Monday, May 7, 2007

Style Master Generals AKA The Originators (The Emcee Edition) Part 3 Of 4

Maestro AKA Maestro Fresh Wes:

The first time I ever heard a Maestro Fresh Wes track it was 1989, I had a mixtape of songs I’d recorded off the radio exclusively of new joints and one of the songs was called “Let Your Backbone Slide”. When the radio played a block of new jams back then you’d keep the RECORD button on because at the end of the block they’d tell you the name of all of the songs you just heard and more importantly, who made them. It was the first time I’d heard the name Maestro Fresh Wes (a name I’d hear quite a lot over the next five years). Later that year, he released an LP called “Symphony In Effect” and several of the songs from the abum would make the rotation from time to time like “Drop The Needle”, “The Maestro”, “The Mic’s My Piece” and Untouchable”. One of the times, the cats on the radio went on to say that Fresh Wes had the fastest selling Hip Hop album in the history of Canada...I was like “Canada? Naah..Dis Kid Can’t Be From Canada!”. Of course I was yet to learn the lesson that the Microphone God would lay on me later the next year “It ain’t where you’re from, it’s where you’re at”. Maestro came back in 1991 with the bomb “Conductin’ Thangs”. Maestro had some of the cleverest punchlines and wordplay I’d heard in years and his flow was crazy, he released another album “The Black Tie Affair” that was a smash in the Cold North (but tough for heads Stateside to get a copy of). I remember hearing “On The Jazz Tip”, “Watching Zeros Grow” and “The Maestro Zone” on the radio from time to time, though. In 1992, it was apparent that his label was making a concerted effort to break Maestro’s music in the U.S. (I wrote “concerted effort to break Maestro’s music”...I be writin’ that shit. If you don’t get it, laugh now, and then figure the shit out when you get home!) starting with the single “Another Funky Break (From My Pap’s Crate)”. Not only did I hear this song on the radio a lot, but heads could easily get their hands on it because it was distributed by a different label (Polydor). That song tided us over until 1993 when Fresh Wes blessed us with his breakthough 12”s “Certs Wid Out Da Retsyn/I’m Drinkin’ Milk Now” and “Fine Tune The Miic”/”Make It For The Ruff”/”Dat’s My Nigga”. His videos started getting regular spins on BET all of a sudden (they played “Conductin’ Thangs” and would follow it “Certs Wid Out Da Retsyn” like they were trying to make up for fronting on him for years) and he was getting written up in all of the Hip Hop publications. There was a great amount of anticipation amongst fans of straight up lyricism and boom bap Hip Hop that wanted to hear this album, in 1994 the LP “Naaah, Dis Kid Can’t Be From Canada!” dropped featuring production from D.I.T.C.’s own Showbiz and bananas joints like “Pray To Da East” featuring the legendary Rhyme Inspector Percee P, “Check My Vernacular”, “Mic Mechanism”, “Makin’ Records” and “How Many Styles”. Problem was that distribution issues once again hamstrung Maestro’s chance to break big in the States. This album would’ve definitely done it, too...Too bad heads couldn’t get their hands on the album by the cat that could make you smile like the brother on the box of Cream Of Wheat. Either way, he was busy in Canada and the UK enjoying his superstar status and giving different strokes to bitches like Todd Bridges. Do yourself a favor and find his old LP’s...he’s currently an actor in Canada with a regular role on the popular CTV/The N series “Instant Star”.


