Friday, July 1, 2016

"2 In 1" ---> Das EFX

The last time I talked about Das EFX on the blog was during my revisit of their third album, "Hold It Down" (my favorite album from them by the way), and you can check out that post in the Blog archives (I also go into a bit more on that post too). This particular "2 in 1" post will focus on their first two albums, 1992's "Dead Serious," their debut, and 1993's "Straight Up Sewaside."

Release date: April 7, 1992

All songs produced by Solid Scheme (Chris Charity and Derek Lynch), except where noted

1. "Mic Checka"

If I'm putting someone onto Das for the first time, this opener is the song I would direct them to. I've always given credit to Skoob (the "Books" in reverse) and Drayz for implementing such an original flow at the time, as well as incorporating the "iggedy" style that would later be bit to death by other artists. Classic, sample driven opener to begin things. (Also, listen closely and you'll notice that at the end of the song, Drayz starts an impromptu freestyle as the song fades.)
*5 out of 5*

EFX Quotes
"I miggedy make enough noise like Bamm Bamm/Throw boulders from Bedrock, you'll get dropped, I slam man" -Drayz

"I biggedy bum riggedy rush chiggedy chumps , I'm savage/I shake em up and down like the Dow Jones average/I'm cocky, like Rocky, I biggedy bangs the best/So tiggedy tell your friend chump, cause here comes Das EFX" -Drayz

And of course, check out the equally classic, yet superior Solid Scheme produced remix.

2. "Jussummen"

Backed by a well timed Slick Rick sample courtesy of "La Di Da Di", Drayz and Skoob just came through with line after line at such a somewhat frenetic pace. Also, Skoob's "tomato, tomahto, baloney, bologna" line remains one of the silliest lines I've ever heard, lol, but it doesn't take away from an otherwise dope song.
*4 out of 5*

3. "They Want EFX"
Co-Produced by Marcus Logan and Kevin Birdsong

Oh man, whenever I hear or talk about this song, one word immediately comes to mind: classic. Truth be told, I don't think I've heard James Brown's "Blind Man Can See It", another classic, used SO well in a hip hop song before or since. Drayz, who comes through with such a memorable opening verse, and Skoob bring arguably their most celebrated verses ever. I also can't forget the first episode of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air's third season when Will entered the house, fresh from his summer vacation back home in Philly, with this classic playing on his boombox, which goes to show how GOOD and popular this song was at the time. Needless to say, this song will always stand the test of time and below will be the original and remix, respectively.
*5 out of 5*

4. "Looseys"

Drayz and Skoob were going for some laughs in this one, lol, I think. Over two verses, they both talk about some happenings where certain things couldn't be controlled when it came to "the human body", and this is literally in Skoob's case, lol.
*4 out of 5*

5. "Dum Dums"

Mad props to Solid Scheme for combining a "jeep beat" along with samples courtesy of Run-DMC ("Here We Go") and Otis Redding ("The Happy Song"). As for this song, the stories being told are, well, interesting to say the least. Drayz and Skoob are in with two ladies right? It's clear to the men that they are only after one thing and it's oblivious to the ladies. If not taken too seriously, this ends up being a funny little story.
*4 out of 5*

6. "East Coast"

As an admitted "East Coast head", you have to know I've always liked this one and of course it still knocks today. Not only does Drayz and Skoob freak some mad flows on this one, they also throw a few shoutouts to fellow East Coast MCs mid-song. Tight stuff here.
*5 out of 5*

7. "If Only"

Complete with a sample courtesy of Stanley Turrentine's "The Man With The Sad Face", Das comes with somewhat of a futuristic sound, circa '92, and it compliments their dope, "iggidy styled" flows.
*4 out of 5*

8. "Brooklyn To T-Neck"

In case you might've forgotten (or possibly didn't know), Drayz is from Brooklyn, NY and Skoob comes from Teaneck, NJ (which is the basis of this song right here), plus they would later meet at Virginia State University in '88. Another very good song.
*4 out of 5*

