The Brooklyn duo comprised of DJ/Producer PF Cuttin and rapper Outloud first formed their alliance in 1985. Choosing a patient, indirect path rather than the fast track, the duo worked behind the scenes for 10 years producing tracks for artists such as Masta Ace and Craig G. Their big breakthrough came in late 1995 with “Danger”, a song that unexpectedly turned into a volcanic crossover hit that tore dancefloors up for months and proudly waved the East Coast flag at the time when coastal beefs were blowing their hardest. “Blah Blah Blah”, the album “Danger” eventually found itself washed up on, was one of the most underrated classics of Hip Hop’s golden age (be sure to peep “Long Winded” and “Don’t Let This Rap Sh*t Fool You” for definitive, mid-nineties, east coast hip hop), but “Danger” is the heart of every B-Boy.
Cutting up Jeru, Q-Tip and the Beastie Boys, Blahzay Blahzay instantly created a classic and set out their stalls as New York’s new, underground, Hip Hop phoenoms. What truly set “Danger” apart was the ruffness of the beat (dirty snares, dirty bass, dirty cymbals, all undusted and unblunted from whatever vaults they were dug up from) and the way that PF Cuttin’s turntable skills actually in involved real, itchy, mind-blowing scratching in an era where Dre was busy airbrushing needle-abuse out of Hip Hop Lexicon. While it was quite evident that Blahzay Blahzay took a page from Jeru’s book with their debut single, the same could also be said for the majority of tracks on the album. The gritty texture of PF Cuttin’s beats and the relentless lyrical assault by Outloud, not to mention their shared locale of East New York, the Blah’s definitely had something to offer to the Hip Hop world. If anything, Blahzay along with the likes of MOP, Smoothe Da Hustler, OC, Jeru and Primo all helped to further solidify and carve out their piece of the gritty Bucktown sound.
Some of the bright moments on the album were the aforementioned “Danger” and the remix, “Danger Pt. II” which also featured Smoothe and his brother/his ace, Trigga The Gambler. Plus, the album’s second second, “Pain I Feel” was nothing to sneeze at either. The focus of “Blah, Blah, Blah” seemed to have built upon the structure of the album’s first two (and only, if my guess is correct) single releases. “Pain…” was a top-notch track that was almost a fitting third entry in the trilogy that began with Jeru’s “Come Clean” and OC’s “Time’s Up”. Much like the two aforementioned CLASSICS, “Pain..” also was aimed to expose wack emcees, while at the same time relaying the message to “refine your lyrics”. Also of note, “Don’t Let This Rap Shit Fool You” and “Posse Jumpa” were verbal jabs aimed at Hip-Hop’s posers and pretenders, and it also served as a reminder to those crews in the industry who didn’t know their history. “Long Winded” incorporated the time-proven tactic of looping one’s own words while “Jackpot” and the title cut served as the declaration of PF Cuttin and Outloud’s signature, unique sound.
“Blah, Blah, Blah” was quite a refreshing, no bullsh*t type product that delivered exactly what it promised: beats and lyrics void of catchy, sing-songy hooks, posse cuts or tracks crafted for the “shock value”. I still play this in the ride every so often and it still knocks like in did when the album was released in 96′. If you don’t have this one already be sure to cop it!!
“Pain I Feel”
In what may very well be one of the most under appreciated efforts….nah….f*ck that…artist!, during the “all too brief” Hit Squad era (EPMD, Das, Redman & K-Solo..oh, don’t forget about the Knuckleheadz either, Tom, T-T-Tom J in tha house!), K-S-O-L-O came correct (oooh, more 90’s terminology!!) with his 1990 debut “Tell The World My Name”. I’ve always loved K-Solo from the get-go and even his most recent appearance on Psycho Les’ overlooked solo album had me fiendin‘ to hear more from the “Spellbound MC”. Although K’s voice has albeit deteriorated (dude’s voice gets any more hoarse, (he’ll be soundin‘ like the D.O.C. On his “comeback” “Helter Skelter“!), you can still feel his passion for Hip Hop within his LL, Big Daddy Kane-esque flow patterns. K-Solo gained most of his notoriety by spelling out what seemed at the time of this album….most of his lyrics. “When I S-P-E-L-L, very W-E-L-L”….and you get the picture. Although, later DMX appeared in The Source’s “Unsigned Hype” crying wolf, claiming that “K -Stole It”…and that he, not Solo was the sole originator of the “I can spell” rhyming stylee. Whatever X, I’m rollin‘ with K Solo on this one! While, “Tell The World….”wasn’t quite up to par with K’s more polished sophomore effort “Time’s Up” it did posses it’s share of highlights.
