Category: gangsta rap

On this day in music history: November 23, 1993 – “Doggystyle”, the debut album by Snoop Doggy Dogg is released. Produced by Dr. Dre, it is recorded at The Village Recorder in West Los Angeles, CA, The Complex Studios in Los Angeles, CA, Larrabee Studios North and Larrabee Studios West in North Hollywood, CA from January – October 1993. Born Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr., he is given the nickname “Snoopy” as a child by his parents. Involved in music from a young age, Broadus becomes obsessed with rap music during the 80’s. Though not officially a gang member, Snoop becomes friends with members of The Rollin’ 20’s, one of the most notorious sects of the Crips street gang. After scrapes with the law, it leads him to pursuing music more seriously. Paring up with his cousin Nathaniel “Nate Dogg” Hale and friend Warren “Warren G.” Griffin, the trio form the group 213. Griffin is the stepbrother of N.W.A. producer and rapper Dr. Dre, who hears 213’s demo at a house party. Dre is immediately impressed with Snoop, and wants to work with him. Snoop makes his recording debut in 1992 on the single “Deep Cover” (#4 Rap, #46 R&B, #57 Pop). It’s followed by his appearance on Dr. Dre’s debut album “The Chronic”. Featured on “Nuthin’ But A G Thang”, “Dre Day” and “Let Me Ride”, it stokes the public’s anticipation for Snoop’s own album when he is signed to Death Row Records, co-founded by Dre and “Suge” Knight". Spending much of 1993 in the studio, the rapper’s former life on the streets threatens to end his career just as it is beginning to take flight. Snoop ends up an accessory to murder when his bodyguard McKinley Lee kills gang member Philip Woldemariam, after an altercation near the rapper’s apartment. The track “Murder Was The Case” eerily mirrors real life, with the song depicting Snoop being murdered in a drive by shooting. “Murder” is later remixed and becomes the centerpiece of a short film and soundtrack released in October of 1994. “Doggystyle” is an immediate smash upon its release, selling more than 800,000 copies in its first week. It spins off three singles including “Who Am I (What’s My Name?)” (#8 R&B, #8 Pop), “Gin And Juice” (#13 R&B, #8 Pop) and “Doggy Dogg World” (#25 R&B). As part of the promotion by Death Row Records, a limited edition vinyl LP is issued for the Christmas holiday. The LP is pressed on green vinyl, and is packaged in a custom die cut sleeve with “Merry Christmas Muthaf******” on the front. The CD is later reissued as a DualDisc with the DVD side featuring four music videos. It is also reissued as a double vinyl LP set in 2002, and as a limited edition colored vinyl pressing by Vinyl Me, Please in 2018. “Doggystyle spends five weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, three weeks (non-consecutive) on the Top 200, and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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, quickly become underground gangsta rap icons thanks to their first two albums “Making Trouble” and “Grip It! On That Other Level”. 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, 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.

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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.

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On this day in music history: July 9, 1991 – “We Can’t Be Stopped” the third album by Geto Boys is released. Produced by Bushwick Bill, James Smith, John Bido, Johnny C., Roland, Scarface, Simon and Willie D, it is recorded at Rap-A-Lot Studio in Houston, TX in Mid 1991. Having sparked a virtual firestorm of controversy over their self-titled 1990 album, The Geto Boys’ label Rap-A-Lot Records returns to being an independently distributed entity. The group return to the studio, quickly writing and recording a new album in just a few short weeks. After it’s completed, founding member DJ Ready Red leaves the group. The DJ departs the Geto Boys, amidst tension with the other group members as well as feeling uncomfortable with the graphic and misogynistic nature of their music. Before the completed album is released, one of the other members nearly meets his maker. Stuggling with alcohol and substance abuse as well as depression, rapper Bushwick Bill asks his girlfriend to kill him with his own gun. Extremely inebriated on the potent liquor Everclear, orders her to take his life. Refusing to do so, Bill’s girlfriend attempts to take the gun away from him. In the tussle to get the weapon away from him, the gun goes off, hitting the rapper in his right eye. Rushed to the hospital, the injury from the gun shot wound makes it necessary for his eye to be removed. The bullet is lodged in his brain and cannot be removed, in order to avoid further injury or death. Scarface, Willie D. and their management team, rush to the hospital to see about Bill. Their managers take Bill out of his hospital room on a gurney, and ask the other two take a picture with him. Having him remove his eyepatch and intravenous drip from his injured eye, results in the graphic cover shots used for the Geto Boys new album. The group later express regret over the pictures, feeling it was exploiting a tragic event in order to sell records. However, album proves to be strong enough on its own merits. The first single “Mind Playing Tricks On Me” (#10 R&B, #23 Pop, #1 Rap) becomes an instant classic. Featuring a sample of Isaac Hayes’ “Hung Up On My Baby” (from the “Tough Guys” soundtrack), the song represents a major departure from the Geto Boys previous work. The song was originally intended for Scarface’s first solo album, but is kept for the group instead. The lyrics mediate on images of fear and paranoia, in part being inspired by Scarface’s own struggles with mental illness, and wanting to escape the streets. The single is accompanied by a music video that also propels it up the charts. Receiving major play on MTV, “Mind Playing Tricks On Me” earn the group crossover radio play, and give them their biggest hit. Regarded as one of the best singles of the 90’s, “Mind” propels “We Can’t Be Stopped” pass the Platinum mark in sales in the US, with the single itself selling nearly a million copies. The song is later featured on the video game “Grand Theft Auto V”, and on the Netflix series “Maniac”. The album spins off one further single with “I Ain’t With Being Broke” in early 1992. “We Can’t Be Stopped” peaks at number five on the Billboard R&B album chart, number twenty four on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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Born on this day: June 15, 1969 – Rapper and actor Ice Cube (born O’Shea Jackson in Los Angeles, CA). Happy 50th Birthday, Cube!!

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Rapper Bushwick Bill of the Geto Boys (born Richard Stephen Shaw in Kingston, Jamaica) – December 8, 1966 – June 9, 2019, RIP

Remembering Hip Hop icon Eazy-E (born Eric Lynn Wright in Compton, CA) – September 7, 1963 – March 26, 1995

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