Saturday, February 27, 2016

"3 in 1" --> Onyx

This post is dedicated to Big DS and X-1.

Welcome to the first "3 in 1" post on the blog! Previously I've done "2 in 1" posts, so I thought, why not step it up a bit and do "3 in 1" instead and for this inaugural post, what a way to begin and I've been pretty amped about it since I initially thought of the idea. I'll be covering Onyx's first three albums, "Bacdafucup," "All We Got Iz Us," and "Shut 'Em Down." Like most of you reading this, I first heard Onyx with their hit single "Slam," and trust me when I say I thought it was SO dope and of course it had my head bobbing. Considering that they were discovered by the late Jam Master Jay, you knew these men had something special for the hip hop world, and across their first three albums, we'll revisit that and then some. 

Release date: March 30, 1993

Album production handled by Chyskillz (#) and Jam Master Jay (*), except where noted

1. "Bacdafucup"
This brief intro becomes important later, however, it immediately sets the tone for what's to follow. "THE ONYX IS HERE!!!!!"

2. "Bichasniguz" (#*)

"Bichasniguz I'm gon have to pull ya skirt up..... that's the word up, you get hurt up!!"

Man, if the bars (from the hook) above don't tell you all you need to know about this hype song, I don't know what else to say. This certainly would not be the last time Onyx goes into extreme details about their perception of the lesser man/men and you couldn't mistake this for anyone else in hip hop at the time.
*5 out of 5*

Mad Face quotes

"Bitch ass niggas not respected but neglected/Move on ‘em, move on ‘em things’ll get hectic" -Fredro

 "Ain’t nothin' worse than a bitch ass or witch ass nigga that's fakin, lies for attention'/Try to ride a nut for a scratch so stop itchin" -Fredro

"Bullets can’t discriminate so I won’t either/Make you holier than a bible if you not a believer" -Suave (Sonee Seeza will be referred to as Suave during the "Bacdafucup" coverage)

"Forget the crowd cheers, I live off fears/It’s the beast in me, even the music couldn’t sooth me" -Sticky

3. "Throw Ya Gunz" (#)

"Take em up, take em out, bring em out dead
Shine em up, shine em up, shine a bald head.
One gun, two gun, three gun, four
Your mind is all about crime

"It's time to get live, live, live like a wire/I set a whole choir on fire...." -Fredro

Man, THAT opening, followed by Fredro's verse, is one of the most memorable openings to a song in hip hop history, complete with a DYNAMIC beat drop courtesy of Chyskillz. Oh, and speaking of memorable.....

"Uh oh heads up cause we droppin' some shit.....!" -Suave 

Long time heads will immediately recognize that bar not just from this song, but on another classic in the form of Jeru The Damaja's "Come Clean." And yes there's more.....

"I hate your fuckin' guts and I hope that you die/Sticky Fingaz’ my name and my life is a lie/Plus I’m havin' a bad day so stay outta my way/And what the pistol packin' people say ya better obey/Just in the nick of time, I commit the perfect crime/Rip my heart out my chest, put it right into a rhyme/I don't feel pain cause it's all in the mind/And what’s mines is mines, and yours is mine!" -Sticky

Those were just a few of the lines from Sticky Fingaz's tight, memorable closing verse, famously sampled in ANOTHER classic, which would be Biggie's "Gimme The Loot." With all this being said, it's no doubt that this song is a classic (obviously) and a successful one at that, making its way to FOUR Billboard charts, with one of them being the "Hot Rap Singles" chart, and peaking at #34 on the "UK Top 40" chart. Even though this was such a DOPE song, around the time of its release, there was some controversy. With the lyrics heavily surrounding gunplay along with the accompanying video (which will be posted below), some people then (and probably now) criticized the song for "glorifying violence and being negative." It also didn't help that during a performance of this song at the 1994 Source Awards, Sticky fired ammunition in the air (whether it was live or not may still be up for debate and such an act would NOT take place today I can assure you). 20 something years later, without taking it so seriously like most did back in '93, there's no denying that the song still BANGS and if there ever was a song to get you rowdy as hell, this is it!
*5 out of 5*