I think that I was introduced to “Tell The World….” through the video for the lead single and my favorite track “Spellbound” but I’m not quite sure, with it’s thick, rolling bassline and that damn “wa, wa, wa, wa, sound” I was hooked like pure uncut. “Your Mom’s In My Business” almost immediately capitalized on the impact left by “Spellbound” being released as a second single. K Solo’s story-telling abilities went largely unnoticed as such vivid and twisted tales like “Tales From The Crackside” and even “Sneak Tip” (I don’t know why not a single “sneaker chain” hasn’t picked up on this for a commercial yet) from “Time’s Up” are seldom mentioned amongst some of the greatest Hip-Hop tales ever. By the way, just why isn’t “Times Up” even mentioned in anyone’s Top 100? One last thought, wouldn’t it be nice to see entire Hit Squad reassemble for just one more album á la Boot Camp Click’s “For The People”? At any rate a very solid debut from K-Solo that is criminally overlooked when discussing important albums in the early nineties. Oh, and I almost forgot word is that K-Solo signed to Death Row Records around 1996 and actually completed an album. Does anyone have any info on this? Or possibly a few leaked tracks from the unknown album? Now that would be a good find my friend!!! K-S-O-L-O……SPELLBOUND!!!!
Tell me that this doesn’t make for an odd equation, Motown Records + Hip Hop = A quality album? Wow! In a valiant attempt to stake their claim in Hip Hop, Motown Records (”Trendz” was actually released on “Mad Sounds”, a subsidiary of the parent label,Motown) jumped back into the rap game with an impressive debut from a Harlem trio that were all equal parts of style, substance and skill. Members M.O.L., Grapevine and Nastee were a pleasing combination of Old School delivery, jazzy loops and hardcore drums, but just like many of their peers feel short in the end due to lack of originality.
While Trendz Of Culture may have caused a little stir with their debut single, the “Blind Alley”-sampled “Off & On” (which also sounded VERY similar to the “Scenario” remix), it was their second release “Valley Of The Skinz” that really established this trio in the Hip Hop underground. Nothing short of “breezy”, “Skinz..” had the potential to be one of ’93’s true summer, jeep anthems. Dedicated to everyone’s favorite pastime….sex, the emcees proved that raunchy lyrics could be delivered with class, skill and distinction. With solid drums, soft piano keys and a weird synth effect “Skinz” was a winner just as a “strictly” instrumental joint. The album itself is “self-produced” and the end result was very impressive. Again, following in the ‘93 spirit the majority of the loops are jazzy and the drums are knockin’. However, as an added “bonus” the Lord Finesse remixes of the two aforementioned singles (”Valley Of The Skinz” & “Off & On”) were tweaked to include Finesse’s trademark booming bass and distorted horns.
Overall, “Trendz…” was a really, really good album that anyone who professes to be an educated “golden age” listener should have within arm’s length (or at least own). Surprisingly, the album has withstood the test of time, even though it doesn’t light a match to say….”Enta Da Stage” or “93 Til’ Infinity”. However, part of me wishes that this trio could have dropped another album which would have truly proved if Trendz Of Culture had “what it takes” to have fruitful careers in Hip Hop. Sadly, “Trendz” would fall victim to whatever knocked so many East Coast artists off the map between ‘93-’95. Damn, who was signing all these cats like “hotcakes” anyway?
“Valley Of The Skinz”