Sticky Fingaz aka “Kirk Jones” has always been the engine that’s kept the train runnin’ for those wild baldheadz, Onyx. Sticky’s on the record “stick-ups” and self destructive attitude have made him sort of a poor man’s O.D.B. (Ol’ Dirty Bastard). After a decent third album (“Shut ‘Em Down”) and a healthy dose of movie roles, the “official nasty” chose to go for dolo in 2000. In doing so, Sticky experienced an artistic apex with the conceptual, “Black Trash: The Autobiography of Kirk Jones”. This album, along with Prince Paul’s “A Prince Among Thieves” has been one of the new millennium’s most visual, cinematic pieces of work. Inspired by high impact Hollywood action, Sticky pieced together a lengthy production that featured Sticky as his government name, Kirk Jones. Sticky…errr..Kirk, has just been released from “the pen”, and when returning to his old ‘hood, he found himself back in the same “mix of action” that landed Kirk in prison in the first place.
First of all, Sticky (Kirk) cops a gun from an acquaintance and dubs it his best friend on “My Dogz Iz My Gunz”, mistakenly murders and old cohort due to a high speed chase (“Why”), then has a heart to heart with God, in which he questions why all his passions and desires end up in destroyed or deceased (“Oh My God”). However, it’s the court case “State Versus” where “Black Trash…” truly reaches it’s apex. Here, we find Kirk’s defense team, anchored by Redman nonetheless, trying to refute the state’s prosecution team, which is strangely enough spearheaded by Canibus. Also, controlling the court with gavel in hand is none other than the first lady of the Flipmode Squad, Rah Digga. Eventually, Kirk loses the case, and this is where the album also loses a bit of momentum. Tracks such as the 2pac “knock-off” Sister I’m Sorry” are not really what you’re used to hearing from a man who had a hand in Onyx’ “Black Vagina Finda”. Also, nearly 70 minutes of music that is supported by average beats is a bit much to tolerate at times.
Thankfully, cuts like “Money Talks” (featuring Raekwon), where Sticky morphs into the almighty dollar, showcase his true writing ability…at times, inducing the “shock value” of an Eminem of sorts (who coincidentally appears on “What If I Was White”). Despite minor downfalls, “Black Trash: The Autobiography of Kirk Jones” is still a Hip Hop treasure.
“Money Talks” (feat. Raekwon)
“Uncontrolled Substance”-Inspectah Deck (1999, Loud Records)
With his long-awaited solo debut, “Uncontrolled Substance”, Inspectah Deck managed to transform his iron mic into a personal podium to profess his ideology. With lyrics pertaining to economic, political, social and gender-related issues, “Uncontrolled…” played more like Deck’s own missionary mantra. The 17-track LP, unlike other Wu-related projects, featured Deck with very few feature appearances. While the absence of fellow Clan members may have left some Wu-headz thirsting for a posse cut, the ability to view the world from Inspectah Deck’s very own perspective did more than enough to pique any avid listener’s curiosity. Combining relatively obscure samples with pimped-out percussion, sounds reminiscent of a Donald Goines novel, songs like “Trouble Man” (which featured the lovely Vinia Mojica on the hook, and produced by Pete Rock) invoked a ’70′s Marvin Gaye feel by virtue of it’s title, while depicting the by now-customary plight as it pertained to this unique emcee. Similarly, Deck included the essential “on-the-run” track titled “Word On The Street”, where Deck lyrically vaulted over a bumping instrumental (produced by Deck himself, nonetheless) in pursuit of “street freedom”. And then there was the opposite sex. Deck embodied the proverbial ode to ghetto girls’ on “Lovin’ You” (prod. by Tru Master) alongside the necessary Wu-anthem “Longevity” which also featured U-God.
Lyrically, Deck’s eclectic mix of carefully constructed lavish lingo with his tough to decipher phrases over mechanically infused, bass throbbing instrumentals may initially confuse the thorough “Wu” listener, but a careful listen will reveal that “Uncontrolled Substance” is like those other essential elements that make things like….say, water…necessary for your daily intake. Leaps and bounds above Deck’s sophomore effort, the Kock disater “The Movement”.
“Trouble Man” f. Vinia Mojica (prod. by Pete Rock)
“D.I.T.C.”-Diggin’ In The Crates (2000, Tommy Boy)
What crew of emcees and beatmakers in Hip Hop truly represents the original essence of the music?? Anyone who really knows “Hip Hop” will find it hard to argue a case against the D.I.T.C. (Diggin’ In The Crates) crew. But how do you prove it? Prior to 2000, each D.I.T.C. affiliate: Fat Joe, Diamond D, Lord Finessse, Showbiz & A.G., OC, Buckwild and the late Big L, had each worked on an album or two individually. With the release of their self-titled “D.I.T.C.” LP, the tradition of quality only continued. Initially a Bronx based crew, D.I.T.C. expanded it’s lyrical stronghold to include Harlem’s Big L and BK’s OC. This LP was more like a Hip Hop 101, in which D.I.T.C. gave a seminar to those who mainly have forgotten the raw essence of Hip Hop-plain ol’ fashioned raw lyrics over stripped-down, minimal, head noddin’ anthems.
In the spirit of strong lyricism spawned by the likes of Rakim Allah, Krs One and Big Daddy Kane, D.I.T.C. dismantled any potential competition in the realm of basic Hip Hop. And for those whole failed to see Big L’s talent while he was still alive, “D.I.T.C.” provided all the necessary proof of L’s microphone stamina. Peep Big L’s verbal gymnastics on “Stand Strong”: “What I recite be taking hours to write/ So if you bite, just tell yo’ man what kind of flowers you like”….ill! True, D.I.T.C. may not bring anything “new” to the table aside from Big L’s now-classic “Ebonics” (check for the Premier remix) in which L offers a clever take on Webster’s Dictionary for street slang. There isn’t a whole lotta’ introspective or highly conceptual joints here either. Still, D.I.T.C.’s minimalist aesthetics are still a refreshing escape from the absurdity of every other flossy emcee in the game. Their gimmick is “no gimmicks”.
Even though “D.I.T.C.” may not have been the “next sh*t” , this LP represented a coming-together of sorts-a reunion of some of the rawest producers and emcees. In the end, this All-Star lineup combined the fundamental elements of Hip Hop, just in case you forgot.