Category: gangsta rap

On this day in music history: November 17, 199…

On this day in music history: November 17, 1992 – “The Predator”, the third album by Ice Cube is released. Produced by Ice Cube, DJ Pooh, Sir Jinx, Torcha Chamba, and DJ Muggs, it is recorded at Echo Sound in Glendale, CA and The Hit Factory in New York City from Late 1991 – Mid 1992. Issued as the follow up to the platinum selling “Death Certificate”, the L.A. born rapper/actor writes many of the albums’ songs in the wake of the LA Riots in the Spring of 1992 and reflects those events and the aftermath. It spins off three singles including “Wicked”, Check Yo’ Self" and “It Was A Good Day”. Well received by fans and critics upon its release, the album is Cube’s most commercially successful. The album cover photo is taken by photographer Pamela Springsteen (Bruce’s younger sister). The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2003, with four additional bonus tracks, including the remixes of “Check Yo’ Self”, “It Was A Good Day”, and the B-sides “24 Wit An L” and “You Ain’t Gonna Take My Life”.

Issued on vinyl in limited quantities during its original release in 1992, it is remastered and reissued as a double LP pressing in 2003, and as a single 180 gram LP in 2016.

“The Predator” spends one week at number one on both the Billboard Top 200 and R&B album charts, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: November 16, 199…

On this day in music history: November 16, 1999 – “2001 (aka "The Chronic 2001”)“, the second album by Dr. Dre is released. Produced by Dr. Dre, Mel-Man and Lord Finesse, it is recorded at Dre’s Crib in Los Angeles, CA, Larrabee Sound Studios, A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA, Can-Am Recorders in Tarzana, CA, Encore Studios in Burbank, CA, Record One, Los Angeles in Sherman Oaks, CA, Skip Saylor Recording in Northridge, CA, Sierra Sonics Studios in Reno, NV and D&D Studios in New York City from Early 1998 – Mid 1999. Making a huge impact with his landmark solo debut "The Chronic” in late 1992, nearly seven years passes before the producer and rapper follows it up. In spite of the prolonged silence between albums, Dre is far from idle during this time. He produces protege Snoop Dogg’s multi-Platinum debut “Doggystyle”, tracks for the soundtracks of “Murder Was The Case”, “Above The Rim” and “Friday”. Dre also issues the compilation album “Dre Presents The Aftermath”, appears on Blackstreet’s Grammy winning chart topper “No Diggity” as well producing tracks for 2Pac and for Emimem’s major label debut album. By 1998, Dre begins working on his long awaited sophomore release. The producer pulls together an elite crew of talent including Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, Kurupt, Xzibit, Eminem, Devin The Dude, Knoc-turn’al, King T, Defari, Kokane, Hittman, and Mary J. Blige. Any talk of Dre having lost his touch is quickly silenced with the release of the first single “Still D.R.E.” featuring Snoop Dogg (#11 Rap, #32 R&B, #93 Pop), anchored by samples of ominous sounding strings and a piano vamp played by keyboardist and producer Scott Storch (Beyonce, 50 Cent, The Roots). The album is an immediate hit, spinning off two more singles including “Forgot About Dre” (#14 R&B, #25 Pop) and “The Next Episode” (#11 R&B, #23 Pop). Other tracks including “The Watcher”, “F*** You” and “Xxplosive” also become favorites, with the track from the latter being sampled as basis for the hit remix version of Erykah Badu’s “Bag Lady” (#1 R&B, #6 Pop) in 2000. “2001” is nominated for three Grammy Awards, winning Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal for “Forgot About Dre” in 2001. “2001 (aka "The Chronic 2001”)“ spends four weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number two on the Top 200, and is certified 6x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: November 6, 1987…

