“Here Come The Lords” - Lords Of The Underground (1993, Capitol)
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In 1993, Marley Marl proteges L.O.T.U.G., cared about one thing and one thing only, keepin’ it real. Emerging from Derty Jerz, the three-man crew comprised of Mr. Funke, DoItAll and Lord Jazz unleashed a debut that boasted production from the aforementioned Marley and the equally-potent beatmaker, K-Def (Real Live). Even though “Here Come The Lords” dropped in ’93, the overall feel of this album is a throwback to Hip Hop’s “pass the mic” days. DoItAll and Mr. Funke come from a school of rhyme that predates other ’93 releases, when MCs weren’t so lyrical and didn’t take themselves very seriously. The rapping has a humorous tone throughout, but the Lords don’t necessarily focus on content. What is important is their charged delivery, boisterous and speedy , with yelled chants instead of hooks. It’s enough to get any crowd hype.
There’s not many booty tracks on here, but some are more polished than others. The more conceptual songs, which are absent from a lot of other rappers’ albums, are actually the weakest ones on “Here Come The Lords” because it’s not what the Lords do best. The beats bang a little less and lyrics emerge to the forefront, but Funke and DoItAll aren’t really accomplished lyricists so it does expose the album’s faults. Cuts such as “Lords Prayer” and “Sleep For Dinner” serve to show off the Lords’ sense of humor, but “Grave Digga” and “Psycho” are less impressive.
For the most part, this album is very solid and could be considered a near-classic. That is, if you like to nod your head to some of the best beats from the mid-’90s (see: “Return Of The Funky Child”). The truth is, Lords of the Underground sometimes feel like a one-trick pony, but the trick is so damn good you won’t even care. Plus, the old-school vibe gives it a feel of 100% pure hip-hop, removed from the politics, watering down of sounds, beefing, etc. that were starting the plague the growing rap industry just a few year later. Definitely a worthy part of any Golden Age hip-hop collection. Yet, the truth of the matter is, Marley Marl and K-Def added at least as much as the Lords to this disc. They laced the three-man crew with banger after banger, steady coming with the heavy-hitting bass and blaring horns. I’ve never heard so much crazy energy fused into tracks as on this album. Well, lemme’ retract that statement, Onyx did drop “Bacdafucup” in ’93 as well. They have an old-school sound but with a kind of chaotic quality, as opposed to the overly-simplistic beats from the ’80s. Song after song will get your head banging right from and start and keep it going till the finale of “Here Comes The Lords”.
“Reachin” (A New Refutation Of Time And Space)-Digable Planets (1993, Capitol)
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Damn ya’ll!! Score me a late pass on this one!!! While searching for some of my favorites this morning to post today, I scanned right over Digable Planets’ 1993 CLASSIC “Reachin….”. “Wait a minute!!!”, I said to myself..”I’ve surely posted this album before!!!”. Well, as you can see…I never did, and it’s amazing to me because this album as well as Digable’s follow up “Blowout Comb” (which many would argue succeeds it’s predecessor in terms of cohesiveness) in my Top 25…without question!! I remember the first time I saw and heard Digable Planets, performing on an episode of “In Living Color”, when I first heard that horn loop from “Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat“) (they actually won a Grammy for that song in 1994!!) it was a wrap for me. Never in my (at the time) brief 7 years of Hip Hop had I ever witnessed something soo jazzy, dusty and catchy as that record!! Pete & CL’s “T.R.O.Y” may be the exception in this case, but damn….my only exposure to riffs and horns like that was with Primo’s production for another CLASSIC (GangStarr’s “Daily Operation”).
I know I posed the question in the review writing for “Beats, Rhymes & Life”, “What would you do for another Tribe album”??. To hell with that!!! Gimme’ another Digable Planets album along with the Pete & CL reunion and I’d be set for life. Another interesting tidbit that I found in Brian Coleman’s book “Check The Technique” (BTW, if you even claim Hip Hop as a passion, this book is essential reading for you) this week was that Rosie Perez (of the numerous titty-scened “White Man Can’t Jump” fame) actually recruited Butterfly, Doodlebug & Ladybug to appear on In Living Color as well as every Hip Hop act that ever appeared on the show (she was actually the choreographer for “The Fly Girls”).
