1. The Dead Has Arisen-Lil’ Half Dead. Half Dead’s 1994 debut album is full of slept-on G-Funk production. The lyrics are elementary at times and only resembled the everyday “hood life” in South Central LA during the mid 90’s; the everyday struggle of selling narcotics in the midst of Urban America’s violent crack epidemic laced with smooth, classy, rich, lazy funk and soul production is what can represents Half Dead’s debut. What makes his album enjoyable to listen to is mainly the excellent production and the laid back flow that Half Dead has accomplished in making catchy with the “cliche” slang of a Westcoast Gangster. The album when released peaked #39 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and #17 on the Top Heatseekers; since it’s release and out of print (physical copy wise) Lil’ Half Dead’s The Dead Has Risen has become a cult-classic with G-Funk fans along with his second release Steel on a Mission.
Our favorite tracks: Stz’ll Got, 12 Pacofdoja, That’s What You Get
2. Uncle Sam’s Curse- Above The Law. The 4th release by the Pomona Gangster Rap group Above The Law stirred some noise in July 1994 with their singles “Black Superman” and “Kalifornia” but the now cult-classic, urban politics G-Funk album is out of print and goes for hundreds of dollars on bidding sites and bootlegs are usually being sold across sea (so be careful when ordering a physical copy online). Unlike many of the other G-Funk releases for its time, Uncle Sam’s Curse, brings more than the typical “gang bangers” afternoon in Southern California but also a conscience political twist to what was happening in the Urban areas in the 90’s. With the crime rate skyrocketing in the early 90’s due to new drugs on the streets and gangs fighting for turf along with many other factors; Above The Law exposes their listeners to the harsh reality of not only the ghetto but also being considered a minority growing up in the United States and becoming a product of their own environments that they are put up against. Above The Law’s perspectives, point of views throughout the album are backed up with movie clips before certain songs such as “Black Superman” and “Return of the Real Shit” uses clips from the 1994 television film “Against the Wall” and their song “Uncle Sam’s Curse” features a clip from the film “Mississippi Burning”. Cold 187’s G-Funk production is at its prime throughout the whole album and it times you could say overproduced in such tracks like “Uncle Sam’s Curse” which delivers a deep P-Funk derived baselines topped with simple piano chords and synthesizers with samples throughout the background. Tracks like “Black Superman” welcomes you to a reverse sample of “Funky Worm” by the Ohio Players and how well done Cold 187’s producing is- you would think 187 came up with the synthesizer riff himself. Accompanied with features only by Kokane and Tone-Loc, Above the Law does a solid job standing on their own with their unique production and lyrical content- it is a listen for those into G-Funk, Ruthless Records material.
Our favorite tracks: Kalifornia, Concrete Jungle, Black Superman, Everything Will Be Alright, Uncle Sam’s Curse…(the whole album pretty much haha)
3. Conversation- Twinz. The debut album, Conversation, from the Twinz (Trip Locc and Wayniac) was almost a given that the Long Beach duo should of gone platinum with their first album almost produced completely by platinum G-Funk star Warren G. Though the album had decent success on the charts with landing at #8 on the Top Rap/Hip-Hop albums but the album is now long out of print and sells more too much on bidding and other sites. “Round & Round” and “Eastside LB” were the only two singles off the album and though Conversation sounds like a Warren G side project and Trip Locc and Wayniac come off as a more friendlier and less gangster version of the Dogg Pound- it’s all love- the production and flows and conscience lyrics about relationships/friendships/life hold well on their debut release. Features on the album consist of Warren G, Bo-Roc of the Dove Shack, Foesum, Nanci Fletcher, Jah-Skillz, Tracey Nelson, Gorgeous Judah Ranks and Neb. If you are looking for a now cult-classic G-Funk album and for something to bump in the ride for the summertime check out The Twinz Conversation.
