Before they were stars part. 3

victim of the ghetto: the college boys
Romany malco may not be a household name but if you’ve seen the movie “40 year old virgin” or the tv show “Weeds”, you are more familiar with him then you think. this brooklyn born actor has been doing it since the late 90’s. however, what many people don’t know is that before he was an actor, he was the lead rapper in the group “the college boyz”. while i’d be lying if i said they were very good, they did have on single that had a little buzz going in 1992.

Tha’ lunatic: tupac
it’s well documented that tupac first came up with digital underground as a dancer , and then later as a rapper on the posse cut “the same song”. shortly after , pac signed with jive and released his debut album “2pacalypse now”. being a fan of his verse on “same song” i bought this album when it dropped. my favorite joint on it was the Live squad produced “tha’ lunatic”. it was just Pac rapping, before shit got all crazy for him and he became a platinum selling artist/movie star. obviously, this isn’t some hidden gem, but i do think it’s an underrated song and an interseting look at tupac before he became super star.

the genius is slammin’: the genius
a couple years before Wu-tang took east coast hip hop over, Cold chillin’ records dropped “words from the genius”. mostly produced by easy mo bee, the album was void of any kung fu references and pretty much fit nicely into that era’s cold chillin’ braggadocio roster. it’s main fault was the first single “come do me” which made the genius out to be more like Father MC then the man who would eventually pen liquid swords.

time to build:mic geronimo featuring Jay-z, DMX and Ja rule
while this line up may seem like a hot 97 listeners wet dream circa 1998, this song was released in 1995. Jay had a little buzz but DMX and Ja rule were not yet established artists. in fact, weirdly, mic geronimo was the most famous guy on this track at the time. well, time is a motherfucker and over ten years later, Jay-z is the richest man alive, ja rule sold millions of terrible records then fell off and DMX (also a multi platinum seller) is a rumored crackhead who gets arrested pretty much every other week. as for mic geronimo…you’re guess is as good as mine.

bring the ruckus: lil fame (sorry, no video could be found of this song so here’s a different song from the same album)
before he was half of M.O.P. lil fame had a few songs as a solo artist that were featured on the 1992 release “the hill that’s real”. while now he’s known for his yelling rhyme style and being on of the more threatening mc’s to ever do it, fame was way more on the punchline tip in his earlier years. he sounded more like a young kool g rap with a little lord finesse mixed in.
before they were stars part 1
1)bring the ruckas:lil fame
2)victim of the ghetto: the college boyz
3)tha lunatic: Tupac
4)the genius is slammin’: the genius
5)time to build: mic geronimo featuring ja rule, jay-z & dmx

(This blog was originally posted in the TROY blog)

Before they were stars part 2


doin’ it: children of the corn
the children of the corn are pretty much the “before they were famous” super group of all time. the line up consisted of cam’ron (known then as killa cam), herb mcgruff, big L, mase (then know as murda mase) and cam’s cousin bloodshed. with the exception of bloodshed, all these guys eventually went on to bigger things , ranging from underground hero to puffy’s arm candy. in these early days, they were just on some straight up harlem shit and this was during a time when harlem wasn’t really being represented much in hip hop. the group eventually broke up and they all went their separate ways. years later Cam became Harlem’s ambassador and pretty much carved his own niche through his gaudy braggadocio style. mase got as famous as will smith by wearing shiny space suits but then found jesus. he then attempted a comeback but no one really cared. herb mcgruff was an underground favorite for years but never really got the proper large scale release he deserved. big l, arguably the most talented mc of the crew, put out a solo album and a bunch of great singles but was tragically killed before we ever got to see how good he could have gotten. also, bloodshed was killed in a car accident.

dolly my baby: supacat featuring puffy, biggie and third eye
obviously, this song is mad famous and even drunk sorority girls know it. however, i really wanted to highlight the progression of puff daddy…as a rapper. it’s no secret he’s pretty much jumped from style to style throughout his career. he’s sounded like mase, he’s sounded like biggie and he’s even sounded like Pharaoh monch. but who was his first influence? apparently, it was 3rd eye. known for his distinctively early 90’s “whiny baby talk” style, it’s clear puff was feeling the kid when he kicked his verse on “dolly my baby”. which is funny considering biggie murders the track and puff opted to sound like the guy sounds like he could have easily been a member of the mystidious misfits
if you’re wondering “who/what the fuck are you talking about?” i mean these guys:

syndication: everlast
i first saw everlast in ice-t’s “what ya wanna do?” video. he stood out cause, well, he was a white guy and back then there weren’t many white dudes popping up on yo!mtv raps. around that same time (1990), he released his horrific solo album “forever everlasting”. seen in his video for “i got the knack” rocking a suit and slicked back hair, his cocky pretty boy steeze never took off so he vanished, only to pop up two years later looking a little different. now he had a shaved head, tattoos and he was really really irish. as lead rapper of “house of pain” , he pretty much made one of the most popular rap songs of all time in “jump around” and made tons of money.
“house of pain” knocked out a few more albums but eventually vanished as well. then, in 1998, a man bearing the same name as everlast came out busting second rate tom waits songs over hip hop tracks (produced by the highly underrated SD50’s). indeed, the man who once had “the knack” had returned to music after a heart attack , as well supposed bouts with drug addiction (it was probably weed).

sexcapades: prince rakeem (aka the RZA)
right before Wu tang changed the game, prince rakeem AKA the RZA was signed as a solo artist to tommy boy records. he released a 12” with the kinda known joint “ohh, we love you rakeem”. yes, much like his counterpart , the GZa, early RZA was on some sex shit. for the ladies…but the beats were still dope and you could obviously tell there was skill there. a few years later, you’d never guess the same guy was the brain behind one of the grimiest and most influential groups to come of of NYC ever.

