We have a special guest in the house today, Captain Backslap aka J-Zone. He will be dropping knowledge on some of his favorite underrated, unheralded, unknown albums from the year 1992. The great thing about Zone is that he still loves the music and can talk classics and rare shit just as much as any nerdy blogger (I’m including myself in that context, so save the hate mail). If you’ve ever read one of his interviews where he gets into the oldies but goodies, then you know what I’m talking about. It’s a pleasure to have Zone drop the science.
UNHERALDED RAP OF 1992
1992 was an important year for rap. It was similar to 1988-90, in that the amount of unanimously recognized classic rap albums eclipsed albums that were decent, good and even great. Those decent, good and even great albums that were forgotten began to hold more relevance as the quality of music began to decline over the next decade…as a good number of people damn near ran outta music to check for and literally went back to rediscover. Some haven’t aged well at all, some have, but even some of the ones that didn’t still have a campy appeal that makes their dated nature enjoyable.
In 1993, a lot of East Coast acts tried to make a living on Pete Rock’s style beat-wise and went for the Timbs, Hoodies and Blunts approach lyrically (with a twist of Dax Efx) after being on some opposite shit years prior. On the West Coast and in between, everybody bought a copy of The Chronic, a lead synth, a pair of Dickies and tried their best to re-live the “Let Me Ride” video (see the HBO movie Bangin In Little Rock for reference). I must admit, I have a weakness for both styles even as they went trite. I loved the intro for Eazy-E’s 187-Um It’s On EP more than just about anything in rap history and the Pete Rock-lite beats20on Pudgee’s Give ‘Em The Finger album I still rock today. But let’s be real. For the most part, there were 2 or 3 styles of rap nationwide after that, so 1992 is a very pivotal year. Not to mention, that was the last year that major label rap albums had a worry free sample approach (or at least they only had to clear the big time loops), so after that, things got a little less colorful (if that style of beats float your boat). When The Pharcyde dropped their debut album at the end of 1992 and the 50 page long list of cleared samples even included drums…that was a big turn. So enough rhetoric, here’s a few 1992 gems that got buried under Whut? The Album, Business Never Personal, Daily Operation and Mecca & The Soul Brother…and even get ignored with the resurgence of niche collectables like School Of Hard Knocks and Put Ya Boots On.
JCD & THE DAWG LB: A DAY IN THE LIFE (Profile, 1992)
Long before Nelly put Cardinal town on the map, JCD & The Dawg LB. and their homie Sylk Smoov repped St. Louis in 1992. Both artists influenced me in a big way and were underrated, but at least Sylk had a small buzz with his two singles, “Klientele” and “Bitch Witta Good Rap”. JCD’s album dropped on Profile Records in ‘92, and although I remember seeing it back then, I didn’t buy it til years later so I don’t remember what month. It got zero buzz. My old A&R at Fat Beats Records used to work at Profile back in the day, and he told me the group mailed in DAT Tapes and came to the office maybe once, so they were always somewhat of a mystery.
Produced by Total Trak Productions (the same dudes that did Sylk Smoov, AMG and Mad Flava), the beats are thick, pimped out, extremely funky and sample heavy (some of the loops I still can‘t identify). The skits are hilarious (see “Fish House” and “TLO Sings The Hits”), as is most of the subject matter, and MC JCD is beyond decent. He’s actually pretty dope, and 17 years later, he still doesn’t sound dated. “St. Louis Niggas” sounds like it belongs on one of Ice Cube’s early albums, and that’s a compliment. “Big Bitch” is hilarious, and all 3 people that listen to my music will be able to tell that I listened to it a few thousand times. Besides, it’s the only song ever to reference Mabel King (the mom from the TV show, What’s Happening?!?!). “Bon Apetit” was ground-breaking, in that it may have been one of the first rap songs to brag about eating pussy (besides AMG’s “Lick Em Low Lover” and Pooh-Man‘s “Eatin’ Pussy“) in a time when that was a no-no. “Over Pussy”, “Kibbles N Bits” and “Tell Ya Bout A Bitch” are self-explanatory hot ones, with “Over Pussy” boasting one of the Top 10 uses of “Nautilus” ever. The title cut sounds like a polished version of one of Rap-A-Lot’s more pimped out beats and “Boot Nat” is one of those funky minute-long stories that my 3 fans will again recognize as a definite J-Zone influence.