On this day in music history: November 6, 1987 – “N.W.A. And The Posse”, the first compilation album by N.W.A. is released. Produced by Dr. Dre, it is recorded at Audio Achievements in Torrance, CA from Mid 1986 – Early 1987. Proceeding N.W.A. and Eazy E’s debut albums “Straight Outta Compton” and “Eazy Duz It” by nearly a year, the eleven track compilation features previously issued material by both artists originally released N.W.A.’s “Panic Zone” 12" EP and Eazy E’s debut single “Boyz In The Hood”. The album also included cut by other acts that are part of the N.W.A. posse including The Fila Fresh Crew and Rappinstine. Originally released on Los Angeles based indie label Macola Records, the album is reissued by Priority Records in 1989, but the reissue deletes the Rappinstine track “Scream”, replacing it with N.W.A.’s “A Bitch Iz A Bitch” (also issued as the B-side of “Express Yourself”). In 2002, the tracks from the original LP are incorporated into a remastered reissue of the “Straight Outta Compton” album. The original vinyl LP configuration (with the amended track listing) of “N.W.A. And The Posse” is reissued by Universal Music Group’s UMe imprint in May of 2015 as part of their “Respect The Classics” reissue program. The vinyl also features a 3D lenticular rendering of the original cover artwork. “N.W.A. And The Posse” peaks at number thirty nine on the Billboard R&B album chart, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: October 29, 1991…

On this day in music history: October 29, 1991 – “Death Certificate”, the second album by Ice Cube is released. Produced by Sir Jinx, Ice Cube and The Boogiemen, it is recorded at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles, CA from Early – Mid 1991. Following commercial success and critical acclaim of the former N.W.A. rapper’s first solo album “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted” and the EP “Kill At Will”, Ice Cube returns to the studio to record his second full length release. Cube works mostly with producer Sir Jinx along with a trio of producers dubbed “The Boogiemen” (consisting of DJ Pooh, Rashad, and Bobcat). The songs on the album is divided into two halves thematically, taking the listener on a journey. “The Death Side” depicts the status of many lower income African American communities plagued by drugs, violence, and other forms of self destructive behavior, and “The Life Side” with the songs being “a vision of where we need to go.” The result is an uncompromising and hard edged look at society set against a backdrop of Funk and R&B samples. The two tracks drawing the most controversy is “Black Korea”, written in response to the death of a fifteen year old African American girl killed by a Korean grocery store owner, who claimed the girl was shoplifting a bottle of orange juice. The other is albums closing track “No Vaseline” in which Cube takes his former N.W.A. bandmates (and former manager Jerry Heller) to task for dissing him on their EP “100 Miles And Runnin’” and the album “Efil4zaggin”. In spite of the controversy, the album is very well received both critically and commercially, spinning off two singles including “Steady Mobbin’” (#3 Rap, #30 R&B), and “True To The Game”. Later CD reissues includes the track “How To Survive In South Central”, recorded for the soundtrack of “Boyz In The Hood”. To commemorate its twenty fifth anniversary, the album is remastered and reissued in 2017, including three previously unreleased bonus tracks.“Death Certificate” spends three weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, debuting (and peaking at) number two on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: October 17, 1990…

