Monday, April 7, 2008

Style Master Generals AKA The Originators (The Emcee Edition Revisited) Part 1 Of 4

King Sun AKA Sun Dullah:

King Sun was well known as an emcee in the Bronx with a powerful voice, excellent wordplay and lyricism and he had Knowledge Of Self as learned from the lessons of The Nation Of Gods And Earths. He was one of a new breed of emcee that could battle his opponent strictly by saying rhymes off the top of his head that were concise and designed to get at his opponent. He is credited with being one of the pioneers of the modern day freestyle battle in the format that we universally use now.

Not only could Sun destroy emcees at the drop of a dime but he was a skilled writer as well. In 1987, he appeared on the scene with his first two 12”s “Hey Love” and “Mythological Rapper”. He would return in 1989 with the single “On The Club Tip” before dropping his debut album on Profile Records called “XL”. Joints like “Lethal Weapon”, “Fat Tape”(a term he coined) and “It’s A Heat Up” were blasting out of radios all over the city.

His next album “Righteous But Ruthless” gave us all “Be Black”, “Undercover Lover” and “The Gods Are Taking Heads”. King Sun also contributed classic verses to Styles’ “The Assassinator” and Crusaders For Real Hip Hop’s “Real Rhymers”. King Sun stayed involved in the Hip Hop scene (“Strictly Ghetto EP”) and even made moves out to Cali where he befriended Ice Cube, The Lench Mob, The MAAD Circle and the Soul Assassins.

Later he’d record a diss song towards Cube for stealing his idea and using it on his single “Wicked”. He has recorded on and off all throughout the years and is regarded as a legend in Hip Hop circles. One of the emcees that used run and battle in the same Bronx circles as King Sun is:

Percee P AKA Rhyme Inspector Percee P:

Percee P used to go around New York looking for a suitable person to battle. It turns out that he had several great emcees right there in the Bronx to build with and test his skills against as is evidenced in this 1989 rhyme battle with Lord Finesse immortalized in the documentary film SBX! It has also been said that if Percee P hasn’t tried to sell you one of his albums in front of Fat Beats that you aren’t Hip Hop. Percee’s first memorable appearances were made on independent vinyl but his eye opening verse on Lord Finesse’s classic song “Yes You May” earned him the Hip Hop Quotable for Dopest Rhyme Of The Month in The Source magazine in 1991.

Percee P followed that performance on Lord Finesse’s “Kicking Flavor With My Man” (off Lord Finesse's "Return Of The Funky Man") and released his singles “Now They Wanna See Me”, “Lung Collapsing Lyrics” and “Putting Heads To Bed”. His dense lines chock full of multiple metaphors and punchlines all spit in a technically impressive rapid fire flow made him one of the most respected emcees of the era after he appeared on Maestro Fresh Wes’s classic track “Pray To Da East” in 1994. 

Throughout the years he dropped classic material with Fondle ‘Em Records, Chicago’s Molemen, Ground Original, and Jurassic 5 before finding a home on Stones Throw. If you somehow managed to sleep on this man’s lyrical innovations and sheer genius than catch up by copping both “Legendary Status” which contains all of his past classics and his Stones Throw LP “Perseverence”.

Milk AKA Milk Dee (Audio Two):

The first time the world ever heard the start/stop staccato delivery of Milk Dee was on the 1986 split Audio 2/Alliance vinyl that featured “I Like Cherries”/”Chillin’”/”The Freshest Slow Jam”. In 1987 the Top Priority single “Make It Funky”/”Top Billin’” was dropped but since “Top Billin” was a B side no one noticed it. Milk Dee shined on the singles “I Don’t Care”, “Many Styles” and “The Questions” before the re-release of “Top Billin” and the song blew up and went through the roof.

The following LP’s “What More Can I Say?” and “I Don’t Care The Album” produced the singles “On The Road Again”, “Get Your Mother Off The Crack” and the infectious classic “I Get The Papers”. Audio Two broke up and the producer/engineer/emcee shortened his name to Milk and signed a deal with Rick Rubin’s Def American Records. He released the “Never Dated EP” in 1995 featuring the unforgettable tracks “Get Off My Log” and “Spam” featuring Beastie Boy Ad Rock.

