck and neck and a virtual toss up as my favorite from that track. It would be a couple more years until I heard of Masta Ace again. The summer of ’92, The Brand New Heavies would drop their “Heavy Rhyme Experience Vol. 1″, and Ace would have my favorite track on a solid album with “Wake Me When I’m Dead”, a cut that had Ace coming harder and more rugged with his lyrics. I would also buy a tape out of the back of The Source that featured some freestyles from certain east coast artists and Ace and Digga would also be on that with a freestyle that I played continuously. There would also be Ace’s appearance on the Big Daddy Kane birthday that came on the tape as well. It would show up on “Slaughtahouse” later on, but it just hyped me up even more for this new sound and style I was hearing from Ace. The Source would add more fuel to the fire when it had the albums first single, “Jeep Ass Niguh” (which to this day I prefer SO MUCH more than “Born To Roll”) as a Sure Shot Single. Then “Yo! MTV Raps” played “Jeep Ass Niguh” before the album dropped and the first verse from that single would simply mesmerize me:
Braniac dumb-dumbs, bust the scientifical
Approach to the course and the force is centrifical
Can you find your way through the lyrics that be catchin em?
Throw another rhyme across the room, they be fetchin em
When they take a loss, take a loss to the master and
I throw crazy blows and they nose I be plasterin
All across the room, on the ceilings and the walls too
Punk muthafuckas didnt know I had the balls to
Come around their block with my cock diesel system and
Turned it up to ten and then start to dis em and
They didn’t wanna battle
If they did, when they saw me they’da open up the trunk
But they tried to ignore me
Hey muthafuckas, I know you hear me calling you
Thought you wanted some but I see that you all into
Frontin.Ain’t no future in your frontin, so Let’s Get It On
Like Marvin Gaye (hey)
Take the cash and sit it on
The hood of your bullshit, lowriding Cadillac
Back up your boys and let’s start to battle.Act
Like ya know; the Masta Ase don’t play when it come to my bass
The album leads off with an intro of sorts, “A Walk Thru The Valley”, and immediately you are introduced to what the whole album is going to sound like. It’s a sound that is very original and unique as I don’t think you can compare it to any other that has ever been released. Gun shots and vocal samples fill your ears over piano keys. A sample comes on saying “Hi boys and girls, it’s a wonderful day!”, then a horn comes crying in, guitar chords of different varieties rage through out all over a familiar drum break that hits hard than a mac truck. It’s chaotic, dark, but extremely interesting all at once. Ace comes and spits more or less a spoken word, not quite a song, but not just talking, talking about the ghetto, or “The Valley”. It’s an intro that I would know the words for before too long. How often do you learn the words to an intro? This of course leads into a skit of sorts that kind of sets of the loosely tied concept album (the first of Ace’s concept albums). Ace is teaching “hard core rap 101″, giving the students a low down on how to be “hard”, but smoking blunts, drinking 40′s and carrying a variety of guns. This leads into the cutting edge track of 1993.
Up until the “Slaughtahouse” track, Black Sheep‘s “U Mean I’m Not” was my favorite gangsta rap “spoof”, but when you first hear the Ignorant MC and MC Negro, you have to strong>laugh and it sounds dope as fuck even though it’s a parody of itself almost. They are promoting their new LP “Brains On The Sidewalk” and screaming “MURDER MURDER MURDER KILL KILL KILL” and you just have to laugh. Of course this all could have gotten ugly in the whole west coast/east coast thing, but besides Mack 10, Ice Cube, and WC naming a joint “WestSide Slaughtahouse”, which obviously was a little jab at Ace and crew, but they never mentioned him by name, for reasons unknown. The “More Bounce To The Ounce” sample dominates the MC Negro & Ignorant MC part of the song. It then switches into more wailing guitars that give it an eerie feeling while Digga chants “Death to the wack MC’s”, and Paula Perry let’s the suckas have it. The boom bap drums usher in Ace over the guitars as he tells the listener it’s not about street homicide, basically denouncing the whole played out gangsta movement that had be running rampant in hip hop since the popular success of NWA in the late 80′s.
“Late Model Sedan” has a jazzy/bluesy soundtrack backing it as Ace tells a story about a black sedan that has been taking out brothers on the block. The story takes a surprising twist as he sees some cats that he knows drive by in a stolen car, low and behold, he knows the kids in the black sedan. Some people say Ace isn’t very diverse, but tracks like this are examples why I disagree. His story telling is something that is often overlooked. “Jeep Ass Niguh” follows, which I think I’ve already covered well enough. It is a true story though that someone took Ace’s jeep back in the day while he left it running to grab something.
