Filed under: Flavor Unit Special,Steady Bootleggin'
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Without a doubt, Lakim Shabazz was the busiest member of the Flavor Unit during their peak period, with two solo long-players to his credit and guest shots on every 45 King album that featured vocals. This little guy with the voice of a giant was also staunch representative of the 5% Nation of Islam, which he repped in every aspect – from his traditional Muslim clothes to entire songs featuring “Supreme Mathematic” lessons. He even flew to Egypt to shoot the cover to his second album! These days, of course, such a strong Islamic image would ensure that your album would never even get pressed in the US, given the current political climate, but in 1988 a large section of the hip-hop community were spreading the word of Allah, warning us about “the devil’s tricknology” and insisting that we take the pork off our fork. Can you imagine a popular underground group (like Brand Nubian were at the time) releasing a song called “Allah U Akbar” in 2006?
Thanks to some of The 45 King’s finest boardwork, even the most anti-Muslim rap fan couldn’t help but rock to the hardcore swing of Lakim Shabazz’s tracks. Originally performing under the title of MC La Kim, his early work with DJ Mark focused on declaring the supremacy of the Flavor Unit and the King’s beats as much as it did setting off the crowd, as he lent his verses to staples like “The 900 Number” (which later returned on his debut as “The Posse Is Large” remix), “Master of the Game” and “We Got The Funk”.
For his solo albums, however, the focus shifted towards a more righteous tone, as titles like “First In Existance”, “Black Is Back” and “No Justice No Peace” give a clear indication as to where he was coming from. The thing was, even the rhetoric-heavy material still stands up as certified dope hip-hop thanks to the strength of the production and Lakim’s commanding vocal presence.
Whether it’s the hypnotic deep funk vocal riff running through “Sample The Dope Noise”, the hardcore noise and tense pace of “When You See A Devil Smash Him” or the relentless horn blasts of “The Red The Black The Green”, you’re hearing The 45 King in his prime. Collectively, they deliver what is perhaps the definitive Lakim/45 King creation for the mighty “Your Arm’s Too Short To Box With God”. This lost b-side captures everything that made the original Unit so great – a dusty, rolling drum break, tense keys and strategically-placed piano rolls, topped off with DJ Mark’s signature horns, while Shabazz unleashs a verbal whirlwind that leaves no question that he’s running shit in this piece. Basement flavor hip-hop finally achieved perfection for almost four-and-a-half minutes.
Of the handful of cuts he recorded without the King, the self-produced “Hands of Fate” delivers an effective “Apache” assisted homage to his DJ, Cee Just, while the Flavor U’s other secret weapon – Louie Louie – puts his own spin on the King’s horn-heavy style for the noteworthy “Style Is Free”, allowing Lakim to flex on “backstabbers” and “dope beat grabbers”.
Following his days on Tuff City, Lakim co-produced “Fuck What You Heard” (ie gave D the bassline) on Diamond D’s Stunts, Blunts & Hip-Hop, and recorded a song with “the best kept secret” called “I Can’t Take No More” for 1993’s Class A Felony album…but that’s another post. Recently, he appeared on 45 King’s The Cat Jams LP (look for my review in the next couple of days) and dropped a 12″ with him on BBP a few months back.
45 King & Lakim Shabazz – We Got The Funk [45 Kingdom, Tuff City, 1988]
Lakim Shabazz – Sample The Dope Noise [Pure Righteousness, Tuff City, 1988]
45 King & Lakim Shabazz – The Red The Black The Green [12″ single, Tuff City, 1989]
Lakim Shabazz – You’re Arm’s Too Short To Box With God [Black Is Back 12″, Tuff City, 1989]
Louie Louie & Lakim Shabazz – Style Is Free [Rhythmical Madness, Tuff City, 1989]
45 King & Lakim Shabazz – Master of the Game [Master of the Game, Tuff City, 1990]
Lakim Shabazz – When You See A Devil Smash Him [The Lost Tribe of Shabazz, Tuff City, 1990]
Lakim Shabazz – Hands of Fate [The 45 King Presents: The Flavor Unit, Tuff City, 1990]
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