Boogie Down Production – Sex & Violence
I’ve long been a border line KRS “stan”, well up to ’97 or so. I’ll still argue until I’m blue in the face that is hands down a top five MC of all time, if not top three. KRS went through his fazes early in his career. Every album slightly differed from one another through all of BDP’s five releases, if it wasn’t lyrical topics, it was through sounds. “Criminal Minded” was Kris’ attempt at gangsta before being gangsta was in vogue. “By All Means Necessary” has some braggadocio, some conscious, and even some of the gangster fairytales seen on “Criminal Minded”. “Ghetto Music: The Blueprint For Hip Hop” (my least favorite BDP album), was much more preaching and teaching. “Edutainment” was a better version of “..Blueprint..”, with stronger beats and less preaching. My favorite BDP album though would be “Sex and Violence”.
From the very start of the campaign for Sex Violence, I was on board. They would release “Duck Down” as the albums first single. It was a favorite on “Yo!” back in the day, and at the time, it was exactly I wanted in my hip hop music; hard as steel drums, straight grab ya by ya throat lyrics, it’s all I wanted. Pal Joey produced the track, who himself is some what of a hip hop mystery, only producing a handful of hip hop tracks, but that’s another story for another time. I bought the cassingle, which included the b-sided “Like A Throttle”, which was on the same tip, more hard beats and Krs just straight ripping the mic. It’s all I needed to be in the record store on release day Tuesday, waiting for “Sex & Violence” to put on the shelves.
At the time, a lot of people weren’t feeling “Sex & Violence” (although, if I remember right, The Source gave it a 4.5 mics), but I wasn’t having that and bumped the album pretty much non stop for the first half of ’92. What you have on “Sex & Violence” is Krs adapting to the new hardcore edge that was going on through NYC at the time. Not that BDP was any sissy group, but the last couple albums had been rather preachy. This lead to a few people taking some shots at KRS, which obviously let a match underneath Kris, both musically and in the streets. Tracks like the aforementioned “Duck Down” and “Like A Throttle”, as well as “We In There”, “Ruff Ruff” and the albums kick off joint, “The Original Way” were all “up in ya face” straight up hardcore hip hop of the era. There were still songs with messages, but even those came with the rougher edge. The X-Clan and Poor Righteous Teachers dis track, “Build & Destroy”, had the message, but clearly KRS was a little perturbed:
Yo, I love the way I am and can’t nobody out here change me
Rearrange me, tame me, try to game me, you don’t play me
When I grab the mic then SHOCK the party spot
Your rhymes are flip-flop, I’ll rock, hip-hop
Non-stop, me nah stop rock
You CAN touch this, but you’ll get shot
Now what’s this all about? Kris and humanity
In my face you’re happy, on vinyl you’re mad at me
Yo, pro-blackness is your solution
But I don’t really know about that style you using yo
Too many Teachers in the class spoil the class
After awhile you got blabbering fucking fools
That’s worse than always talking about sex, let’s build
It ain’t enough to study Clarence 13X
The white man ain’t the devil I promise
You want to see the devil take a look at Clarence Thomas
Now you’re saying, Who? like you a owl
Throw in the towel, the devil is Colin Powell
You talk about being African and being black
Colin Powell’s black, but Libya he’ll attack
Libya’s in Africa, but a black man
will lead a black man, to fight against his homeland
An accomplice to the devil is a devil too
The devil is anti-human, who the hell are you?
I lecture and rap without rehearsal
I manifest as a black man but I’m universal
The capital K, small R-I-S
Capital P, small A-R, capital K, small E-R
We are, the star
Without the use of a car we go far
I build and destroy!
I’ll be the first to admit the album has it’s faults. It loses some focus toward the end, the tracks aren’t bad, but not on point as earlier in the album. Some would dismiss “The Real Holy Place” as KRS just babbling on, but I have to say it’s closest to anything I’ve heard to my own personal beliefs. Yet, for musical purposes, it’s somewhat out of place. Still the hardness found on this album is simply authentic hip hop in all it’s glory and glamor. For me, this is where KRS was at his pinacle of his music career. He would go on to release arguable three solid solo releases.