Akinyele was one of the dudes that caught wreck on the legendary posse cut “Live At The Barbeque” from Main Source’s “Breaking Atoms” LP. He was also instrumental in getting a young Nasir Jones to get off of his ass and get into the studio to record his demo. He and Large Professor went from label to label looking for a deal until fledgling label Interscope (whose only other signee with a name at the time was 2Pac) decided to give him a deal. Akinyele went into the lab with Large Pro and Rob Swift (Rob Swift get busy!) and banged out the classic LP “Vagina Diner”. The live guy with glasses provided perfect soundscapes for Akinyele to deliver his powerful punchlines and Ak performed with devasting effect. The lead single “Ak Ha Ha/Ak Hoo Hoo/Dear Diary” gained a buzz after the video was added to the rotation on both BET and MTV. He even earned the Source’s Hip Hop Quotable for Dopest Rhyme Of The Month when his album came out for the song “Checkmate” be fair he could’ve EASILY earned it for about 6 other joints on that album as well (such as “World Wide”, “Outta State”, “Dear Diary”, “Bags Packed”, “The Bomb”, “Exercise” or “30 Days”. Akinyele recieved some grief from women’s groups for his over the top and somewhat misogynistic lyrics...especially in the controversial songs “No Exit” and “I Luh Huh”. Dream Hampton wrote an editorial in The Source directed to Ak specifically, the heat he was getting made the brass at Interscope bristle at promoting his album. He was given a video for “The Bomb” and no other push for his project. Akinyele decided to take matters into his own hands. After hitting the mixtape circuit hard, he was contacted by Funkmaster Flex to appear on his album, it resulted in the classic single “Loud Hangover” with Akinyele trading verses with Sadat X. Next, Akinyele made a white label single called “Put It In Your Mouth”/”In The World” as Akafella. The song became a smash and was on every mixtape you could imagine, radio stations began to create their OWN edited version of it because it was requested so often. Ak was still on Interscope, but he was getting appearance money to perform the song live all of the place. Eventually, Volcano Entertainment bought out his Interscope Records contract and he had a lucrative new deal. He changed his style over and did the dirty material for a few years but we all got to hear the Ak we know and loved when he spit on the track “Akinyele” from Large Professor’s “1st Class” CD. He’s back to makin’ punk rappers stutter y-y-yo, he’ll bring out the Das EFX in a motherfucker.

Ras Kass (Golden State Warriors/Four Horsemen):

Ras Kass introduced himself to the world with the following rhyme:
My full rhymin’ magnum got 357 calibers
To bust a suckaz melon like Gallagher (pow)/
Body chemistry consists of hennessey, toxic melaninwith an adamantium skeleton like wolverine
Child, my heart pumps kerosene/
Son I spit butane, burn any bastard you name till I die
And even when Im maggots, ima still be fly/
Perpetrator, youre not the one, your names not anfernee hardaway
Im like a wolf with blood dripping down the fangs/
My techniques foul enough to shoot the flagrant technical
I be comin off the head rougher then ribbed tip recepticles/
Expect the exceptional syllables to be the next mans umbilical cord
Catch distortion, ras cancels kids like abortions/
Sendin niggaz to hip hop hell, ock
Eternal damnation through writers block/
I rock over the results of reeboks and sands
Stand ill, forget a live band just my mouth and hand/
And even man wasnt prehensileI’d still find ways to grip mikes, hold my tip when I piss
And pick off pubic lice/
Cause see, I always been nice but first brothers slept
Now I’ve come back twice like christ to resurrect the West/

He received the Source’s Hip Hop Quotable on his first ever rhyme which happened to be a guest apperance on a song from the “Street Fighter” soundtrack. The 12” “Won’t Catch Me Runnin’”/”Remain Anonymous” became an underground smash but it wasn’t until another soundtrack song “Miami Life” featuring Coolio from “The Substitute” that it began to sink into peoples heads that maybe Ras Kass wasn’t just another here today, gone tomorrow emcee...he had the inventiveness, creativity, flow and gift of super lyricism that could potentially make him an all time great. It was followed by the 12” “Anything Goes”/”On Earth As It Is”, afterwards the question was “Can Ras Kass keep it up and deliver a classic album?” The answer was a mixed one. The “Soul On Ice” album was praised as a masterpiece by some and a dissapointment by others. Some people felt that the beats were mediocre and didn’t complement Ras Kass’ lyrics. Others just felt that Ras Kass focused too much on trying to be super lyrical and not enough on songwriting and trying to make an album that’s both palatable to fans and lyrical like what Jay-Z did with “Reasonable Doubt”. After releasing his reup “Rassassination: The End” and still failing to make any headway commercially, he ended up in a power struggle with his label which resulted in two of his projects “Van Gogh” and “Goldyn Chyld” becoming shelved by Priority Records. He had another group project with Saafir and Xzibit in the works that was wrapped up in red tape and ultimately stuck in limbo. He had gone more than 4 years without releasing an album, yet his name was kept hot by making appearances on other emcees albums and compilations. He is also a member of the supergroup TheFour Horsemen (Ras Kass, Killah Priest, Canibus, Kurupt) and he’s still spittin’ that fire, recording more than 5 mixtapes over the last two years (and losing his lawsuit against Priority Records).

