Friday, May 27, 2016

Lokee - I Got Dis

Kenyatta Ruth, better known as Lokee, is a rapper and producer who represents from the notorious 9th Ward of New Orleans, LA. He first started off battle rapping in the early nineties at his local high school. After destroying the competition, he realized he was actually pretty talented and could really do this for a living. He began ghost writing for many different rappers in the city and quickly earned the moniker, Space Ghost. His most famous ghost writing stint was with the group known as Full Pack. He penned the lyrics for their hit single "I Like To #@*¤!" which eventually led Full Pack to signing a deal with an emerging record label. It wasn't long before Lokee would come under the scrutinizing eye of Elton Wicker Jr. Amazed by what he heard, he quickly signed Lokee to his up and coming label known as Tombstone Records. I Got Dis is Lokee's debut EP and it was released in 1995 on the aforementioned label. The record is produced by the legendary, Merrill "Real Roc" Robinson and Lokee, himself. The beats are filled with dark synths, woozy bass lines and are topped off with some intoxicating drums. This mixture is used throughout the whole album and its certainly the right fit. It also sets the entire mood at a very grim and gloomy level. This set up is perfect for Lokee, who is no ordinary lyricist. His unorthodox flow pattern and his superb vocabulary go hand in hand. His rhymes are delivered at a variable rate and the tone is quite rough as well. Word play is used as the key ingredient and it is definitely unique to say the least. The EP rounds out at a total of nine tracks, all of which are equally likable. Overall this was a wonderful debut effort by Lokee and it certainly shows his lyrical and musical prowess. He had some minor success with this release but it was his second release, "Voodoo Gangsta Funk," that really put him on notice. Sadly all of this success would come to an abrupt end when the president of Tombstone Records, Elton Wicker Jr., was killed in a drive-by shooting in the year 1998. He was only thirty two years old. This would end Lokee's tenure at Tombstone Records due to the label folding and he would soon find himself on the indie route. It was around this time when he was also recruited into the Disturbed Young Hustlaz. In 2001, Lokee was convicted of some serious offenses and was sentenced to ten years in prison. He was released in the year 2011 and is now trying to establish himself again in the Rap industry.

Deadly Verses
Just - A - Fied

Album Notes
* Rest in peace to the ingenious, Elton Wicker Jr.
* Lokee is a member of the Disturbed Young Hustlaz.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Staydown - N-Da-Game

Staydown is a collective that represents from the harsh streets of Waco, TX. The group consists of Slugger, Bugga, Bigg Knocc and Country. The group was formed in the late nineties by Slugger and Bigg Knocc. N-Da-Game is their debut album and it was released in 2000 on Staydown Entertainment. The album was recorded mainly in Houston due to plethora of studios that the city has to offer compared to Waco. The record is masterly produced by the platinum producer, Slugger. The beats are a perfect example of that Texas funk. They contain solid bass lines which are blended with some hard hitting drums. The rhythms are also genuinely crafted and they certainly cater to the Swang & Bang crowd. Slugger gives a lot of attention to detail which in return makes the overall result very crisp and enjoyable. The album also shines in the lyrical department. The members take turns discharging their various styles upon the microphone. Bigg Knocc seems to standout the most but the rest are not too far behind. Their deliveries are full of pace and the variations to their tone and pitch are all done with perfection. Their southern drawl is also quite eminent, while their demeanor and personalities embodies the streets. Guest appearances are made by Ice Lord, 3-2, C-Note, Big Pokey, Lil' O, Billy Cook and Lil' Flip. It may seem as if the album is a little guest heavy due to the star studded guest list but that is not the case at all. The guests are used sporadically and the group relies more on their own intuition. The album closes out with an impressive total of fifteen tracks, with each cut outdoing the other. All in all, this was a remarkable effort by the group but one that seem to have went unnoticed. It is truly a task for artists to represent from the smaller cities in Texas, mainly because of the lack of exposure they will receive. Staydown knew of this dilemma and changed their approach accordingly. They could have just easily recorded at a local studio in Waco, instead they drove back and forth to Houston and recorded at one of the more famous spots. Not only did this move help to establish connections in the city but it also augmented their reputation. They group went on to release a follow up album in 2005 and then disbanded. At the end of the day, this release will always sit as a polished gem, waiting to be discovered from The Heart of Texas.

Deadly Verses
Hard Life

Album Notes
* The group is also known as the Staydown Clique.
* Slugger would retire from the Rap industry in 2006.
* He would change his alias to Minister Slugger and would then become a Christian Rap artist.
* He is also a Minister at a local church in Waco, Texas.  
* "The Heart of Texas" is the nickname for the city of Waco.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tha Murda Weapon - A Rare Breed

Tha Murda Weapon is a duo that represents from the notorious neighborhood of Hamilton Park in Dallas, TX. It consists of Shorty Da Man and Jay Mac. The two are best known for their prolific work on their second album, "Thank You." A Rare Breed is their debut album and it was released in 1994 on Shorty Records. Since this is a tape only release some sound quality issues are to be expected. As always, Shorty Da Man provides all the production and brings his style of Texas funk to the table. The beats rely heavily on samples and tend to be somewhat generic. There are some flashes of brilliance musically and then there are times when the overall rhythm foundation is just very mundane. This could be because of lack of proper equipment or it could be the fact that the group was still trying to come up. Whatever the case maybe, the end result is still passable and certainly playable. Lyrically the tape fares quite well. Both members are proficient on the microphone and their unforgiving styles go hand in hand. Their rhymes are delivered at a steady pace and are constant with word play. They have good chemistry between each other and its quite evident throughout the whole record. Featuring on the tape is Jaicanblo. Overall this was a decent effort but it is nowhere near their second release. "Thank You" is in a league of its own but its not hard to see the groups' evolution from this release. Although this was just a humble beginning for the group, it still steered them in the right direction. And while the core content does differ somewhat, this tape still deserves a spot in every Southern Rap collection.

Deadly Verses
Dedication ft. Jaicanblo

Friday, May 20, 2016

Example - Impulses

Example is a duo that represents from the notorious streets of Houston, TX. It consists of Dekay and DJ Cipher. The group is known for their thought provoking rhymes that are blended with equally provocative rhythms. The two members initially met as roommates and decided to form the group in the summer of 1996. Their original plan was to work with their fellow Houstonian rap crew known as K-Otix and to release a double sided EP. One side would consist of songs by Example while the other side would have tracks by K-Otix. The EP would serve as a debut for both groups and would eventually become a stepping stone for the parties involved. Things did not go as planned and the idea of the double EP was dropped altogether with both groups releasing their debut EP's separately. K-Otix released the now sought after EP called, "Spontaneity," while Example put out Impulses. Impulses is their debut and it was released in 1997 on Beat Farm Recordings. The record was later picked up by Dope Folks Records and re-released in 2013 due to its highly desired and very limited nature. The production is split between DJ Cipher and Dekay while DJ Baby C is credited for the scratching. The beats can simply be described as pure Hip-Hop. They are a representation of the classic style which involves heavy sampling for the foundation of the beat, along with the skillful use of the turntables. The rhythms tend to be very colorful and are a perfect blend of southern funk fused with the traditional style mentioned above. This melodic fusion sends out an atmospheric setting which is quite mellow and relaxed. Lyrically the record is also very impressive. Dekay's clever rhymes incorporate a strong use of word play and are delivered sharply. His verbal artistry is deep with meaning and can certainly catch the listener by surprise. The subject matter is also unique and refreshing due to the fact that it strays away from the local H-Town sound. Not to worry though because the record still caters to its southern roots and shows a side of southern rap that has become a commodity in that region. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word "Impulse" as a wave of excitation transmitted through tissues and especially nerve fibers and muscles that results in physiological activity or inhibition. That is exactly what this record does when played in full. Each track sucks the listener in to a different realm created by the authors of this work of art. A trance like state is induced but one is still aware of the edginess of the material because of its realistic composure. One can also see this result on the front cover art which is beautifully presented through the work of crayons. It is truly hard to believe that this piece was conjured up in 1997. The group's vision and their motives were certainly ahead of their time. Example went on to release a few more singles as well as a full length album before disbanding. The two are still around today but they dwell in the depths of the underground. Those who are searching for real music will always know where and how to find them.

Deadly Verses

Album Notes
* Dekay would later change his alias to just Kay.
* Kay would become a member of the group called, The Foundation.
* DJ Cipher would become a member of The Kracker Nuttz.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Bionik Brown - The Darkness And The Light

Nathan Woods, better known as Bionik Brown, is a rapper who hails from the vicious Third Ward of New Orleans, LA. As a child, he was introduced to the art of music by his poet mother and pianist father. Together, they showed him the true essence of music through a number of different genres. It wasn't until his teenage years where he eventually developed a taste for Hip-Hop and quickly became an aspiring emcee. The Darkness And The Light is his debut album and it was released in 2001 on Renaissance Records. The production is provided by Bass Heavy, U.P. and Brotha Slymm while Dave Soul is credited for implementing the cuts and the scratches. Although Bass Heavy is a veteran producer and he arranges the bulk of the album, the beats as a whole can be summarized as barely respectable. The rhythms are kept simple and are lacking a solid foundation musically. Aside from a couple of tracks, there is really nothing that will catch the listener and keep them hooked. Lyrically the album exceeds expectations and fires on all cylinders. Bionik is an accomplished lyricist and he proves that with his spell binding delivery. His tone is a bit high pitched and it can become a bit jubilant at times. However, the rhymes are still dictated with vocal authority and melodic passion. Great attention is given to word play as well as the overall structure of the song. The subject matter is also very diverse. Bionik lightly touches on social issues, racial tensions, politics and even disputes his own birth. Guest appearances are made by One Eye from the Psycho Ward, Brotha Slymm, Tondrae, Ras, GaBrilla, Asali Devan and Spirit from Soul Remedy. All in all, this is a very solid release especially considering the fact that it is a debut effort. Bionik Brown would soon leave Renaissance Records to pursue better opportunities due to the label not going anywhere, neither financially nor musically. He would also leave the city of New Orleans altogether during the wake of Hurricane Katrina and would establish himself and his family in Denver, Colorado. Bionik Brown died on August 11, 2008, after a car driven by a 17-year-old traveling eastbound veered into the westbound lanes of traffic and hit Bionik's vehicle head on. The teenager was arrested and booked on charges of vehicular man slaughter. Bionik Brown is survived by his wife, Iman Nouis-Woods; his mother and stepfather, Carolyn and Ferdinand Carr; his brother, Joel Woods; and sister, Rachel Woods. Rest in peace to one of Uptown's finest, the iconic, Bionic Brown.

Deadly Verses
The Middle Passage

Album Notes
* Bionik Brown was also a member of Mental Metropolis.
* His trademark is a white towel which he wears around his neck.