Juvenile Style - Brewed In South Central
Before the brass instrumentation, there was funk samples in their songs. Before their Spanish raps, they rapped in English. Before Akwid, there was Juvenile Style. In my adolescence, I recall seeing these dudes quite a bit on TV on the Spanish language music videos, especially on the channels we picked up from Tijuas (channel 12 if you in San Diego). Believe it or not, I heard their name almost with as much frequency as I heard Lil Rob's. Back in the mid 90s, AK and Wikid had relative success on the mainstream. They had backing from professional producers (DJ Aladdin, WC's old DJ from the Low Profile days) and even appeared in music videos.
In my opinion, 1995's "Brewed In South Central" turned out to be a hell of an improvement over their first album (1993's "Time 2 Expand"). The sound switched up from a hip hop-ish, East Coast-like sound to the more laid-back, G-Funk sound that had taken Southern California by storm. The album runs a lengthy 17 rolas, most of which are worth a listen. Stylistically, this album leans more towards gangster rap with its top notch production, mixing and sampling. The album cover is kinda dope; they're posted under what I assume to be the 6th Street bridge in Los Angeles with some typical graffiti in the background. From the first track you get hooked on their sound rather than their lyrics, the intro starts off with some chattering and some incoherent rhymes, but the beat knocks (shame that it was wasted on gibberish).
They have a somewhat eccentric approach to rhyming, at times they want to sound like gangsters but their corny themes give them away. "Brewed In South Central" has a dope beat but there's some guy yapping over their rapping and it gets distracting. "The Cavey" granted them one of their first music videos (you can find it online). It's not their best song but it is one of their most tolerable rhymes. It wasn't until earlier this week that I realized that "My Game's Tight" has a discrete sample of the classic "Backstrokin'" by Fatback, with the bass turned down and the trumpets humming that irresistible hymn that we love. There's another sample laced in there, but I really like this song, the brothers got their flow on pace with the songs tempo.
Most skits are meant to be skipped and track number 5 is no exception. Stepping back into a more laid back back cut (with production reminiscent of some Death Row unreleased jams) "Lil Locs" is a reminder of growing up the barrio. One of the greatest strengths of this album is the sheer genius of the sampling. After track 6 ends, the unmistakable sound of dogs panting ("Atomic Dog" sample) gets mixed in with echoed claps from "Genius Of Love". It slaps hard. This really needs to be made available on instrumental, guaranteed to make you hit replay. "Throw Your Hands" on the other hand fails to be as captivating, the chorus was weak but the sample was dope (can't say I've ever heard a sample of Soul II Soul's "FairPlay" and BT Express's "If It Don't Turn On You" that I didn't like).
"Rough Eses" contains several samples (classic ones too), of course I am talking about the famous "Funk Worm". The claps are dope but the fucking chorus bugged the hell out of me, instead of using the Ice Cube's famous words, they interpolated the "eses deep don't fuck with them boys". Obscurity sometimes took over the tones of the albums sound, "I'm Sick" drums and claps had a sinister sound. These type of beats represent a different style of West Coast production that doesn't rely on famous funk samples, so kudos to them for this one. Skip the skit on track 11 and on to "So What The (Fuck)". The production slaps hard, the synth fades in and out with a female on the chorus, straight G-Funk.
Among my favorite type of beats are the hard hitting, bass thumping —the shit that will rattle your speakers. The Bar-Kays sample does just that on "What's That SC Like". It is a go-to song for me. Song would have been more powerful without the chorus, with each verse ending with the like from the chorus. Still a favorite though. What West Coast album is devoid of lowrider themes? You know it, this wouldn't be complete without "Switchin'", the song serves its purpose and keeps you entertained with its beat and composition. The only feature goes to the great King T, from the neighboring city of Compton. The tone takes a different twist, "5th In The Trunk" has a more hip hop oriented flow and a beat that doesn't sway in any particular direction, neither West nor East. The brothers hold their own next to one of the West's best lyricists. While listening to the album I was skeptical of a missing Zapp and Roger sample, but lo and behold, "Here We Go" put those concerns to rest. What's peculiar is that they chose to sample the stuttering vocal sound (same prominent sample of "Ain't No Future In Your Fronting") instead of the ba-ba-ba-bomp baseline. Winding it down on the last track is the remix to "The Cavey", positioned as the only remix on the album. It has a reggae sound, or maybe it's the guitar strumming that gives it that feel. At times I let it play all the way through and other times I just skip it altogether.
Upon researching about why they stopped rapping in English and why they went defunct, I found out some interesting facts. In reality, we are lucky to have heard this, Pump Records managed to release the album before it folded, unfortunately these cats ended up working at Mickey D's and Bob's Big Boy Burgers before re-emerging as Akwid. That's where they had the epiphany and rekindled their paisa roots. I wasn't fond of all the n-bombs sprinkled all over the album, the first time I kept count I think it totaled at least 32 times, not to mention the limited vocabulary (you repeatedly hear "essay" [not ese] and "fool"). Some of these songs make you wish they had an instrumental version because the production was amazing. As a whole, this 17 track album gets lengthy but is packed with some enjoyable cuts. Is it a classic? No, it's far from it but it is worth a listen especially on long drives.
02. Brewed In South Central
03. The Cavey
04. My Game's Tight
05. The Jack
06. Lil Locs
07. I'm Serving Em
08. Throw Yo Hands
09. Rough Eses
10. I'm Sick
11. You Don't Know Nothin'
12. So What The
13. What's That SC Like
15. 5th In The Trunk
16. Here We Go
17. The Cavey [REMIX]