young man rumble (smooth philly style mix): max and sam
this one is of particular interest to me cause these guys are actually from my neighborhood. max and sam kellerman grew up on 10th street in downtown manhattan. not exactly a hotspot for rappers but , hey, i certainly can’t knock them.

if you’re wondering “great, but where does the who “before they were famous” part come in?” well, max, the older of the two, was known in nyc for his public access show “max on boxing” where he would discuss boxing with random callers and just talk shit. that show went on for years and, eventually , max got noticed and was picked up by espn to host “around the horn” , as well as work with HBO boxing. he definitely knows his shit.
in 93/94 ,after the success of house of pain and 3rd bass, labels were scrambling to find the next white cash cow. ruffhouse somehow landed on these two. around the same time, tommy boy had “the whooliganz” and east/west records had “the knuckleheadz” (white rappers were all about the “z” instead of “s” move). all three groups dropped 12” and what seemed like surefire success would eventually end up in three way tie for last place. they never released anything after that.
as for sam , he took over for his brother on the public access show and kept it going while pursuing an acting career. he eventually left NYC and moved to L.a. where he was shockingly murdered at the hands of a chemically imbalanced boxer who was also a close friend of his.

here’s the music:

1)syndication: everlast
2)young man rumble: max and sam
3)doin it: children of the corn
4)dolly my baby
5)sexcapades: prince rakeem
bonus track
6)i be (remix): mystidious misfits

(this was originally posted on the TROY blog)

Before they were stars

Everyone starts somewhere. actors, rappers, dancer, ect…
Here’s a little background on some of your favorite rapper/actor types and their humble beginnings

put ya handz up: the whooliganz
This is what you might call a super group but not cause they were at all super, more so cause both mc’s went on to much greener pastures. Way before white rappers not in 3rd bass were even remotely respected, the whooliganz dropped with soul assassins stamp of approval. not only were they white, but they were also very young. the group consisted of two men (boys, actually) you may know. the first, is producer alchemist. nowadays he’s every thug mc’s favorite white boy on the beats and , without a doubt, one of the more respected producers in the game today. back then he was the curly haired little guy with the piercingly high voice. the other member you may know in a different way. scott caan is an actor best known for his parts in the “oceans 11” trilogy or as the wild guy in “varsity blues”. rapping under the name “mad skillz” (yes, with a “z”), caan kicked that hardcore shit about snowboarding and being james caans son. just kidding but he did rap and that’s funny enough in itself. on, by the way, the alchemists mc name was “mudfoot”. yeah…pretty awesome.

grassroots LP:the atban klan
way before they were making the worst music on the planet, the group now known at the black eyed peas was on some other shit. back in the mid 90’s, they were known as The Atban Klan. this was pre-fergie (your girl fergie was in failed pop group “Wild orchid” at the time). the group consisted of the three black eyed peas rappers (, and taboo). all things considered they were pretty much a souls of mischief rip off. the one thing they did have on their side was dope beats. highly under rated producers Epic and wolfe produced the whole “Grassroots” album. from beginning to end, the beats on this album are amazing. unfortunately, the rapping is pretty mediocre. anyway, this was supposed to drop on ruthless records, but due to the untimely death of Eazy-e, the album never came out. peep it.

grassroots Lp :the Atban klan

(couldn’t find a youtube clip of this song so i give you this other one instead)
hardcore nights: UTD
Mos def got his start with the group UTD (urban thermo dynamics). the group consisted of mos, his brother DCQ and his sister cee. the group was signed to payday records and released a few 12” records but the full album never dropped (until it’s eventual “re-release” in 2004). this song in particular has always been a favorite of mine. partially cause i like the beat but more so cause mos def raps like akinyele on it. it’s just funny. “stay alert out here before your caps get peeled” is delivered with such growling intensity, it’s hard to imagine that it’s same dude who lit up college dorm rooms everywhere 5 years later with songs about his umi.

Fo sho: the odd squad
good news! devin the dude was always good. unlike alot of the artists i’m covering, devin has nothing to be ashamed about. prior to his solo career, devin was part of “the odd squad”. a three man group that rap-a-lot records put out in 1994. a departure from their label mates , the Odd squad was on some more laid back, fun shit. it’s no surprise considering Devin’s steeze. also notable is that one of the odd squad’s mc’s , rob quest, was blind. i dunno what it was with rap-a-lot but they loved them some challenged people rapping. bushwick bill, rob quest, too much trouble and even too-low (he was a kid but kid rappers are basically retarded anyway). whatever the case, good for them.

that bullshit: casual (but really it was saafir)
when casual dropped his debut album”fear itself”, he was kind enough to give his homeboy saafir a mini song of his own. now, i may be alone in this but i think saafir pretty much bodied the whole album with his one verse. saafir went on to release the slept on album “boxcar sessions” , as well as get his act on in “menace to society” and some r&b videos. unfortunately, the love did not last between casual and saafir , as they had a falling out rumored to be over a girl they both fucked. hey, shit happens. anyway, saafir recorded “pull ya card” as his diss to casual so i threw that in as a bonus.

the rest of the songs:

hardcore nights: UTD
fo sho: The odd squad
put your handz up: the Whooliganz
that bullshit: casual (really saafir)
pull ya card: saafir

Side note:
this blog was originally written for the TROY Blog a while ago. if you like rare and great hip hop, i cannot think of a better place to check out: