Saturday, August 26, 2017

2 Real - Any Last Words?

2 Real is a duo that represents from the relentless streets of Houston, TX. The group is composed of brothers Lil' V and Lil' D. The brothers also alternate their aliases as Vinnie Valentine and Mr. Everline. Together, they hold membership in the local collective known as the $tack Pack as well as the legendary, Killa Klan. 2 Real first started out in the mid nineties and debuted with the now highly covetable, "Welcome 2 Tha Real World." After about a fifteen year hiatus, the group finally decided to make a return to the underground rap scene. Any Last Words? is their sophomore effort and it was released independently in 2012 with limited copies. The album, which is somewhat of a mix tape and not an official record, was basically put together for their loyal fans who have been begging to hear some new material by the group. It was also an attempt to get back into the music industry with the hopes of being picked up by a major label. Most of the beats are borrowed from other artists but there are a few that are original in composition and are produced by John Brown The Rebel. His production pattern is pretty solid to say the least and it fares quite well with the overall sound that the group is trying to achieve. The beats are a bit contemporary in structure but they still carry that distinct underground sound that Houston was most known for. The process of sampling is also used by the producer to attain that desired melody. The two most notable coming from Johnny Cash's "Hurt" and Rick James' "Teardrops." Lyrically, both members may have lost a step or two since their last outing but it's good to see that they can still hold their own on the microphone. Their lyrics are still delivered cleverly and aggressively with extra attention towards word play and detail. Rhymes schemes and speech rates are kept at a varying pace so there's never a dull moment. Subject matter is also pretty diverse and open which in turn appeals to a broader audience. Guest appearances are made by Drankk $inatra and various members of the Killa Klan in the form of skits. All in all this was a very respectable release and it's one that certainly pays homage to the group's origins. As we all know, music as a whole has continued to evolve and even the South is not spared from the horrid renditions of today's popular selections. Artists are either selling out for money or for mass acceptance and reception. In the midst of all the nonsense, 2 Real showed what it means to keep it real while still staying true to their art and to themselves.

Deadly Verses
Revenge So Sweet


Teardrops


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Bumble B.H.E. - Pain

William Jackson, better known as Bumble B.H.E., was a socially active artist from the savage streets of Dallas, TX. He is often remembered for his controversial lyrics and equally provocative civil views which were the main cause of distress upon the media, politicians and even the African American community in the early nineties. Bumble B.H.E. first started off with the famed group, Nemesis but would soon leave them over creative differences. The differences being about the overall sound and the message the group as a whole was portraying. Pain is his debut solo album and it was released in 1992 on 380 Recordings while also being distributed through the larger and well established, Ichiban Records. The production in its' entirety is handled by the talented group of producers known as, The Bump Godz. The Bump Godz consists of Brother Black, DJ Zero, I.C.E., Suave-X and Bumble B.H.E., himself. Although the rhythms are all electronically derived and most are sample ridden, there are tracks where the producers incorporate live instruments such as horns and various types of guitars. The beats are of a simple nature and are generally presented in an uptempo fashion. This set up remains constant throughout the album and really does set the tone for the entire project. Lyrically, the artist is pretty blunt upon the microphone. Both his tone and persona come off as quite aggressive and he seems to get his point across with ease. His rhymes follow no dictated pattern which results in a very candid and honest approach. Guest appearances are made by Mad Wisdom and Gretta Epps. The record closes out with a total of thirteen tracks with each one being more ruthless than the next. The core content is of a harsh yet truthful nature as one can sense from the album's title and the intrusive caption printed on the cover. Overall the album does carry its' own charm but it can also get a bit redundant at times with its' brutal content. Nonetheless, the message it conveys is of an imperative nature especially when considering the turmoils and unrest which still plagues the African American communities to this very day.

Deadly Verses

Pain


If This Gets Out (It'll Cause World Wide Panic)