4. "Here 'N' Now" (#)

"And to all y'all crews, WHATEVER!" -Suave

"The place is where (here), the time is when (now)"

However which way anyone wanted to come at Fredro, Sticky and Suave, there was nothing but space and opportunity. If you felt you could catch wreck on these guys, they got the time and place, nuff said. GOOD stuff here.
*5 out of 5*

"You can fool some of the people some of the time/The beats gets the heart, and the words get the mind/I’m livin' proof there’s no hope for mankind" -Sticky 

5. "Bust Dat Ass" (#*)
This would be the first of quite a few "call & response" skits that would grace their albums.

6. "Atak Of Da Bal-Hedz"
Produced by Kool Tee

There weren't too many MCs in hip hop at the time who sported a bald head, so when you had not just one but four of them rocking that style, it was noticeable and it created a unique style for them that set them apart from other groups. This song was a testament to that style.
*5 out of 5*

7. "Da Mad Face Invasion" (#*)
A 46 second skit that sort of picks up where "Atak Of Da Bal-Hedz" leaves off.

8. "Blac Vagina Finda" (*#)
Co-Produced by Jeff Harris

Who said Onyx had no love for the ladies, lol? Well, most would think a song like this would be out of place on such an album, but they pull it off in their own form. I'm sure there were some ladies then and now who would've been able to keep up them, given their rowdy, energetic and somewhat fast paced state of minds. Oh, I still trip out a bit at Fredro's bars, "Cause I don’t really really give a fuck/Praise the lord cause even nuns get stuck."
*4 out of 5*

9. "Da Bounca Nigga" (*#)
The crew has a few words with the bounca while trying to enter a club.

10. "Nigga Bridges" (* and Jeff Harris)
Co-Produced by Chyskillz 

Only Onyx could flip the "London Bridge" song and make it dope and not one bit corny. Nothing more to add to this one, but it's still largely good.
*4 out of 5*

11. "Onyx Is Here" (#*)

This is another case where a song picks up where a prior one leaves off, in this case, "Bacdafucup." Some may see this as an extension of that opener, but no matter what the case is, one thing is for certain: this is such a tight, appropriately titled song. "Back up back up, the Onyx is here!!!!"
*5 out of 5*

12. "Slam" (#*)

Man, this classic (and I'm JUST finding out that this was the album's SECOND single and not the first, which was "Throw Ya Gunz"). I was a few weeks away from finishing up the 3rd grade when this song dropped, and as I mentioned in the intro, I thought it was so dope at the time and whenever the video came on, I would stop what I was doing just to watch, as well as pump up the volume when it came on the radio. Speaking of which, this joint blazed TV (always stayed on the countdown at the time) and it maintained a healthy presence on BET and MTV, respectively. Was it a success? You bet. It hit #4 on the "Billboard 100" chart and their second single to hit #1 on the charts after "Throw Ya Gunz." The rowdy nature of the crew, the pulse pounding beat, the memorable hook and video, ALL of this has aged so well and it more than holds up today. Incredible.
*5 out of 5*

Mad Face quotes

"Well it’s another one, in the gutter one, ghetto runnin' em/Troublesome, extra double dumb, I come to beat em/Defeat em and mistreat em, so what if that I’m cheatin'/Now everybody wanna sound grimey (yeah I know)" -Fredro

"I’m the nitty, nasty, gritty smashing, never slow gassing/Strictly swift blast of the raspy-rasp fashion/That I provide, I abide the U.S.G/Besides the ghetto vibe, make me flip like Jekyll and Hyde" -Suave

"I’m a b-boy, standing in my b-boy stance/Hurry up and give me the microphone before I bust in my pants/The mad author of anguish, my language polluted/Onyx is heavyweight (and still undisputed)" -Sticky 

