Album Reviews

Album Review: Gravediggaz – 6 Feet Deep

Year of Release: 1994

Record Label: Gee Street Records

It must be said: Horrorcore rap may seem like something that is rarely heard of, but it is not as uncommon as one would think. While I may have covered some of the bases in my review of the Flatlinerz album, one must know that while that album may have been rather infamous for some subject matter, that one actually came out AFTER the debut album of the Gravediggaz.

The Gravediggaz was a horrorcore supergroup that consisted of RZA (As the Rzarector), Prince Paul (As The Undertaker, not to be confused of the professional wrestler of the same name), and two rappers named Frukwan and Too Poetic, who respectively went by the aliases of The Gatekeeper and The Grym Reaper. According to some sources, the album was initially supposed to be titled “N***amortis,” but was changed to help appeal to the American audience.

When you actually listen to the tracks of this album, the songs really had that horror vibe to them. Prince Paul had a hand at most of the production of this album, if not almost all of it. A lot of the beats sounded rather unsettling. The verses from each of the rappers who provided the vocals each did a good job with it. RZA’s verse from “1-800 Suicide” was REALLY unsettling. Shabazz The Disciple of the Sunz of Man, a group that is affiliated with Wu-Tang, provided a dope verse in “Diary of a Madman,” one of the album’s best tracks:

Bear witness, as I exercise my exorcism
The evil that lurks within the sin, the terrorism
Possessed by evil spirits, voices from the dead
I come forth with Gravediggaz in a head full of dread
I’ve been examined ever since I was semen
They took a sonogram and seen the image of a demon
At birth, nurses surrounded me with needles
and drugged me all up with the diseases of evil
Grew up in hell, now I dwell in an Islamic Temple
I’m fighting a holy war in the mental
Look deep into my eyes, you’ll see visions of death
Possessed by homicide is what I’m obsessed
Giving niggaz brain dimples
Dragging they asses on my hook by they temples
The cause of death is unknown to the cops
Cause when I kill them, I’m not leavin one element to autopse
First I’ll assassinate em
And them I’ll cremate them
and take all of his fucking ashes and evaporate em
Or creep through the graveyard and hunt down your tombstone
Dig up your skeleton and stomp all your fucking bones
You try to haunt me nigga, I ain’t trying to hear it
Buck Buck Buck, I’ll give your ass a holy spirit.

Speaking of that song, that was one of the few tracks on this album that RZA had his hand in the production, though Prince Paul had produced some of it, too. Not to mention that it was probably the only track that had some Wu affiliates on it, Shabazz and Killah Priest. Also, according to a review that I read about this album, RZA provided a sample of an unused Wu-Tang demo, and then you have a sample from a Johnny Mathis song that sounds like it came straight from an old horror film.

Every song on here had a vibe of rage. “Bang Your Head” is a great example, as well as “Graveyard Chamber.” Then you have some songs that just sound really creepy, like the title track. It wasn’t just the beats that gave an unsettling vibe, it was also the delivery of the verses, one example being “Nowhere To Run, Nowhere To Hide.”

It’s been 23 years since this album had come out and it still holds up. It may be a horrorcore album (Not that it’s a bad thing), but you can listen to it like any other hip-hop album and just try to look past the violent and hateful lyrics. It is top-to-bottom a great album, even the interludes are worth listening to.

One more thing, it appeared that the European release of this album had a song called “Pass The Shovel.” Why this didn’t appear on the Western release is beyond me. It is off da chain!

5/5

Top Five Tracks:

  1. Diary of a Madman
  2. Detective Trip (Trippin’)
  3. 1-800 Suicide
  4. Blood Brothers
  5. Graveyard Chamber
Advertisements
Standard
Album Reviews

Album Review: Flatlinerz – U.S.A. (Under Satan’s Authority)

Year of Release: 1994

Record Label: Def Jam Recordings

It has been three months since I have done anything for this site. I haven’t been up on my stuff lately. I even had plans not too long ago, and they are still on the table, too, but I have not gotten around to it. Also, I must note that I had planned on writing about this subject around this time last year, in honor of Halloween, even though I am sure that the sub-genre for this album has quite a catalog that it isn’t necessary (More on this later), but I still wanted to do it during this time of year.

