Monday, March 30, 2015

Izniz Is Back With the Ill Behavior

So, having just gone through the elaborate history of Ghettolandz and The Madness, you might think that was the end of the story. But not quite. Producer Izniz has one more unreleased project getting resurrected: Ill Behavior. Ill Behavior is another group Izniz was a part of/ producer for, and unlike Ghettolandz and The Madness, they never had any records out. But with the interest in his work now generating from those other groups, he's putting Ill Behavior's lost demos out now, too, this time through Heavy Jewelz.

So Ill Behavior is a 3-man group with Izniz and two MCs: Homicide & Zoo Man Crash. Days Of Sin is a vinyl EP of demos recorded in 1994, which means it actually predates all those Ghettolandz and Madness records. This is the earliest and rawest material.

Heavy Jewelz points out how Wu-Tang inspired they are, and that's certainly hard to deny. But they don't sound like another Sunz of Man/ Killarmy spin-off group. They're just another very hardcore east coast indie hip-hop group. I don't see how they couldn't be inspired by 36 Chambers at that time, but they also lean a bit more to the Onyx side with their wild, grimy, sporadic shouting deliveries. But they're thankfully less cartoony than most of those Onyx knock-off types (nobody yells, "Captain Caaaaaaaveman!" although Zoo Man does come dangerously close to a "yabba dabba doo" at one point), and Izniz provides some really gritty but high quality production. Like, "Pushed Up," with banging drums and sparse horn samples and a subtle piano loop... If Onyx had production like that, they would've stayed popular through the late 90s.

Oh, except for the title cut "Days Of Sin." That totally sounds like a Wu spin-off group cut. Certainly the ODB-vocal sample in the background brings it home, but it totally sounds like a Wu-song anyway. The instrumental sounds like classic Wu, and I think they've even subtly shifted their delivery style to be a bit more Wu-like on this one. Oh, and "Assed Out" sounds like Homicide is channeling a little Meth. And that's not a criticism at all, they really capture everything that was great about vintage Wu without any of what bogs down modern Wu.

That includes brevity, which gives this EP a tighter feel. I mean, the three songs on side A combined are less than 10 minutes, and side B isn't much longer. They're in and out pretty fast, leaving you wanting more. If they could've cut Better Tomorrow down to this length, they might've had something there. Just sayin'.

So, like all Heavy Jewelz releases, this is a limited pressing, with 100 copies on white (white) vinyl, 100 on black, and 75 on a black and white split. It comes in a really awesome, black on black embossed cover, with raised letters. It looks very cool in person but unfortunately doesn't scan or photograph that well (look really closely at the picture above, though, and you can spot it). It also has something we rarely see even with these fancier limited runs, an inner sleeve with full, double0-sided artwork. Anybody who sees one of these in person is going to be impressed.

Still, if you're more of a CD/ cassette person, I have to point out that Cross Market has your back. They've released Days of Sin on both formats with an extra, seventh bonus track called "Who Wanna Do What," and it's another banger. Fortunately, Cross Market's prices are quite reasonable, so you could cop the vinyl EP and pick up a CD or cassette on the side just for the bonus track without feeling hard done by. Recommended if you like that raw, early 90's east coast street sound... and who doesn't?

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