Milk has contributed his rhymes and production to so many classic tracks it’s ridiculous. You can try to dismiss his contributions to Hip Hop if you want but he gets the papers so he don’t care.


Shinehead first appeared on the scene back in 1984 with a reggae dub version of Michael Jackson’s hit “Billie Jean” and Junior’s “Mama Used To Say”. In 1986 he popped back on the scene with a cover of Rose Royce’s “Golden Touch”. Then Shinehead had an epiphany, If he was to mix Hip Hop with Reggae and incorporate his toasting ability as well to incorporate and interpret popular songs he might be on to something. He released an indie album called “Rough & Rugged” in 1986 and it bubbled around for a year before he was signed by Elektra in 1987.

Shinehead released the singles “Chain Gang (Rap)” and the anti drug anthem “Gimme No Crack” in 1988 before releasing his major label debut “Unity”. “Unity” featured the songs “Know Fe Chat”, “Who The Cap Fits (Let Him Wear It)”, “The Truth”, “Do It With Ease” and “Ragamuffin”. The LP was a huge success and it bridged the gap between Hip Hop and Reggae. Shinehead would continue to break boundaries on his following LP’s “The Real Rock” and “Sidewalk University” with the hit singles “Family Affair”, “The Real Rock”, and “Jamaican In New York”.

Shinehead is regarded as a pioneer in ragamuffin Hip Hop along with Daddy Freddy, Just Ice, and a slew of other cats. Who the crown fits, let him wear it.

Brother J (X Clan/Dark Sun Riders):

We first heard the voice of Brother J back in 1989 when 4th & Broadway/Island Records released X Clan’s first official single “Heed The Word Of The Brother”/”Raise The Flag”. It was his fierce delivery, wordplay, slang and lyricism that first caught your attention that he may have something. After X Clan’s next 12” dropped for “Funkin’ Lesson”/”Grand Verbalizer, What Time Is It?” it was definite., the cat with the verb stick could spit.

Brother J was the voice of X Clan and his verses on tracks like “Verbal Milk” and “In The Way Of The Scales” set the table for the entire roster of Blackwatch/X Clan affiliates. “To The East, Blackwards” is a certified classic Hip Hop album. Brother J continued to tear it down on X Clan’s sophomore LP “Xodus-The New Testament” and it’s singles “Fire & Earth (100% Natural)” and “A.D.A.M” as well as guest verses on other X Clan projects.

Once X Clan disbanded, Brother J returned in 1996 with the Dark Sun Riders and the LP “Seeds Of Evolution”, it had been years since we heard from him but he still delivered with the same skill and ferocity that had us pumping our fists and rocking African medallions back in the days. Recently X Clan he reappeared and last year they released the LP “Return From Mecca” with Brother J leading the way for a deceased Professor X. If you somehow managed to never hear Brother J’s fiery lyrics of furious anger then pick up his discography and heed the words of a brother. Zoom!

Godfather Don (Cenobites/Hydra Entertainment):

Godfather Don first sprang on the scene in 1991 with a multi syllable, rapid fire flow and relentless battle rhymes loaded with threats and punchlines. Not only was he a beast on the mic but behind the boards as well, his debut album on Select Records “Hazardous” was pure sonic and lyrical aggression. He next appeared on a guest verse of Ultramagnetic MC’s single “Raise It Up” off of the classic “Four Horsemen” album that he produced four tracks on. His friendship with Kool Keith (a past honoree) led to further collaborations on “The Cenobites EP” and several Kool Keith tracks on his many solo efforts.

Godfather Don joined Hydra Entertainment and began to make classic singles and produce popular instrumental LP’s. “Piece Of The Action/Seeds Of Hate”, “Styles By The Gram/World Premiere/Properties Of Steel”, “Burn/Burn Remix” and “Fame/Da Bomb Baby” made the entire underground Hip Hop community take notice. By 1997, Godfather Don was being hailed as one of the illest cats in Hip Hop.