Our favorite tracks: Journey Wit Me, Sorry I Kept You, Don’t Get it Twisted
4. Ghetto Life- I Smooth 7. Now if there is a G-Funk album that is close to being on the same level as Above The Law’s Uncle Sam’s Curse I would have to say the Ghetto Godz member I Smooth 7 brings a lyrical conscience throughout Ghetto Life which expresses his struggle, anger and frustration within his urban community of Southern L.A. Unlike many other “Gangster Funk” releases I Smooth 7 exposes through his lyrics the problems of poverty, violence, narcotics, black on black violence, racism and shows a militant power and pride of his race and community. It seems as I Smooth 7 is very true to his people and knows where he came from and has faith that there is a way out of the materialism and wants that surround the “million dollar pipe dreams” in the true gutters of the Ghetto. The album Ghetto Life was released in the summer of 1995 and was still during the time I Smooth 7 wasn’t signed to a solo record label deal. The albums production was mainly handled by legend DJ Battlecat, who has a unique production style, whenever I hear a Battlecat track I can just tell who produced it- Battlecat just has that signature production style in my opinion with the use of dreamy synthesizers and fat basslines and the occasional talkbox (how many producers even know how to play a talkbox? other than the copy-cat “autotune”).
Our favorite tracks: Coolin In Da Ghetto, Strugglin’, Ghetto Life, So Much Luv
5. AKA Sugawolf- Dubee. Part of the Mac Dre camp the “young pimp ass Sugawolf” Dubee delivered a solid debut album in 1996. Once a former football player for the City College of San Francisco Dubee has since became a player in the Northern California Bay Area scene. AKA Sugawolf is full of funky, playered out production produced by Khayree. The production is very rich and Dubee’s smooth pimp talk laces up the tracks with a laid back yet aggressive and ruthless style; Khayree then will occasionally surprise the listeners by switching up his production during a track but the transitions are so smooth and melodic you might not even notice. Such examples would be in the song “My Thang” from a P-Funk influenced bassline to a twist of The Commodores “Brick House” bassline to the song completely changing melodies and vibes towards the end of the song- it is hard to put the album on stop because it’s like a movie- you have to play it through to hear the whole daily life of running with the mob with pimp Sugawolf.
Our favorite tracks: That’s What We Do, My Thang, Hairshop Hoes, I’m a Hog
6. Real Brothas- B.G. Knocc Out & Dresta.The 1995 debut album by the Nutty Blocc Crip brothers B.G. Knocc Out & Dresta, now a cult-classic, is an all-time underrated slept-on G-Funk piece. Knocc Out & Dresta were put up on the rap scene back in 1993 when Eazy-E had the local brothers featured on his legendary diss track towards Dr. Dre & Snoop (Doggy) Dogg “Real Muthaphukkin’ G’s”. Damn thinking about when Snoop was Snoop Doggy Dogg…TIMES HAVE CHANGED IN THE GAME but anyways Real Brothas comes off as a slick and sly G-Funk album but is ruthless throughout. The brothers talk about their own struggles in South Central, gang rivalries, doing “dirt” and the scandalous hoodrats. The production is top notch and has a vivid westcoast gangster groove throughout but a groove that is raw enough to keep it from sounding “too popish” or “watered down”. The flow the brothers can accomplish on the album are incredible such as the track “Real Brothas” when Knocc Out and Dresta rap the same lines at the same time. Knocc Out had to be 19-early 20’s when he recorded the album “Real Brothas” with his older brother Dresta and you can hear how aggressive, at times cocky and down for his set K.O. was back in the day well Dresta keeps a calm and cool collective vibe but remains brutal as well. The two pay their respects to Eazy (R.I.P.) throughout the album as E passed before the album was finished and was suppose to make an appearance on the last track “DPG/K” (Dog Pound Gang Killaz- Dogg Pound, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, Dr. Dre & Warren G Diss) due to the beef Eazy and the brothers were having with Deathrow records at the time. Sadly, the release Real Brothas only had a few successful singles like “50/50 Luv”, “Jealousy” and “D.P.G/K” and now the album is out of print (physical copy wise) but has been put up on iTunes..whether or not this is related to the rumors of Dresta saying that they were trying to re-release Real Brothas is beyond us who re-released it exactly but the two brothers are still putting it down today after Knocc Out finished doing hard time from a 1998 attempted gang-related murder well Dresta was in and out, doing solo projects and so on. Will we ever see the two brothers doing another full-length album together again? The fans have been waiting.
Our favorite tracks: Jealousy, Do or Die, Real Brothas, Micc Checc, Compton & Watts, D.P.G./K