Keith Murray AKA The Lyrical Lexicon (Def Squad):

I was listening to Erick Sermon’s new album “No Pressure” and the track “Hostile” came on. The booming bass was intensified by theBass Boost equalizer on my brand new Sony Walkman and the voice announced that some dude called the “Philly Blunt King” was about to rhyme next, his name?

“Keith Murray! comin’ from the north south east and left
Rhymin to death, makin the world wanna take a deep breath/
With a body boom bash, my paragraph a trey-deuce
Human behavior in a psychopath/
Ooooh, I might lose my cool, and break fool
when I pull out my get busy tools/
I write like a mad journalist, with funk that’s deeper than a bottomless spliff/

I thought to myself “How does Erick Sermon keep finding these crazy ass dudes?” “First that Jo Synystr cat and know this kid... Did this nigga just say “beautifullest”? “He’s outta his damn mind!” Little did I know that after hearing him spit next to Redman on “Swing It Over Here” and playing that tape until the printing tracklistings began to fade from it Keith Murray’s style would grow on me. Kieth Murray signed a solo deal with Jive/Zomba Records and delivered one of the best Hip Hop singles of the 2nd Golden Age of Hip Hop, Erick Sermon flipped and interpolated “Between The Sheets” over a simple drum beat, had someone sing background vocals while he did over dubs and hyped for Keith’s verses...the end result was classic material: “The Most Beautifullest Thing In This World” Murray won the Hip Hop Quotable from The Source and the video cracked both BET and MTV’s playlists. The album was released to huge fanfare and ended up earning Murray a Gold plaque from the RIAA. His 2nd album “Enigma” failed to do the numbers that his 1st album did and there was a mini backlash due to the fact Keith liked to kick that “outer space shit” and he loved to make up words (it never stopped Jesse Jackson!). He caught wreck on mad guest appearances, picked up another Gold plaque with Def Squad’s 1998 “El Nino” and he caught a case that ended up gettin him locked for close to 2 years. Before his incarceration, he released the lackluster “It’s A Beautiful Thing” in 1999. He returned to the game in 2001 and hit the mixtape circuit then did the rounds through guest appearances befor Def Jam signed him to a solo deal in 2002. The deal turned sour and Keith Murray was dropped by Def Jam the same week his album was set to be released after having an altercation in the offices over the lack of push his album was getting (a beef many other Def Jam artists had including Method Man and Joe Budden). Keith is still doing mixtapes and running with the Def Squad.

Buckshot AKA Buckshot Shorty AKA The BDI Thug (Duck Down/Tha Great 8):

He was once known as Buckshot Shorty, a 17 year old kid from Brooklyn with a record deal and a hit song called “Who Got The Props?” burning up the airwaves and the mixtape scene. I’d seen the video but I wanted to see them live, their first national live appearance was on BET’s “Tenn Summit” back in 1992. The beat came on and they came out whylin’ like they did on the video...needless to say that Buckshot ran out of breath jumping around on stage like a nut and the performance was somewhat underwhelming. I thought to myself “At least the song is dope...they just need to learn how to give a show”. They came back several months later as a sort of re-do...this time they tore it down, though. In 1993, Black Moon’s debut “Enta Da Stage” was released. The album produced several singles including “How Many Emcees (Must Get Dissed)”, “I Got Cha Opin/Reality” and “Buck ‘Em Down”. Buckshot’s smooth delivery didn’t lose it’s force whether it was slow or fast. His voice was tailor made for emceeing and he was able to get his point across without straining or coming off like he was forcing it. If he said he was gonna beat the shit out of you on a record you didn’t roll your eyaes and say “Yeah, whateva!” guarded your grill and/or protected your neck. Following the success of the Black Moon LP, he was picked as one of 3 emcees to represent Brooklyn on the classic track “Crooklyn” alongside Masta Ace and Special Ed. Then his entire camp released classic LP’s that he also made appearances on (Smif N’ Wessun’s “Dah Shining”, Heltah Skeltah’s “Nocturnal” & O.G.C’s “Da Stom”) before he returned on the hit or miss compilation “For The People”. The real bomb was in 1997, Funkmaster Flex decided to do a remake of the Rakim classic “I Ain’t No Joke” for his 60 Minutes Of Funk Vol. II mixtape and he selected Buckshot. Even hip hop purists thought Buckshot pulled it off lovely, the original companion song was “Follow Me”. Buckshot has managed to make classic material to this day, especially on his projects “War Zone”, “The Chosen Few”, “Total Eclipse”, “Chemistry”, and “The Last Stand”. I think at least half of the Great 8 from Duck Down Records deserve entries in this list...I’m just afraid if I did all of the ones I want (Sean Price, Rock, Starang Wondah, Tek & Steele) that I’d NEVER finish this project of mine...ever.