On this day in music history: October 17, 1990 – “The Geto Boys”, the third album by The Geto Boys is released. Produced by DJ Ready Red, Doug King, John Bido,  and Johnny C, it is recorded at Rap-A-Lot Recording Studios and Rivendell Recorders in Houston, TX from Mid 1988 – Mid 1990. Making their debut around the same time as N.W.A., The Geto Boys from the notoriously rough Fifth Ward in Houston, TX, the group quickly become underground gangsta rap icons thanks to their first two albums “Making Trouble” and “Grip It! On That Other Level” released in 1988. Featuring gritty and funky beats made on an E-mu SP-1200 sampler/drum machine, the rhymes of Scarface, Willie D. and Bushwick Bill contain often violent, profane, sexually explicit and misogynist imagery with elements of horror or gore. Def Jam Records co-founder Rick Rubin is a fan of the group and offers to sign them to his label Def American, at the time being distributed by Geffen Records (then part of Warner Bros). Rubin along with engineer Brendan O’Brien (Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots) remixes all twelve tracks from “Grip It!” (also re-recording the vocals on several songs) along with “Assassins” from their debut. When the finished album is turned in to Geffen, the sh*t literally hits the fan, with executives at the label being highly offended by its lyrical content, especially the tracks “Mind Of A Lunatic” and “Assassins”. Geffen’s CD manufacturer Sony DADC (Digital Audio Disc Corporation) also refuses to press CD’s of the album for the same reason. Rubin instead arranges for Warner Bros subsidiary label Giant Records to handle distribution and marketing of the album, with WEA Manufacturing pressing the CD and manufacturing cassettes. In addition the Parental Advisory sticker on the front cover, an additional disclaimer is added, baring the legend, “Def American Recordings is opposed to censorship. Our manufacturer and distributor, however, do not condone or endorse the content of this recording, which they find violent, sexist, racist, and indecent”. Though most mainstream critics react negatively to the content of the album, on the opposite side, many in the rap music community praise it for its inventive use of samples (considering the limitations of the technology used), and the authoritative vocals of the groups three principal members. Not long after the album is released, The Geto Boys run into a problem with musician Steve Miller, who objects to the use of his song “The Joker” on the track “Gangster Of Love”. The original pressing is deleted and reissued with the sample being replaced by Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” in its place. This turns the original CD, cassette and rare vinyl pressings into expensive and sought after collector’s items. “The Geto Boys” peaks at number sixty seven on the Billboard R&B album chart and number one hundred seventy one on the Top 200.

On this day in music history: September 16, 19…

On this day in music history: September 16, 1988 – “Eazy-Duz-It”, the debut album by Eazy-E is released. Produced by Dr. Dre and DJ Yella, it is recorded at Audio Achievements in Torrance, CA from Late 1987 – Mid 1988. Released on the heels of NWA’s first album “Straight Outta Compton”, the first solo release for the Ruthless Records founder has a similar trajectory to success. Masterfully combining Dre’s beats with Eazy’s distinctive voice and delivery (with lyrics mostly written by Ice Cube and MC Ren), it follows in the vein of NWA’s debut. In spite of receiving only minor radio exposure (due to the explicit language and violence depicted on many tracks) and play for the music videos, it goes platinum shortly after its release. It spins off three singles including “We Want Eazy” and the title track. It goes on to be regarded as a definitive hardcore rap album, and a classic of the genre. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2002, then again in 2013 with two additional bonus tracks. It is also reissued on vinyl as part of UMe’s “Respect The Classics” reissue series. And in 2016, the classic is reissued on cassette tape, with a 3D lenticular rendering of the cover artwork. “Eazy-Duz-It” peaks at number twelve on the Billboard R&B album chart, number forty one on the Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: September 13, …

On this day in music history: September 13, 1988 – “Power”, the second album by Ice-T is released. Produced by Afrika Islam, it is recorded at Syndicate West Studios in Los Angeles, CA from Autumn 1987 – Summer 1988. While his debut album “Rhyme Pays” is still climbing the charts, Ice-T begins work on his sophomore release. Formerly a gang member and drug dealer, much like his first album, he paints vivid pictures of his former lifestyle in the lyrics of his songs, while also warning against the consequences of living a fast and violent lifestyle. A point that is misconstrued by many not looking beyond the surface, especially in songs like “High Rollers” (#9 Rap, #76 R&B), and the title track. The album attracts further controversy with its album cover art, featuring Ice-T’s then girlfriend (later ex-wife) Darlene Ortiz in a barely there white bikini, brandishing a shotgun, standing next to Ice and DJ Evil E. On the back cover, it is revealed that Ice and E are also holding guns behind their backs. In spite of the criticism, it becomes Ice-T’s biggest selling album, spinning off two singles including “I’m Your Pusher” (#13 R&B). Original US vinyl LP’s feature embossed cover graphics on the front of the jacket. Out of print on vinyl since 1989, it is remastered and reissued by Rhino Records in 2014. “Power” peaks at number six on the Billboard R&B album chart, number thirty six on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: August 8, 1988 -…

