Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Who Are The Ill Beingz? Learn Along With Werner, part 6

So I was at the final HPRS record sale last (don't be too sad, I expect they'll find another location again sooner or later), and I came across this record in a dollar crate.  The Ill Beingz, never heard of 'em, but their name sounded... well, right on the line between promising and corny. Don't recognize the label, and the producer, Tyffe, doesn't ring any bells. 2002 isn't a good year (early 90s would've given me higher hopes); but look, that bonus track is featuring Razah. I bet that's Hell Razah from Sunz of Man. Alright, I'm curious enough for a buck.

It comes with a press sheet folded inside - I love when that happens. We'll get some answers now. Well, it's not so much a proper press sheet as it is a printed letter from AJ Woodson (why yes, that is AJ Rok of JVC Force) writing on behalf of Big Mouth Ntertainment[sic.] to the DJs receiving this record on their mailing list. He says, "NOW I KNOW THIS IS DIFFERENT FROM THE UNDERGROUND JOINTZ YOU ARE USED TO RECEIVING FROM YA FAVORITE BIG MOUTH PROMOTER, BUT EVEN WITH THAT SAID I STILL WILL BE LOOKING FOR LOTS OF LUV, LOTS OF CHART ACTION, LOTS OF AIRPLAY, YA HEARD." Well, crap, that doesn't exactly fill me with hope. Googling the group, I see they have an album for this single, Wild Amerika. It has one of the most heinous album covers I've ever seen; but I didn't find any real substantive info apart from that.

So okay, let's listen to this. Taking it out of the sleeve and I see the A-side, the label side that was blocked by the press sheet, is called "Milkshake." If I'd seen that, I probably would've left it in the store; but too late now. It's in my house, so let's play it.

Ugh. It's just as bad as you would think a 2002 song called "Milkshake" would be. The production is muddy and lifeless, the hook is boring and the lyrics are junk. The only upside is the MCs are all kicking a Twista-like flow, I guess inspired by Crucial Conflict and that kinda stuff, just five or six years too late. This beat is so slow that it doesn't really work, but at least it suggests the MCs might have worthwhile talent if they weren't squandering it on such a shitty attempt at an unappealing crossover. let's see if I can muster the strength to lift this record and flip to the B-side.

Alright, this is better. It's called "Carolina," and this time the instrumental is actually something you might choose to listen to without being forced. It also emphasizes the vocals so the MCs actually sound good. Interestingly, though, they're rhyming much slower; they sound more like generic NY MCs. Think of Terror Squad with no Pun. Lyrically, they're just repping their hood, but they sound invested in it; like they have something to say this time around, even if it's nothing profound; and so you actually wind up caring what they're spitting. They even have a couple nice rhymes.

Well, that's got me more hopeful for this last Bonus Track, "Play Around." And it is even better. Again, they're much more in NY gangsta-mode, and the beat has a catchy fake horn sample and a head-nodding beat. Even the sung hook is cool. I don't think it's actually Hell Razah on the track, but that's okay. These guys actually hold their own pretty well now.

In a world where there's eighty bajillion hip-hop records out, and hundreds more being recorded every day, I doubt I'll end up revisiting this one much. I can't say I really recommend the purchase; but you could definitely put this in a set or on a mixtape and ride to it. Except the A-side, fuck that shit. I'm not surprised their album never took off; but if these guys had come up under the right producer at the right time, they definitely could've had some moderate hit records and a brief but respectable career. In the end, I'm about as happy with my purchase as I expected to be. And hey, at least we learned a little something.

1 comment:

  1. respect, ..I actually came across this just googling the group, I was a member of that group so this was nice to read..and i appreciate your honesty in the critique. I go by the name Forte' aka 4te' Da Giant.. check some of my stuff circa now..haha..i'd love to hear back from you.