Posdnuos AKA Plug Won (De La Soul):

After hearing “3 Feet High And Rising” it never ever cross my mind that Pos was nice. After hearing “De La Soul Is Dead” I noticed that Pos killed it on a few songs. After hearing “Buhloone Mind State” I was convinced thoroughly that Pos was nice with it in all aspects of emceeing. After hearing “Stakes Is High” I began wondering where Posdnuos would rank on the Greatest Emcees Of All Time list (you know, the one that we Hip Hop fans have been making up in our heads since Rakim made us aware of his “7 Emcee Theory” back in 1986). I went back and listened to the first four De La Soul albums and relaized that Posdnuos had ALWAYS been ill. His unorthodox flow and rhyme schemes made it hard for me to immeadiately appreciate, but the bottom line was the he was the star of those four’s just that since there was no “Aquaman” in De La Soul, you didn’t realize just HOW much Pos was wreckin’ shit. How can you possibly fly under the Hip Hop dopeness radar with lines like his classic verse on “I Am I Be” from the “Buhloone Mind State” CD? :

I am Posdnous
I be the new generation of slaves
here to make papes while a record exec rakes
the pile of revenue I create
But I guess I don't get a cut cuz my rent's a month late

This doesn’t even include his further assaults on the G.O.A.T. list with his performances on the De La releases “ AOI: Mosaic Thump”, “AOI: Bionix”, “The Grind Date” and “The Impossible: Mission TV Series”. Fuck being hard, Posdnuos is complicated.

Nine AKA 9MM:

The first time I heard this dude with the gravelly ass voice and an off the wall style was on a mixtape my boy Cardi had back in 1992. There was a Masters At Work joint listed as The Masters Of Funk (Todd Terry, Kenny Dope & Funkmaster Flex) and the song was called “Go Bang (Can’t Won’t Don’t Stop)”. The song got a couple of spins on college radio and on some mixtapes but it didn’t make that make noise. The next year the same cat (named 9 Double M) appeared on a 12” called “Sad And Blue”/”Six Million Ways To Die” on Wreck Records. “Six Million Ways To Die” became a moderate underground hit for Funkmaster Flex and they even made a video for it. Nine shortened his name and rode the buzz all the way to a solo deal with Profile Records. He released the singles “Whatcha Want?”, “Any Emcee” and “Ovaconfident” from his debut album “Nive Livez”. He failed to sell a lot of units and he went back to the lab to work on a follow up called “Cloud 9”. The lead single “Lyin’ King” chastised all of the fake thugs and studio gangsters in the rap world...unfortunately, the album fell on deaf ears (Nine even delved into acting for a while, appearing on an episode of “New York Undercover”). Nine resurfaced with his boy Jesse “3rd Eye” West as half of 24/7, their classic single “24/7” led to them appearing on a number of Funkmaster Flex releases and 12’s on his Franchise label. If you remember that era clearly, you know that Nine spawned a bunch of biters and soundalikes (Tucka Da Huntaman and Mack Da Maniac?) but none came close to the original...any reader that disagree with me wave ya arm.