“The Big East” is next and one of my personal favorites from the album. Ace’s delivery and flow is different on this album than any of his other albums, which I guess is why I tend to pick this as my favorite Ace album and he really shines on this cut. A simple, yet banging beat is used, with a nice guitar lick and some more boom bap drums rule the musical goodies. We get our first exposure to Lord Digga, who I’ve always found kind of dull lyrically, but he killed the beats as one half of the Blues Brothers on this album.
“Jack B. Nimble” is another story that Ace kicks out the listeners. Again, in what might be a rather simple beat is spiced up with a little sax sample. It’s little production pieces like such as this that make the album’s production incredible. Ace takes on crooked cops as the central figure of his story is chased by cop’s looking to do him in. “Boom Bashin” is another favorite of mine, an album defining jam in all reality. I’m sounding like a rerun saying this, but more unique production makes what would be a simple beat into a quagmire audible noises as little snippets of noise are pieced together to make the boom bap beat a head nodder. The next two tracks, “Mad Wunz” and “Style Wars” are the two tracks I don’t care for on the album. Not really sure, but they were both fast forward material for me. Listening to “Mad Wunz” now and I’m not really sure why it was skipping fodder for me. It’s not a bad song or an easily inferior song compared to the rest of the album. “Style Wars”, was too slow for me back in the day. It’s not a bad song, but I always found the remix of this song that appeared on what is possibly my favorite single of all-time, “Slaughtahouse” cassingle, which also featured the extended versions of the title track as well as “Born To Roll”, which despite what you may read on Wikipedia, was NOT originally included on the “Slaughtahouse” LP. It would show up in later pressing, but it wasn’t originally a “hidden track”.
The Paula Perry and Ace duet comes on the tenth track with “Who U Jackin’”. Paula Perry could easily be considered my all-time favorite female MC, probably because of this album, but she comes off as a real hardrock on this track as she plays the “vic”, who happens to be the wrong girl to mess with. Ace is the stick up kid who rolls up on Paula demanding her to give up the goods. The end result is Ace gets cut but the nasty female. The crew decides to roll to the club in another stand out cut, “Rollin’ Wit Umdada”, who was the extended crew at the time, that consisted of all the Inc. members along with Kid Dynamite, Euceyrok, Witch Doctor, and some other cats. We trounce along with Ace he hits up a club. It’s a jam that has many memorable lines for me and used to be one of my jams I would use to get me pumped before heading out for a night of liver damage. “Ain’t U Da Masta”, graces the listeners ears as Ace drops some of his best lyrical performance over a dope James Brown piano loop. Ace comes at everyone from wack MC’s to bullshit rap critics: Here come the jams, yo punks, guard your domes
It’s the man with the mad new styles and funky poems
So strike one, strike two, strike three, you’re out
Of luck, Jack, fuck that, grab your nuts and shout
(Ain’t you the Masta?) Yep, I’ve always been
And then, I’m a stab a fucking critic with his pen
So write that, put that in your magazine and stick it
Some lyrical intoxicates show up in the form of “Crazy Drunken Style” as Lord Digga and Masta Ace drop some memorable one liners and a dope chorus. The production is….yup you guessed it, dope. A nice piano loop with drums that dominate the whole album, boom bap in it’s finest. Digga was far from a great MC, but as a hype man, he did his thing proper. After the “interlude” of sorts in the form of “Don’t Fuck Around”, we are blessed with the proper way to close out an album, with the posse cut “Saturday Night Live”. This joint was a favorite on “Yo!” back in the day and with good reason. All the MC’s do their thing right and the energy that it brings is up there with some of the more adrenaline producing jams of all time.
I could probably write a book on “Slaughtahouse”, the greatness that it is. It’s just one of those albums that everything just sounds “right” to me. It appeals to my tastes, the beats, the lyrics, the concepts and everything else just tie together to make an album that is just so damn complete and caters to my tastes that I don’t think there will ever be another album quite as perfect in my own hip hop. Now let me get back to my “President of the Masta Ace” fan
Erick Sermon – No Pressure (Def Jam)
Released: Fall of ’93?
The break up of EPMD was a big b-boy heart crusher for many of us back when it happened. One of the greatest hip hop groups to grace the music was simply no more. Then the arguments came, which member was the more talented? While I liked PMD, the E-Double was always my personal favorite and I expected big things from his debut album. During the fall of ’93, Sermon would drop “No Pressure”, an album that is my personal favorite from the Green Eyed Bandit.
