Monday, August 3, 2015

Lock Down Inmates - Out On Parole

Lock Down Inmates is a vicious collective from the notorious streets of Dallas, TX. The group's original lineup consisted of Oak Cliff Assassin (O.C.A.), Hollow Point, Grim Reeper, Mossburg, D-Divine, Tru-Black, Cold Black Poet (C.B.P.) and last but not least, 4 Your Eyes Only. Although membership would vary throughout the years the group was active, members like Oak Cliff Assassin, Hollow Point and Mossburg would always remain present. The group began in the early nineties when O.C.A. and Henry Peeples collected some of the best rappers in south Dallas and eventually created the Lock Down Inmates. Out On Parole is their hardcore debut album and it was released in 1993 on VIP Records. The production is done by DJ Dark Fader, Skull Minista, Jim Vincent, Patrick Nun and Oak Cliff Assassin. The beats are all electronically derived and the classic drum machine is put to good use. Hard hitting drums combined with some eccentric samples is pretty much the recipe used throughout the record. The tracks carry a very hard and street edge vibe that fits the group like a glove. Lyrically the album is also on par with the production. Members eagerly jump on the microphone and claim it with ease. Their dope tales and rough ballads make for an indestructible force that can withstand the harshest of blows. Each one of them attacking and coming with such passion that it becomes impossible for the listener to ignore their message. The album closes out with a total of eleven tracks plus one bonus cut. Now at the time of this release the genre known as "Gangsta Rap" was truly on the rise. Not only did the folks at Lock Down Productions and VIP Records capitalize on such an occasion but they also managed to get some notoriety for their city and themselves. It wasn't easy though, they knew they would have to go up against their in-state rivals from the city of Houston and compete against acts like the Geto Boys or even Street Military. In the end their hard work paid off and this humble beginning marked for a long and successful career path for the group that to this day, has a large following throughout the southern United States.

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Friday, July 31, 2015

Hogg & Priest - 5004

Hogg & Priest is a duo from the notorious neighborhood of Mooretown in Shreveport, LA. The rappers met each other in 1995 while studying Music & Arts at Grambling State University in Louisiana. 5004 is their debut album and it was released in 2000 on Playa Made Records. The album's silky smooth and utterly funky production is provided by Tommy Granville Jr. He laces the beats with what is known in this region as that southern fried gumbo funk. Each cut is defined with multiple layers of different instruments and originality is pursued with a passion. The tracks are quite fluid and laid back which in turn makes for a very enjoyable experience. Also the scratching and mixing is provided by DJ Deluxx. Both Hogg and Priest are excellent on the microphone. Their chemistry is unmatched together and they seem to support each other well. The utmost attention is given to word play as well as the actual delivery while their southern dialect is both unique and entertaining. Guest appearances are courtesy of Big T, Big Baby, Carlos Luv, Dre and Ralphiell Walker. Also the wonderful artwork for the front and back cover is done by Chill "Will" Lindsey, who is the younger brother of Hogg. The record boasts an ample amount of seventeen tracks but still keeps one hungry for more. That is the true and uncanny nature of this underground masterpiece. Quality rhymes paired with quality rhythms, what more could a listener ask for.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Nuk Ruk - Invaderz Of The Dark

