75. “Crazy Like A Foxxx”-Freddie Foxxx
In what has to be one of the best compilations/reissues of all-time, Freddie Foxx’s (aka Bumpy Knuckles) 1993 shelved album (thanks MCA!) “Crazy Like A Foxxx” finally saw the light of day as a proper release nearly 15 years later during the mid-summer months of 2008. And I gotta’ admit, this album (“Crazy Like A Foxxx”) would’ve taken underground Hip Hop by the throat in ’93, yet only a few promos circulated through the industries’ hands.
A two-disc set, “Crazy Like A Foxxx” (2008 issue) offers you the original/official ’94 release on disc one, while disc two unveils the 1993 demo of the album. Produced almost entirely by the Diggin’ In The Crates (namely Lord Finesse, who’s name has been popping up alot on this list, Showbiz and Buckwild) conglomerate, with appearances from the legendary trio of Chuck D, Kool G Rap and 2Pac it’s quite a chore to distinguish a favorite from the double-disc offering. So, today, while I’ve only included a listen for the title cut of the album (which utilizes the oft-sampled “Substitution” break, which was quite commonplace throughout 1993-95 and was intended to be a thorn in the side of the Ultramagnetic MCs), one of my fondest “Rediscoveries” has been “Crazy Like A Foxxx”. So while most of us will be snowed (and iced) in this weekend, do yourself a solid and give “Crazy Like A Foxxx” it’s proper due in your headphones, it will only make you wish that cats where still doin’ it like this today!
“My style is all that/And a big bag of chips with the dip/
“The astronomical is comin’ thru/Like the flu bombin’ you..”
Cats just don’t understand the impact felt within the underground when Def Squad affiliate Keith Murray hit you over the head with his debut single “The Most Beatifullest Thing In The World”, or if you wanna’ take it one step further, Keith’s scene-stealing verse found on “Hostile” from Erick Sermon’s debut, “No Pressure” (1993). Keith was like a human dictionary, intertwining words that I’m not even sure if he knew what they meant (a la Kool Keith), yet back in ’94 it came off fresher than a baker’s dozen of Entemann’s.
While not quite the commercial success of Keith’s debut, his sophomore effort “Enigma”, which released in 1996, still sold a respective (at least in today’s digital age) 300,000 copies (by comparison, Keith’s debut is still approaching Gold status). However, when “Enigma” first dropped, led by the Ummah-produced lead single “The Rhyme” (and for all you old heads, who remembers it being featured on the Jive sampler that was included with the infamous Dr. Dre/Death Row “electric chair” cover?), I initially turned my nose up at it after the first few listens. While “The Most Beautifullest..” had certified bangers with the title cut, “Get Lifted” and “Escapism”, I had a difficult time taking a particular liking to any one cut that could be found on “Enigma”. Matter of fact, had you asked me near the start of the decade (2000) which one artists encountered one of the biggest sophomore slumps in recent memory, I would have just as easily rattled off “Keith Murray’s “Enigma”.
After slapping myself back to reality, I’ve learned to enjoy “Enigma” almost nearly as much as Keith’s mind-boggling, thought-jogging debut over the last two years or so. With Erick Sermon still in tow on the production tip, “Enigma” is one album that has truly withstood the test of time for me. Whether it’s the “ruckus-bringing” anthem “Call My Name”, the free-for-all lyrical musings of “Yeah” (which also featured Jamal, Busta and Redman) or this, the Total-sampled (from “Can’t You See”) hook of “What A Feeling”, “Enigma”, while not quite as potent as one of “The Most Beautiful” debuts of all-time, still packs plenty of that Def Squad flavor that will have you wondering what could have been…
Can you believe that this, Slick Rick’s follow-up to the his CLASSIC, “The Adventures Of..” would be my first exposure to the lyrical wizardry of the “truck jewel king” as I’d somehow passed on his debut? And, if it hadn’t been for the Fly Girls (In Living Color) grinding their hips to Slick Rick’s painfully honest/”House-influenced”, “Mistakes Of A Woman In Love With Other Men”, I’d have probably slept on “The Ruler’s Back” as well! Sheeet, I can still vividly recall picking up this cassette along with the soundtrack to “Boyz N The Hood” on the same Summer day back in 1991. Oh, and getting back to “In Living Color”, tell me you didn’t have your eyes glued to the TV screen when those damn end credits rolled, trying to decipher just who’s track it was that accompanied the Fly Girls during their routines which usually proceeded a commercial break?
One thing’s for certain when you’re talking about Slick Rick. Not only is he often overlooked when mentioning the lyrical “giants” of Hip Hop (most people settle for the traditional response of Rakim, Kane & Kool G Rap), but no matter how much Rick’s production on his albums appears to “age” over the years, his lyrics never tend to grow old. The manner that Slick constructed his rhyme patterns coupled with his “I’m carryin’ a conversation with my own self” delivery made the London native a true originator in the rap game.