13. "Stik 'N' Muve" (Jeff Harris, *)
Co-Produced by Chyskillz

Whether it was sticking up the next man or dodging "one time" (another term for the police, for newer fans), they had two things in mind: stickin' and movin'. And of course, they jokingly say "shouldn't be stickin' up people you know." 
*5 out of 5*

14. "Bichasbootleguz" (#*)
Another skit, in which they say "the bichasbootlega muthafucka sellin' my tape, you get shot!" Bootlegging isn't something that started as technology became more sophisticated. This practice of getting a product via illegal means and selling it for such low prices has been in existence for YEARS and in the 90s, moreso than another other decade, such practices would result in strong consequences for the seller.

15. "Shifftee" (#*)

"Low down, gritty and grimey," this is what "shifftee" means. This has always been one of my favorite Onyx songs ever. With the usual rowdiness, unmistakable energy and a BASS driven beat, this is SUCH a winner on all levels. "Mad face ain't no disguise!!!!"
*5 out of 5*

Mad Face quotes

"I got struck by lightning and the thunder/Wilder than the shit from the tundra/No wonder/Help me up someone’s pullin me under/A scorcher, flame on the brain this is torture" -Fredro 

"Come and just bust me feel the real shit/Drilled through your eardrum, hell yeah I’m fearsome/My equilibrium, is touched with the U.S.G., sickness/Contaminated with slickness" -Suave

"One day I'mma rule the fuckin' world, just mark my word/I've got the filthiest shit, human ears ever heard/And even if you wash my mouth out with soap/I'll still be as disgusting and despicable!" -Sticky

"I'm more than meets the eye, energize, make your blood pressure rise/Mad Face ain't no disguise!" -Sticky 

16. "Phat ('N' All Dat)" #

Phat was definitely one word you could use to describe Onyx and their style and that was pretty clear on this one.
*5 out of 5*

17. "Da Nex Niguz" 
Produced by Kool Tee

Talk about a song that was the opposite of "Da Blac Vagina Finda," but not by much. This one is the tale of two stories: how women and relationships can instantly change a man and keeping a close eye on scheming women at the same time. Decent.
*4 out of 5*

18. "Getdafucout" (*#)
In a SLIGHTLY anti-climatic closer, Sticky throws everyone out on the basis of their own actions outside the club, from the sounds of it.

Before I comment on this debut, I want to start by talking about Big DS. Although he was one of the founding members of the group, you'll notice I didn't mention him that much during this part of the post, and that's largely because he only made a few appearances. He would leave the group after this album dropped in an effort to pursue a solo career, but it wasn't successful. He would unfortunately pass away on May 23, 2003 after a battle with cancer.

Onyx's debut had aged well across the board. The rowdy, energetic styles of Fredro, Sticky and Sonee, along with the great chemistry they had with each other, was truly something new on the scene in '93 and it worked in spades. You can also say "Throw Ya Gunz" and "Slam" effectively sold this album, resulting in a Platinum certification on October 23, 1993. (I also could've sworn I read that this album won a "Best Rap Album" Grammy award in either '93 or '94.) How would they follow up? I'll answer that in detail on the next album, "All We Got Iz Us." 5 stars overall for their debut.

Release date: October 24, 1995

 All songs produced by Fredro Starr, except where noted

1. "Life Or Death (Skit)"
This chilling, 48 second intro sets quite the dark tone for what's to come, and speaking of dark, that's one word to describe this album and its sound. This start, much like how the previous album opens, becomes important later.