Nuk Ruk - Invaderz Of The Dark
Nuk Ruk is a marvelous group from Houston, TX. As a collective they represent for the sub genre known as Christian Rap. It consists of BDI, Dez, Dr. Yo, JoEmcee, Earth, Chameleon, Outlaw and DJ CleanCut. The name Nuk Ruk, is actually abbreviated for Nucklehead Ruckus which in turn basically means knuckle heads causing ruckus. The group is well known for their extremely hype and energetic concerts as well as their thought provoking rhymes that are congenially mixed with some equally exceptional rhythms. Nuk Ruk debuted in 1994 with their breakout album, "The Road Less Traveled." Invaderz Of The Dark is their sophomore effort and it was released in 1997 on Nuk Ruk Records. Production is solely handled by BDI, who is a creative genius when it comes to beats. He is also the main direction behind the group's signature sound and exclusive persona. The beats are derived through multiple instruments and can be classified somewhat under Industrial and Experimental Hip Hop. They are certainly unique and carry a fresh and genuine vibe. The process of sampling is kept to a minimum but the few that are used are put to good use. The most notable one being Ludwig Van Beethoven's "Für Elise" which is used on the track "The Road Less Traveled." This sort of artistry is what defines the group's style and becomes a type of signature brand for the remaining cuts on the album. Lyrically the album also fares very well. Each member brings a designated and peculiar flow pattern. Their rhymes can vary in speed but the commendable word play and superb delivery is what remains constant. Now the core content can be perceived from a religious stand point but since their lyrics are so diverse and imaginative, it is truly left upon the listener to dissect the meaning or message any further. Guest appearances are courtesy of NRG and Kathy Abshire. This also happens to be a double disc album that carries a remarkable total of thirty one tracks. Although Nuk Ruk put together an intellectual and entertaining package, it wasn't enough to propel them into mainstream stardom. Especially with the emergence of the Swang & Bang sound and the decline of real Hip Hop in Houston, it wasn't long before Nuk Ruk found themselves in the lower levels of the underground. Tons of artists in the city found themselves facing this exact same dilemma. Some jumped on the band wagon quick while others changed their style or delivery to fit the mold of the upcoming era and then finally there were those who refused to change and stay true to their art but in the end were not as fortunate as the aforementioned. The latter pretty much disappeared from the entire scene and were talked about as if they were some sort of fables. In Nuk Ruk's case, it is truly a shame to see such great talent and vision fall simply by the wayside. Even though they created a loyal following of fans that are still hoping and wishing for a Nuk Ruk reunion, the future of real Hip Hop in Houston looks pretty bleak.

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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Kris Kross - Young, Rich & Dangerous

Kris Kross is a rap duo that hails from the acclaimed streets of Atlanta, GA. It consists of Chris "Daddy Mac" Smith and Chris "Mac Daddy" Kelly. The names can get a bit confusing but that is by intention and design which in turn honors their combined alias. They are best known for their hit single "Jump" which is off their debut album "Totally Krossed Out" and also for their unique fashion sense which consisted of wearing their entire clothing outfit, backwards. They two were discovered at a local shopping mall in Atlanta by Jermaine Dupri when they were just thirteen years old and he immediately sensed the raw talent at hand. Young, Rich & Dangerous is their third album and it was released in 1996 on Ruffhouse Records. The production is done through the quintessential Jermaine Dupri and is certainly of top quality. The tracks are laced with his signature up beat pattern and are quite melodic. That distinct southern vibe is definitely present and the process of sampling is also put to good use. Lyrically the album falls a tad bit shy, especially when compared to the duo's last two outings. Although both are very capable and talented lyricists, there are times when the intensity just isn't there. Now granted this is when the duo was really trying to find their voice as well as their direction in the rap industry. Their last two albums were branded and marketed for the younger crowd while this one is aimed towards the older, street savvy generation. Guest appearances are made by Da Brat, Aaliyah, Big Rube, Mr. Black, Jermaine Dupri and Trey Lorenz. This record is split into two halves with six tracks belonging to each side. The Smith Side seems to be orientated for the streets while The Kelly Side is a bit more smooth and laid back. Overall the whole album is decently put together and while there maybe some low points, it still manages to finish on a high. It also help spawn one of the most notorious freestyles in southern rap history, the infamous "June 27" by the legendary DJ Screw who uses the instrumental of the track "Da Streets Ain't Right." On May 1st, 2013, Chris "Mac Daddy" Kelly was found unresponsive in his home and was later pronounced dead. A toxicology report was released by the Atlanta Medical Center which stated that he had died from a drug overdose. He was only thirty four years old. Rest in peace to the innovative and the ever ingenious Chris Kelly.

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

K Squad - Realmz Of Da Bushez

K Squad is a group that hails from Fort Lauderdale, FL. The three members represent out of the Broward County in Florida and they are known as Scarab One, Clembone and Kilo. As a trio they serve up music for the sub genre called, Ragga Hip Hop. It is basically a fused blend of Reggae and Hip Hop music which originated in Jamaica but quickly spread to the Virgin Islands and the coastal regions of Florida. Realmz Of Da Bushez is their debut album and it was released in 1994 on Atlantic Records. The production is handled by Hugo "Boss" Diaz and he is assisted by his older brother, Luis Diaz who provides all the mixing. It is suffice to say that the production exceeds all expectation. It takes the two genres listed above and seamlessly provides a strong backbone for the record. The hard hitting drums are meshed with some scintillating synths and the two are supplied as the primary production pattern. The Squad wastes no time and quickly attack the tracks laid out for them. Each member brings a unique style to the microphone and never shy away from it. Their demeanor and personalities tend to feed off of each other while their rhymes are equally wicked and rough. The lyrics are delivered with precision and attention is also given to explicit word play. This artistry is displayed over a total of fourteen tracks and certainly leaves the listener craving for more. Although the record was generally dismissed for it's roguish nature, it still is quite clear to see the creativity that is displayed. All in all it's an excellent effort by the trio, especially considering the time period of the album. Being released in the year 1994 and presenting such content that is not conventional and or approved by mainstream personal definitely requires heart and a different mindset. Going above and beyond the traditional or ordinary style is always a feat in it's own.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

