Thursday, September 13, 2012
Writing E Money Bags Back Into History
E Money Bags was the rap alias of Eric Smith, who released his self-titled album in 1999 on the indie Grand Imperial label. He was from Hollis, Queens, and worked with the biggest Queens cats, including Nas and Mobb Deep. He was also down with The Live Squad, who you should remember from the BQ In Full Effect EP that started off Percee-P's career. They became affiliated with 2Pac (though let's not confuse them with The Outlawz); and they even put out a final record with him and 'Pac after his murder. Now, I'm not referring to 2Pac's murder, I mean E Money's.
E Money Bags was gunned down in July of 2001. This article from NYMinute details, "Law enforcement officials contend that Kenneth 'Supreme' McGriff ordered Eric Smith's murder to avenge the December 1999 killing of a friend, Colbert Johnson." Definitely one of those cases where a rapper's criminolgy lyrics turned out to be all too real and cost him his life.
Which brings me to this white label 12" I randomly came across: Nature featuring "Kool G" (Kool G Rap, of course). Every Kool G Rap record is worth having, so just seeing his name was enough for me to pick this one up, But... I know Nature did a couple things with G Rap, but I didn't remember this song. Of course, I didn't follow every tiny step of Nature's career... turns out G Rap was on Nature's 2008 album, Pain Killer, for example. But that's not what this is. This is some killer 90's shit. I even recognize G Rap's verse.
Remember when Sway and Tech had blown up to such a point that they had a label deal with Interscope even though they'd stopped being recording artists themselves? [Let's have a brief pause for their great, Flynamic beginnings.] They essentially commercially released a mixtape (This or That) of classics and new, original songs featuring some of the hottest artists in the game. One highlight was a little freestyle joint called "3 To the Dome" which had Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane and Chino XL spitting together, Now, Kane's verse was some dope but recycled rhymes he'd used elsewhere... makes sense, since it was just a quick freestyle for him. In fact, I was surprised Kool G hadn't recycled a verse for that song, too. But now I realize he had - it comes from this song, "Friends of Ours."
"Friends of Ours" claims to sport a Main Mix on one side and a Clean Version, but both sides are actually identical, dirty versions. And there's no production credits, which is a shame, because whoever made it did a fantastic job, flipping a killer soul sample Mood used a couple years earlier ("Karma") but speeding it up and re-doing the percussion. There's also no mention on the label of a third rapper who can be clearly heard kicking the first verse of this song. ...Well, if you read the first three paragraphs of this post, you're probably way ahead of me: the "mystery" MC is E Money Bags. This is actually his song, a brilliant track taken from his album (which, no, doesn't seem to have any production credits either).
All the MCs come tight, with Kool G Rap of course stealing the show at the end with a brilliant verse. E Money's the weakest, with some solid bars overall, but a couple questionable lines... "who you gonna call? Toast busters" would've never made it past G Rap's quality control checks. And speaking of the Kool Genius, he came off on This Or That, but one listen to this one and you'll know this is the true home of that verse, where it sounds the best - pure killer Queens.
You know how I used to post myspace pages of rappers here, back when rappers were on myspace? Well, here's E Money Bag's. I'm not sure why E Money Bags' name was taken off this record... it could be because he has his fair share of detractors (check out this review on Amazon calling his album "snitch rap"). But history is history - it's his record no doubt, and you've got to honor the art of a great 12" like this.