Sunday, May 28, 2017

De' 1 - 16 With A Bullet

Martin Crawford, better known as De' 1 or Kid Deleon, was a rapper from the vile streets of Houston, TX. Although he is a native of Texas, he does seem to have some strong ties with the East Coast. He first appeared on the song "Flow On (New Symphony)" by Lords Of The Underground. It was this track that made the legendary production team of Marley Marl & K-Def take notice and really see the raw potential of De' 1. With the artist and production team assembled, work would soon begin for a full length album entitled, Day One. 16 With A Bullet is a Maxi Single from the aforementioned album and it was released in 1993 on Reprise Records. Side A consists of the album and video versions of the song, 16 With A Bullet while Side B contains Da Underground Sound and an alternate mix of the title track. All tracks were produced by the magnificent, Marley Marl who certainly provides some noteworthy hits here. His signature style of heavy bass lines and jazzy horns is used effectively throughout the cassette. His exceptional choice of samples and the smooth use of snares simply cannot be denied. Lyrically, De' 1 can more than handle his own on the microphone. His flow, delivery, pace and technique are on an another level. He is not your typical Southerner in the lyrical department but instead he models his rhymes after his East Coast colleagues. This unique characteristic along with his flavorful demeanor is what tends to set him apart from others. Guest appearances are made by Marley Marl, Lords Of The Underground and Sha-B. Music videos were also recorded for both the single and the B-Side in an attempt to create a buzz around the new artist. True Homies, another single off the album which was also accompanied by a music video, was released the following year in 1994. Then for some odd and bizarre reason, Reprise Records pulled the plug on the entire album. Day One was never officially released and De' 1 was never heard from again. It is truly a shame to see such talent go to waste and a work of art be neglected in this manner. Especially when all the hard work was already done and the album was pretty much completed. The photo and video shoot were done. The singles had been carefully hand picked and leaked out to the public. The promotional material had been passed out to clubs and disc jockeys. Everything was in order, which is why it's confusing that suddenly the parent label would decide to shelve the album altogether. Fans of the underground are still yearning to this day to hear the album in all its' entirety. In the end, not only did this young man represent the city of Houston to the fullest extent in the far regions of the East but he also managed to go blow for blow with some of the best that ever did it.

Album Notes
* For the vinyl version of this single, check out the post by Alexandre over at Circuit Power.

Deadly Videos
16 With A Bullet

Da Underground Sound (Remix) ft. Marley Marl, Lords Of The Underground & Sha-B


Monday, March 27, 2017

Wet Boys - Puttin Out The Fire Vol. 1

Wet Boys was a group that represented the murky bayous of New Orleans, LA.  The group was founded in the mid nineties by the pioneer, Sporty T. The main cause for the group with their opposite moniker was to continue the war on wax between Sporty T and the Hot Boy$ of Cash Money Records. The Wet Boys consisted of T-Bone, Sporty T and the Black John Gotti. Puttin Out The Fire is their debut album and it was released in 1998 on Sporty Records. The production is of superb quality and is entirely handled by T-Bone. His strong intent can be heard from the very first track. From the raw bass lines to the woozy hooks to the scintillating synths, all hit in the right place at the right time. The beats are composed with a sense of purpose and attention is given to the smallest detail. T-Bone may not be as flashy or even as gifted as the rest of his contemporaries but what he lacks in experience, he makes up in presentation. Lyrically the album is also pretty strong. The subject matter may be redundant due to all the tracks being directed as a shot towards the Hot Boy$ or Cash Money Records but there is never a dull moment in the rhymes. Sporty's flow is certainly in the upper echelon when compared to his counterparts. His change of pace, his firm vocabulary and even his occasional humorous tone are a sight to behold. Combine this with his veteran status in the Rap game and one has a commanding figure in the studio and a brute upon the microphone. Guest appearances are made by Ice Mike, Greg and Lyric. The album closes out with a commendable total of eighteen substantial tracks that certainly give some insight on the beef between the two parties. The record as a whole is a respectable one because of the quality production and the lyrical content. It is also an extraordinary piece when considering the history between the two camps. Sadly, Sporty T was murdered in 2008 which ended the feud once and for all. Rest in peace to one of New Orleans' finest.

Deadly Verses
Rope Round Ya Neck

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Cash Money Millionaires - Platinum Instrumentals

Cash Money Millionaires - Platinum Instrumentals
Cash Money Millionaires was a super group that represented the muddy banks of New Orleans, LA. The group consisted of Mannie Fresh, Baby, Lil' Wayne, Juvenile, Turk and B.G. The collective was fabricated during the late nineties through the originally constructed Hot Boy$ and Big Tymers. As the name suggests, Platinum Instrumentals was a instrumental album which was released in 2000 on Cash Money Records. The album is basically compiled with the hottest singles ever released under the infamous label. As always, production is handled by the musical genius, Mannie Fresh. He brings his classic style to the table and certainly does not disappoint. A style that is often imitated but never duplicated. Even though he is very talented with various types of synthesizers and drum machines, it's his energetic approach and melodic arrangement that sets him apart from others. Not enough can be said about his profound production template that hasn't already been said before. One can only hope to bear witness and ultimately appreciate the sheer brilliance at hand. The record boasts a collection of thirteen tracks which were hand picked off of various releases by the group members. The tracks are not snippets or samples but instead are provided in their original and uncut nature. This release not only helped up and coming artists in their musical endeavors but also gave the Cash Money fan base a collector's item. An item that single-handedly displays the pure intellect and the genuine prowess of the man behind the chart topping music.

