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No Country for Old (Rap) Men: The curse of nineties gimmick rap

The worst examples that Robbie may or may not have been suckered into

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What crazy times the nineties were, what with Hammer pants, Sonic The Hedgehog, and denim shirts on lock. It was a time of fresh-faced innocence, when you could still get away with shooting a rap video for $25 and no one could complain unless they took the trouble to write an angry letter to Rap Sheet. It was also a time where I blew a lot of my pocket money on shitty rap tapes thanks to every two-bit record label on earth trying to get a piece of the ever expanding rap pie that was beginning to dominate the charts. Here are some of the worst examples that I may or may not have been suckered into buying.

01. Lordz of Brooklyn

Primary Gimmick: Rapping ‘wiseguys’

Following on from the breakout success of House of Pain in 1992, white rappers suddenly had a new angle after Vanilla Ice had ruined it for everybody – play up your Irish or Italian background! Thanks to decades of cheap stereotypes, now the ‘micks’ and ‘wops’ could finally reclaim their tough guy street cred through the medium of rapping. Next up on this bandwagon were the Lordz of Brooklyn, a group which contained two well-known NY graff identities and zero musical talent. Employing every mob flick cliche and rapping that makes Danny Boy from H.O.P. sound like Rakim by comparison, these ‘goodfellas’ eventually made the same ‘musical transformation’ that every gimmicky white rap group do – they traded in their drum machines for electric guitars and then did a ‘reality TV’ show.

02. Flatlinerz

Primary Gimmick: Horrorcore

I kind of feel bad for these dudes as they were called-out as being a poorly-devised record company experiment gone wrong as soon as they dropped their first single. As a writer for The Source magazine quickly identified, there was a sudden rush of so-called ‘horrorcore’ themed rap acts being released at the exact same time in an attempt to steal the thunder from super-group The Gravediggaz. As it turns out, the article itself was largely hyperbole, since apart from the Flatlinerz, other projects mentioned such as Crustified Dibbs aka RA The Rugged Man weren’t ‘horrorcore’ at all. Flatlinerz were a combination of everything that was terrible about 1994 rap—shouted hooks, everyone jumping around like they were ‘crazy’ in the video while performing Rap Hands x 1000, and that awful raspy voiced fast rapping that was all style and no substance whatsoever. This shit is about as scary as an episode of Goosebumps.

03. Hoes With Attitude

Primary Gimmick: Fucking

Do the words “when ya tongue gets strung on the tip of the wing-ding-ding-a-ling” mean anything to you? If so, you were clearly a fan of Eazy-E’s answer to Girl Power. Little did I know, H.W.A. released their first album Livin’ In A Hoe House on Drive-By Records, which contained a diss song aimed at N.W.A titled ‘The Conflict‘ before signing with Ruthless. In a feat I never thought possible, H.W.A. made JJ Fad almost listenable. By the time these Comp Town sheila’s delivered their second release, Az Much Ass AzZ U Want in 1994, lead rapper Baby Girl was bragging about her capacity to ‘take the broomstick up the whuut!’ while the trio worked the pole for tips in ‘All That.’ Ironically, Nicki Minaj has been remaking this video for the past five years and is labeled as a role model. If only they’d waited until the 2010’s to relaunch themselves as Thot Squad, Baby Girl, Diva, and Jazz’ piss-poor rapping would have been embraced by the Tumblr Rap crowd and would be currently be touring with the Based God himself.

04. The Fu-Schnickens

Gimmick: Budget karate rap

Before the Wu-Tang Clan made rapping over broken chopstick sound effects the hottest thing on these streets, the Fu boys were flying around in Chinese take-away boxes. Tragically, I was roped-in to their musical ponzi scheme after they somehow tricked the guys from A Tribe Called Quest not named Q-Tip to contribute beats and raps to their first tape. They had some good beats but the basic formula for their songs was that Chip-Fu guy rapping so fast that you needed to read the lyrics off the inside of the tape (and even that shit didn’t make any sense), followed by the other two dudes (I think one was named Bu Fu) rapping a lot slower and therefore sounding pretty lame compared to Rap Game Speedy Gonzales. Speaking of Warner Bros. cartoons, the Fu crew enjoyed them so much that half of their second album was just Chip Fu doing sound effects and impersonating Elmer Fudd. Sadly for the Fu’s, Das-EFX came along and stole their shine with the whole tongue-twisting Saturday morning cartoon steeze and then they did a song with Shaquille O’Neal and were moved into the witness protection program, although that didn’t stop Jive Records from releasing a Greatest Hits compilation from the crew despite only having recorded two albums. T-t-t-t-t-that’s all, folks!

05. Quo

Primary Gimmick: Kriss Kross with more piercings.

At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the white kid in this group is a young Marshall Mathers. Turns out that little cracker was a kid born in Brisbane who moved to the States, survived the trauma of being the first act signed to Michael Jackson’s MJJ label, and became a world famous choreographer who even had a crappy reality show named after him. You go, big guy! Meanwhile, the black kid went on to become an ‘international super model’ according to the Wikipedia page that he totally didn’t contribute to. As for the music? Thanks to ‘Uncle’ Mike, they were allowed to sample some Jackson’s tunes, got Redman to appear on their debut single, and Aaron Hall to sing the hook for the next one. Biting everyone from Kriss Kross (who were a rip of of Treach from Naughty By Nature anyway) to Snoop Dogg, these little punks were about as natural as the dust in a packet of Cheetos/Twisties.