N'Land Clique - I.E Riders
"Straight taking care of business, to Riverside/ I got the connections to keep you satisfied". Indeed, the Fully Strapped family's sound has kept me satisfied since I first heard it. That was half my lifetime ago. I revere this not because it is a great album, no, but because it is a smaller piece in the overall puzzle of their work. Though it is not their best work, there are some really good jams scattered in this 11 track album.
Despite being released in 1999, the songs in this body of work are much older (as far back as '93/ '94), some being recorded under different names. As I have mentioned time and time again, N'Land Clique is not the name they chose, in fact, in all of their songs that name is only mentioned once (on the song "Grave Digger")! When their first album was released ("Hostile Takeover") they rapped under the group name Fully Strapped. That was 1994. The following year, Murry Brumfield put together a collaboration effort between LSD and Fully Strapped (1995) and years later their EP dropped under their individual artists' names (1998's "Brown Pride - Homicide : Suicide"), and lastly this N'Land Clique album.
The cover is that classic Familia Records art style that I find horrendous in aesthetic but it's undeniably recognizable. The art shows what looks like a blue '64 with LSD written on the license plate and some area codes scribbled on some wall (the I.E was still 714 when this was recorded). When you pop in the CD you're instantly hit with a heavy thump, that classic Fully Strapped sound.
"Mexicanos In The Carro" is a classic sample of Zapp and Roger mixed in with the synth from a classic Brenton Wood jam, with the title taken from a line Joker says in "Brown Pride". Our boy Joker has a flow that I can only describe as vengeful and retaliatory, for instance some of the first words are "the LSD has now resurrected/ and fuck you mothafuckas who disrespected!". I some times am curious what he alludes to when he says "I been in this game for 8 years 'n shit/ it's time to get paid with some bills 'n shit", could it be that he was already aware that Murry was skimming his artists? Or the lines where he talks about the race relations and discrimination from blacks, "back to the county all these niggas around me/ calling me a wetback, holmes trying to clown me". Or when he talks about "collecting [his] ends/ never doing business with mayates again... eses are deep so you can't compete/ you loose in the prisons and you lose in the streets".
"The World Is A Ghetto" is the second and last track that features Joker. I like the beat, unsure of the sample, but I'd say it's underrated. X Raided is in this joint, but the guy sounds like he's mumbling the whole time. Dude ruins the time he's on it. The third track has X Raided on it again, I'm not certain why he's given so much exclusivity. The beat is not of their usual style. After the somewhat weak start, I enjoyed "Spark The Yesca", seemed more of an upbeat party jam. Channel Brown and X Raided had a lot of chemistry here, and some funny rhymes, "I take a hit of the spliff/ like it ain't shit/ police: tell me tale/ I said office, like Bill Clinton I forgot to inhale". The instrumental is sampling another Zapp and Roger tune, and by the sound I'd say this was probably from the mid 90s.
The fifth track is titled "After Hours [Remix]" to which I assume is a remix of "After Hours At My Pad" (another N'Land Clique jam that appears on a Familia Records compilation). It's supposed to be a party track, and generally I am inclined to listen to A-Bomb drop rhymes but it gets boring quick. "San Berdoo" is another boring track with an ever more subpar beat.
Halfway thru the record, it actually picks up and has a better selection of songs. "Wicked Ass Mission" has an interesting composition for the beat. It's a mix between Planet Rock type beat and an oldie. Despite it featuring A-Bomb, it doesn't cut it for me, the treble on the vocals sounds like it's separate from the rest of the song.
Out of the 11 tracks, these 2 in sequential order have the highest quality of production from the entire album. The only defect is that "Fresh Out Of Countie" has the worst offbeat verses, again X Raided raps or should I say mumbles incoherent rhymes over a great sample of "So Rough So Tough". Meanwhile, a often forgotten member of the group, Mocha makes her only appearance on the album. She isn't terrible but she isn't interesting or entertaining either, but she gets probably the best beat and it just goes to waste. Would have loved an instrumental version of this song.
Wrapping up the album, the last two songs are mostly A-Bomb performing. The party jam "After Hours At My Pad" does not hold my attention too long as it gets dull after a minute or two. In contrast, "Funk For Your Trunk" is just that: funk for your trunk. It's a funky beat with some groovy synthesizer and a classic vocoder (sonically personified the essence of West Coast rap). This one was taken from the first incantation of the group, with a young A-Bomb laying down some gangsta rhymes.
My personal feelings about this album: it was composed of left over tracks that probably didn't make it to previous albums or perhaps recordings that weren't all the way completed (but Murry wasn't one to waste an opportunity to make a dollar). There was a lot of potential and so much more that could have been of these guys and this album. It disappoints because they're capable of so much more. If this was your introduction to this group of rappers, you'd think they suck and were a waste of beats. Despite it only being half-way bearable, I own two copies of it. In its 11 tracks it has 3 outstanding songs (1, 4 & 11). Instead of giving us subpar material that doesn't compare to the other projects they released in 95 and 98, Murry should have re-released "Hostile Takeover" under Familia Records just like he did for NMW. I mean, it's not like he doesn't already have them. Ultimately, Murry is to blame for the lack of quality.
01. Mexicanos In The Carro
02. The World Is A Ghetto
03. Everyday Kick It
04. Spark The Yesca
05. After Hours [REMIX]
06. San Berdoo
07. Wicked Ass Mission
08. Fresh Outta Countie
09. Bury You Next To Butch
10. After Hours At My Pad
11. Funk For Your Trunk