The limelight of the Chicano Rap has heavily focused on Los Angeles (the "birthplace" of the sub genre) and San Diego (the Mecca, heart and soul of classic debuts), however the I.E (and the O.C) has gone largely unnoticed for its involvement and contributions in the game.
Familia Records blessed us with a glimpse of the Lyrikal Sound Dealerz as early as 1992 with the single and instrumental "Brown Pride". A beautifully crafted instrumental showcasing the groups strong point: sampling. Yes, sampling and production is what makes their debut album incredible and a must have in your collection.
As the Joker of LSD said it: "the Inland Empire; Riverside to San Bernardino, two counties related getting faded like our primos". This quote really ties the story of the 1995 album "Fully Strapped". So let me clarify this, Joker and JBM are LSD (from Riverside) and the other rappers you hear on the album are actually another group (from SB) called Fully Strapped (A-Bomb, Channel Brown, Mocha and Rated-X). Murry Brumfield put his "creative" touch on the album and made them one single group with the album title being an homage to the latter group. The group Fully Strapped released an album the year before called "Hostile Takeover" (some of these songs can be heard on other Familia Records releases).
I first bought the album in like '05 or '06 for $13 at the Indoor Swapmeet in Oceanside. Unbeknownst to me, I copped the re-print with Joker on the cover (the 1995 version has the cholo character from the tape single printed in red and green over a white black ground). This second pressing included the single from 1992 as the first track totaling of 11 songs while the original print consists of 10 tracks.
The first two tracks ("2 Man Gang" and "Somethin' 4 Ya Juraz"), featuring only Joker, sound grim and flat compared to the rest of the album. They are not bad songs, but almost don't seem to fit in with the rest of the tracklist, as in they are devoid of funk sounds. The only running theme across all songs are the consistent sound clips of Eazy-E and NWA.
"Fully Strapped" really picks up on the third track. Although not titled as a remix, it is acknowledged as so in the first sentence when you hear brothers A-Bomb and Channel Brown simultaneous introducing Joker, "what matters on the inside matters on the outside, LSD come with the remix, brown pride". As soon as the beat drops, it's sure to knock you off your ass with its heavy drums and slowed tempo. It's a hard hitting, bass thumping sample of "Atomic Dog". Channel Brown, in my opinion, has a killer verse with his raspy vocals and sinister approach. Even the way he kicks off his verse is captivating, "lock yo' muthafucking doors up, Channel Brown is coming [around?] and I'm just getting warmed up".
Serving as the follow up, "After Dark" has some of the best sampling and mixing on record. We hear a dark and heavy sample of Sexual Harassment's "I Need A Freak" before the "Funky Worm" synth kicks in, but it doesn't end there. This song has some of my favorite Joker quotes, like "scope the big booty bitches, say wassup to the homies/ two kegs up no need to ask ya'll know me/ cup in hand at the front of the line/ a westside party you can tell from the gang signs" before shots rang out and the beat drops and you hear "Egyptian Lover" on the beat with Joker switching up his tempo and flow to the new beat on what has to be the highlight of the song, "what will I do when I get outta jail?/ I go get my gun and an ounce from the mail/ so I stroll, regulate when I'm trippin'/ fucking with me may result in ass whippin/ and yo like The Hill, I'm insane / in the brain 'n try n stop complainin'/ Joker's the name 'n/ Chill Rated X keep bumping the speakas/ out in the dark LSD is gonna beat yaaa"... damnnnnn, that was my shit in high school.
Even the skits were dope, "Shut Da Fuck Up" is a skit with an instrumental that's bound to get you to bob your head to beat, it's a catchy sample of "Theme From The Black Hole" by Parliament and "Sing A Simple Song" by Sly & The Family Stones, or the same beat as the infamous "Humpty Dance". Not to mention the Eazy-E line where the song takes its name from. Then... the bomb hits: you hear a thump and a grunt and then the synth kicks. This was the song that prompted me to buy this album... 4 times over. "Bomb Hitz" is just our boy A-Bomb doing his thang over a funky loop of "She Talks To Me With Her Body" and some catchy lyrics like "it stank like yeska 'cause I get my smoke on/ buzzing off a sack so I had to put my loc's on" and can't forget "the capital W to the muthafucking S/ the dark part of the West/ that vato's causing all that stress". With only two verses and a minute of the instrumentals playing riding to the end.
Though the next song has a softer approach, being a sample of "Oh Honey" naturally, the tone is mellow on "Ese Ride", that is until the halfway point. The beat cuts off and the tone changes to a menacing tempo of the drums from "Friends" and Joker does it again, switching his versatile style of rhyming to flow to the instrumental. Who can forget the lines "lyrical sound dealing, I chill in Riverside/ yo' this controlled substance is quick to get you high/ G & I, red rum muthafucka got the cohete, drop the chapete, homicide one-eighty-siete".
If a thumping bass is what gets you going, "1ce Again N' Da Holdin' Tank" is the jam for you. This is what I love about the production, the songs were meant to be bumped loudly, some shit to rattle you trunk. What Chicano album is complete without a Zapp & Roger sample? "I Can Make You Dance" is sampled incredibly with a tinge of "Genius Of Love" and the ever popular "Funky Worm" along with "Backstrokin'". Very creative instrumental laced with hilarious irony, "what did I do that was so illegal? Car jacked a cop and shot a few people".
The last skit, named after the producer, "X Markz Ya Spot" is an instrumental I wished they would have rapped to, but alas, it's a definitely worth noting that Rated X is as responsible for this gem as the talented roster of rappers.
Winding down the album, "Look Who's Comin' To Ya City" wraps up the album with an incredible barrage of verses beginning with Joker and A-Bomb over a variety of samples letting us "know where [they're] comin' from/ big bad Inland Empire, fool, you don't want none". Somewhere in the middle of the instrumental it switches up to "Pistol Grip Pump" and Channel Brown rides the beat with his raspy vocals before the Mocha gets the final verse.
This is a West Coast gem and a staple of Chicano Rap Classics. The production was superb, the rappers were talented and the selection of samples were amazing. Definitely an underrated classic that should have had a longer lasting and bigger impact on the scene. Time to dust this off your shelves and cruise to this album.
01. 2 Man Gang
02. Somethin' 4 Ya Juraz
03. Brown Pride
04. After Dark
05. Shut Da Fuck Up
06. Bomb Hitz
07. Ese Ride
08. 1ce Again N' Da Holdin' Tank
09. X Markz Ya Spot
10. Look Who's Comin' To Ya City