Friday, September 3, 2010

The Definitive 2AWK

I think I should talk about The 2AWK (pronounced like "talk")... not because I'm a huge fan of these guys, but they were pretty good, and I don't think anybody else on the 'net's gonna tell about 'em if I don't. It's a big responsibility I carry here at this blog. lol Anyway, as you can see from the logo above, 2AWK stands for 2 Average White Kids, which is odd because there's six of 'em, including three MCs, one DJ and two dancers: Phillip "EFEK" Mueller, Christopher "Cold Chris" Parker, Erick "Hype" Krause, George "Baby-G" Garza, John "Park Place" Meeks and Erick "Boardwalk" Cheatham. They were signed to Luke Records in 1990, and while Luke didn't seem to do the careers of most of their signees any favors, I can't help but think their stupid name has to carry at least half the blame. But they received some positive attention in recent years because apparently Chuck D regards these guys pretty highly (there's a connection we'll get to later) and included one of their songs on his semi-recent Hip Hop Hall of Fame DVD.

Anyway, they recorded an album titled Konflic Uv Interest, but like a lot of albums recorded for Luke around that time (Malignant Graffiti, Malignant Graffiti, Malignant Graffiti), it was never released and remains unheard to this day. The track-listing exists, though, since this album was very close to release before being pulled:

Konflic Uv Interest:
1. 6 A. M.
2. U. S. A. (Static)
3. 2alk About Scheming
4. Hit and Run
5. 2Awk Is Cheap
6. 2Awk on the Town
7. Vacant the Premises
8. High Noon
9. Konflic UV Interest
10. Monopolistic Maneuvers
11. Lyrically Speaking
12. Face the Music
13. Down to the Nitty
14. Whitemares
15. Psychotic
(Luke Records - 1991)

So, the album didn't drop, but several songs did make it out of Luke Records alive. first we have their lead single and sole release, "Psychotic." Probably the most compelling element of 2AWK's music (at least what we've been allowed to hear of it) is their production. "Psychotic" was produced by Kavon Shah and Anthony Mills, of Professor Griff's (there's that connection I promised!) very underrated production team, The Soul Society.

Actually, before the song, we get a skit called "Whitemares," where John's parents awake from a nightmare that he'd joined a rap band only to discover that it's true. It's as corny and unnecessary as all skits, but then the song kicks in. It's a mix of several familiar breaks and horn samples, flipped in a fresh new way. They've got a DJ adding some nice scratches, and they even manage to use "Atomic Dog" on the hook without it being irritating. Lyrically, it gets pretty trite and corny (this was a group that thought it was a good idea to call themselves 2 Average White Kids, after all; and it was 1991), with lines like "dancin' like Charles Manson," but their flows are good enough to ride the hot beats. Overall, it's an okay song... and a downright dope, worth owning song if you don't scrutinize the lyrics too much.

There are no instrumentals (unfortunately!) or anything, but flip this over and you've got a B-side song entitled, "Down To the Nitty." This one's produced by Mr. Mixx, but it's nothing like your typical 2 Live Crew track. Well, lyrically it actually kinda is, 'cause it's a jokey sex rap song ("see more butts than a toilet stool; jack more ass than Francis the Talking Mule"). Unfortunately, unlike the last song, it's really hard to ignore the slow, ultra-cheesy punchline raps on this song ("women, I caught 'em swimmin' in bikinis, and they had no weenies. I don't mean to indulge but they had no bulge in the front"), which means it's not one you'll want to revisit often. And that's a shame, because the instrumental is great! It's got a slow, deep bassline, a protracted flute sample for a hook... it would've fit in perfectly on Kurious's first album (in fact, I'm sure they were trying to duplicate that casual, lyrical vibe). If you can keep from cringing at the freestyle rhymes, I recommend it.

Anyway, that's 2AWK's only proper release, but not their only appearance on wax. They had a song called "Vacate the Premises," which was included on Luke Record's Hangin' With the Home Boys soundtrack. As you can see from the track-listing above, it was also intended for their album, and it was also included as the B-side to the single from that soundtrack, 2 Live Crew & Triple XXX's "Hangin' With the Homeboys and Dr. Feelgood." I've got the cassingle, but even the 12" only features the one version of the song (that's right, another instrumental opportunity missed). Again, the production is handled by The Soul Society's Kavon Shah and Anthony Mills, and it's another winner. This one has more of an obvious Bomb Squad influence, with wailing sirens, and blaring horn stabs over the big beats. It's just got that hardcore, noisy feel, and the MCs hold up much better on this track.

Then they popped up one more time in 1992, on the compilation EP, Luke's Hitmen for the 90's (as you might guess, 2AWK aren't the only disappointingly shelved artists to appear on this one). Their song here is called "U.S.A. (United Static Association)," an ode to digging and sampling. This is the one Chuck featured on his DVD, and as you can see, it was intended for the Konflic album as well. Again it's produced by Kavon and Anthony, and again, the track easily outshines the MCs. Like "Psychotic," it utilizes a lot of breaks, samples and sounds you've heard before (they even use the signature loop from JVC Force's "Strong Island" during a break-down), but combines them into a really refreshing blend. But unlike "Vacate the Premises," this one doesn't sound "noixy," each funky horn and guitar sample gets to stand on its own over the head-nodding drums.

So that's the full story of 2AWK. I don't know if they were shelved because Luke Records didn't have faith in the MCs or if it was just because they were struggling financially and shelving great material right and left. Probably a bit of both. But it's a shame Konflic Uv Interest remains on the shelf, because if the production on the rest of the LP is anything like the songs we've heard, it's got some interesting songs and incredible beats going to waste. Who owns Luke's catalog now? Joey Boy - are they still around? Whoever it is, I hope somebody decides to open up those vaults, 'cause there's a lot of quality, under-appreciated hip-hop rotting away in there.


  1. Some of these dudes also became the group Mad Flava. They had a couple songs. Hype Dawg produced several pre-Nelly StL rappers including Sylk Smoov and JCD. The Sylk Smoov CD has some bangin production and at least two "classic" songs.


  2.'s so annoying when one's interest is triggered but no music can be found on the net anywhere...

    Thanx for the rundown on these obscure releases Mr. W

    Chriz the Wiz

  3. This Boardwalk..dancer for the 2AWK and the article is not accurate on one level. It is my youtube page "erickrassle" that has 2AWK footage as well as other lost in time hip hop videos and live performances. plus i have a book and a screenplay coming out about our time at Luke records.