Back in the early 90's, G-Funk dominated the airwaves. You couldn't turn on the TV without hearing that synth or somebody rhyming reeeeeeal slooooow with a southern drawl bouncing in a lowrider. Even if an MC was from Michigan, that was far enough from New York to be "West Coast" and they were marketed as such. I'm from the Bronx, NY and that shit didn't fly right with me. I knew NY Hip-Hop was supposed to be on top but that gangsta shit was too strong so what did the east do? Go GANGSTA...BIG TIME! From the summer of '93 til about maybe mid-94 there was a fire sale on "grimey" which turned all my Hip-Hop into Grit-Hop. There was some good and some...uh not so good. Let's discuss.
Summer 1993: Young Animal Mother is working at the Wiz to pay for his vinyl and any other thing that needs to be payed for. There was alot of new music that summer and we always listend to tapes in the car stereo section. You couldn't go two feet without hearing "It's time to get live...live...LIVE LIKE A WIRE!" Onyx was the HOTTEST thing out and "Throw Ya Gunz" was the jam of the summer. These cats were crazy and all they talked about was smacking bitchez, stickin' hoes, and killin' punk ass mutha fuckaz...(the three elements of Hip-Hop! Just kidding Kris!) De La was on some next level stuff, L.O.N.S. were pretty much broken up and Q-Tip had just got thugged(beat the hell up) by Wrecx-n-Effect...yeah the Rump Shaker dudes. Everyone was a gangsta and it was either get g'ed or get gone.
The success of the 2X Platinum album Bacdafucup had a ripple effect in the rap game. While it wasn't Chronic numbers, it showed that East Coast Rap was still a viable commodity. And with success comes alot of imitators and band wagon jumpers. Does anybody remember 14 Shots To The Dome? I guess Uncle L needed a scope because 12 of them missed. The album wasn't "wack" per say but it was not LL Cool J. With lines like: "...kill dead! Kill dead! Try to battle me I gots ta buck you in ya head!", was it any wonder that the two best songs and biggest hits from it were Back Seat Of My Jeep and Pink Cookies in A Plastic Bag...? Cuts with LL being LL talking about lovin' ladies and bein' too cool for this gangsta mess.
Even the great Run DMC had a career misstep when they adopted their bald headed army jacketed personas that year. They sent mixed signals with their "we're down with God." message and DMC saying: "So I pulled my jammie out cuz I'ma murda the man!" on Ooh, Whatcha Gonna Do? The worst offenders were the record companies that tried to cash in on this by having artists try to out thug each other in an attempt to duplicate or surpass the Official Nastees. None of this happened and you were left with alot of talented dudes syaing things that were already being said. Come on man, the smiling Blue Cheese rappin' guys came out in hoodies WITH MACHETES!?!
One group the record companies churned out of the thug mill was Raw Breed who I liked from the start. Their first single Rabbit Stew off the Lune Tunz LP was a real upbeat joint. It was kind of an Onyx-lite with a bunch of guys talking about dicing MC's and puttin them in pots over an infectious beat complete with Reggae toaster Shawnie Ranks. Their whole gimmick was kind of a Looney Tunes on PCP. Other good songs on that album were Jimmy Crack Corn and my personal favorite How Many Lumps? I actually enjoyed their lyrical wordplay and enthusiasm but in the end, it wasn't enough to distance them from other groups at the time that wer ebasically on the same page.
Another notable Grit-Hop collective were Hoodratz who were basically Onyx minus two. I don't know if these guys intentionally came out like this or it was the record company's doing but they didn't even try to sound different. On the Sneekee Muthafukaz LP they had cuts like Bootlegga(Come on, I loved that shit. "If ya bootleg ya get ya leg broke!"), Street Smart Dumee and Murdered Over Nuttin'. The album was basically a collection of gun talk and murder fantasies to the nth power. After their album and R.A. The Rugged Man's Crustified Dibbs experiment, there was a testosterone overload and the Hip-Hop community quickly tired of this trend. As with anything too much of a perceived good thing is BAD.
About a year later, a fat dude from BK took those gangsta fantasies and weaved them with tales of being smooth and mackin ladies. Coupled with his intelligent wordplay and distinct delivery, he released an album entitled um...I think it was called Ready To Die but I don't remember much more about it. It did however signal the end of "Grime Time" for most rappers and heralded the beginning of the playa/shiny suit era but that's another post for another day.
In the meantime, enjoy the best of a not so original time in Hip-Hop.
Raw Breed-Lune Tunz
Hoodratz-Bootlegga (m4a only)http://www.zshare.net/download/2175901b6e4d7b/