“The Untold Truth” – Illegal
Dropped: August 1993 via Rowdy Records
Purchase “The Untold Truth” HERE
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 imprint, “The Untold Truth” hit the streets during the summer heatwave of 1993 with the lead single “Head Or Gut”, which was produced by “The Green-Eyed Bandit” himself, Erick Sermon. However, the Sermon-injected, murky funk of “We Getz Buzy” was right up my alley. 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. The album’s highlight “On Da M.I.C.” features D.I.T.C. alumni, A.G. & Lord Finesse as Illegal, surprisingly, hold their own aside the lyrical and production heavyweights.
I liked Jamal and Malik better as solo MC’sm 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. Still, you can’t front on both of the emcees lyrically, as they came off more seasoned than their actual age.
annnnnd in this corner…..
“The Aftermath”-Da Youngsta’s
Dropped: Late April 1993 via Atlantic
Purchase “The Aftermath” HERE
Would I be jumping the gun if I said this is the best youthful album ever put out?? Probably not, as I know more than a handful of folks who share my sentiments as well. And let’s be real here, your lying to yourself if you think that Mobb Deep’s “Juvenile Hell” was a better album than “The Aftermath”. I’ve never really peeped Qu’ran, Taji & Tarik’s debut album “Somethin’ 4 Da Youngstas” and I do think it’s probably in my best interest that I don’t.
Da Youngstas actually put together a pretty decent three album stretch with “The Aftermath”, “No Mercy” & “Da Illy Funkstaz”. Once Again, I first saw Da Youngstas performing “Crewz Pop” (which was produced by Naughty’s Kay Gee..actually, it’s 118th St. Productions, but you know what’s up) as the ending act on “In Living Color”. I was impressed enough to pick this album up based on the overall sound and production of “Crewz Pop”. Of course, my decision was only solidified when I saw the production lineup for “The Aftermath” in an issue of The Source.
Are you kiddin’ me?? Pete Rock, Marley Marl, Kay Gee, The Beatnuts & DJ Premier all contributed beats for Da Youngta’s sophomore success. Tell me somebody didn’t have the hookup!!! Jesus, that’s quite an impressive production assembly for a few teenagers…SH*T! It is what it is, and that’s what makes this album so special..because honestly I couldn’t recite one line from any song on this album but the beats are incredible. I don’t know if an instrumental of “The Aftermath” was ever released but it needs to be, because this is some of the best production on an LP from what many of us have deemed “The Golden Era”.
Don’t be mistaken, Da Youngstas are decent MC’s (albeit the moments in which they try to sound like a young Onyx..but who wasn’t at the time?? i.e, The Hoodratz), but the production is almost flawless on each and every cut. If you’re looking to indentify a “sound” for mid-90′s production, it’s very easy to put your finger on it with “The Aftermath”.
annnnnnnd, wait! Who’s this walking up to the ring?
“AKA The Rugged Child”-Shyheim
Dropped: April 1994, via Virgin
Purchase “AKA The Rugged Child” HERE
“On & On”…dum,dum,dum,dum,… “On & On”…Virgin Records couldn’t have picked a better time to drop “AKA The Rugged Child” for the masses. Hot off the heels of the now-classic Wu Tang Debut, Wu affiliate “young un” Shyheim surprised a lot of folks with his lyrical skill and prowness as a then 14 year old MC.
With much of the production handled by RNS (RZA does produce “Little Rascals”) “AKA The Rugged Child” flows together quite nicely. “On & On” is the obvious selection for “best song on the album”, but I kinda’ liked the boom-bap bounce on “The Rugged Onez” as well. Admitingly, RZA’s aforementioned production “Little Rascals” is really nothing to write home about…it’s actually un-characteristicly “average” for usual RZA standards.
I rembember when this album came out, The Source gave it 4 mics and had hyped it up like…”Make way for Shyheim, he’s the next generation of MC’in”. I wasn’t seein’ it then and it obviously never came to fruition. I must say, the difference between this album and Da Youngstas “The Aftermath” is that other then “On & On” this album struggled to keep my “16 year old A.D.D. ass” awake…even today it’s a borderline boring listen. Give me Shyheim’s follow-up “The Lost Generation” any day and I’ll be much more attentive!…
Ahhhhh….over the years the gap has actually closed b/w “The Aftermath” and “The Untold Truth”, sadly Shyheim’s debut really does sound fairly outdated, even if his lyrical skill far surpassed that of Illegal and Da Youngsta’s. However, the beats found on “The Aftermath” are still to this day, absolutely stellar!! What would have been really interesting, is to have heard the more seasoned version of Da Youngsta’s…say, the ’96 version atop this production!?