Saturday, November 5, 2011

Premier Commits Sewaside

I don't have any Das EFX posts yet, so I figured I should make one. I mean, I'm not a HUGE Das EFX fan, but I've always liked 'em enough to pick up their albums as they dropped back in the day, and they definitely had some nice singles. But it's just one of those things where I look at the increasingly long list of artists featured on this blog in the right-hand column and see all these crazy names like Dr. T and the Klinic, Bobby Jimmy, Sabado Gigante, MC Frontalot, two entries for Tricky Nicky and so on... and none for the artists who've been basic hip-hop staples of the genre. I feels like I gotta patch some of these guys in. So here we go: Das EFX.

So the obvious choice would probably be to grab something off of Hold It Down, or maybe go ultra-purist and take it all the way back to their first single or two. But I figure I'll shoot somewhere for their more neglected zone, a dope single from their second album, Straight Up Sewaside. Straight Up Sewaside is interesting, because it did much better overseas... here in the US, most heads were already sick of their "diggity riggidy" gimmick and had written them off as copied and played out, one album wonders, even the source of punchlines by other MCs.

But before the days of the internet, kids in other countries didn't know know about their declining rep and still ate it up. I remember a segment, I think it was on Video Music Box, about how kids in Europe still loved Das EFX and considered them the #1 rap group, and it was like "wha?" We'd all moved on to The Wu-Tang Clan and didn't pay Das anymore mind. But those kids held them down long enough for the duo to re-invent themselves with the Premier-laced "Real Hip-Hop," and their Hit Squad association during the Erick and Parrish rivalry; so they got some of their buzz back. But Straight Up Sewaside is one that's usually left to the hardcore fans.

More interesting than most of the stuff from that album, though, is this little single. See, after their bigger singles off that album, "Baknaffek" and "Freakit," they snuck out one last single, a little more underground and actually one of the best in their whole careers: "Kaught In da Ak." It was already one of the better album tracks, darker and more serious - even "BakNaffek," which showcased a deliberately harder instrumental, was still full of "diggity wiggity" lines and references to Chris Kringle and Beavis and Butthead. This is more on some street shit:

"I check this nigga that I used to snatch jewels wit' back in the day; but nevertheless the kid's ass' slingin' gas to pay bills to afford some pills that kill stress."

Compare that to "Freakit:"

"Hot damn! I got more props than that Fox, Samantha. The hickety-dick slickest nigga wit the raps that sound nifty. Weight around a pound sixty."

...and it's no competition. The only pop culture reference they make here (if you can even call it that), is a comment on the infamous Tawana Brawley case.

But the real selling aspect of this one is the remix - an unheralded production by Premier that pre-dates their celebrated single "Real Hip Hop" by two years. The main "bomp bomp" sample sounds just like the stuff Premier would overuse in years to come, but it was fresh and new in '93. Plus, anyway, the way he chops the drums and lays in the more subtle elements (is that the sound of a toy laser gun laid in there?) sound great in any decade. And the way he starts the song off with the infamous "Bum-stiggidadee bum, stiggadee" vocal sample suggests Premiere was already consciously trying to move these guys away from their limiting reputation, or at least playing with it.

On the B-side, you get another album track, "It'z Lik Dat," and another exclusive remix. Again, it's another one of their better joints, with a darker, atmospheric beat and some more straight-up battle-style rhymes. The remix isn't by Premier this time, however, but by Solid Scheme, who also produced the original versions of both tracks, and most of the rest of EFX's stuff. It's okay, and a nice bonus; but in this case, the album version's better.

But even just the album version makes a nice companion piece to "Kaught In da Ak," two highlights from an otherwise forgettable album that's usually left to the hardcore fans. So even if you dismiss the group as generally being too corny, this is a respectable piece for your crates. ...And I apologize for the stupid pun in the title - couldn't help it. lol

1 comment:

  1. I think people who only really comment on Das EFX with reference to the "iggity" stuff and the pop culture references miss the reason Das EFX were so dope - the flows!

    I know the "iggity" stuff is what helped create those rhythms, but it was all about how they bounced all over the track... it wasn't ALL fast like a Twista flow - it kept changing and they made it interesting.
    So for fans of flow they were, and still are, one of the dopest groups, IMO.