Trav’s Slept On Album
Back in ’92, Yo! and The Source were my two major influence of what I bought from the local record shop. It was no internet, but there was a lot of stuff coming out at the time. Lots of choices to spend my hard earned 4.25 and hour I was making bussing tables at the local Sizzler (“we goin’ to sizzzzler, we goin to siiiiizler”). Meaning there was more to choose from than I had money to spend on. Therefore, certain things would be left behind. One such album was Zhigge’s self titled debut (and only if memory serves me right). The first single, “Rakin’ In The Dough” did nothing for me, at least the album version didn’t. After the album had been out for awhile, I would hear the Uptown Bounce Mix of Rakin’ In The Dough on an old Red Alert radio show tape and fall in love with it. The second single from the album, “Toss It Up”, did catch my attention, but not enough to grab the album. It wouldn’t be until someone sent me the remix version of “Rakin’ In The Dough” that I would be lucky enough come across the CD a couple years ago.
The album is reminiscent of the the whole “posse chorus” hip hop that was so mad popular in those days. Personally, they always kind of reminded me of a slightly less talented version of Bush Babees, with the same style and flavor. Tracks like “Make Ya Hips Hop”, which employs a funky sax sample and a booty shaking drum track, shine back to a time when it was okay to get out on the dance floor and shake your booty. “Harlem” was a disco sounding track, with a funky groove and a smooth flow. It works real well, so much so that I’m surprised it didn’t find its’ way as a single. Zhigge did a lot of tracks in the true vein of hip hop, but they weren’t afraid to switch it up as witnessed by the semi-wack “I Wanna Be With You”. Although ’92 was a little after the fad of having a love joint on your album, they still bring the singing and R&B groove, with mixed results. Another track that they mix it up some is “Born Black”. The year ’92 was during the tail end of the whole Black Power movement that groups like PE, X-Clan and other pushed to the forefront. The track again isn’t bad, with a familiar sample that is good for a few listens.
In the end, the album isn’t a lost classic, but it’s a good album that is proper vision of the ’92 NYC sound. The group provided an entertaining album with a few misteps (“All That Glitters” and “I Wanna Be With You”), but tracks like “Harlem”, “Rakin’ In The Dough”, “Toss It Up” more than make up for those. It’s unfortunate this was the only thing we would see out of the group, but that seemed to happen a lot in the early 90′s.
Originally, I was going to include Big Mello’s “Bone Hard Zaggin” as my slept on album. I started thinking back though and I wasn’t sure if I had ever actually listened to the whole album. If I had, it was way back in the day. I’ve always said I liked Big Mello and the music I had heard from this Rap-A-Lot star back in the day I had liked, but for some reason, I never listened to the whole thing. My introduction to Big Mello was through this skinny white kid I had in a couple classes in my first year of college. He always wore a hoodie with the hood up and headphones on. One day I asked him what he was listening to and he rattled off a bunch of names that I had seen in The Source in those cheap ass advertisements, mostly associated with Rap-A-Lot records. Over the semester, I would make him tapes of what I was listening to and he’d make me tapes, mostly of the Rap-A-Lot stuff. Big Mello happened to be on some of those. Still, I never bought any of his CDs nor heard the whole debut album.
In my younger years, I was much more fascinated by the gang culture and enjoyed the violent images more than I do in my older and mellowed years. Still, I can appreciate a good gangster album as much as anyone. C-Bo’s album is just that, it’s good. The album utilizes a lot of familiar samples that have been used elsewhere, both before and after this album came out. In some ways, it’s kinda of a mixtape feel, but there is nothing wrong with that. “Mac’s Drive ‘Lacs” laces a familiar sax sample (Streets of New York?) that gives you that pimpin swagger feel. The chorus is catchy as all fuck and will have you singing a long with it. The fuzzy guitar sample of “By The Time I Get To Arizona” is used on “Symptoms of a Crook”, and Big Mello turns it into his own with tales of being someone you don’t want to fuck with it. The beats are all pretty sharp, sounding rather hard on a good system or a good pair of headphones. You just have to look over the fact that the samples weren’t anything you haven’t heard before.
Of course, the topics are nothing we haven’t heard before. Bitches, gankin’ fools, weed, drinking, bangin, it’s all here, but the key of spitting gangster rhymes is doing it well. Big Mello does that for the most part. “Bone Hard Zaggin” isn’t a ground breaking album, but it’s just classic gangter rap from the early 90′s.