In 1998, he finally released his sophomore LP, “Diabolique”. GD has recently released two more albums showcasing his unreleased material from the late 90’s (Slave Of New York EP & The Nineties Sessions). If you don’t believe this cat was ill that can all be remedied with one listen of “Properties Of Steel”. Surgeon General’s Warning: The sounds you will hear may be devastating to your ear.

Scarface (Geto Boys/Facemob):

The first time I ever heard Scarface his name was Akshun and it was on the single “Do It Like A G.O” back in 1990. On the Geto Boys debut album I heard the songs “Mind Of A Lunatic” and “Scarface” and it was obvious that this dude was on some different shit. Not only could Scarface paint a perfect picture with his lyrics about feeling depressed, slowly going insane or just craft a violent scene but he could infuse humor and introspection in his rhymes as well. It was obvious that he was going to have a solo project.

From the beginning of the lead single of the Geto Boys “We Can’t Be Stopped” album “My Mind’s Playing Tricks On Me” it was an instant classic. Scarface then blew the door off the game with his lead single for his solo album “Mr. Scarface Is Back”. Both his group and solo albums were damn near flawless, making him have one of the best years of lyricist could ever have in 1991.

Scarface has not slowed down since then, he just added to the list of classics (“A Minute To Pray And A Second To Die”, “Money And The Power”, “Hand Of The Dead Body”, “Let Me Roll”, “The World Is Yours”, “I Never Seen A Man Cry”, “Smile”, etc.) and his discography is airtight (“The Diary”, “The Untouchable”, “The Last Of A dying Breed”, “The Fix”, “My Homies”, “Balls And My Word” and “Made”). Everyone bow to one of he greatest emcees of all time as well as the true King Of The South.

Spice 1:

In 1991, yet another emcee appeared out of nowhere and literally blew the industry away. He was straight out of the Bay Area and his style was straight up gangster. He could spin violent tales a la Scarface, get gangsta like N.W.A but he had the delivery of Too Short. He was far more dextrous and lyrical with his flow much like an East Coast emcee. The 12” for “187 Proof (Parts I & II)” alerted us all that there was a new era approaching off in the horizon in the guise of Spice 1.

The songs “In My Neighborhood” and “Welcome To The Ghetto” off of Spice 1’s self titled debut made us cats on the East Coast become aware of what life was like in inner city California. Spice 1 was expert at rap fire delivery and being able to vary up his style enough to keep his violent themes fresh. He became an instant success on both coasts, going Gold out of the gate on Jive Records. His influence on other Oakland emcees like 2Pac is obvious ("I wonder if Heaven's got a ghetto").

In 1993, Spice 1’s fame increased by leaps and bounds when he dropped the “187 He Wrote” LP and the classic singles “Trigga’s Got No Heart”, “Dumpin’ Em In Ditches” and the MC Eiht assisted “Murda Show”. The album went Gold as well. In 1994, he released the iconic album “Amerikkka’s Nightmare” and he went Gold once again. He was easily one of the elite emcees in the game and remained one all throughout the 90’s.

Spice 1 continued to record solo albums and in groups on his own label even after he left Jive when they switched their focus to NSync and Britney Spears during the late 90’s. Armed with Bay Area funk provided by Ant Banks and EA Ski & CMT and his own skill behind the boards he’s never stopped making albums. I can still remember seeing the video for “1990 Sick” on Rap City as Dr. Bomb From The Bay dropped another rhyme like “Jealous Got Me Strapped”. He still keeps a strap on the side even to this day.

Tomorrow, I do write ups for another 8 emcees or groups that were official originators in the field of Hip Hop.



Passion of the Weiss said...

This is great stuff dart, thanks for dropping knowledge.

padraig said...

second that thanks - I'd never even heard of Shinehead, though I'm familiar with the rest of the cats you wrote up. then again, dancehall is the one form of reggae I've never been able to get into, despite liking tons of ragga jungle as well as grime with its' obvious dancehall influences. looking forward to the rest of the writeups, dude.