Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Poison Clan Appreciation Week, Day 6: Madball & Uzi

Probably the biggest non-JT Money staples of The Poison Clan are these guys: Madball & Uzi (unless you count producers like Mike McCray or DJ Toomp, who even credits himself as "of the Poison Clan" on the 2 Nazty album cover). Take a look at Poisonous Mentality for a minute... "Uzi Gets Shot," "The Tip On Madball," "Shorty-T in Madball's Basement"... yeah, that's these guys. And they stuck with the Poison Clan even in their post-Luke Records days.

But it wasn't until the post-Luke days that these guys struck out for themselves. Calling themselves The Rufftown Mob, Madball & Uzi released an album (Rock Bottom of the Pile) and this single, "Surviving the Game." Both came out in 1997 on Lil Joe Records, not coincidentally the label that bought up the entire Luke Records catalog when they went bankrupt and also signed the post-Luke 2 Live Crew.

To be honest, I'm not sure why the fellas picked the best track for a single. It's pretty good, but the beat doesn't stand out like some others on the album. I guess they felt the subject matter was emblematic of where they were, though, and were using it as a sort of anthem.

Now, I've gone with the CD single for the image, just because it fits better in my scanner. But I have both the CDS and the 12" and they have exactly the same track-listing and the same picture cover. The cover is handy because the album has no production credits - it just tells us that Madball and Uzi wrote all the songs and some guy named Gary King played guitar on two of them.

But the single tells us that DJ Toomp produced everything on this single. First we've got the Album Version/Explicit" mix (there's also a radio edit and instrumental available for this version). The beat is an alright, slow but hardcore with a hint of the g-funk slidewhistle that dominated the mid 90's and no recognizable samples. It features guest vocals by the unfortunately named LilHo (did he lose a bet?). Everybody's lyrics are pretty solid, though; and the hook sounds like it's provided by JT Money, though he's not credited. It's a solid, "real" rap single that won't disappoint fans; but wouldn't've attracted any new fans.

But this single picks up for the last track, "Surviving the Game - Part 2 (Radio Remix)." It features a lot of the same elements, but with harder drums, a subtle piano riff, and a few nice samples (though, again, nothing recognizable - these are purely studio-made, non-diggin' tracks). LilHo has been replaced by Big Ram and B.O.X. who provide an angrily hollered hook (though I'm pretty sure the verses are just by Uzi, Madball, and Uzi again respectively). Again, the lyrics on the subject matter are of a quality that help this stand out ("I got it in my heart, just can't find it in my pockets"); I mean anyone who rhymes Donkey Kong with Farakhan while delivering a serious message is alright in my book. ;)

Afterwards, the duo did return, this time dropping the "Rufftown Mob" moniker and just coming out as Madball and Uzi. They put out two 12" singles and finally an album titled 21 Thug Salute, which was also produced by DJ Toomp, as well as Mike McCray.

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