MC Ren AKA The Villian:

Different people liked N.W.A. for different reasons, some folks just liked hearing all of the violent imagery and swears because it would piss off their parents. Some heads felt that they were simply ahead of their time and they were kicking that real shit about Compton. Beatheads loved Dr. Dre’s production. Fans of lyricism loved Ice Cube and MC Ren’s rhymes. When N.W.A. had their shakeup and Cube broke north, most fans didn’t worry much...that just meant more MC Ren verses. The Villain stepped up and became the heart of the group, Eazy E was the star and Dr. Dre was the man behind the boards. MC Ren murdered every verse on the “100 Miles And Runnin’” EP and “EFIL4ZAGGIN” LP, especially on “Appetite For Destruction”, “Real Niggaz Don’t Die”, “Alwayz Into Somethin’” and “Dayz Of WaybacK”. After N.W.A. folded, Ren continued to wreck shit solo on his “Kizz My Black Azz” EP, “Shock Of The Hour” and “Ruthless For Life” LP’s. Ren’s busy making movies nowadays, a good choice of profession given the graphic pictures he’s painted with his lyrics over the years. He wrote a lot of people’s favorite Eazy-E and Dr. Dre rhymes along with some cat from Texas called Doc T...ever heard of him?

The D.O.C. :

He was the shining star of the Fila Fresh Crew and so charismatic and ahead of his time on the mic that God brought him and Dr. Dre into contact through a chance meeting while Dre was in Texas visiting a homeboy. The Fila Fresh Crew was put down on the “N.W.A. & The Posse” album, the fallout resulted in the crew decided to trim the fat so they can record an album...Arabian Prince and the Fila Fresh Crew were given walking papers...that is except for Doc T, who changed his name to The D.O.C. and got to work writing rhymes for Eazy-E’s appearances on the first two N.W.A. albums and the “Eazy Duz It” LP. In 1989, it was D.O.C.’s turn to burn and when given the chance he tore it down in grand fashion. “It’s Funky Enough” was one of those debut singles that got burn in every region immeadiately. The rhymes, style and flow were undeniable..the beat was bangin’, it was a perfect lead single. Would the album live up to the hype? The answere was a resounding “Hell yeah!”. Tracks like “Mind Blowin’”, “Lend Me An Ear”, “Let The Bass Go”,“The D.O.C. And The Doctor”, “Whirlwind Pyramid”, “The Formula”, “The Portrait Of A Masterpiece” and “The Grand Finale” could be heard blasting from radios everywhere all over the place. It was banging in cars, at basketball courts, house parties, block parties, everywhere. The D.O.C. was a superstar on top of the all changed after a car accident stripped him of his signature voice. Instead of calling it a day and faling into a deep depression, he was instrumental in convincing Dre to make a solo album (that became “The Chronic”) and ghostwriting lyrics for Dr. Dre for his “Chronic” and “2001” LP’s. He kept rhyming with his new voice, dropping the albums “Helter Skelter” and “Deuce”. He’s still on point and his pen game is serious.

I am not your equal, meaning your equivalent
I'm more like heaven sent
I got it together so clever no one could sever
Remember this forever

No one can do it better.

Daz AKA Daz Dilinger & Kurupt AKA Young Gotti (Dogg Pound Gangstas):

What the hell is a lyrical gangbang? Is it possible to spit that gangsta shit but at the same time please fans of straight up lyricism? I say yes and to further illustrate my point as I argue my case I present Exhibit A : Daz & Kurupt. Whether we’re listening to Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic”, Snoop Dogg’s “Doggystyle”, their “Dog Food” LP, Kurupt’s “Kuruption!”, “Streets Is A Mutha”, and :Space Boogie: Smoke Oddesey” or Daz’s “Retaliation, Revenge And Get Back”, it’s clear these aren’t your everyday hardcore gangsta rappers. They put real work into their rhymes to make sure their styles and deliveries are airtight. Daz and Kurupt were always about spitting that live shit...just as long as it was so dope that those dude with backpacks couldn’t front on them either. Like Kurupt said on the documentary “The Show” if anybody tries to step to him and Daz thinking they can’t spit “off top, I’ll serve ‘em”. I have too many favorite verses from these dudes (“Put The Monkey In It”, What Would You Do?”, “Puffin’ Blunts And Drankin’ Tanqueray”, “Who Got Some Gangsta Shit?”, “Tru Master”, etc.) for me to do a quote.

Masta Killa AKA High Chief (Wu Tang Clan):

Masta Killa’s slow and composed flow and delivery might bore some, but to others it’s just the signature style of one of the most precise emcees in the game today. He was the last of the original nine members to deliver a solo LP. After crafting several classic verses over the years, he finally delivered the CD “No Said Date” in 2004 to critical praise. In 2006, he dropped the reup “Made In Brooklyn”. Some of you may have forgotten just how many dope verses and guest appearances Masta Killa has under his belt. Go and do the knowledge to what the God was manifesting.