While the majority of “The Ruler’s Back” may sound “rushed” when held in comparison to his debut, it’s totally justifiable. Rick actually recorded this album after Russell Simmons (Rick was on Def Jam) had just bailed him outta’ jail, and prior to Rick’s five-year stint for the attempted murder of his cousin. Yet, the album does boast it’s fair share of quality content (the album did go Gold, but Rick captured platinum status nearly 8 years later with “The Art Of Storytellin”), to include “I Shouldn’t Have Done It”, “King”, “It’s A Boy” (along with the Large Pro remix, not included on “The Ruler’s Back”) and the thumping, “Impeach The President”-sampled “Moses”. Produced by Slick’s right hand man, Vance Wright, “Moses” isn’t the most original backdrop out there. I mean, it’s really just a sped up sample of “Impeach”, with an added dose of “bottom”, yet the bare bones groundwork is just enough to give you a slight case of whiplash while delivering Rick at his vivid, extremely visual and narrative finest.
72.“Sho Is Hype”-Volume 10
“Pistol Grip Pump on my lef’ at all times!!”….In 1994 Freestyle Fellowship affiliate Volume 10 created what may possibly be considered as one of the Left Coast’s most forgotten gems of all time. Produced by the Baka Boyz (who also had their own radio slot as well), “Pistol Grip Pump” was in heavy rotation in the Honda Civic around this time of the year in 94′. I recall picking this album up strictly based on it’s review it received in The Source (damn, “wasn’t” that THE magazine? My, how thing’s change…). and being pleasantly surprised by Volume 10’s commanding flow as well as the bass-heavy backdrops. It almost sounds as if Volume 10 freestyled EVERYTHING from beginning to end on “Hip Hopera”, if you don’t believe me just check the hilarious cut “Mom & Deb” (“I don’t give a fu*k about nuthin’ or nobody but my Mama & my woman Deb-bie”…damn, you gotta’ hear this…straight comedy!). I don’t know if many of you recall Ganjah K but he drops in for a scene stealing verse on the title cut…BTW, Ganjah K was a highly touted freestyle fanatic around 93-94.
I can still replay the beginning beat knocks of “Sho Is Hype” (which was co-produced by Cut Chemist, which really surprised me) tick,tick,tick…BOOM..tick,tick,tick..BOOM. The production on this album is what has surprisingly held up quite nicely. Not only “Sho Is Hype” but tracks such as “Home Alone” and the aforementioned “Pistol Grip Pump” are bound to give your subwoofer a workout. This album is a true diamond in the rough, but I will warn you Volume 10 will take a little getting used to. I wouldn’t necessarily say that Volume 10 was an innovator by any means, but he was definitely not lacking in the originality department!!
“No doubt…Mash em’ out/No doubt…Mash em’ out..No Doubt..
Back in 1993, the now defunct 4th & B’way label distributed a compilation LP, “The Hill That’s Real”, which was more or less a showcase for the label’s budding talent. In the end, the project essentially went nowhere, yet there was one glaring bright spot to be found on that LP….1/2 of M.O.P., Lil Fame. Coupled with Billy Danzenie, the duo gave you a fine introduction to what has gone on to be nearly a decade and a half of some of the most ig’nant, intriguing, blood-pressure rising Hip Hop with their debut “To The Death”.
Yes, if you must ask, I’ve been on my M.O.P. ‘ish as of late, taking it back all the way to their1994 debut, to last year’s “Foundation”. The tandem of Billy Danze and Fizzy Wo’ and their bell ringin’, gun boasting rhymes just tend to always sit well with me. Billy and Fame, have ALWAYS rapped like they just don’t give a fu*k, not senseless nihilism mind you, but rather without restraint. And their debut, “To The Death”, was youthful energy at it’s finest. Yet, when most people think of the album, they think of one particular track and rightfully so….the anthemic-”How About Some Hardcore”. However, my all-time favorite from the album remains the oft-overshadowed “Top Of The Line”.
Like most M.O.P. productions, “Top Of The Line” is filled to the rim with thick bass and piercing horns, but the production on “Top Of The Line” (as well as the majority of “To The Death”) was quite different from most of the the beats that where circulating around New York at that time. Producer DR Period, for sake of a good argument, at least what my ears hear, laced each cut with a heavy “rock” influence, which paired up evenly with M.O.P.’s aggressive/in your face lyrical stylings. The lyrics on “Top Of The Line” are delivered in typical M.O.P., rapid-fire fashion, with Danze and Fame attempting to out-do one another on each verse. Whether it’s this neck-snapping classic all the way up to “Rude Bastard” from the duo’s new LP, you gotta’ give it up for M.O.P., they’ve always approached each record like it’s their last. I dare you to name one “half-assed” showing from them…that’s what I thought.