Norwalks Most Wanted - Norwalks Most Wanted
It seems like it are always the groups with the most potential that don't get the opportunity to make their mark in the game. Instead we are flooded with, not gonna say any names, cholos wearing mittens flooding the underground sub-genre (yeah you guessed it). Norwalks Most Wanted is one of the most underrated groups in the chronicles of Chicano Rap, their name isn't brought up in the everyday conversations Chicanos have about the genre, nor the skills of the emcees who laid out a project that helped shape the sound of the early and mid 90s, especially in the L.A area.
I've always held the belief that this album had an East Coast vibe in terms of production, sound and quality, almost as if Eric Sermon from EPMD had a hand in the making of the project. Each song is jam packed with a myriad of samples. Even though Familia Records released the project in 1996, the earliest recordings were started in 1992, at least that's when their single "Assassin" and "In Peace May You Rest" was released on AW Records. Right off the bat, there are some things that visibly stand out. The album cover art is a lackluster grey (black and white, depending on your perspective) image of the trio holding the Mexican flag (in full color). The self titled album has the name blasted on the top in the Mexican flag colors, but when you flip the jewel case around there's a ring with the group logo "NMW" in the center with a mirrored inverse logo underneath it.
Though the tracklist is at a perfect length of 9 tracks, there is, however, one track missing (or two, if you count the original mix to "Assassin" from 1992). In what I can only assume was an act of censorship, "Child Of Satan" was omitted from the CD version but is present in the tape version. Another oddity is that the songs are mislabeled and the titles are incorrect, for instance track 2 is titled "When I Draw My Weapon" but it's actually "In Peace May You Rest" and track 4 should be titled "Bato Music" but appears as "Assassin".
What I have always enjoyed was the criticism NMW had for the "so called Chicano Rappers" of the time, they called out Kid Frost, A.L.T and of course the easiest target LSOB. The disses are clever and relavent: "yo' fat ass Frost/ you aint my motherfucking boss/ you're too fat for the thin line punk/ A Ligher Shade Of Brown or a darker shade of white/ get your fuckin history right" (if you didn't know, "Thin Line" was a single Frost had back in the early 90s). When they single out A.L.T. for "selling out our race some more" I think it's due to his ethnic background, not full Mexican.
In order to enjoy the album, you gotta put yourself at the scene, this was recorded in the early 90s, the production is dope, sampling is superfluous and the lyrical content was a mix of hardcore gangster themes with a tinge of politics (I think it was 100% Mexican who says "I've been beat on the street but won't accept defeat" and "police won't protect me 'cause I'm the wrong fucking color"). NMW's sound was completely different than that of LSOB and Kid Frost, their sound was more along the lines of Brown Pride and Spanish Fly even though SELA was nowhere near the Harbor Area.
In retrospect, if there was one way to improve the album, besides choosing another cover, I'd say it would be to reduce the amount of samples per song to one or two for a more balanced song. Don't get me wrong, the sampling was great, but I felt the songs with the fewer samples stood out more like "Un Cho Lo Loco" with its chill vibe, or the outro "Nowarlks Groove" was absolutely a killer song especially when you hear "through the land of funk" mixed in. "Bato Music" could have been even better if the instrumental to the 2nd half of the song played during entire jam.
Case and point, these dudes deserve a lot more credit for their contributions to the sub-genre. This is a group that deserved to have had a second album at the very least. Their music is filled with one liners that are worth quoting and sampling, even Triple C picked out a line for their chorus to "Straight Up Chingon". Dust this album off your shelve and take a trip, these vatos were ahead of the curve for the time they hit the scene.
01. This Is NMW
02. When I Draw My Weapon
03. Un Cho Lo Loco
04. Assassin [REMIX]
05. In Peace May You Rest
06. Bato Music
07. Don't Fuck Wit a Mexican
08. We Do Damage
09. Norwalks Groove