Sunday, April 26th 2020:
Lazy Sunday is here. Awesome. I needed this downtime to recharge my batteries and unwind. No errands to run, nothing to really do but chill, take naps, and just not worry about anything. I slept in, I made a pretty big breakfast, took a nap after I cleaned up and then I watched some TV. Now this blog entry has been in the back of my mind most of the day today so I did some more research and I started to get excited so here I am now ready to write this one out. So lets get to it!
Here we are, welcome to what I would consider the last year of the Golden Age Of Hip Hop. The year…1995. By far one of the greatest years in my life. I was senior in high school about to graduate. Also I had established myself as a fairly popular and talented DJ. Basically when ever my friends and I threw a party or showed up, you know it was about to be poppin. I had a car, my first car that I actually paid for with my full time job working as a help desk technician. My car was a sky blue 1995 Mitsubishi Mirage coupe. I had it lowered sitting on some 16 inch chrome rims, I had a CD changer for the sound system (this was a luxury to have this device in a car in 95), and I was entering my adulthood life with my eyes wide open. I still lived at home with my parents and I had the whole world to play in. And the music was better than ever. And not just Hip Hop. House music was exploding and in high demand. I loved DJ’ing house music. It was fun, and so free from censorship. There were a number of good house songs that came out in 1995 so between that and Hip Hop, I was a happy young man. 1995 was a important year for Hip Hop, the last golden year was upon us and we were at the eve of the East coast vs West coast war that was about to jump off. Again, just like in my other blog posts, there were so many albums that dropped in 95 but here are my top 3 that I loved and got the most play from my time as a DJ back then.
The Dogg Pound – Dogg Food: The debut studio album for the group that was featured on many other tracks that both Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre had previously put out. Maybe they did a guest appearance or something on a track or two before for Death Row records, but now this was their time to shine. This album is SO UNDER RATED. If you don’t believe me then you need to give this album a good listen. And by that I mean really listen to the tracks, the layout, the talented flow of Kurupt and Daz Dillinger as they just carve out hit after hit while Dr Dre’s beats and drums just make just about every track a hit. The group members are Kurupt, Daz Dillinger, Nate Dogg and Snoop Dogg. This album mainly featured Kurupt and Daz but Nate and Snoop were also featured on some hooks on a few selected tracks. Kurupt was an established rapper by the time he joined the group. He is originally from the east coast by way of Philadelphia PA. He moved to Southern California when he was 16. Hawthorne was the city he lived in and then by the time he was 18 he moved to the South Central LA district. Nate Dogg is originally from Long Beach and is Snoop Dogg’s cousin. He was in the rap group 213 with Snoop and Warren G before he teamed up with Kurupt. During the making of Dr Dre’s Chronic album, Daz spent a lot of time in the studio with Dre, learning how to produce and helping out Dre a lot. In fact he helped out so much that Dre gave him producing credit for many of the tracks on his album. He also solo produced some tracks on Snoops album by way of Dr Dre as well. Daz had a lot of promise to become a solid producer but he also loved to rhyme and his lead him to team up with Kurupt which was all Snoop and Dre’s idea to keep the Death Row label strong. Nate Dogg was born in Mississippi, but after his parents divorced he moved to Long Beach with his mother. Nate is also cousins of Snoop Dogg and Daz. And just like Daz, he ran in the group 213 with Snoop and Warren G. Nate was known for having a melody voice and could carry a tune while singing. Nate sang in his church choir when he was younger and continued the practice as he got older. The rap group 213 was known in Long Beach for not only Snoop’s flow, but Nate’s voice singing hooks. It was very unique and only elevated the songs that the group put out. Sadly enough Nate Dogg suffered from a stroke in 2011 that almost paralyzed his left side of his body. Only a few months after did he have a 2nd stroke and this one lead to heart failure and he passed away at the age of 41. Devastated, was the only word I can describe how I felt about his passing. Dogg Food was just a masterful album and really reflected the talent that this group had. Kurupt, Daz, Nate and Snoop with Dr Dre behind them just dropped gem after gem after gem. “New York, New York” was their first featured single which is said by many here on the west coast as the official first or second shot fired to start the East coast/West Coast battle. During the 1995 Source Awards at Madison Square Garden in NYC, Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight accepted an award and while giving his speech he said “Any artist out there that want to be an artist and stay a star, and don’t have to worry about the executive producer trying to be all in the videos, all on the record, dancing….come to Death Row!”. This is considered by many the first shot fired in the East-West war. But the first track for DPG (Dog Pound) was also a first shot. From there the battle started and things would never be the same for Hip Hop. But this album also had many other hits like “Let’s Play House”, “I Don’t Like To Dream About Gettin Paid”, and “Some Bomb Azz Pu$$y”. Yes. Hit after hit the DPG was not just 100% gangsta, but they backed it up with some massive hits. Pure gold.