Deadly Tracks
Back That Azz Up


Saturday, March 25, 2017

VooDoo Mob - 210 Soldiers

VooDoo Mob - 210 Soldiers
VooDoo Mob is a collective that represents from the dark alleys of San Antonio, TX. The crew consists of Voodoo King, 666 and Magik Man. 210 Soldiers is their debut EP and it was released in 1997 on 210 Records. Production is solely provided by the Magik Man, who is the group's devoted in-house producer. The rhythms are presented in a very grim and gloomy style. They are derived through heavy bass lines which incorporate a steady usage of samples and are finally finished off with some dark synths. The bass heavy pattern meshes beautifully with the horrorcore sound. It's a smooth transition and one that definitely pays homage to the early Bass culture of San Antonio's diverse Rap scene. Lyrically, the EP is quite hard to judge due to the fact that the vocals are only laid on two of the tracks. The rest of the cuts are just plain instrumentals. The group does show a limited amount of promise on the microphone but their rhymes give off a very simple vibe. The lyrics seem like freestyles that are coming fresh off the domes rather than something that is a bit more concrete. There is hardly any direction in the songs and it seems as if the verses were just cut and pasted together. As mentioned above, there are only two cuts with vocals so this assessment maybe a bit harsh but one can only imagine what the group members could have accomplished with the rest of the tracks or possibly even a full fledged album. The EP closes out with a meager total of seven tracks and since this is a tape only release, some sound quality issues are to be somewhat expected. Overall it's a decent effort by the SA Town natives and one that is as obscure as finding a needle in a haystack. While the release does carry a strange and intriguing vibe, sadly there is just not enough substance or core matter to keep the listener coming back for more.

Album Notes
* Also worth checking out is Michael Mixerr's review on this tape.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Reese & Bigalow - Unfinished Business

Reese & Bigalow - Unfinished Business
Reese & Bigalow is a duo that represents from the infamous Wood Street in Jackson, MS. They first started out in the early nineties as members of The Renegades. The group was one of the first acts to represent for the city of Jackson and eventually paved the way for many other artists, Reese and Bigalow left the group after their initial release and formed their duet while Lon Trigga of The Renegades went on to form the notorious, Wood Street Playaz. Unfinished Business is their second album and it was released in 2000 on Lil Mann's Records. Production is equally split between Mike B, Gutta Boy and JB Money. The beats are Southern in composure and while most of them are fairly enjoyable, there are some that lack a bit of energy and edginess. The three producers do a decent job at constructing the rhythms but it's their simple approach at times that takes a hit. Lyrically, the album is quite good. Both, Reese and Bigalow are pretty adequate on the microphone and their verbal chemistry is also reasonably strong. Their rhymes display constant word play and are also delivered at a fair rate. Guest appearances are courtesy of 20-2-Life, PSK-13, South Park Mexican, Ska-Face Al Capone, Bone Crusher, Crooked Lettaz, King Goldi, Poetic Preachaz, Dez, J2, Frank Da Macka and Fe-Fe. The album closes out with a commendable total of sixteen tracks and the rock solid guest list makes it that much harder to deny. Overall it's a noble release that has a good amount of highs instead of the lows. The only knock on it is the basic production but even with that blemish the album manages to sustain itself. Reese & Bigalow went on to release one more album in 2002 before slowly fading out of the music industry. The groups' unlucky demise was brought by the hands of the Atlanta based rapper known as Bone Crusher. Bone, who was signed to Jermaine Dupri's label known as So So Def, was once a loyal friend who quickly turned foe over ownership of a single track. The song in question is called "Neva Sked" and it comes from Reese & Bigalow's 2002 release known as, "Playa Music." The track featured a verse from Bone Crusher and Killer Mike. It was produced by Avery Johnson and was purchased by Reese & Bigalow for their new album. The exact same song was released by Bone Crusher for his debut album in the year 2003 and the only major difference was the verses of Reese & Bigalow were removed and replaced with a verse from T.I. The title was also changed to "Never Scared." Bone Crusher's version of the song ended up being a chart topping hit and eventually propelled him into the limelight. Reese & Bigalow did file a law suit against Bone Crusher over copyright infringement but they never got the recognition or the praise for the original song. They were most likely paid off by the deep pockets of Jermaine Dupri and were supposedly told to keep their mouths shut about the whole issue. It's unfortunate what happened to Reese & Bigalow but then again it just goes to show how corrupt some of these major labels are and how how cruel this music industry can be at times.

Deadly Verses
Unfinished Business ft. Ska-Face Al Capone & PSK-13