Some of my favorite rap sprung from Houston’s Rap-A-Lot Records, as the label incorporated organs, harmonicas and funk guitar with traditional breakbeats, creating a unique blend of east coast and southern hip-hop before everyone jumped on The Chronic bandwagon and started playing everything from scratch. Here’s a selection of my favorite moments from the early days of the house that J. Prince built above his car lot.
I kicked it with Devin The Dude about how he came up in the rap game while somehow neglecting any direct questions about getting high. With a discography that stretches back to 1994 and a discography that features an impressive roster of big names including Dr. Dre, DJ Premier, Scarface and Nas, Devin has seen it all. We caught up over the phone to discuss his days as a breakdancer, the dangers of touring and his dream posse cut line-up.
Robbie: How did you first get into rap?
Devin The Dude: I was a breakdancer since the fifth grade. Towards the late 80’s, breakdancing was getting commercialised a little bit so we didn’t do that quite as much, but we would still be at the park where we used to breakdance. I used to collect a lotta music too, especially with the breakdancing and having a lotta routines and stuff, and I eventually bridged over to rapping at the park.
What was your crew called?
I was in a number of breakdancing crews as we moved around. I lived in Houston and I moved to East Texas in tenth through twelfth grade and then I moved back to Houston. The Rhythmic Rockers was my last breakdancing crew, but I had a crew with my brother and another guy – we called ourselves 3-D. (more…)
The Def IVNice & Hard album was always something I went back to when it was released in 1988. As the fourth album released on the Rap-A-Lot label, this group of New York transplants, which consisted of two brothers – Vicious Lee and Jon B – beat maker and DJ Lonnie Mac and vocalist Prince E-Z-Cee (DJ Ready Red was apparently an early member before being recruited by the Ghetto Boys). Given that three quarters of the group were DJ’s, it’s no surprise that there is a lot going on musically, with many tracks delivering a layered, sophisticated sampling style, constant scratches and extra breaks thrown in all over the place to keep shit moving. (more…)
What with Brad Jordan releasing his biography, Diary of a Madman recently (which he discusses with ego trip’s Gabriel Alvarez here), it seemed like a good time to take another listen his first single, released on Lil’ Troy‘s Short Stop Records back when he was still calling himself DJ Akshun. The a-side would later be slightly reworked for the Grip It! On That Other Level album when Scarface became a Ghetto Boy, while ‘Put Another Head To rest’ was relegated to the crates of Houston locals and ebay borks until Lil’ Troy pissed off ‘Face by including the song on his Sittin’ Fat Down South CD and things degenerated from there. (more…)
This is a vinyl mix of great ignorant rap songs which I put together with DJ J-Red in 2002. Sure to upset anybody within earshot. Includes classics such as Willie D‘s ‘Baldhead Hoes’, Convict‘s ‘Wash Ya Ass’ and Bustdown‘s ‘Pissing Razor Blades’.
Kiddie rap. Great idea, huh? Almost as interesting as kiddie rap records is the beef between kiddie rappers. Chi-Ali and Illegal hated each other. Everyone hated ABC and Kriss Kross. Bow Wow and Romeo….who the eff cares. On with the round-up!
Naughty By Nature Wannabe? Nah, he was from the South, fool.
Career Highlight: That shit he did on ‘Face’s second album.
Current Career Status: May be working at one of J-Prince’s car dealerships. (more…)
Yeah, I copped The Chronic tape when it dropped and liked most of it. If I’d been old enough to drive around with a ridiculously loud system I’m sure I would have appreciated it even more, but even on a Sony Megabass it sounded pretty good. The problem was, once everyone on the West Coast heard Dr. Dre‘s opus, they decided to throw out all their P-Funk and Zapp records and buy keyboards. Hell, even the previously awesome Rap-A-Lot production crew in Houston abandoned their church organ and harmonica beats for synths and live bands. Sure it was more ‘creative’ but it sounded like crap compared to the old shit. LA Rap had a great period in the late 80’s once they got off that Egyptian Lover tip, with the Rhyme Syndicate, King T‘s crew, NWA and others who brought their own take on hard beats, but as soon as they figured out that a combination of a soft drums, whining keyboards and some random guitar licks could knock out a hit less than ten minutes, it was over. Not convinced? Does the name Warren G mean anything to you? If you answered yes, kill yourself. (more…)
Just dug-out this blend tape that I put together around 2002 with the help of a DJ friend of mine – a tribute to the most offensive ignorant rap ever pressed to vinyl. Sure to upset anybody within earshot.
It’s only right that in memory of Ike we take a look at two cover versions of the Geto Boys classic that flipped his track from the Tough Guys soundtrack. The Marxmen can do no wrong, as they ‘snatch it back’ in fine form here, while the Ghetto Girlz deliver some chick rap ignorance that makes me want to dig out some BWP records for some reason.
M.O.P – ‘Nine & Two Clips’
Ghetto Girlz – ‘My Man’s Playing Tricks On Me’
Geto Boys ‘My Minds Playing Tricks On Me’ video: (more…)
During the prime years of the mighty Rap-A-Lot label, there were no less than five songs released that related to school. Was this part of some sort of community service agreement? It could be argued that the Geto Boy‘s song was nothing to do with school, but it includes Willie D‘s teacher Miss Elaine, so that’s close enough. It’s fair to say there are some mixed messages here – to hear Raheem and 2 Low (who was still in school when he made this) tell it, the school yard is nothing but good times and sex rhymes. But then Willie D admits that ‘School is a drag, and sometimes you’re teacher gets mad’, while he had previously ‘beat his teacher down with a gun’ on that Geto Boys shit. Big Mike and 3-2 of the Convicts cut straight to the chase and let us know what they think about getting a worthless ‘edumication’.