Hold on to your butts! Yes the Friday soundtrack, you forgot about this right? Not me. This record was a STAPLE for 1995. Let me run the line up of artists on this album.
- Ice Cube – Friday
- Dr Dre – Keep the Heads Ringin’
- Scarface and CJ Mac – Friday Night
- Cypress Hill – Roll it up, Light it up, Smoke it up
- Mack 10 – Take a hit
- The Isley Brothers – Tryin’ to see another day
- Bootsy Collins – You got me open
- Rick James – Mary Jane
- Rose Royce – I wanna get next to you
- Funkdoobiest – Superheros
- Tha Alkaholiks – Coast II Coast
- E-A-Ski – Blast if I have to
- The 2 Live Crew – Hoochie Mama
- Zapp and Roger – I heard it through the grapevine
HOLY HELL! You kidding me? Look at this line up! Tell me that this album didn’t not only be the best soundtrack album of the 90’s but the tracks on this album made up of old and new songs just brought together 2 different generations. You need to understand something. In the 90’s we did not forget the 80’s. And the music that we got from the 80’s was still very much alive in certain pockets of our lives. Sunday BBQ’s, kick backs, or just in general on the radio. As a teen in the 90’s we knew these songs, we knew about Zapp and Roger, Rick James, Bootsy, etc. We respected their music. In fact we respected it so much that the rappers in this album often sampled their music to make massive hits out of them. Just ask MC Hammer (you can’t touch this) or Ice Cube’s (How to survive in south central). But the music on this album had much more to do than being in some movie. It was music that reflected the message that movie was sending. What Friday’s were and what they meant to us in the hip hop community. Friday was not just the end of the week, it was a day that you looked forward to so much that you would really not try to plan it. You just go with the flow. Why not plan? Why not send out appointment reminders to your friends and try to organize fun? Life in the 90s was not like this. We didn’t have much money. We just went with whatever happens. And in the movie Friday that is one point Ice Cube was making when he wrote it. Just another Friday in the hood sorta speaking. I loved how the music on this album reflected that. Let me try to break it down for you. First off, Ice Cube’s track “Friday” where Cube raps about the DNA of a Friday. From how he life was in the hood, things that happened and then leading up to a party that night. Just fun, and being aware to not get into any trouble. Dr Dre’s “Keep the heads ringin'” is a track not only about how he makes songs to keep people bumping his music, but there is a key moment when Cube and Smokey (Chris Tucker) are going to the corner store real quick to get Smokey’s mom some cigarettes and while driving down the street they are bumping this track. This is the message Dr Dre is sending and Cube captured it perfectly in this scene, in fact Cube and Tucker don’t say one word to each in the scene as they are driving down the street. This is how any 2 dudes would ride in LA bumping music. Now I can go on and on but I think you get the message. In fact I will give you one more. 2 Live Crew’s “Hoochie Mama”. This song was so powerful it literally made the word Hoochie Mama a house hold name! It was a descriptive phrase to describe a certain type of female that is not loyal and is selfish. Yes, there were plenty of those in the 90’s. Plenty. Again, Cube captures this with his girlfriend that he has in the movie. It is so great because when Joi (played by Paula Jai Parker) is introduced to the audience in the movie she calls Cube up all upset with him that she had heard he was on a date the other night with another female and she wanted to know who she was so she can go fight her. Now in this scene not only does the song “Hoochie Mama” play we also see that this girl has another dude asleep in her bed shirtless! So yea, that is exactly what those type of girls were like and this track was bumping! 2 Live Crew brought it and was one of their signature Miami bass type tracks. Trust me when I say that every time I played this song, it just took the first 8 bars to play and all the girls would be sprinting to the dance floor. This song was an anthem and made this album by far one of the best albums of 1995.
Genius/GZA – Liquid Swords: Now this was a hard one to choose. I had a few others that I was thinking of putting as my number 3, but in the end I came to this choice for simply one reason. Production. The value of GZA production on this album is far superior to anything else he has ever done, and was a great follow up to what he and RZA gave us back with 36 chambers 3 years ago. Method Man and ODB had already released solo albums, but GZA had a masterful album here that RZA really seemed to put his heart and soul into. In fact some might say he did more than he did with Method Man and ODB because they were more commercial and this was more underground. It was tough competition in 1995 for the Wu-Tang Clan because ODB and Raekwon both released their solo albums the same year! Can you imagine how awesome this was for us Wu-Tang fans? I mean for reals, that is unheard of. Most record labels will space out releases so that way they dominate the market but not Wu-Tang. Being independent they had the freedom to do this and it worked, in fact it worked so well it made the industry take note and know that Wu-Tang was not going anywhere. GZA raps and flows on this album if not better than on 36 chambers. The self titled track “Liquid Swords” has a beat that is unforgettable. Even today, you throw on Liquid Swords and hip hop fans alike start nodding their heads with a smile almost like being hit with something that just feels good. This album from top to bottom was jam packed with the grimy, NYC sounds that RZA is known to create. RZA really did some of his best work on this album and GZA just rhymes like…a genius that he is. Lyrically, this album will keep your head nodding and spinning by the rhymes GZA spits out. I always felt that it was as close to what I felt like when I first heard 36 chambers. The beats were raw, the style was familiar, and hearing Method Man and ODB along with Ghostface and Raekwon making some appearances on this album just felt like it was 1993 all over again. I can’t tell you how great the song Liquid Swords is. The flow, the beat, its undeniable. Yes, it is that good.