2. "Last Dayz"

After the "Life Or Death" intro/skit, we head right into a classic, one of two singles released from the album. Fredro, Sticky and Sonee talk mostly about doing what it takes, by any means, to survive, before time runs out and wanting more in the process. Fredro, who'll be flexing his production muscles all throughout the album, came through with a banger of a beat featuring notable, dope samples courtesy of Bob James' "Love Lips" and Lee Dorsey's "Get Out My Life Woman."
*5 out of 5*

Mad Face quotes

"To make bread I gotta steal for sport/So I stole the show and made some pennies for my thoughts" -Sticky

"It’s life on the edge, a dangerous way of livin'/Never givin' a shit/Cause we livin' in it" -Fredro

3. "All We Got Iz Us (Evil Streets)"
Additional Vocals by P.I.

"These evil streets is rough
Ain’t no one we can trust
Either roll wit the rush or get rushed
Cause all we got is us!!"

P.I.'s hook tells the story for this dope title track. If these men weren't aggressive that much in '93, they certainly turned it up that a few notches here. "Either roll wit the rush or get rushed" indeed. I know my description may have been brief, but this is one of those songs that speaks for itself.
*5 out of 5*

4. "Purse Snatchaz"
Produced by Onyx

This arguably is the best song on the album, an apply titled one at that. Across the three verses, the crew deliver dark details in the life of a "purse snatcha" and the corresponding environment. Fredro opens with one of his best verses, with Sonee not too far behind, however, Sticky closes this in such an awesome fashion by dropping what I would also consider one of his best verses ever, effectively using words with the "tion" suffix (and ending each bar with them) to exceptional results. (I decided not to include Sticky's entire verse below. You have to listen to the song itself to get the maximum effect.)
*5 out of 5*

5. "Shout"
A good song right here, complete with a rowdy, call & response hook. Lyrically these men are on another level, but it doesn't serve as a distraction.
*4 out of 5*

Mad Face quote

"Amnesia couldn’t make me forget about where I came from" -Sticky

6. "I'll Murder U (Skit)"
A 22 second skit that I really like because of the pounding beat, plus Fredro saying "I'll murder U" off and on continues to give me a few chuckles here and there.

7. "Betta Off Dead"
Produced by Onyx, Co-Produced by 8-Off Assassin

This one continues the "Life Or Death" skit in a way. I never got the vibe that they were glorifying suicide here, but in an interesting twist, if you will, lyrically they not only go off the deep end (still tight with it), but they're essentially telling you what could result if pushed WAY past their limits. Even Sticky comes with "I’m ahead of my time, in my prime, one of a kind and out of my mind!" Very good song if you ask me.
*5 out of 5*

Mad Face quote

"I’m a tyrant, strikin' like a viking/A knight in shining armor, death before dishonor" -Fredro 


8. "Live Niguz"


I've always thought this was a dope song (the album's second single) and today it still is. Plus, the nostalgia from this song is present big time, because whenever I bump it, it takes me back to when I first got "The Show" and this song appears on that soundtrack.
*4 out of 5*

Mad Face quote

"It’s here, and yeah we the core, the center/It’s time to get live once more, we back on this agenda" -Sonee 

9. "Punkmotherfukaz"
Produced by Onyx, Co-Produced by 8-Off Assassin

At one point I went back and forth about whether this song should've been longer or if the length was right on, and I gotta go with the latter, because even though it makes its points, it didn't need to be longer than what it was. (I also frequently played this joint whenever I was mad at something.)

*3 out of 5*

10. "Most Def"

I like this one a lot, another tight song with a call & response hook and a "darkly clever" vibe surrounding it all.
*5 out of 5*

Mad Face quotes

"I ain’t never had so many death threats in one year/But talk is cheap and it’s comin' out my other ear/Cause as sure as there’s a devil in hell I’m still here/To come first but not least from the East so prepare/Cause that’s the last straw now your ass is mine/You bit off more than you can chew so now I gotta draw the line" -Sticky

11. "Act Up (Skit)
Another skit almost on the same level as "I Murder U."

12. "Getto Mentalitee"
Featuring All City and P.I.