I was a funky junky in those days and Erick Sermon was the numero uno funk producer at the time, and still the best to ever do it in my opinion. What he did on Redman’s “Whut? The Album” was simply amazing to me. Funk tracks that would make Parliament Funkadelic proud. It was sloppy, stankin’ funk. We would get our first listen to what the E Double had in store for us on the “Who’s The Man” motion picture sound track when he contributed the track “Hittin’ Switches”. The track was most definitely “funkalicious”, incorporating the Skull Snaps drum loop over a George Clinton sample and tying in a catchy hook. It was enough to get me looking forward to his debut. The albums second single would be in the form of “Stay Real”, another banger that incorporated a funky Zapp loop. It would kind of remind me of “Crossover” from the Business Never Personal LP, but it didn’t matter, the funk was all I needed.
He had some great guest appreances, which I guess you would expect from someone that was used to performing as a group. “The Payback II” would introduce an MC that I have always wanted to hear more from, but unfortunately, that wouldn’t be. Joe Sinistr is one of those cats that just sounded so freaking completely ill on E Double’s funk beats that a whole album from those two would have easily rivaled a Redman/Erick Sermon combination, but it wasn’t meant to be. Joe Sinistr’s last verse would garner him a “Rhyme of the Month” in the Source back in ’93:
My secret recipe put Pepsi on Diet’s, uh-huh
The funk dog as I come low to piss on hydrants
and howl at half moons and White Owls and mad tunes
Live quite fowl, leavin Lifestyles in bitches bathrooms
I crack granite, and pack a mass transit it’s so weird
My style is more Fear-ed than Black Planets
And I fuck your shit, suck my dick for explicit
I let clips at your name, pay rent in your brain
And I gets wicked, wick-wick-wicked
And keeps a full clip in case the bullets get evicted
And now to twirl up the fat nigga, seek psychiatric
I devour worlds and Galactus
I gets mean troop, grabbin Christine around the block
at sixteen, spittin the green pea soup
And cock nines, when niggaz got slime, the only men
puffin Nick Nick Nick’s- with -elodeon
It’s Joe no diss cause the funk mist flow
Make a mess like Aunt Tess when she leaped off the sixth flo’
So straighten it out if your knock-kneed
‘fore they draw chalk around the body
Joe would show up a year later with a track (“Under The Sun”) on Terminator X’s “Super Bad” LP, but would never be heard from again. It’s something I consider a great travesty for hip hop cause this kid has immense skills and could have been a great one. If anyone knows anything about him, let him know, it’s one of my great mysteries in the hip hop kingdom. Joe Sinistr wouldn’t be the only one to make his official debut on “No Pressure”, nor the only one to make you say “holy shit”! The albums third single, would be “Hostile” and feature the verbal dexterity of the one Keith Murray. Yes, Keith appeared earlier on wax, but for all intended purposes, this would be the first time he made much noise. Keith’s verse on “Hostile” was amazing in it’s own right and personally was up there with AZ’s verse on “Life’s A Bitch” as best debut verses ever. The Shadz of Lingo would make their debut also on “Lil Crazy”, the came strong enough that it got me fiendin’ for a Shadz album that would drop in the year of ’94. A fuzzy bassline from Erick Sermon drives this track and makes it perfect for the two MC’s Kolorado and Rocco to rip over, especially Kolorado’s verse. Another basically never to be heard again MC would be Soup who appeared on “All In The Mind”. It’s a track I’m sure is probably looked at as one of the weaker tracks on the album, but my weird tastes have lead me to like this track a lot and I thought Soup was pretty damn good, but once again, the only time you would see him would be on this track. Newbies weren’t the only ones gracing the album as guests, “The Ill Shit” would bring the west coast over in the form of Ice Cube & Kam and drop one of the strongest tracks on the album.
The rest of the album is full of the trademark funk Sermon had going on around this time. It would be found on the second Redman album and the debut for Keith Murray along with some occasional tracks he produced for the likes of Illegal and Shadz of Lingo (be on the look out for them in ’94). I personally thought E Double would start declining production wise on his second album “Double Or Nothing”, which I’m sure will get some heads in an uproar. “No Pressure” isn’t a classic by any means, but it had some solid tracks and will always be in the “Trav Classics Treasure Chest”.
Threat – Sickinnahead (Mercury/Polygram)
Before the westside turned into the land of G
-Funk, DJ Pooh, Bobcat, Battlecat, and even Sir Jinx were the producers of choice. Coming with hard funk tracks, that were hard enough to drive down the Boulevard in the six-trey, yet soulful enough to make the listener really feel the pain and restlessness that was experienced in the west in the early 90′s. True, one can only hear “Funky Worm” and “More Bounce To The Ounce” so many times before it gets repetitious, but something about those old funk beats that just screams “good times”.