Tha Dogg Pound - New York, New York: "Gimme a couple G's, for every MC, I knocked to his knees Verbally useless, Oh you got the juice? I squeeze you juiceless The barbaric, versatile, you're no kin to me So how the f*&$ you inherit my style?"
This lyric is said by Kurupt, and yes he is taking shots at NYC rappers. He is saying that it is going to cost a couple thousand dollars to get him to battle any MC, which back in 95 was a way of saying “I ain’t afraid to battle you, in fact you are going to have to pay me to battle”. That is a very confident way to act, but then again Kurupt was great at battle rapping so it makes sense he would say this. Then he goes on to say “you go the juice” which is in reference to the 1992 movie “Juice” where it meant if you are the big man on the block and everyone is afraid of you, then you got the “juice”. Kurupt is saying that he wants to battle any rapper who thinks they got the juice and he plans on defeating them, leaving them juiceless. Hilarious. And finally at the end of the rhyme is saying that east coast rappers are starting to sound like him and he says that since they are not his kids, he is asking why are they stealing his rapping style. This is a massive shot at NYC rappers because back in 1995, NYC rappers really had fallen off and there were not getting any street credit as being good lyricists. That is a major insult to their ego. Wow, Kurupt really brought the heat on this track and we loved it.
2 Live Crew - Hoochie Mama "Girl, you know you look so cute Ridin' 'round town in ya Daisy Dukes Come on over for a visit Let a n*$$a ride in ya Civic 'Cause I like them ghetto hoochies One who got them big ol' booties Save the drama for your mama All I want is my hoochie mama"
Kid Ice, a member of 2 Live Crew is saying the obvious. What ever you are thinking, I am sure this is what he meant back in 1995. First off is the Daisy Dukes. You know the super short shorts that females used to wear just like Daisy wore in the TV show “Dukes of Hazard”. But girls in the hood wore them short if not shorter. It was like a uniform for the hoochie type. When he says he wants to ride in her Civic, he is referencing the car that Ice Cubes character “Craig” girlfriend had in the movie. There was a scene when she rolled up to Craig’s house when Craig was inside the house with Nia Long’s character. In fact when she rolls up in the Civic, this song is heard coming out her ride. Now, I thought it was important to put this last lyric in here because it became a household statement in the days after this movie came out. When ever 2 individuals are disagreeing, didn’t matter if it was a man and a women, or 2 men or 2 women, when one side of the conversation is trying to make a point but the other side does not agree with the reasons, they would always say “save that drama for your mama” or in other words “I don’t want to hear that crap, shut up!” but saying it this way just sounded better. Kid Ice is saying basically “I don’t care what you call me or think of me and the women I like, I just want my hoochie mama”. No argument from me here. Well said sir.
Genius/GZA - Liquid Swords "My minimum table stacks a verse on a gamble Energy is felt once the cards are dealt With the impact of roundhouse kicks from black belts That attack, the mic-fones like cyclones or typhoon I represent from midnight to high noon I don't wast ink, n*$$a, I think I drop megaton bombs more faster than you blink"
Wow, there is a lot to break down here. To start off GZA is saying that his flow or rapping style is so wealthy that if anyone wants to battle him they are going to have to bet a lot to try to defeat him. This should make others think twice before trying it. Then he says once the cards are dealt or after he says his rhymes, they are so good and powerful that they equal to a roundhouse kick from a black belt master meaning the lyrics are masterful, so good, that they attack with the power of a cyclone or typhoon storm. He then goes in to saying how serious he is about all of this, that when he writes down his lyrics he never wastes ink meaning that his lyrics are never wasted, they are that good and so good that when he says them that they have the power of a megaton bomb and he delivers them fast enough that it can’t be measured, not even by how fast someone can blink their eyes. Fast, powerful, and meaningful is the message GZA is saying here. Sounds a lot like a battle rapper threatening the competition before the battle even started. GZA has a lot of confidence, but he is easily one of the best lyricists the Wu-Tang had. Better than Method Man and Raekwon? I say…yes.
I want to thank you for reading my blog, all you hip hop fans. You must have a love and respect for this music like I do and I appreciate your feedback and dedication to reading all of this. I enjoyed this. And I am going to take a few days break from this blog as I gather my next series of blogs, not sure what that is yet. Possibly movies of the 90s.