Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Ultimate 100X Posse Collection

Ah, the limited game. Super expensive records that go out of print before pre-orders have a chance to turn into regular orders. Of course, it's hard for people to complain when they wouldn't even pay $5 for a brand new 12" anyway. But man, there's been some great stuff released through this model. You know what was awesome? Freestyle Records' epic 100X Posse package in 2009.

At $125, it was priced to hurt, but the contents were pretty awesome. The main element is a double LP called Whom Shall I Fear? It's a weighty collection of their unreleased material from their early period of 1993-1995. Yeah, 100X has stuff dating back even before then; but this was right about the time they were the full-sized crew and recording in earnest, and its the time of their debut collective 12", "Beyond the Door" (1994). It's right after the Greg Osby stint, when they went back to their rawest, hardest material, free of having to water down their style for Blue Note. It's when they even drifted into horrorcore, most notably with the song called "Horrorcore."

But they dipped into horrorcore the way the Geto Boys did. They didn't really go out to jump into horror movie style lyrics on wax so much as just take the hardcore, violent imagery of street and gangster rap to such an extreme that it crossed the line. "Floozies, I butt-fuck 'em with the uzis. I'm showin' no pity, bitches, I'm cuttin' off ya fuckin' titties." That's what this LP sounds like, combined with LE Square's rugged and stripped down sound. Like I mentioned in an older 100X post, I liked their the blend of the more commercial-style production on their "Thug Bowl" single merged with 100X's street styles; but I wouldn't want most of their records to sound like that. I'd want 'em to sound like this. It's basically what you want if you're in the market for seriously hardcore rap. It's also from the early 90s, though, and back when these guys were still pretty young, so it does get dip into the corny and even childish if you pay strict attention to all the lyrics (i.e. that example I just cited). And there are the trite, pop culture references and punchlines that all early 90s rap is laden with ("disassemble niggas like Johnny 5"). But with those caveats, really, if you're a 90s head, this is exactly what you're fiending for.

One thing you'll notice, though, is that two of their most famous members - Poison Ladd and Beats In General - aren't on the album. That's because, though they're often listed as members of the group, and they were unquestionably affiliated (Are Em even produced a couple tracks on Another 1 4 U 2 NV), I don't think they were ever really members proper. They aren't on this album at all and they're not on any of the other 100X 12"s that came out over the years. They do feature, however, on the other record in this package: Early X.

Early X is the crown jewel of this collection if you ask me. Like its title implies, it goes back even earlier than Whom Shall I Fear? to 1991, before 100X was fully formed. It features two tracks apiece by three groups that would pave the way to forming 100X, including Poison Ladd and Beats In General, Are Em (solo) and Bad Newz' earlier group Call Us Whatchu Want. This is more hype, classic late 80's sounding Another 1 4 U 2 NV-style material; I love it. Poison Ladd & BIG have a particularly politically incorrect jam called "Slanty Eyed Devil," which strongly echoes Ice Cube's "Black Korea" that came out the same year, with Poison adopting a very B-Real like affectation. Mind you, I'm not really pointing that out as a highlight. Calling the song "politically incorrect" was me being gentle. Despite its genuine message about rejecting outsiders who bring liquor and garbage into local communities (taken directly from Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, which is sampled in the song's opening), it's still overtly racist. And lord knows one B-Real is enough. But damn if the production doesn't make it sound hot regardless.

But the surprising break-out stars are C.U.W.W., whose two songs are fantastic. Hype production with big samples, like the best records DWG have released.  And they sound perfect over it, in the vein of a faster UBC. I could honestly just put their two cuts on repeat all day.

And that's all the wax in that package: the double LP in a picture cover and the single EP in a sticker cover. But there was one more thing: a mix-CD simply called Rare & Unreleased 1992-1996, mixed by DJ Nickybutters. He does a fine job and I'm not knocking his mixing skills, but I sure wish this was a proper compilation without all the material blended together, because there's some great songs on here that are still unavailable in their complete form. It brings in some of their rare 12" material, like three tracks from their "Beyond the Door" 12" and eight tracks from Whom Shall I Fear?, the latter of which is stupidly redundant. But there's still a bunch of strong stuff you can't hear anywhere else, full songs and freestyle "Commercials." The Roots even make a couple of appearances.

For years, this was still available on Freestyle Records' website, but in the last couple years it unfortunately went offline. But you can still buy this set from them directly through discogs, at the reduced price of $100 even. Practically free, right? Ha ha It is a pretty great set, though.

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