VA - Chicano Rap Volume 1
In the time that Familia Records was the dominant label in Chicano Rap, Murry Brumfield provided his listeners with some of the underground's most talented artists. Many years ago on my hunt for Chicano Rap, I came across these albums on the internet. At the time I think allmusic.com had short clips of the music and you could listen to it before buying the album. Of course, they never had these albums I wanted. Even in 2005 it was still rather difficult to find the good stuff. During its peak, Familia Records has released these (for lack of a better word) mixtapes with sometimes unheard rappers or up-and-coming rappers from the label, even some from other labels. It may have been Murry Brumfield's first attempt to start categorizing his artists as "Chicano Rap".
The difference between the "Chicano Rap Volume 1-3" and the "Southside Riders" compilation is that, like the name suggests, the artists were all Chicano. I think Murry did a good job selecting the music and each installment was better than the last. While I do find this first volume enjoyable, it's my least favorite of the three, and was the last I copped, however it does have some great songs. At the moment you pick this up, the first thing you notice is the Familia Records' unique art style and take on legendary Mexican artist Jesus Helguera's "Gesto Azteca" portrait.
Volume One begins with one of the best crafted songs, and for a long time my favorite CLS rola: "Back Streets" is a smooth yet hard hitting classic, definitely radio worthy jam that should have been on hit, especially with the Kleeer sample. Though they weren't a part of the Familia Records roster, they did have a few appearances on these albums. Familia had a habit of misspelling names and songs, as a consequence the second track was labeled "Rollin' With My Alias" (instead of "allies"). By this time, you all know I am not a big fan of Eastside Click, or their many affiliates, but I gotta give it up to Espanto, the homie could rap. Unfortunately they gave him a weak ass beat to do his thing, instead of the usual dope funk samples heard on E/S Click or the B.I. Right around this time Murry had already rebranded Fully Strapped and dubbed them N'land Clique, as you might have deduce by now, "After Hours" would later appear on the "I.E Riders" album. As much I enjoy their music this was one of their not-so-great songs.
Adding on to my aforementioned comment, E/S Click's take on Zapp and Roger' "So Ruff" was funky but the subpar rapping ruins it for me. Speaking of adaptations, I rather enjoyed Lil One and Royal's remake of an NWA classic. Maybe it's my love of the "Funky Worm", or my admiration for Lil One's flow, but the song slaps hard. While Royal's verse wasn't bad, I would have liked for this to be a solo track for Lil One, he raps like a veteran. Still fresh from his debut, San Diego's prodigal son returns with a sequel to his "Mexican Gangster" classic. While it may not have been as iconic as the first go-around, I admit I like this track. I give the producer credit for the slower down and reversed instrumental. One of San Diego's first rap groups was the Legion Of Doom (L.O.D) who were a multiracial group (I think there was a Filipino, a black dude and a Chicano). This classic gives us a fresh sample of "The Message" with an intro taken from Eddie Murphy's 80's stand up classic "Raw".
Yogi is another rapper I never heard of, and although the title sounds catchy, there was nothing captivating about "Tales Of The Unseen". Knightowl, on the other hand does bring some heat on "Wicked West", gotta admire the alliteration there. But, given his predictability, "Knightowl be the one rapper that fills his rhymes with oddly worded sentences". Despite that flaw, he does a good job adapting his flow to the tempo and uses a different tone of voice as he often does. Ending the 10 track compilation is the Brown Intentions with their less than stellar flow. The only thing I give these cats credit for is how adept they are when it comes to their beats.
While I enjoyed a part of the album, it does have some dull moments. The 10 tracks make it for an easy listen, and serves as one of its strengths. San Diego and the 805 got a lot of love from Murry on here, considering that most of the artists are from those respected areas. I do think there was a little too much of Eastside Click and its subsidiaries, however. In other words, the selection of artists seems limited, still a good effort though. I own a copy of this just because I wanted to have a complete collection of the 3 volume set, but if you ask me, each new installment outdid the previous one.
01. Cali Life Style - Back Streets
02. E/S Pantos - Rollin' With My Alias
03. N'Land Clique - After Hours
04. E/S Clique - So Ruff
05. Mr. Lil One - Gangsta Gangsta (feat. Royal T)
06. Lil Rob - Mexican Gangster Pt II
07. L.O.D - 'N The Casa
08. Yogi - Tales Of The Unseen
09. The Knightowl - Wicked West
10. Brown Intentions - Episodes Of My Life (The Family Tales)
Tags: Familia Records