Why would I have to do this album around this time, especially with horrorcore being a somewhat common sub-genre in rap? Well, the main reason is that I wanted to, and another is that this album sort of kicked off the genre to some degree. Yes, I know that there were other horrorcore rappers that existed before this album came out, like Brotha Lynch Hung (Sacramento represent!) and Esham, but it could be argued that this album was an attempt at making it mainstream. I will also note that I remember watching some special on MTV in 2001 (Yes, even in that time, there were still programs related to music, even though reality shows were also common on that channel then) about hip-hop and mentioned the genre of horrorcore rap and mention the Flatlinerz. Months later, I read a review of the Bones soundtrack and the writer made a reference to this album, as well as the Gravediggaz.

Years ago, I went and bought this album, and I have to say that it was a definitely worthy of my money. But why is another question. After listening to a lot of the tracks on this album, some of them reminded me of songs from Onyx. Truth be told, a lot of this album may have the feel of your basic hip-hop album, at least when hearing the beats. The lyrics, on the other hand, had more of horror-like feel. For example, when hearing “Good Day To Die,” “718,” and “Flatline,” the beat seemed reminiscent to some songs from Redman or EPMD. Then you had tracks like “Sonic Boom,” which sounded like an Onyx track with some of the background yelling. Funny notes on that song, I kind of liked the minor reference to the Number 12 song from Sesame Street and if you listen closely to the end of the song, you can hear a sample “Sonic Boom” from “Street Fighter II.” The producers did a good job on that bit.

For the most part, the album felt like a street-style rap album with the musical production, but the lyrical content had more of the horror elements to it, at least in some ways. There was some violent content in the lyrics, but it’s really not that much different than hearing some violent lyrics in gangsta rap. If you want to talk which songs had more of a horror-like vibe, look no further than the album’s three singles, “Satanic Verses,” “Live Evil,” and “Rivaz of Red.” Actually, it was more in the second half of the album when the horror-like elements as a whole started to really kick off. “Takin’ ‘Em Underground” is a good example of a horrorcore song. The rappers’ verses combined both lyrics related to the subject matter, along with the delivery to make it sound a little scary. The beat even sounded like it came from a horror film. The rest of the album had a similar feel, that is also including the interludes along the way.

Now that I think about it, being that this was released during the days when cassettes were still prevalent, I wonder if the songs were split into halves to depict what to expect on one side and what to expect on the other side. Then again, I wonder about “Scary Us,” which was one of the first songs on this album. That one had a horror vibe, but it was also mixed with street-like hip-hop beats used for it.

I read in the liner notes for “Rivaz of Red” that the song had a sample of “Tonight’s Da Night” from Redman, as well as “Thriller” from Michael Jackson, but I swear that I hear the intro bit to “Don’t Be Cruel” from Bobby Brown in the sample. It sounds just like it that it has to be the bit in the intro to that album.

I read how that was some controversy about this album. Apparently, there was some speculation how these guys were Satan worshippers and it really put a damper in the sales for this album. It’s a shame, really, because this album kind of mixed styles of East Coast NY hip-hop with the horrorcore genre, when talking about some graphic violent depictions of murder, as well as some references to the occult. It really isn’t that much different from anything from the east coast at that time, and it was nice touch in adding horrorcore elements to it.

If you want to read the article on how this group and album was “misunderstood,” click here.

Before I close out this review, check out the music videos for the three singles. I also must note that the intro of the “Satanic Verses” video was the intro to “Live Evil.”

I highly recommend this album.

4/5

Top Five Tracks:

  1. Satanic Verses
  2. Live Evil
  3. Rivaz of Red
  4. Takin’ ‘Em Underground
  5. Good Day To Die

Honorable Mentions: “Scary-Us” and “Flatline.”

 

Standard
Uncategorized

Album Review: West Coast Bad Boyz – High Fo’ Xmas

west-coast-bad-boyz-hi-fo-xmas

Year: 1994

Label: No Limit Records/Solar Music Group

Track Listing:

  1. High Fo’ Xmas
  2. Intro
  3. Lock Up Fo’ Xmas
  4. Talk
  5. Jacking Fo Da Holidays
  6. Chillin’ N Da Game
  7. Ghetto Nite
  8. Christmas In Da Ghetto
  9. Hood Carols
  10. Rev. Do Wrong Xmas Party
  11. No Limit Party

So now I am continuing with my Christmas/holiday special. I held on to my promise to do the compilation of “High Fo’ Xmas” from West Coast Bad Boyz. This is a No Limit album, by the way, and unlike “Christmas On Death Row,” this isn’t a traditional holiday album and I will admit that I bought this album as kind of a counter to the Death Row album. I saw that this wasn’t a family-friendly Christmas album to begin with.

If anything I bought this as a joke on my part. It wouldn’t be the first time that I heard some Christmas rap song that isn’t really appropriate to listen to. “Merry Muthaphuckkin Xmas” from Eazy-E is a rather humorous song that spoofs Christmas songs. Some songs on here are similar to that, and then you also have songs that didn’t need to be on this album to begin with.

I will note that this album came out in the days when No Limit still represented the West Coast, particularly the Bay Area. This was before they became a more south-based label when they had those gaudy Pen & Pixel album covers. Hence why this was a West Coast Bad Boyz compilation.

One thing that really got me about this album was that it had the intro as the second track, when the intro is often the first track of the album.

Anyway, a lot of the tracks on this album varied and mentioned Christmas and the holidays in passing, but there weren’t that many tracks that were about Christmas. For example, the opening track, which was also the title track, talks about getting high around the holidays in one of the verses, but then the rest has little reference to the holidays. Not a bad track. It has a laid-back beat that has the feel of a stoner song. Hence the name.

“Lock Up Fo Xmas” was similar in that it talked about being locked up during Christmastime but then went into the struggles of being locked up. King George, a rapper who I am really unfamiliar with, actually had good verses in this song. So this was actually a decent track. I will say the same thing, or maybe that this song was better, when thinking of “Jacking Fo Da Holidays,” as that song used a lot of beats from different songs ranging from “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” from Bone Thugs to “Funkdafied” from Da Brat. There were a lot of beats used on this song to name, and it was funny to hear P try to rap some of the verses similar to the rappers from each respective song.

One song that drew my attention prior to buying this album was “Christmas in da Ghetto” and it’s kind of a strange track to listen to as there is some transition in beats when listening to the chorus and the verses. One minute you would hear the chorus, which is similar to “Deck The Halls,” and then when you hear the verses from C-Murder and Master P, it has a totally different beat. I will add that when I listened to one verse from C-Murder, it reminded me of a song from RBL Posse, particularly from their album, “A Lesson To Be Learned.”

“Rev. Do Wrong Xmas Party” is another decent track from other No Limit rappers during that time, Big Ed (RIP), Lil Ric, and Dangerous Dame.

Keeping with the Christmas theme that this album has, a couple of interludes had different versions of traditional Christmas carols, like “Ghetto Nite” was a different take on “Silent Night.” While the “Hood Carols” was Master P singing his own rendition of “The 12 Days of Christmas.” It’s actually rather humorous.

Remember when I said that there were tracks that felt like they belonged somewhere else? Well, those two songs are “Chillin’ in Da Game” and “No Limit Party,” which the latter is a remix. They have absolutely nothing to do with Christmas, but they are decent tracks nonetheless. I now wonder where I could find the original version to “No Limit Party.”

The only thing that I have an issue with about this album is that it really didn’t have the feel of a gangsta rap Christmas album. Sure, there were songs that talked about getting high, the drug game or hard time around the holidays, but take that part away and it really wouldn’t have made a difference. It’s still a decent compilation, though. I plan to do other No Limit albums in the future and I know that there are a lot out there.

Top 5 Tracks:

  1. Jacking Fo Da Holidays
  2. Christmas In Da Ghetto
  3. Lock Up Fo Xmas
  4. High Fo’ Xmas
  5. Rev. Do Wrong Xmas Party
Standard