G'Fellas - Crime Stories Chicano Rap

The trend of Mafioso crime thrillers wasn't limited to just Hollywood films, it transcended from visual entertainment to auricular representation over obscure instrumentals. I 'm referring to none other than the mid and late 90s rap phenomenon (fad), you saw this occur more on the East Coast (with the likes of Jay-Z, Kool G Rap, AZ, Big Pun, Notorious B.I.G, the Wu-Syndicate project etc). Of course, the West was in on this, too. More specifically Chicano Rap's supergroup the G'Fellas.

This album manifested two decades ago back in March of 1999, and it would be another 13 years before I added this to my physical collection. I know I say you can't judge a book by its cover, but goddamn this one makes you want to pick it up regardless! Nino Brown, Slow Pain and ALT (the core of the group) striking a Gambino pose catches your eye. Some obvious things I'll point out is the homage to the Martin Scorsese timeless masterpiece "GoodFellas" (both in name and art) as well as the mobster theme all throughout the project. Right off the bat, when the intro plays with the thick slaps and the Michael Myers piano keys adding to the ominous and murky instrumental you know it's gonna be good (Slow Pain rants in a distorted voice while Nino Brown is on a loop with his catch phrase "who got that gangsta shit?"). The new alias (formerly O'Genius) is an obvious nod to the Wesley Snipes character of the same name and an homage to being Chicano (as in brown and proud). Referred to as The Godfather, the legendary Mixmaster DJ Tony G lends his talents to the next beat, with Nino B commanding the tune and Slow Pain serving as the right hand, "Danger Zone" is entertaining from the get go. As the first quarter of the album progressed, "Don't Slip" has some elements I like: such as the synthesizer, I just think it's pace is too fast for the rugged vocals from Nino and the laidback lyrical pimp strut from Slow Pain.

A surprising cameo by none other than Toker (Rest in Peace) ties "Everybody Knows" together. It's no secret, Toker wasn't very fond of "cocky motherfuckers" (Kid Frost), however he is quoted saying he was cool with Tony G putting him on the G'Fellas project "‘cause they're cool people" (also explains why we got to hear O'Genius on the "Eastside Drama" album). Regardless, ALT is a microphone fiend, a lyrical trapeze artist putting rhymes together like a key to a lock, complimenting the menacing lines from Nino Brown giving this a confrontational demeanor, all the while taking jabs at the East Coast. Adding some old school to the mix, "G'Fellas Rap Dirty" pays tribute to Bowfly 's hella explicit "Rapp Dirty" from 1980. It can be entertaining at times, I suppose. Among my favorite tracks is "West Coast Rocks" for several reasons. This was at the end of the East-West feud, but the message was clear: the West can get down. It features Frost and M&Msta (from Foesum) rapping side by side with the group. The production is mean and the verses are dope, ALT leading the way, followed by Nino, Frost and M&Msta while Slow Pain rides the chorus. This track's chemistry is intense, and I'm positive a 90s collabo between Foesum and the G Spot Gee's would have made for dope album.

At this halfway point, we're in a strong roll, the skit leading up to the "Homies" is kind of a waste but the actual song is absolute fire. This album predates the "West Coast Gambinos" project by a few months but I assume it was recorded simultaneously, hence the same themes, tones and the similarities in production. As a matter of fact, this song and "It Ain't Easy" (from the "West Coast Gambinos" album) posses the same bass slapping beat. Now, "Mexican Flaggin" has the G-Funk sound we all dig, only thing is I rarely listen to this song all the way through. Now, back in the mid 90s, Ruthless Radio had a theme song on 92.3 The Beat, and the production and pianos keys on "This Type Of Shit" is so similar that I'd say Tony G had a hand in both. Although I'd prefer if they had incorporated the classic Slick Rick track with the same unforgettable line as the title to make it complete. Kudos to the group for not falling into the lazy sampling of War's song, "Lowride" actually sounds original (as opposed to Latin Alliance and Spanish Fly who looped the original while Cypress Hill had and interpolation of it). Personally, it's not my favorite song and I tend to skip it, although there are parts of the composition that I like but I don't wholesomely enjoy. The "Santiago Skit" serves as the prelude to the next song ("L.A to Miami"). Mellow Man Ace makes an appearance on that song, giving the chorus a familiar deep tone.

Wasting more space on the album is the "Freaky Skit" with some pornographic ramblings. It all leads up to the next song "Super Freaky" which is a tale of more sexcapades. These type of songs really ain't my thing but if it's yours, more power to you. The penultimate and final songs have always been among my favorites. They bring the album to a close in a smooth and solid manner. "Summer Nights" is a genuine gem, made for these warm nights we've been having all summer. The manner in which this album is brought to a close makes me want to hit replay and never let it end. "Player In You" pays homage to the classic song by Shalamar "This Is Love In You". This features the talents of ODM on the mic and the production, it is just an absolute masterpiece. I dare say it could have even been a lead single.

Whenever I am aware of Tony G's involvement on an album, I expect nothing less than quality, and the G'Fellas project delivered on that mark. The mobster theme was executed from beginning to end, and I'm astonished that that "Modern Day Mafia" and "Once Upon A Time In America" weren't strung together in this release. It's no secret that Italians aren't fond of blacks and Latinos (think of every mob movie ever) so I'm always perplexed at the admiration that both have towards the Mafia. If you liked the running theme, "Chicano Gambinos" was another dope product they made. If you ask me, less skits would have made this a perfect 13 tracks, but who am to judge? In all honesty the G-Spot Gees were fortunate to have the paragon production on their corner blessing their listeners with nothing but the best.

01. Intro
02. Danger Zone
03. Don't Slip
04. Everybody Knows
05. G'Fellas Rap Dirty
06. West Coast Rocks
07. Homies Skit
08. Homies
09. Mexican Flaggin
10. This Type Of Shit
11. Lowride
12. Santiago Skit
13. L.A To Miami
14. Freaky Skit
15. Super Freaky
16. Summer Nights
17. Player In You

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