Lyrically, this is about as apply titled as you can get. Guests All City and P.I. hold things down quite well with Onyx here as well. Although there will likely be "Mad Face quotes" to follow, you'd really have to listen to the song to get the full force of why there's a "getto mentalitee."
*4 out of 5*

Mad Face quotes

 "I bring it down like gravity with a ghetto mentality/To feel the agony of the Afficial Nastee Armee strategy" -Fredro

"The hell with wounds, I won’t leave a scratch to patch/This is war, way worse than a grudge match" -P.I.

13. "2 Wrongs"
Produced by Sticky Fingaz

"Two wrongs don't make it right but it damn sure make us even!" Sticky

This may be your "standard Onyx fare" right here, but Sticky's one bar hook tells you most of what you need to know about this song. In another notable bit, Fredro correctly points out the hypocrisy of their hit "Throw Ya Gunz" being labeled as negative, but coming back with "They the ones who put the guns in the ghetto for destruction/this is the oppression, the deception, killing our own complexion." True words and that same oppression, deception and killing our own complexion sadly still exists in our country.
*4 out of 5*

14. "Maintain (Skit)"
The crew comes with mad shoutouts as we head to the album's closing song.

15. "Walk In New York"

The crew shows mad love to NY and at the same time laying it down verbally in regards to the (then) style of walking in the big city, which is still "shiftee, low down gritty and grimey." Fredro even throws somewhat of a shot at the West Coast, coming with "we don't throw gang signs in New York/we just be on some shit in New York," which was indeed true. VERY good song and a dope way to close the album. (Check out the video and you'll also see a relatively unknown Ja Rule.)
*5 out of 5*

Mad Face quotes

 "So lick shot to all the boroughs and ghettos across the nation/Other states who could relate get bullet proof appreciation!" -Sticky

First things first, to say this 4.5 star album, much like their debut, still holds up is an understatement. To this day, I still go back and forth as to whether I like this album more than "Bacdafucup" or not (who knows I may come to that decision towards the end of this post) This is a much different album than "Bacdafucup" and while Fredro, Sticky and Sonee still come with the lyrical heat, what makes this album really stand out is the dark tone that's highly present from beginning to end, and you hear that in the lyrics (they came more ruff, rugged, rowdy and hardcore) and the production. Speaking of the production, the crew stepped in and did the majority of it themselves, which was mostly dope. Also, while Jam Master Jay served as one of two Executive Producers of the album (the other being Randy Allen), there was essentially no input from him whatsoever, and you can attribute that likely to him stepping back and allowing them to flex their creative muscles moreso than they did in '93. And with that said, two years almost made a difference. Compared to '93 when they enjoyed much success, it seemed like this album fell on deaf ears in '95, even though "Last Dayz" and "Walk In New York" made a decent amount of noise, plus it sold less than its predecessor. Granted, '95 was a GREAT year in hip hop, but looking back you would think that the times had already passed Onyx by. After this release, they would take a step back from the game (Sticky and Fredro respectively would branch out into other non hip hop related territory, specifically acting) and wouldn't return until '98 with their 3rd album, "Shut 'Em Down," which is where we head next!

Release date: June 2, 1998

1. "It Was Onyx"
It would not be an Onyx album without an intro where they make you think they're on some "next level shit." And just when that thought hits you, we go RIGHT into.....

2. "Raze It Up"
Produced by Keith Horne, Co-Produced by Onyx

I remember hanging out with my long time friend Shaun around the time this album dropped. A car had drove by bumping this song and all Shaun could do was bob his head while saying, "that's that shit right there," and he was right! After 2 1/2 years away from the scene, Onyx returned and this was the perfect song to start the album. The hardcore, Official Nastee rowdiness still remained in full form, showing they hadn't lost one step. DOPE song.
*5 out of 5*

3. "Street Nigguz"
Additional Vocals by X-1
Produced by DJ Scratch

"Street nigguz! Gettin' high all the time
Street nigguz! Fuck beef and draw the nine
Street nigguz! Always yellin' fuck the cops
Street nigguz! We the niggas that call the shots" 

