Classic Hip-Hop Records From 1989 Reviewed

Artist: Tuff Crew
Title: Back to Wreck Shop - LP
Label: Warlock - 1989
Producer: LA Kid and DJ Too Tuff

"So damn tough"... listen to the Deuce Ace Detonator, DJ Too Tuff, whittle away at this phrase and you're probably underground, burrowing at the Earth's core with Philadelphia's Tuff Crew band.

The later half of the 80’s saw Philly threatening to transcend the West Coast as New York's chief rival with the likes of O.G. pioneer Schoolly D, the acknickulous Three Times Dope, and Steady B's Hilltop Hustlers. Yet, it was the "Kings of the Cuts on Two Turntables"-Champion DJs Jazzy Jeff, Cash Money, and Miz - that caused the most commotion for Philadelphia. Nor were any of the Tuff Crew albums bereft of pinpointed, fervent scratching. On the fairly obscure Soo Def label, the Tuff Crew had to share liners with the Krown Rulers back in '87. After the R-9esque "Techno Tuff," the quintet's hallmark uggedness was defined in ’88 via a dope tongue in cheek joint entitled "My Part of Town." With seismic implications, this notorious jam set the precedent for 89's Back to Wreck Shop on Warlock Records. Though "My Part of Town" does-and still does-firmly plant a skillfully aimed boot up your butt, the 15+ cuts on Back to Wreck Shop are pure "so leave my mic alone" Hip-Hop. Overlord Ice Dog's eerily stoic, monotone style orders chills down MC spines like Orson Welles on radio. LA Kid the Lyrical Auditor and Tone Love the Teacher serve equally skilled time on cuts like "Show Em Hell," "Back to Wreck Shop," "Mountains World," and "What You Don't Know." "Gimme Some" is a low ended ode to Miami. On the DJ cut, "Behold the Detonator," the Deuce Ace breaks the PE air raid down like a '74 Pacer on I-95 in 5:34 traffic. However, this album is about mic control - is there anything else? 'Cause these kids certainly didn’t need (nor did they have) that MTV thematic montage crap to drop the goods on the only audience that matters. Now you know! (Oh yeah, after their break up, Ice Dog returned with some other kids on Still Dangerous.)

Dave Tompkins


Artist: Butchy B
Title: Hip-Hop Terrorist - 12"
Label: Groovy Move Records - 1989
Producer: artist

How many times has an unknown MC emerged from obscurity with a slamming cut that is bought and heard by no one, despite being a good piece of work, resulting in the rapper disappearing from view? This 12" is an example of that breed, and it's one of the better (or worse if you see it from my viewpoint) of that genre. This kid doesn't mess around or waste time; Butchy B gets right into it as soon as the needle hits the track: "Back again in a brand new form/Rapping one style was never my norm." He kicks solid New York lyrics throughout the cut; hard-core Hip-Hop all the way, unlike everybody else and their mama who was on the hip-house tip around this time.

The track is self produced, with turntable dynamics from DJ E. It consists mainly of a repetetive bass guitar loop with a bridge every minute or so. It's a minimalist cut but all the better for it as it emphasizes the lyrics and allows E's scratching to be heard clearly, which is what we wanna hear anyway, right?

I feel it’s criminal that this record was never picked up on - only if a few A&R guys did their jobs right back then, we'd have some more cuts by this kid today. He definitely displayed enough talent on this cut to have hit it in a big way.'89 was a long time ago in Hip-Hop terms, but this kid could still make a comeback today 'cause he definitely displays the skills. If you read this, how about it B?

Faisal Ahmed