There’s really no filler, and I think a combination of being from St. Louis (which contributed to a mix of East and West coast styles), Profile Records not marketing the group correctly and timing all hampered it’s buzz. Never searched for it online, so I’m not sure how rare or expensive it is. Whatever you pay for it, whether 50 cents or 50 dollars, it’s worth every penny.
Oh boy. Just one look at the cover will cause you to write it off as a Club MTV dance record. But those in the know should have learned from Greyson & Jasun, everybody dressed a little GQ in the early 90’s. OK, so there are some club friendly cuts for the girls, but ironically, those are produced by none other than Marley Marl. However, the remaining album cuts are very funky and Cooly proved to be a well rounded MC with a creative choice in subject matter. The lead single,
“Shake Her”, gives you the best of both worlds, as it’s cool for a party, but the cleverly used Manhattan Transfer sample and Cooly’s rhymes about an overzealous girl work well for hip-hop purists. “That’s Wh at I Like (No Cream In My Coffee)”, the album’s best cut, features a dope concept about interracial dating from Cooly, with a Leaders Of The New School-esque collage of constantly changing samples on the production side (again, pre-stringent sample law). This song may be the only time in rap history when two unlikely foods are paired in rhyme…
I don’t know that much about pasta/
But what I do know as the drummer keeps drummin’/
what I need in my life is a Black woman…
Not sayin what you doin is wrong, but it’s not for me, so I just move on.”
“All Possibilities”, “Player” and “Freestyle” hold their own as well on both the rhyme and music sides, making it a decent album, albeit not a true must have. Nonetheless, you probably slept it for a number of reasons (the cover being the main one) and if you have some extra doe and it’s cheap, it’s a good add to the collection and worth a listen.
POISON CLAN: POISONOUS MENTALITY (Effect Records, 1991)
Ah, Poison Clan MC JT Money aka The Rakim Of The South. JT and Ra are apples and oranges, but many people called him that because despite his ability to booty shake and bitch bash with the best in Miami, he was also a great lyricist and writer (along with Brother Marquis of 2 Live Crew). On the second Poison Clan album, his partner Debonaire had gone back to NYC to pursue a more NY friendly style with the group Home Team, leaving JT solo on this one. All the classic booty shake is there (“Shake What Ya Mama Gave Ya”), but JT shows off his prowess with battle rap (“Rough Nigga Getting Busy”), social commentary (“Fugitive”) and storytelling (“Action”). But JT Money wouldn’t be himself without his classic humorous misogyny and it’s here in droves. “All They Good For”, “I Hate Ho’s” and “Somethin’ For You Raggedy Ho’s” all feature JT at his bitch-baiting best. “Ho Stories” combines strong story-telling, raunchiness and humor for great effect.
she grabbed me close and started lickin out my butt cheeks/
then I got into it/
I said please, don’t squeeze my ass when you do it/
she must not have liked the taste/
cause she stopped eating ass when I farted in her face”.
Hearing that as a 15 year old when I got the CD for Christmas from my pops, I couldn’t wait to quote that to my boys in school when we went back in January. Add in a verse about fuckin a girl with one leg and a skit in which JT shoots a kid 6 times for respecting women…and you have an enjoyable 60 minutes. The beats are nothing groundbreaking, consisting of mostly common loops and programmed drums, but they do the job. If you’re female or have no sense of humor, I’d pass on this one. But if you can take music lightly and get a kick outta gleeful ignorance done with skill, pick it up.