Well loyal reader, that hook defines this DJ Scratch produced joint in a nutshell and again, it's about what you would expect from Onyx in '98, especially Sticky's verse. Guest X-1 joins the crew and we'll be hearing a lot more from him on this album, playing the unofficial 4th member.
*4 out of 5*

4. "Shut 'Em Down"
Featuring DMX
Produced by Self

"Niggas pumped you up to watch you get beat/Had you thinkin' shit is sweet, now you up shit's creek, cause your shit's weak" -DMX

Hot damn, I love this classic! The album's first single was and still is a complete banger, no question. Not only did it solidify a return for Onyx, it also features a dope guest appearance by a HOT DMX, one month after dropping his anticipated debut "It's Dark And Hell Is Hot." Talk about a collaboration that delivered and worked in spades. 
*5 out of 5*

5. "Broke Willies"
Additional Vocals by X-1
Produced by Keith Horne, Co-Produced by Onyx

Considering their previous success, it wasn't a surprise to hear a "life of luxury" type song from Onyx and this was one was good. Some may look at that as a step back for Onyx, but at the same time, who wants to be broke? 
*4 out of 5*

6. "For Nothin' (Skit)"
This skit takes us into.....

7. "Rob And Vic"
Additional Vocals by X-1 and Chocolate
Produced by Keith Horne

There was an alternate version of this song that floated on a few mixtapes, featuring a sample of the theme from the "King Of New York," but the version that made this album is different and honestly, production wise, it's better. This song highlights Sticky's storytelling abilities and X-1 keeps up with him all the way through. Set in 1993, it revolves around a fictional account of two brothers and how the extreme love of money came between them. Must be heard to be appreciated.
*5 out of 5*

8. "Face Down"
Produced by DJ Self

Self came through with a good beat laced with some video game like sound effects, however, this lacked the aggression you would normally associate with Onyx and a song like this.
*3 out of 5*

Mad Face quote

"Dead serious, hysterias, fillin' ya, interior/Wit nervousness, for your services/WE CUTTIN' OFF YOUR CIRCULATION AND DEADEN YA PURPOSES!" -Sonee

9. "Cops (Skit)"
Revisiting this skit, I guarantee you none of the crew have favorable opinions of the police.

10. "Conspiracy"
Additional Vocals by X-1 and Clay The Raider
Produced by DJ Scratch

I got what the crew was going for with the "keep your friends close but your enemies close" theme, but I really feel this song could've been a bit better. Also, listen for yourself to see if you think this picks up where "Rob And Vic" leaves off or no.
*4 out of 5*

11. "Black Dust"
Additional Vocals by X-1
Produced by DJ Scratch

Scratch's beat saves this one from being totally forgettable; it seemed like all involved were lyrically sleepwalking through this one unfortunately. Let's continue on.
*3 out of 5*

12. "One Nation (Skit)"
An interview clip, which finds a caller assuming that most artists who branch outside of hip hop tend to fall off, which is answered by Sticky.

13. "React"
Additional Vocals by Bonifucco, X-1, 50 Cent and Still Livin
Produced by Bud'da 

This song is notable for a pretty good sample of Slick Rick's classic "Mona Lisa" and the first appearance of 50 Cent, who also had the best verse in my view. Good song and it wouldn't have been out of place being played at a party, even if the content suggests otherwise. It also blends nicely into the next song.
*4 out of 5*

14. "Veronica"
Additional Vocals by X-1 and Sunshine 
Produced by Self, Co-Produced by Clay The Raider

Some more Onyx storytelling is on display, this time Sonee and Fredro are along from the ride. This one is about a simple visit gone wrong when they get to Veronica's crib. Just when you think Veronica is completely oblivious to what's happening, the tables are turned.
*4 out of 5*

15. "Fuck Dat"
Additional Vocals by X-1, Bubba Smith, J Mega, Greg Valentine and Sunshine
Produced by Self