GT & Steve Nice - Our House

GT & Steve Nice - Our House
GT and Steve Nice are not only rappers but also producers and DJ's from Houston, TX. GT is originally from the neighborhood of Flatbush in Brooklyn, NY but part of his family would later relocate to Houston in the early eighties and has resided there ever since. GT, which is abbreviation for "Gifted/Talented," first started off with K-Rino and Preppy J when they formed one of Houston's first hip-hop acts known as Real Chill. The group only managed to release one single and soon disbanded, while member K-Rino pursued a solo career. DJ Steve Nice on the other hand is a native of Dallas, TX but has also held residence in Houston as well. The two met as students at Texas Southern University and eventually started Key Players Entertainment in the mid nineties. Our House is their debut album and it was released in 1998 on Key Players Entertainment. Production is mostly done by the legendary Mike B but he is assisted by the likes of Crazy C, Doc Doom, Def Jam Blaster, Skool Of Thought and of course GT & Steve Nice themselves. The beats are undeniably smooth and they carry a very laid back vibe. The use of samples as well as other DJ techniques are quite prominent and are also used very effectively. Although some tracks are a bit simple and plain, most of the record is very well rounded and can be a real treat for the ear drums. Lyrically is where the album truly excels. Eclectic styles are displayed with the mix of strong word play and complex rhyme patterns. GT is definitely the more dominant member while Steve Nice tends to be a bit passive on the microphone. Both of them feed off each other with ease and lay down an impressive lyrical foundation. Features are courtesy of Kaylee of Ace Deuce, Skool Of Thought, D of Trinity Garden Cartel, Mista Madd, Petu, T. Gray and Marcus of S.O.U.L. A plentiful total of twenty tracks which includes the four hilarious skits are presented with precision for the listener. The core content is very unique and is projected with a broad variety of subject matter. All in all its an extraordinary work of art that genuinely oozes style and charm. One that exceeds further than its reputation and appearance while also maintaining a flawless composure.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Papa Reu - Xcuse Me!

Papa Reu - Xcuse Me!
Reuben Nero, better known as Papa Reu is a rapper and singer from the southside of Houston, TX. He is originally from the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago but later relocated to Houston at the age of sixteen. He started to build a name for himself by showcasing his reggae influenced style but what separated him from the rest was that he also incorporated Hip Hop into his explicit sound. It was 1994 and Reu got his first stint, he was enlisted by 8Ball & MJG as a back up vocalist for the song "Lick 'Em Up Shot" from their album "On The Outside Looking In." And it wasn't long before he started racking up all kinds of gigs for southern artists. Whether it was contributing his signature sound for the choruses or doing intros & outros and mini skits, Papa Reu provided it all. Xcuse Me! is his second album and it was released in 2000 on Upstairs Records and Reuster House Music, Inc. Production in its entirety is done by Rakesh "Roc" Jacob, Wendell Springer and Papa Reu himself. The beats carry the classic H-Town sound and are oozing with melody. There are a few tracks that are a bit mundane but most of them seem to be pretty well rounded. Lyrically the album is fairly versatile because Papa Reu can go from singing very gracefully to rapping very profoundly. His pace varies from track to track while his street savvy demeanor stays the same. Features are made by the Hot Boy$, Big Tymers, Z-Ro, Lil' Keke, C-Note, Lil' O, Boo, Lone Starzz, Ras Intelligence, Tripple M, Phoenix, Joe Traxx, Ali and Rashaad. All in all the album is a little guest heavy but still quite entertaining. He showed that he can be more than just a back up singer and instead of providing ad-libs, he provided a full length album. Over the years Papa Reu has collaborated with hundreds of artists from all over the nation. He continues to release new music to this day under his own record label known as Reu Muzik, Inc.

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