Killa Priest (Wu Tang Clan/The Four Horseman):

All I really have to say is “Heavy Mental”...fuck it, I’ll go overtime. There once was a legendary battle between T.H.E.M. (The Heralds Of Extreme Metaphors featuring Web and Canibus before he had a deal) and the Wu Tang Clan...Different members of the Clan would spit darts and then Canibus and Web would come back with rhymes, this went on for about an hour with 2 dudes going up against Wu members and Wu affiliates until Killa Priest stepped up and kicked this 6 or 7 minute freestyle that later became the inspiration/skeleton for the song “Information” on his “Heavy Mental” album. The battle was over. Canibus and Killa Priest ended up in the Four Hosemen together many years later..Who’s your rhymin’ hero? Wu Tang rules again.

Cappadonna AKA Cappachino (Wu Tang Clan):

Why is HE on this list you ask? Well, let me break it down. After making standout guest appearances on Raekwon’s “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...” (“Ice Water” and “Ice Cream”) and Ghostface Killah’s “Ironman” (on “Iron Maiden”, “Winter Warz”, “Fish”, “Camay” and “Daytona 500”) it was time for Cappadonna to shine on his own LP. His first solo venture was the devastating hot “97 Mentality” and 5 verses on the “Wu Tang Forever” LP. He released his solo album “The Pillage” in 1998, off the strength of his guest appearances and singles “Slang Editorial” and “Run” (which Ghostface would later redo) the album went Gold. From there, Cappadonna just fell the fuck off for no reason I’ve ever been able to determine. Whenever I wanna go back to the good ol’ days I just play “Winter Warz”. He has shown flashes lately as Ghost has brought him back into the fold and put him down with the Theodore Unit (Shawn Wigs is Aquaman).

Masta Ace AKA Ase One (Juice Crew/Masta Ace Inc./EMC):

I don’t even feel like I need to do a write up on this dude. Any hip hop fan already knows his resume, they’ve already heard “Take A Look Around”, “Slaughtahouse”, “Sittin’ On Chrome”, “Disposable Arts” and “A Long Hot Summer”. They remember him coming up with the “on beat/off beat style”, they remember Eminem citing him as an influence on his rhyme style. I can’t think of anything else to write that any other blogger hasn’t written about him except to say he’s one of my all time favorite emcees (actually, Travis at Wake Your Daughter Up beat me to it several times, but I digress).

E-40 AKA 40 Water (The Click):

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last 15 years you should already know why E-40 is getting a write up. I should kick myself in the ass for not writing one you have any idea how many slang terms and expressions he’s contributed to Hip Hop? Who started poppin’ his collar in videos? Who came up with the term “Captain Save A Hoe?”. He created his own damn label called Sick Wid It Records and began selling albums featuring himself, his cousins and his sister and selling them all over the West Coast. E-40 Fonzarelli had cheddar hanging out of his pockets and he never made it on the radio over here. He also made sure no one was going to bite his style by creating his own vocabulary and flow . 40 is still moving units many cats can you say that about that were considered “underground” back in 1992?

Ganksta NIP (South Park Coalition/The Terrorists):

The first time I ever heard of Ganksta N.I.P., my best friend Zach (who was from Bridgeport, CT) was playing this crazy ass tape while he was working out. I remember listening to some of the lyrics and asking him “What the fuck is this shit?” He was in shock that I’d never heard of Ganksta N.I.P. or The Terrorists and preceded to hand me The Terrorists “Terror Strikes “ tape and continue blasting the “South Park Psycho “ album. Ganksta N.I.P. ws horrorcore a good 3 years before anyone even knew what it was...he called it the “Psycho Style”. After his album “Psychic Thoughts (Are What I Conceive)?” people jumped on the bandwagon and turned “psycho” as well....However, out in Detroit some kid had created a weird style as well.

