Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Systa, Systa

Here's an obscure one most of ya'll will probably be glad to learn about… Systahood's "M.O. Money," from '97. I originally picked this up just for the Sakinah Britton (you may know her better as Sah-B) appearance, but it turns out to be rather nice as a whole.

Systahood is comprised of two women who grew up in East Orange, NJ: the MC, Kandi and the DJ, Twista (no relation to that Twista, naturally). This was their only release before they called it quits because, as Twista said in an interview with FAMDO.com (the interview's no longer up on their site, though unfortunately, so don't waste your time searching for it), "I had bills to pay and I was fortunate to have a career I could fall back on [a clinical operations coordinator in the pharmaceutical industry, apparently]." Even before putting out this single, though, she also co-founded Systas 4 Systas, an East Orange charitable organization, whose mission (according to the IRS) is to "combat juvenile delinquency." As Twista explained it, "this is a grass-roots organization in which five childhood friends and myself noticed that the external support organizations and community services we were once privileged to have, were slowly disappearing. We wanted to do what we could to deter the younger generation of women from teen pregnancy, drugs, alcohol and gangs."

One of those five friends, apparently, is Sah-B - an online charity database lists, M. Sakinah Britton as "(Community Representative) Vice President" for Systas 4 Systas Inc. So I'm guessing that first initial stands for Mawiyah, which solves the mystery from my old "Just a Summa Day" post. I think we can now safely assume Sakinah is using her middle name, and her full name is Mawiyah Sakinah Britton. You see? You dig around long enough, and you find out fun, obscure info. Here's another fact I found that way - Systas 4 Systas is also the name of a hair salon in East Orange… They have different mailing addresses, but since there's only two listings for "Systas 4 Systas" anywhere in the world, and they're both in East Orange, I decided to call them up and see. It's the same answering machine thanking you for calling Systas 4 Systas Inc. So that's them, too. 8)

Ok, so now you know who Systahood is; let's take a look at their work. "M.O. Money" starts off with Sah-B's guest verse (she also does the hook), and she comes off pretty nice… definitely still retaining some of that voice and flow that made her early work so enjoyable. Kandi takes the mic for the next two verses… she isn't as good (in terms of voice, lyrics, or flow), but certainly capable enough to keep an indie record like this afloat. Most impressively, the production, handled by Twista, is hot. Gripping horn samples and a fast, captivating bassline definitely pull you right into the song. The b-side, "Keep It In the Fam," is solid, too. It's more mellow, driven by a slower, deeper bassline (and yes, instrumentals are included for both). Kandi is a bit of a victim of her times here, filling her lyrics with lines like, "we stick together like stacks of new money," but hey, it was '97; who wasn't writing like that? Anyway. you can easily see why the A-side was picked to be the lead-off track, and this song is definitely the worse for not having another guest appearance by Sah-B, but you'll like both. And all in all, this rare, indie release (as far as I know, the only release on True Records) is definitely worth tracking down if you can.

It's been a long time since we've had a release from Sah-B - I was very disappointed to hear she wasn't featured on the new LOTUG album - and she doesn't seem to have much of an online presence (i.e. a myspace); but since they're working together, maybe there's still a chance Sah-B will come back, with some production from Twista and a guest verse from Kandi. …Come on, guys; make it happen.

Update 1/27/11: I just finally found the vinyl version of this release! The track-listing is the same for both, but we can glean some interesting tidbits of info from the label, including the fact that Kandi's full MCing name is actually Kandi Kain, and that this record was actually executive produced by Cool Vee!

I've also since learned some more about what Systahood is up to these days... Kandi Kain has written a book! It's called Hip Hop Holla-Backs, and apparently it's "the first of its’ kind to feature crossword puzzles, word searches and jumbles, trivia and artwork for coloring fostered around the theme of hip hop." She's published it herself through her own company, Tru Systa Books, which has a website at trusystabooks.com.

There's also a website for Systas 4 Systas over at s4sinc.org. It's got a heap of info on what they do over there, so I'll just let you go explore... By the way, I guess Sah-B got married, because there's a bio for one M. Sakinah Reed. So congrats, Sah! :)

1 comment:

  1. Hello, i was interested to buy this record they are some week, but now isnt available. have you got the full mp3 of this tape please ?



    thanx a lot