Getting back to the album, every cut is quality….period, with the aforementioned “Rebirth Of Slick” being my favorite followed by well…every track that followed!! Admittedly, I could have done without Doodlebug on the mic though, as I never felt that he offered much lyrically. Ish (Butterfly) (who KILLED Jake One’s “Home” from ’08) and Ladybug Mecca on the other hand were very entertaining both with their flow and cadence (“It’s Mostly Tha‘ Voice”). Whoa, that most recent Ladybug Mecca joint was out there though, huh? Anyway, enjoy this one folks then follow it up with “Blowout Comb” and don’t forget the incense (insert fingersnaps and clouds of blunt smoke)…
“The Untold Truth”-Illegal (1993, Rowdy)
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Comprised of lil’ MC’s Jamal & Malik, Illegal dropped what was one of the more hardcore albums during what was considered the “kiddie craze” (about 92′-94). Hoping to capitalize on the massive success of Kriss Kross, major labels were putting up large amounts of dough to put out younger acts such as QUO, Da Youngstas, Shyheim, The FamLee,etc. Released on the Rowdy Records label, “The Untold Truth” hit the streets sometime in 1993 with the lead single “Head Or Gut”, which was produced by “The Green-Eyed Bandit” himself, Erick Sermon. I really wasn’t that impressed with “Head Or Gut” being that the production sounded like it was a leftover track from Sermon’s first solo outing “No Pressure”, and hearing a couple of 14 year olds boast about how they’ll do this and that to basically fu*k up your life…wasn’t something I was tryin’ to hear at the time. Although, “The Untold Truth” does boast some decent production which is attributed to the almost “All Star” lineup of producers i.e, Diamond D, Biz Markie, Dallas Austin, Lord Finesse and the previously mentioned Erick Sermon.
I liked Jamal and Malik better as solo MC’s as they would mature much more as artists over the years. Jamal’s first solo effort “Last Chance, No Breaks” has some real BANGERS and Malik almost stole the spotlight from Snoop on “Pump Pump” off of Snoop’s classic “DoggyStyle”. I don’t think that Malik ever put out a solo joint, which is unfortunate as I always felt he was the more prolific of the duo. Anyway, I probably should’ve given this another listen recently but I always reach for Da Youngsta’s “The Aftermath” instead…
“21 & Over”-Tha Alkaholiks (1993, Jive)
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I first heard the Alkaholiks back in the beginning of ‘93, on King Tee’s “Tha Triflin’ Album” on the track “Got It Bad Yall”. I admit I wasn’t overly impressed; all I thought was, damn they make King Tee look bad (I know it’s not hard to outshine the man on the lyrical tip!). With all the hype surrounding the launch of Loud Records and the promotional machinery Steve Rifkin had already mastered to perfection, the expectations were semi-high and directed towards the new phenomena of left-coast artists mimicking New York’s recipe of sample-heavy and hard-hitting Boom Bap underlining tales of bragging-rights. Well, “21 And Over” was exactly what you expected!
“21 & Over” was far from the basis of conceptual lyricism and intricate rhyme-schemes. More than anything, this trio recited a no-holds-barred attitude, having a whole lotta’ fun (the effects of alcohol!?) recording songs like their first single “Make Room”, the enticing “Likwit” or their ode to marijuana on “Mary Jane”. My favorite stand-out was and still is the outlandish “Only When I’m Drunk” with memorable lines like ” Yeah I’m good, I’m bad, I’m dope, I’m freaky fresh / I make hip hop fans say yes yes / The Liks coming through, you know we gonna blow up / Hold up, hold up, I think I gotta…(throw up)”. There isn’t much I can personally add to this: I have never been a huge fan of the group, but their first two offerings (“Coast To Coast” included) were more than enjoyable and cornerstones in our culture’s history, alongside the efforts of The Pharcyde and Souls Of Mischief with their similar approach.
“Till Death Do Us Part”-The Geto Boys (1993, Rap-A-Lot)
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It’ll only take you a few minutes into “Till Death Do Us..” to figure out that something is noticeably different from the previous Geto Boys’ LPs. Big Mike, former member of fellow Rap-A-Lot group the Convicts was a welcome addition to the controversial crew, stepping into to fill the void caused by Willie D’s sudden departure. Good thing too, because Mike was definitely more lyrically “capable” than Willie, at times on the LP his flow is right up there with that of the legendary Scarface. From the start of the album, Rap-A-Lot owner James Smith displays a noticeable discontent with the DEA, the IRS “and other wicked people in high places”, and decides to take it upon himself on the album’s lengthy intro. The “intro” seems misplaced, however, the rest of the album gains a head of steam quickly with the bass filled compositions of “G.E.T.O” and yet another “fu*k the police” anthem, “Crooked Officer”.
On the production tip, it’s hard to categorize the Geto Boys’ sound as “East or West”. They have always produced music that had a stamp and originality of their own which has always made the Geto Boys’ sound very easy to distinguish. Once again, the album’s high points are delivered in the form of Scarface’s lyrical antics, and who could forget Bushwick Bill’s crazy, Chuckie-totting ass “eating out your eyeballs” lyric? You’ve gotta’ give it up to the Geto Boys, one of the first group’s whom you had to love….no matter where you were from, or where you were at.