Long before Snoop Dogg, Eminem, or Xzibit came into the picture, Dr. Dre had already found the perfect MC in the D.O.C., a Texas transplant to Los Angeles. Before he tragically lost his vocal chords in an auto accident, the D.O.C. was easily one of the fiercest lyricists that the West Coast had ever witnessed--a combination of Ice Cube's scowling aggressiveness but balanced with a sophistication that would have rivaled KRS-One at his best. With a ragga-tinged flow, he could drop lyrical bombs with fury on "It's Funky Enough" or sublimely style for "The Formula." Dre supported the D.O.C. with a bevy of funk-laden tracks that were pre-Chronic, meaning that the feel was rough and rugged vs. wet and sticky. Had his voice survived, there's little doubt that the D.O.C. would have become one of Cali's greatest MCs ever. All the supporting evidence is on this album.
Grand Daddy I.U. is an American emcee from Queens, New York, active during the golden age of hip-hop. Grand Daddy I.U. was raised in Hempstead, Long Island, and was encouraged to begin performing by his brother DJ Kay Cee. He recorded a demo tape and gave it to Biz Markie, who signed him to the label Cold Chillin' Records in 1989. In 1990 he released his debut, Smooth Assassin, and became noted for his high-end sartorial choices, always appearing in public wearing a suit and tie. He did ghostwriting and production work for Markie and Roxanne Shanté but became disenchanted with Markie over a dispute involving publishing credits for the tracks on his debut. He released a sophomore effort, Lead Pipe, in 1994, but the album received little promotion, and Grand Daddy I.U. quit emceeing for nearly a decade.
Grand Daddy I.U. continued to do production work in hip-hop for Das EFX, Heltah Skeltah, KRS-One, and Ice-T, among others. He issued a third album, Stick to the Script, in 2007, featuring production from Large Professor and Marco Polo.
MC Serch (Michael Berrin), Prime Minister Pete Nice (Peter J. Nash), and DJ Richie Rich (Richard Lawson) were the three founding members of the group. Richie Rich was a local D.J., while Nice was an English major at Columbia University and hosted a hip hop show on WKCR. Serch performed at clubs and block parties, and released a single called "Hey Boy" on independent label Idlers.
Record producer Sam Sever (real name Sam Citrin) convinced Nice and Serch to work together in 1987. Sever, Prince Paul, and The Bomb Squad produced their 1989 debut, The Cactus Album, a critically-acclaimed debut LP that went gold and contained a minor hit in "The Gas Face." The accompanying video, which featured a bevy of humorous cameo appearances that included Gilbert Gottfried, Flavor Flav, Salt-n-Pepa, EPMD, garnered respectable MTV airplay and the single peaked at #5 on Billboard's Top Rap Singles, though it did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100.
As reported in many interviews, Serch had tried (unsuccessfully) to join up with fellow New Yorkers, the Beastie Boys. Upon signing with Def Jam, 3rd Bass inherited their label's feud with the Beasties. The Cactus Album was released shortly after the Beastie Boys – riding high on the success of Licensed to Ill – walked out of their contract with the label. In addition to containing multiple potshots directed at M.C. Hammer (who was called "M.C. Household Tool" in the liner notes), Cactus also attacked the Beastie Boys and their defection to Capitol Records.
3rd Bass's 1991 follow-up, Derelicts of Dialect, had a new target in fellow white rapper Vanilla Ice, who was the focal point of several tracks on the album, most notably "Pop Goes the Weasel." The track depicted Ice as a culture thief who watered down the sound of rap in order to pander to a mainstream audience, while depicting 3rd Bass as more respectful of the genre's traditions. Ice was also criticized therein for his refusal to credit artists whose music he had sampled for his 1990 smash "Ice Ice Baby." The video featured punk rock icon Henry Rollins dressed up as Ice, who received a "beatdown" by 3rd Bass at the end.
Fueled by the heavy backlash against Vanilla Ice at the time of its release, "Pop Goes the Weasel" reached #1 on Billboard's Top Rap Singles chart, gave the group their first and only Top 40 single (peaking at #29 on the Hot 100), and helped propel the album to gold status. The track was described by Allmusic as "much-needed damage control in the hip-hop community," in part because it featured Caucasian rappers openly distancing themselves from one of their peers.
3rd Bass's final collaboration was the title track to the soundtrack of the 1992 film Gladiator before the group called it quits. That same year - three years after The Cactus Album - the Beastie Boys retaliated against 3rd Bass on their new release Check Your Head; the track "Professor Booty" contained the lyric "...dancing around like you think you're Janet Jackson," which was a swipe at Serch's dancing in 3rd Bass's videos.
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