9. "Klap Ya Handz"
Co-Produced by Dexter James

I can't think of too many hip hop songs that didn't use The Emotions' "Blind Alley" effectively, and when it comes to this one, it succeeds as well. Drayz and Skoob were one of the very few acts who could bring multiple bits from nursery rhymes, incorporate them into a dope track and still make it sound nice. Can't do nothing but "klap ya handz" and bob your head to this one.
*5 out of 5*

10. "Straight Out The Sewer"

A good song to close the album, almost coming with the same vibe and sound found on "Brooklyn To T-Neck." Also, it just occurred to me that when they would frequently talk about the sewer, it meant many things, but the first one that comes to mind is the (hip hop) underground.
*4 out of 5*

"Dead Serious" still holds up after almost 25 years (wow). Backed by tight production from Solid Scheme, Drayz and Skoob came with such a unique yet dope style at the time that it shouldn't come as a surprise to know that it didn't take long for other artists to copy, mostly those on the East Coast scene. Even though the rest of the album is solid, "Mic Checka" and "They Want Efx" (the original and remixes) sold this album pretty well, and it was a success, staying at #1 on the "Billboard" chart for four weeks (according to Parrish "PMD" Smith) and I believe it went Gold in the process. Hip hop history has judged this to be a classic (and rightfully so), however, I'm going with a strong 4.5 star rating for Das' debut. 

Release date: November 19, 1993

[Nostalgic moment --> This was actually one of the earliest cassette tapes I ever owned, after KRS-One's "Return Of The Boom Bap." My mom's boyfriend at the time, Wade, bought me this tape in a completely nice gesture and I always appreciated it. In the early part of '94, I remember being on the playground, and the tape was in my pocket. Why I didn't leave it in the house is beyond me, smh+lol. As I was playing around or whatever, it didn't occur to me until much later that the tape was missing. I went back outside that night, REALLY looking for it, then coming to the unfortunate reality that it was gone. I was sad as you can believe, and even though it took some time, I managed to cop the CD several months later.]

All songs produced by Solid Scheme

1. "Intro"
Drayz and Skoob return from the sewer in '93.....

2. "Undaground Rappa"

I didn't mention this at all during the "Dead Serious" portion, but Drayz and Skoob did a great job when it came to the "back & forth/tag team style" of MCing, and that's on full display on this James Brown sampled opener ("Soul Power").
*5 out of 5*

"So bring it cause I can swing it kid, like Reggie Jackson/I got the bats and balls but now I need some action" -Drayz

"In L.A. I hit the chronic, I'm super like the Sonics/I'll jab you wit the left and swing a hook without the Phonics" -Skoob

"So hey hey hey, you thought it was just another Fad like JJ/Cause I be using a style that's stupider than Sheneneh" -Skoob

3. "Gimme Dat Microphone"

"One wrecks, the other destroys" -Erick Sermon

Even though the above line saw Erick defining himself and partner in rhyme Parrish on the mic, this same line also defines Das EFX and this song overall. Drayz and Skoob loved the mic, no question about that, and it does come across as they freaked their styles back and forth.
*4 out of 5*

4. "Check It Out"

Man, Drayz and Skoob catch some serious wreck on this appropriately titled banger, nuff said.
*5 out of 5*

"When I flaunt this, niggas want this, style I be using/And switch it when I pitch it cause bitch I bring confusion" -Drayz

5. "Interlude"
Radio stations are flipped through until we get to.....

