Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Black Sheep Meets Tha Alkaholiks ...and Some Other Guys

Since long-lost, unreleased tracks are finally being released on vinyl by both Black Sheep and Tha Alkaholiks, I thought it would be a good time to take a look back at this fun but mostly forgotten 90's record where they collaborated. This is "Dirty Money," by J-Ro and Dres, on PAC Records. Oh, and some guys known as The Flowmastaz Click.

Yeah, this is actually The Flowmastaz' single, and J-Ro and Dres are their special guests on this one song, though I've often seen it listed on line as if the Flowmastaz was a mini "super group" consisting of J-Ro and Dres. But, no, there's actually a whole Flowmastaz Click album, appropriately entitled Flowmastaz Click, and J-Ro and Dres are only on this one song. It's just that the star power of their guests outshone them.

In fact, The Flowmastaz have a bit of a history, albeit an obscure one. They're a Californian Latino trio consisting of Echo 1 aka Bout It, T-Swoop and Nome. They released their album and an earlier single, "Who's To Blame," the year before in 1998. They owned their own label, PAC Records, which also put out releases by a couple other groups. That album didn't feature "Dirty Money," though. That was only released on this one 12".

But the Flowmastaz story didn't end there. A few years later (2002), The Outsidaz' label RuffLife signed them under a slightly different name, Flow Click. And they didn't just drop 1/3 of their name but 1/3 of their roster, as Nome was out, and it was just Bout It and T-Swoop left; and their album was titled, appropriately, Flow Click. I wonder if Rufflife even realized they were releasing the Click's second self-titled "debut" album? Anyway, they dropped one single ("Pretty Lady") and of course we all know what happened to Rufflife, so that was pretty much it for them.

I can't say The Flowmastaz deserved any better than they achieved... Their first album was one of those sort of G-funky west coast albums where the MCs were kind of more on an east coast lyrical tip, but not very much. You know: all very soupy and a middle-of-the-road mash of the popular styles at the time, kinda like DPG-lite. Then their second album catered more to the niche Spanglish audience. But, given that, they pull their own weight on "Dirty Money" surprisingly well.

It's a funky but tough little beat, produced by some guys named Lamark and J. Crumb, with some nicely rubbed in percussion by an uncredited DJ. There's a little bit of a hook, but mostly it's just a lyrical free for all with the MCs trading the mic back and forth.So it's not like a single verse from each guest and then they're done. They keep getting back on the mic for more. J-Ro - dubbing himself "J-Ro J. Simpson" here - mostly steals the show, but Dres has an impressively tight little rhyme scheme - though his voice is probably the most exciting aspect of his bars. And like I said, the Flowmastaz really hold up their end of the bargain as well (T-Swoop really sounds good on his last verse). If they'd recorded an album like this single, I probably would've checked for these guys' material even without J-Ro and Dres on it. But as it is, this is the only Flowmastaz record you really need in your crates.

But you really should have this one, because it's surprisingly fresh. It's just got the one song but complete in Dirty, Radio, Instrumental and even Accapella versions. And again, this is a vinyl exclusive (though I'm sure this found it's way onto more than a couple mixtapes in its day). It's just one of those awesome little 12" singles that could've only appeared in second half of the 90s.

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