One of the better pre G-Funk albums was L.A. MC, Threat’s “Sickinnahead”. Threat had been in the LA scene for most of the early 90′s, appearing on Yo-Yo’s “Black Pearl” album, 2 pac’s “Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z”, Tha Alkaholik’s “21 & Over”, our last feature, King Tee’s “Tha Triflin’ Album”, Ice Cube’s “Death Certificate” along with the “Get The Fist Movement” and some other features. In 93′ Threat dropped is solo release, “Sickinnahead”, which featured production from west coast beat makers, DJ Pooh & Bobcat. The album is severely over looked, even in the west coast. Threat comes with a strong delivery and dope lyrics. There are many verses on the album the stick in the listeners head. I was a fan of his verses on the Lik’s track “Who Dem N—a’s” and Pac’s “Peep Game”, so picking this album up when dropped was a must. The album jumps off into one of the best intro tracks there is. “PDK” comes with an opening verse that just sets the whole mood for the albums
“I’m here to let you know that no ho plays me
I don’t do crack cause I’m already crazy
And we don’t need no mo’, psycho people
Guns don’t kill people, people kill people
Haven’t you heard, there’s a new sheriff in to-own
But one black chief can’t calm us do-own
We floss ‘em out wide, the nigga ain’t from our tribe
Not +Tribe Called Quest+, the tribe called West
Too legit to quit so tell the cops they can kiss my
young black ass cause I’m out to get mine (you’re gonna get yours)
Let it be known, to all, men, that roam the planet earth
that Allah come firstLivin in the L.A. Zoo you gotta be a warrior
Make sure you got a good lawyer
Get caught with a spear that’s fifteen years
I hit the fence with my khakis and still they shootin at me
Tryin to kill us off like buffalo
Po-po can’t have my life, or my soul, so…..”
I always had problems getting pass the first track, once I did, the whole album is like a trip through South Central, from harassing the pan handlers, to getting faded in the 6-4, it’s a like a day in the life of Deadly Threat. The single and video for “Let The Dog’s Loose” got some play on Yo! as well. Tracks like “Sucka Free”, “When it Rains”, “24-7″ tie the album nicely together in a very cohesive effort. The first half of the album is nearly flawless, while the second half slips a bit, but not enough to over shadow any progress he made early on.
Threat unfortunately pretty much vanished after Polygram went tits up. He recently showed up on 2006′s “Street Music” by Defari, which I have yet to hear.
Digital Underground – The Body-Hat Syndrome (Tommy Boy)
Released: October 5th, 1993
Another Digital Underground album? You best believe it. Staying true to my funk roots, DU has always been one of my favorite groups as well. They were consistent when they came to dropping their brand of hip hop. You knew what you were getting when you bought a new Digital Underground album. You either loved it or hated it.
DU’s third full length release, “The Body-Hat Syndrome” found itself using all the familiar ingredients. Funk samples, crazy concepts and a bunch of different participants. Something about this album has always captured my interests and I would rate this as my second favorite DU album, barely clipping “The Sons of The P” for that honor. “Body-Hat…” would get a lot of plays from me as well, as I picked it up soon after it dropped on the strength of the lead single “Return of the Crazy One”. The beat was freakin’ amazing and the Humpty Hump concept never grew old with me as I thought this was probably the second best Humpty solo jam. That first listen I had of this album, I was very impressed with a few songs, but somewhat disappointed. It wouldn’t be long though that I was playing this album quite frequently. You have to remember that back in ’93, quality music was dropping quite often in those days. Sure, it’s nothing like these days when you can download 10 new albums a day and maybe listen to 3 of those that week, but for what it was, there was a lot of stuff coming out those days. “The Body-Hat Syndrome” held it’s own for me though.
Tracks such as “Holly Wantstaho”, which featured a Saucee Nomad by the name of Saafir would easily stand out. “Brand Nu Swetta” featured a wicked bassline that sounded nice on the two 12′s I had in those days and featured a pretty humorous concept that only a group like Digital Underground could pull off and the Arrested Development rip off is humorous enough alone to listen to….”Yo Humpty, I challenge you to a game of dominoes…..a game of dominooooooes” (you’d have to watch the “Tennessee” video to get it). The “Jerkit Circus” is another goofy concept that Digital Underground does so well. Judging by the song title, if you haven’t heard it before, I’m sure you can figure it out what it’s about. All three parts of “The Body-Hats” joints are also very enjoyable.
I know a lot of cats were starting to give up on DU by this time, but I always enjoyed the variety this album offered. It was DU in all it’s grandiose and they just had fun.