On this day in music history: August 8, 1988 – “Straight Outta Compton”, the debut album by N.W.A is released. Produced by Dr. Dre and DJ Yella, it is recorded at Audio Achievements in Torrance, CA from Late 1987 – Early 1988. The groundbreaking first album by the Compton, CA rap group introduce hardcore rap to the mainstream. Painting graphic sonic pictures of life in their native Compton and South Central Los Angeles, backed by samples of classic R&B and Funk, the album immediately strikes a nerve in the public conscious that spread far beyond the origins of its creation. The record receives virtually no mainstream radio airplay, video play, or tour support, yet it reaches multi-platinum status, through word of mouth creating a huge underground buzz at street level. It spins off three singles including “Gangsta, Gangsta”, “Express Yourself” and the title track. The album also receives a high profile boost when the FBI sends a letter to the head of NWA’s label Priority Records, warning and chastising them about the incendiary lyrics on the track “F*ck Tha Police”. In time, the album is regarded as a landmark release in Hip Hop, pioneering the “G-Funk and "gangsta rap genres. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2002 with four additional bonus tracks, including the 12” mixes of “Express Yourself, "Straight Outta Compton” and the single B-side “A Bitch Iz A Bitch”. The album is most recently remastered and reissued on vinyl in 2015, as a 180 gram LP, and limited edition picture disc. The album is also reissued on cassette, making it available in that format. for the first time in nearly two decades. “Straight Outta Compton” peaks at number nine on the Billboard R&B album chart, number thirty seven on the Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: July 13, 1996 – …

On this day in music history: July 13, 1996 – “How Do U Want It” by 2Pac hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, with the B-side “California Love” peaking at #6 on June 22. 1996, also topping the R&B singles chart for 3 weeks on July 6, 1996. Written by Johnny J. and Tupac Shakur, it is the biggest hit for the prolific rap artist. Featuring K-Ci & JoJo Hailey of Jodeci on background vocals, it is the second single from Tupac’s fourth album “All Eyez On Me”. Co-written and produced by Johnny J (aka Johnny Lee Jackson), the track is based around samples of Quincy Jones’ classic “Body Heat” and Brian McKnight’s “Up Around My Way”. The single release of “How Do U Want It” also includes the original hit version of “California Love” featuring Dr. Dre and Roger Troutman (of Zapp). When the album is released in February of 1996, it features a remixed version of the track. Entering the Hot 100 at #4 on June 29, 1996, it leaps to the top of the chart two weeks later. The single earns Tupac a posthumous Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group in 1997. “How Do U Want It” also appears in the rapper and actor’s last film (though not the soundtrack album) “Gang Related”, released thirteen months after his death in October of 1997. “How Do U Want It” is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: May 16, 1990 – &…

On this day in music history: May 16, 1990 – “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted”, the debut album by Ice Cube is released. Produced by The Bomb Squad, Ice Cube, Chilly Chill and Sir Jinx, it is recorded at Greene Street Studios in New York City from January – April 1990. Having departed from NWA months before over a financial dispute with the group’s manager Jerry Heller, Ice Cube makes plans to record his solo debut album with Dr. Dre producing. When Heller and Eazy-E prevent Dre from working with Cube, he instead begins working on tracks with Dre’s cousin Sir Jinx, as well as collaborating with Public Enemy’s production team The Bomb Squad. Cube goes to New York to record the album over a period of three and a half months. The album is groundbreaking both in its use of samples as well as lyrically, with Ice Cube’s lyrics touching on various social and political issues affecting the people around him. Featuring guest appearances by Chuck D and Flavor Flav, as well as introducing Ice Cube proteges The Lench Mob, Yo Yo, and Del Tha Funkee Homosapien (Cube’s cousin). The finished album receives major acclaim from fans and critics alike. An instant classic, “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted” in time is regarded one the most important and influential albums of the 90’s. It spins off three singles including “Who’s The Mack?”, “Endangered Species (Tales from the Darkside)” and the title track. The album is remastered and reissued on CD and vinyl LP in 2003, with both configurations including the EP “Kill At Will” as an additional bonus. The vinyl LP is reissued again as a stand alone release in 2013, as part of UMe’s “Respect The Classics” reissue series. “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted” peaks at number six on the Billboard R&B album chart, number nineteen on the Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.