Monday, August 24, 2009

Outsidaz, Come Rain Or Shine

This is the debut of the Outsidaz right here. I mean, granted, Young Zee had come out a few years earlier, and through his singles and (unreleased but leaked) album, we'd been introduced to his Ouz crew already. And they cameo'd on The Fugees' second album... But this is their first collective single as The Outsidaz, the penultimate in New Jersey hip-hop. "Rain Or Shine" on Proceed Entertainment/ Out House Productions, 1998.

The track is simple, but a killer, produced by Kobie Brown. Proceed Entertainment was his label, and I think he was also acting as a sort of co-manager for The Outz at that time. He's the same Kobie who speaks up once or twice in my 1998 Outsidaz interview. and had been down with the Outz at least since Young Zee's earliest Perspective singles, which he also worked produced and collaborated on. He seemed to drift more towards the R&B side of the industry after this, but "Rain Or Shine" shows he was certainly adept at producing hip-hop. It's basically all about one ill, pounding piano loop and a crisp, slow and hard drum track. It's immediately compelling, you could just listen and focus on that loop the whole five minutes. But it's also simple enough to play the background for the Outsidaz sick and varied flows.

The line-up for this record is spelled out on the label, albeit in the wrong order. In order of appearance, it goes: Pace Won, Axe, Yah Yah and Young Zee. There's also a short, fifth verse which is uncredited... I think that's Azizz, but I'm not certain. The hook is a catchy example of The Outz' interplay, with each MC taking turns saying different lines each time, sometimes in unison. Each MC really gets a chance to play to their strengths, with Pace Won dropping some playfully slick wordplay, "The lethalest, I'm evil as Kneival is; I drop the bomb and leave your city people-less." Axe kicks a lot of quick, short syllable rhymes, "Swift to smack a lady actin' shady, that's the way the Axe amaze thee. Blastin' crazy, get the cash, then Axe be Swayze." Zee kicks his entirely unique brand of drug slanging raps, "I used to make a grand a day out in Santa Fe. Cops came, I ran away; moved to Tampa Bay. Now they say my tape promotes drugs when I bust, like I be out sellin' dust in front of Kids 'R Us." But it's Yah Lover, Zee's younger brother who sometimes manages to be more Zee than Zee, who possibly manages to steal the show with some of the sickest, craziest rhymes:

"We sever the ligaments of army confederates
For leverage. I smoke a blunt and dump two sedatives.
Still flowin' looser than the bitches I seduce;
After a noose, crews get disposed like a douche
From the grittiest, shittiest, climax climidiest[?],
Whose affiliates be on some old Willy shit!
Keep an open eye, you think of scopin' Yah?
Ya better apply for life with Mutual of Omaha.
All you biters'll die from malnutrition,
Or Yah Yah'll stomp out your endocrine system!"

The b-side isn't by The Outz at all, but by R&B singer Tonya Von featuring A.L. (short for All Lyrics). I don't think being paired up with the Outsidaz wound up doing her any favors, because the song got completely overshadowed by all the buzz "Rain Or Shine" was getting. And the Proceed family must've felt the same way, because they later re-released "Tonite" as its own single, but it still didn't catch on. Tonya Von, though, was also an artist who Kobie was working with back in mid 90's, who was also signed to Perspective Records, and who also got dropped before dropping her album (she had a single called "Bounce"). Anyway, it's not a bad track... the beat (co-produced by Kobie and somebody named Ibo) is a smooth head-nodder, Tonya's a talented vocalist, and A.L.'s guest raps are decent, if unexceptional... he was one of those Lyricist Lounge-type 90's MCs who was heavy on the punchlines ("lyrics so deep I wrote 'em in submarines"). But he's got a nice, swift flow and multi-syllable that definitely keep things interesting.

"Tonite" comes in two versions (not counting the Instrumental), the Main Mix and the Queens Mix. The instrumental and everything is exactly the same in both cases, but the difference is that the Queens Mix has an extra verse from A.L. right at the beginning. So for hip-hop heads like us, the preferred version is obvious.

So, pictured above is the classic vinyl, but I have something else I think you'll enjoy for today's show and tell: pictured right is the promo-only cassette singles Proceed was giving out to labels and rap journalists like myself. It does away with the instrumentals, clean edits and stuff from the vinyl, and just features the main, vocal mix of each song. They've got some slightly different credits (and different spellings: "Pacewon appears courtesy of Roka Block"), and they've also got stickers on the back covering up a 212 number with a 973 phone number.

Unfortunately, Proceed closed its doors after this (and the other 12" pressing of "Tonite"). Kobie and The Outsidaz were a good pairing, and I would've liked to see them continue to do more work together. But, hey. Maybe it's not too late. The Outsidaz have been doing more and more collaberations lately, and Kobie doesn't seem to have been doing much in the public eye, lately. Surely he has the time to link up and provide those guys with some beats again. Everybody would win.


  1. Imagine that, Werner von Wallenrod posts a record that I actually own. I better buy a lotto ticket!

  2. Mr. Wallenrod,

    Do you happen to have the credits for the Musical Meltdown album? I know it was unreleased, but I figure if anybody had them, it'd be you.

    Here's what I've been able to figure out so far:

    1. Toxic Waste
    2. Don't F*ck Wit' New Jersey (ft. Rah Digga? & ???)
    3. Problems (prod. by Ski)
    4. Tonsil Check
    5. W-Outz
    6. Plucker
    7. Stay Gold (ft. Lauryn Hill & Yah Yah)
    8. Crazy (ft. KRS-One)
    9. Ez-Widaz (ft. Loon One & Pace Won) (prod. by DJ Mudd?)
    10. Juice (ft. Rah Digga) (prod. by Ski)
    11. Milk (ft. KRS-One & Busta Rhymes) (prod. by KRS-One)
    12. Jack Mode (prod. by Feel Good Skills)
    13. Baby L (ft. Big L)
    14. Electric Chair (ft. Pace Won)

    Thanks for any help!
    Love the blog!

  3. Hey, afraid not. Wish I did. I'm fairly certain that's Yah Yah again on "Don't Fuck Wit New Jersey," though.

  4. I think this was actually recorded a couple of years before it was released. There's an edited word in Axe's verse that sounds like he says "in the '96".