A very good song, heavily showcasing X-1 and the members of All City.
*4 out of 5*

16. "Ghetto Starz"
Featuring Mr. Cheeks (Additional Vocals by X-1)
Produced by Bud'da 

I'll tell you one thing, even in a scene where there may be a party going on, Onyx can keep the aggression going and still make it work, and that's certainly the case here. Mr. Cheeks from the Lost Boyz stops by for the hook over a NICE, thumping Bud'da production featuring a '98 twist on Kurtis Blow's classic "X-Mas Rappin."
 *4.5 out of 5*

17. "Take That"

Clocking in at 1:27, had this Sticky solo been longer, the rating would be better. For what we got, it's decent, nothing more.
*3 out of 5*

18. "The Worst"
Featuring Raekwon, Method Man and Killa Sin (Additional Vocals by X-1)
Produced by Bud'da

Oh man, another classic I love, right here; it also appeared on the "Ride" soundtrack which came out in '98. Much like X did on "Shut Em Down," 2/9 of the Wu-Tang Clan and Killa Sin fit SO well with Onyx and the results were extremely dope. All involved come with ill bars over an equally ill Bud'da production with a WELL timed "Protect Ya Neck" sample. Great stuff here.
*5 out of 5*

*19. "Overshine"
Additional Vocals by J Mega and Greg Valentine
Produced by Keith Horne, Co-Produced by Onyx

As far as I'm concerned, this is the first of two bonus tracks. The Isley Brothers' "Here We Go Again" provides a good sample for this song about shining through everything as long as you live. The sound may be a bit (too) mellow for Onyx, but they make it work.
*4 out of 5*

*20. "Shut 'Em Down (Remix)"
Featuring Big Pun and Noreaga
Produced by Self 

"I turn ya soon to statue like Medusa's lookin' at you/Produce the future raps or subtract you like dudes in math do" -Pun

The original was so dope that it spawned this pretty good remix, featuring Nore and Pun, who were also hot in '98. Again, this is pretty good, but compared to the original, it's not better (and the late, great Pun kills it of course).
*4 out of 5*

Peaking at #10 on the "Billboard 200" chart, this was another slammin' album from Onyx (and also the last time any of their albums would have any presence on Billboard). At a time when hip hop still had an edge (especially East Coast hip hop), Onyx's return to the scene was a breath of fresh air in the same vein as DMX when he emerged on the scene in '98. Lyrically, Sticky, Fredro and Sonee came with more of the same while not sounding outdated, X-1 was more than acceptable in his role as the (unofficial) 4th member and the production side of things was strong like their first two albums. Speaking of which, even as I prepare to close this post, I don't know which of these three albums I like the most, which shows how GOOD these albums were. As for "Shut 'Em Down," another 4.5 star album here and one of 98's best.

Before I close this, I have some additional thoughts.

Outside of a dope remix to "Dyin 4 Rap," I never got around to checking out any of Fredro's solo material and I do have to revisit Sticky's "Blacktrash: The Autobiography of Kirk Jones" at some point. In addition, outside of the "post Shut 'Em Down" albums, Sonee wasn't on the scene as much as Sticky and Fredro, but it's good they're still on cordial terms. After "Shut 'Em Down," the crew took another step back from the scene, but returned with "Bacdafucup Part II" in 2002. I remember seeing them on "106 & Park" promoting the album, but to this day I've heard nothing but mixed feedback about the album and never checked it out (that may change). I also never checked out 2003's "Triggernometry," but I did cop the last album they dropped, "Wakedafucup" (2014), which is such an underrated album that proved they still had it on the mic (also reviewed it on the blog). I still have to revisit both volumes of the "Cold Case Files" and I'm also hoping that the planned "Onyx vs. M.O.P." album, with or without the Snowgoons production, sees the light of day. With all this said, MAD props and respect to Onyx for all of their contributions since '93 and if they're reading this, thank you!! Salute!!

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