Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Why Not To Name Your Group The "Verbal Assassins"

So, I have this rare CD single I've been thinking about writing about.  It's from 1998, not on discogs or mentioned anywhere else online that I can find.  And I really don't know anything about it except what's printed on the front and what I can hear on the disc.  It's by a group called the Verbal Assassins, so I decided to look them up to see if I could find anything out, and sheesh.

First of all, I'm highly confident that these are not the same Verbal Assassins as in Crazy Sam and da Verbal Assassins, the Video Music Box "Nervous Thursdays" VJ and his crew who put out one weird, little album in 1994.  For one thing, these guys are from Virginia, as they point out in one of their songs.  But that barely narrows it down, because "Verbal Assassins" seems to be a very popular rap group name, even though none of them ever had a hit song.  So it might be a bit of a cursed choice.

Let's see.  If they're from VA, they're surely not these Verbal Assassins, who helpfully point out that they're from NJ, probably because they've gotten notes from people looking for info on one of the other Verbal Assassin crews.  And these Verbal Assassins are from South Africa.  These Verbal Assassins are from Australia.  These Verbal Assassinz are from Alabama and don't even spell the name right.  I don't know where these Verbal Assassins are from, but they sound way too young and new.  Same with these Verbal AssassinsThese Verbal Assassins are too new and from the wrong place.  This guy was in a group called Verbal Assassins, but that was in Baltimore.  This other guy formed a group called the Verbal Assassins, and he's from Virginia, but it was just a duo, and there's more cats in my group.  These Verbal Assassins are white, and from the lyrics here, that rules them out.  Here's an interesting Verbal Assassins group, but they sound nothing like the ones on my CD.

I was really starting to think it was actually these Verbal Assassins: black with several members, from VA and around the same time period.  But this unflattering review of their album lists member names (Elsagandoe, Supreme, K-Otic, Erupt, Lowe Digga and producer Styles da Grinch) that I don't hear on this CD and talks about club tracks, which doesn't sound like this crew's style.  Plus, their imprint was Unshakeable Visions, and my group's is Hocus Pocus Records.  Of course, that's not to say and up and coming rap group couldn't have switched indie labels in the course of two years, but taken all together, all these indicators are reading a big "mmm... probably not" to me.  And I think groups named Verbal Assassins might just be more prevalent in Virginia because their state code is V.A.

These Verbal Assassins are five MCs, one seems to be saying his name is Sean Don, another is Baby Boy and a third might be Murder I.  And they mention "Shakim on the wheels," though unfortunately none of these three songs feature any turntablism.  They basically blur the line between lyrical freestyle rhymes and street talk, with a bit of a Natural Elements influence, though they don't quite have Charlemagne's classic production.  "Open Mic" is just a non-stop freestyle with each MC taking a turn to flex his skills over a simple battle rap loop and no hook.  "Rush Hour" is a little more street and does have a hook, and "Adolescence" turns even further, with a more musical sample and some serious warnings for the young bloods.  All three beats are serviceable, but the selling point is definitely the MCing, with writing styles veering from creative metaphors to punchlines.  A couple of the lines are stale even for their time ("fuck with more women than a lesbian," "make 'em scream 'uhhh' like Master P"), but they're mostly pretty slick, with distinctive voices and vocal styles to boot.  One guy will be fast and smooth, then the next dude sounds like Vooodu, saying:

"Comin' from the underground, ambush this industry.
Catch it from all angles: physically, mentally.
Y'all niggas feel me; and if you don't understand:
My crew secretes verses, touchin' every gland.
Storm troopin' in your sanctuary,
See the views of a young, black visionary
With murderous vocabulary.
Seein' through your crew like lace panties;
Guzzle 'em down like E&J brandy
Liq-uor.  Feel the script-ure,
But not visible.  Verses: they rip through your physical,
Battles: they injure you.  I enter this rap
Domain and give 'em all my thesis,
My opinions; speeches crush the opposition.
Leave a trail of shattered craniums on my mission.
Give me that mic and ball up in fetal position.
Feel the illness all up in your mom's uterus,
'Cause I move swiftly, usin' assassin tactics.
The new school of Hip-Hop, yes, I'm born again.
Break out the germ in this[? maybe "German-ness?"], cast into this world of sin.
It's like I'm torn between Heaven and Hell,
Neither wants me:
The fallen angel, enter the Elm Street."

Honestly, the more I listen, the more it continues to grow on me.  I'd love to discover more from these guys, but it's like trying to find a needle in a haystack where each straw is another rap group also calling themselves Verbal Assassins.  Seriously, I wish more up and coming artists respected when a name is already taken.

1 comment:

  1. Woah! That's a lot of "Verbal Assassins".