6. "Freakit"

Oh man I love this one and its accompanying video. The dopeness of their back and forth/tag team style, along with an ill Solid Scheme production, with a brief sample in the background courtesy of MC Shan's "The Bridge", many quotable lines and a simple yet effective hook makes this first single a classic winner.
*5 out of 5*

7. "Rappaz"

"Rappaz just ain't what they used to be"

If there ever was a line that shows the state of hip hop as of this post, it's the line above. Drayz and Skoob aren't really talking about the state of hip hop in '93 in my view, instead they just freak their styles on the mic like normal.
*4 out of 5*

8. "Interview"
The main points of this brief interview clip (once the "radio station" is found, lol) is that they already knew that since they came with such a different style the year prior, it was going to be copied, but they take it as a compliment rather than a form of disrespect. We all know who started this thing: DAS EFX

9. "Baknaffek"

THIS, loyal reader, is my favorite Das EFX ever, yes indeed. From the sampled opening of "People" by Graham Central Station to the drop of an INCREDIBLE, thumping beat and Drayz sick opening verse, this second single from the album is such a great song that epitomized the supreme Das EFX sound in '93 and it WORKED. I LOVE this song.
*5 out of 5*

10. "Kaught In Da AK"

Drayz and Skoob flex their storytelling muscles here, in an easy to follow story of them doing what it takes to fatten their pockets. The conclusion of the song somewhat leaves a bit to be desired, but the song as a whole is good.
*4 out of 5*

11. "Wontu"

Backed by samples courtesy of Biz Markie from "Just Rhymin' With Biz" and Eric B. & Rakim's "I Know You Got Soul", the guys continue to catch wreck on the mic. ANOTHER good song.
*4 out of 5*

12. "Krazy Wit Da Books"

Not to take away from this song, which is pretty good, but I feel it would've been a bit better had they went the "back & forth/tag team style" considering the title of the song. 
*4 out of 5*

13. "It's Like Dat"

A well timed, Big Daddy Kane sample, courtesy of "Just Rhymin' With Biz" keeps the energy going as we prepare to close album #2.
*4 out of 5*

14. "Host Wit Da Most (Rappaz Remix)"

The same lyrics present on the original version are found here, over a Johnny Guitar Watson sampled production ("Superman Lover").
*4 out of 5*

I want to finish this post by talking about three things: album #2 overall and its reception and Das EFX in general. Starting with the album itself, to this day I'm still not sure as to why most of the songs were censored, and that's something that plagued a few hip hop albums at the time (the manufacturers should've placed a "Parental Advisory Explicit Lyrics" sticker on the front if you ask me). Furthermore, after thinking about this for quite some time, there's no doubt in my mind that Das' sophomore album is way better than "Dead Serious." The Solid Scheme production was doper (and dare I say edgier) and lyrically, Drayz and Skoob stepped their game up tremendously. Where "Dead Serious" saw them as "hip hop freshman" so to speak, still working out the kinks of their styles, "Straight Up Sewaside" came with a rugged, fresher and aggressive approach, which would continue on 1995's "Hold It Down." The first half is simply awesome, and while things slow down considerably after "Baknaffek," it's still mostly solid material, fast paced too.

Continuing on, as I revisited this album, I was thinking back to the hip hop scene in '93. "Straight Up Sewaside" was hugely slept on as '93 turned into '94. Granted, I know the West Coast hip hop scene was dominating, largely thanks to Death Row Records, and the South was emerging with some talented acts of their own, but as the East Coast was in the midst of a strong resurgence, you mean to tell me Das EFX was already yesterday's news when just ONE year earlier, "Dead Serious" blew up with "Mic Checka" and "They Want EFX" leading the way? That's very interesting to me, because this, as well as "Hold It Down," are two seriously overlooked albums that still don't receive the acclaim and/or mention like their debut. Either way, I'm going with another solid 4.5 star rating for album #2.

And finally, I want to make something clear: Drayz and Skoob COULD RAP and after almost 20+ years in the game, I'm sure they could still rap circles around 75% of hip hop "artists" today, that's for damn sure. They may mostly be known for "They Want EFX" and originating the "iggedy" flow with top notch breath control to match, but these two men had skills and I feel that's overlooked today just like their 2nd and 3rd albums are. Drayz, Skoob, if you haven't been told recently, thanks for your contributions and I appreciate the talent and skills you both brought to hip hop since '92. Salute!!!!!

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