Esham AKA The Unholy (NATAS):

In The Source, there were these ads for some cat ramed Esham who created a style called “Acid Rap”. It was heavy on horror imagery and had this crazy sound to it. This dude Esham had managed to sell 300,000+ units of his self produced albums “Boomin’ Words From Hell”, Judgement Day Vol. 1 Day” , “Judgement Day Vol. 2 Night” and “KKKil The Fetus” all through his own Reel Life Entertainment label ran from his bedroom...did I mention that he was 16 years old at the time? Esham’s style helped to put Detroit on the map and influence groups like Insane Clown Posse and D12. Esham has of course since fallen out with both groups since and he continues to make his own sick brand of music to this very day.

Wise Intelligent (Poor Righteous Teachers):

He never got enough credit for being one of the dopest emcees for years. His style was original as hell, he sounded like he was a reggae DJ spitting lessons of righteousness and showing emcees a how it should be done. Ever since “Rock Dis Funky Joint” got it’s first spin the game hasn’t been the same. “Holy Intellect”, “Pure Poverty”, “Black Business”, “New World Order” and “Killin’ U...For Fun” stand the test of time and forever perserve Wise Intelligent’s ridiculous flow in amber for future generations to marvel at like...How the hell does he rhyme like that? I couldn’t tell ya then I still don’t know now.

Guru (GangStarr):

Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal says it all. It’s mostly the voice, but it’s also the style, lyrics and intelligence of Guru that helped GangStarr become one of the greatest Hip Hop groups of all times. He’s also one of the first Bostonian emcees to make it on a national and worldwide stage. Whether it was “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, “Step Into The Arena”, “Daily Operation”, “Hard To Earn”, “Moment Of Truth” or “The Ownerz” it was Guru’s rhymes that got you open. The “Jazzmatazz” series also gained him critical praise worldwide. You can’t front on Guru.

King T (Likwit Crew):

“Act A Fool” , “At Your Own Risk”, “The Triflin’ Album” and “King T IV Life” are four classic album from one of the dopest emcees to ever do it. In recent years, his achievements have become forgotten and his long list of classics (“Diss You”, “Ruff Rhymes (Back Again)”, “At Your Own Risk”, “I Got It Bad Y’all”, “Dippin’”, “Way Out There”, “Free Style Ghetto”, etc.) don’t get praised like they deserve. He was one of the few emcees from the West Coast to openly diss gang violence on wax. He was the first West Coast emcees to make the anthem for BET’s Rap City (the “At Your Own Risk Remix”) as well as introduce the worl d to the Likwit Crew (The Lootpack & The Alkaholiks). King Tee’s influence is still heard every time Biggie says “Ba-by! “Ba-by!” (Guess who said it first?). Go back and listen to the man’s discography.

Tame One (Artifacts/Boom Skwad/Weathermen):

The Boom Skwad general is easily one of the greatest emcees , lyricists, and flow technicans of the past 15 years. His catalogue is crazy, his guest appearances are legendary and after hearing “Between A Rock & A Hard Place” and “That’s Them” you’d never believe that he could possibly get better with age...somehow HE HAS. The LP’s “When Rappers Attack”, “O.G. Bobby Johnson”, the Leak Bros “Waterworld” LP and “Spazmatic” are clear evidence that it’s somehow true. How can anyone possibly front on the Knotty Headed Terror From New Jerusalem? It’s beyond me, fam.

If you ain’t seen their names yet, you will...TRUST ME. One.


Anonymous said...

esham was and is ass

@slushygutter said...

Dang, thanks for the Nine histoy. His first joint is still in my rotation.

Also, Cappa fell on some hard times after his solo release. He went back to his neighborhood and was even featured on MTV as a hood cab driver. Then the Wu put him back down. I think he even references "the cab driver" on a '9 Milli Bros'

Dart Adams said...

To anonymous:

I wholeheartedly agree...but I cannot dispute that he influenced a hell of a lot of rappers and he was doing "horrorcore" 4 full years before the "horrorcore" movement started in Hip Hop.

To commish ch:

I know what happened to Cappadonna (and the story behind his manager/mole and his forced exile from the Clan)..I was more referring to the severe drop off in the quality of his bars (The Yin & Yang sucked and his verse on "The Odd Couple" was ass).

Thanks for reading it all. One.

@slushygutter said...

gotcha ... great point on his lyrics going downhill, especially since it appeared he was ready to shine. Great work throughout.