Saturday, September 7, 2013

Return To Killer Queens

Chopped Herring just delivered a trip back through time on my doorstep. Their latest release takes it back to the heyday of killer Queens, back when the Intelligent Hoodlum became Tragedy Khadafi, Nas and AZ were hip-hop's leading pop stars, Mobb Deep had the industry shook and CNN were shooting up out of the underground, and it was quickly being refilled by everyone from Screwball to Mic G and Bee Why. Yeah, they've gone ahead and resurrected The Killa Kidz, best know for being Queens legend Killa Sha's original group back when he was still known as Prince AD.

This is The 1996-1997 Phenomenon EP, and it's pretty terrific. First of all, it represses the Kidz' rare 12", "'96 Phenomenon" b/w "Time 2 Shine," one of the illest, rawest examples of classic Queensbridge criminology that can stand up alongside the best of any of the artists listed above. It's very rare and highly sought after, so just getting that repressed by itself would be more than enough reason for me to highly recommend the new record.

But that's literally not the half of it. Because, besides those two songs, this EP also includes four never before released Killa Kidz tracks from the same period. And all four of the unheard tracks are just as tight as famous ones. The production is tight, but the kids are fierce on the mic, and that's what really sets them apart from so many other MCs coming from Queens or anyplace else.

Make no mistake, the Kidz are genuinely young and they sound it. But this isn't any Kriss-Kross/ "Booty Pop" novelty kid act. They belie their age Special Ed did on his first record, a n adult-level artistic achievement... legit music by younger artists. It's like The Super Kids round two. Their not having their strings pulled by some cynical cigar-chomping manager out to make a quick cash grab; in fact Sha produced all their tracks himself (and he did the cuts, too).

Look, I'll come clean.  Back when the Kidz first came out, I didn't check for their 12".  I was burnt out on the whole Queens style. Everybody was doing it, even The Wu-Tang Clan were going that way with Raekwon's classic debut (though he's from Brooklyn, of course). It was non-stop on Hot 97, The Source mag and everywhere else. They took over the whole east coast, and there was a time I decided I was done with it. I got all of CNN's opening singles ("LA, LA," "TONY"), but then passed on their album. Every Queens group seemed to have three or four similar-sounding proteges. And I turned towards the west coast 4-track movement and there was certainly no shortage of other incredible ground-breaking material to relish instead.

But I've since gone back and realized I'd been shutting myself off from some incredible material (and yes, I've gone back and picked up The War Report). Queens blew up for a reason. And if you did the same thing, this is the perfect record to bring yourself back. It's not one of those "it's from Queens but sounds nothing like Queensbridge artists of that era" groups. This is quintessential Queens that shows just how awesome they were.

It sucks that the Kidz only released on 12" and that Sha never lived to see his star rise as high as it should have. But the material is finally here now. And of course, Chopped Herring has given first class treatment... Limited to 300 copies, with 75 pressed on mixed white (white) and yellow (yellow) vinyl, 75 on black, white (white) and purple and the rest on traditional black. And all in a sticker cover. Cop it; it's great.

2 comments:

  1. Great review as usual Werner, I slept on this but will be picking it up now.

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  2. DOPE review Werner - PROPS!!

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