January 22, 2008

The Beatnuts - Intoxicated Demons: The EP (April 20, 1993)


The Beatnuts are a fun-loving rap duo from Queens that list "digging through crates of old records" as one of their hobbies. (Yes, that's right, the name of the group is only partially a vulgar term: these guys really know and love their music.) Psycho Les and Junkyard Juju, now better known as Juju, have the little-known distinction of being the only Latino rapper/producers in the Native Tongues family, a collective that also features A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and the Jungle Brothers, although to my knowledge only Q-Tip seems to actively include them in conversations about the group, even going so far as to mention them on record (I believe he spoke about The Beatnuts on People's Instinctive Travels and the Blahs of Longtitlesthatbelongonpseudoemorecords, but I could be wrong).

The Beatnuts are best known for their production skills, making some of the best beats that just so happen to be club friendly, thanks to the limitless amount of samples that are laid into each track they work with. I would go so far as to say that their production is only rivaled by J-Zone, who does essentially the same thing, albeit for a much smaller audience. In a turn that I wish more rappers would take today, the 'Nuts introduced their rhyming skills to the world via an EP release, Intoxicated Demons: The EP, which you can tell is an EP thanks to the title. Consisting of only eleven tracks, five of which are skits of some sort, Intoxicated Demons: The EP is the perfect way to present yourself to a fickle 1993-era hip hop public that isn't sure how to respond to a group who, at this point, had only briefly popped up as remix producers for the likes of Common (Sense), Da Lench Mob, and MC Lyte, not to mention producing the entirety of Chi-Ali's The Fabulous Chi-Ali.

Intoxicated Demons: The EP was successful enough for their record label, Relativity Records, to roll the dice with a full-length, Street Level, the following year. Later in their career, they would suffer the loss of a group member (more on that later), help jump-start the career of the most successful Latino rapper of all time (no, not Pitbull), and start a feud with (of all people) Jennifer Lopez for jacking one of their best-known beats for an inane song about remembering where you came from. But for now, let's take the wayback machine back to 1993.

1. WORLD'S FAMOUS INTRO
I have to admit, instrumental intros usually get my attention, probably because they're so rare.

2. WORLD'S FAMOUS (FEAT V.I.C.)
The Beatnuts story has always been about talking random shit (usually about fucking, drinking, or smoking) over ridiculous samples, kind of like an East Coast Alkaholiks (why those two groups never hooked up for a collaboration still bothers me to this day), or like a precursor to J-Zone (who did actually hook up with members of Tha Liks over the course of his rapping career; come on, 'Nuts, get with it!).

3. ENGINEER TALKING SHIT
I'm always appreciative of any artist that includes a self-depreciating skit, since most of these assholes take themselves way too seriously. Come to think of it, this line of thinking also extends out to actors, writers, and directors. Come on, people, life is short; learn to laugh at yourself!

4. PSYCHO DWARF (FUCK, DRINK BEER & SMOKE SOME SHIT)
This is more like the Juju I was expecting to hear. Notice how the title is almost exactly what I wrote about the last actual song.

5. ON THE 1 + 2
Skit. A DJ skit, but a skit nonetheless.

6. NO EQUAL
More of a subtle beat presented here, which makes it easier to understand that Juju briefly disses Das EFX here for unknown reasons (at least, unknown to me).

7. REIGN OF THE TEC
Nothing subtle here! I've never been one to believe Juju and Psycho Les (regardless of the name) when they go off on their violent tangents, because they come off as a couple of guys who may be able to kick your ass, but are much more concerned with partying and hooking up with chicks, and honestly, who would you rather hang out with? Nice use of a Sadat X vocal sample, too.

8. QUALITY & THE BUSHMEN OFF THE TOP
Skit.

9. THIRD OF THE TRIO
Kool Fashion, who is now better known as Al Tariq but was once the third member of the 'Nuts, gets a solo showcase on this song, which also happens to be the first song he's appeared on. (He has much more of a presence on Street Level; a little known fact is that he actually appeared first on Chi-Ali's "Let The Horns Blow" alongside Phife Dawg, Dres from Black Sheep, and Trugoy the Dove from De La Soul.) As a rapper, he's alright; I started listening to the 'Nuts around the time "Off The Books", the breakthrough single that featured Big Punisher and Cuban Link, was released, so I never even realized that there was a missing third member of the group until I read about Al Tariq's God Connections solo album in The Source. Can't say I ever actually missed him, but I suppose that's what happens when you leave a group so early in its career (Jarobi, looking in your general direction).

10. PHONE CALL
Skit.

11. STORY (PINKY IN THE TWAT)
This is what I believe to be the first instance of the word "twat" being used on this blog, and I have to say, I'm genuinely excited. The lyrics are mostly ridiculous (in a good, hilarious way), and I have to give credit for the nice use of the "Paul Revere" sample. For those that are keeping score, Tariq...sorry, I mean Kool Fashion appears on here as well.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Intoxicated Demons: The EP is a very entertaining listen. The talents of Psycho Les and Juju (and to a lesser extent, Kool Fashion) shine bright, at least behind the boards, although the rhymes are pleasant enough. With the exception of "Psycho Dwarf", which can be heard out of sequence at any time, the disc is actually a better listen from start to finish than most of these bloated artist debuts that feel the need to pummel you over the head with their bullshit because they signed a record deal and may never get another shot so they have to record every single idea they've ever had in their life. What was I saying? Oh yeah; this is a good EP release; more people should take this route if they're unproven as artists.

BUY OR BURN? Are you a fan of hip hop? Quote-unquote "real" hip hop, and not the aural mindfucks that are played on Clear Channel radio on an hourly basis? Then by all means, pick this shit up. It shouldn't be that hard for you to find. Dammit, put that Young Jeezy down! What did I tell you before about that album?

BEST TRACKS: The album is an EP that only really contains six songs, but they're all pretty good.

-Max

8 comments:

  1. "People's Instinctive Travels and the Blahs of Longtitlesthatbelongonpseudoemorecords," you make the funny. I like.
    I loved this record for percicesly the reason that you were talking about when you said what kind of dudes they were.

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  2. This is an excellent EP. More rappers should start their career with a decent EP as opposed to an overlong album. No shame in making a shorter album that's more consistent.

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  3. Look at that . . . ask and you shall receive.

    I asked for a look at The Beatnuts, and here it is.

    Beatnuts albums are great.

    Good job, once again.

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  4. the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusinessJanuary 26, 2008

    It's the Nuts! Great review, great group. I heartily recommend picking up the whole collection. These dudes know how to entertain me. Great call on the East Coast Alkaholiks tag, I've always thought they had similar vibes. I'm gonna have to check out J-Zone since you frequently mentioned him in such select company.

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  5. Talk about a way to introduce yourselves to the entire world. this hit the rap scene with force. The Nuts came in with some crazy Sh.t for the masses. I will agree with you that lyrically, the nuts are the up their with the best of them, but their production more than makes up for that, I mean their production on Chi-Ali's album makes them stand-out alone. Cool review and keep doing what it do.

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  6. Just thought you should know that on "No equal" the reference wasnt aimed at Das efx it was aimed at Tung Twista, and he comes back in his song "Suicide"

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  7. Why the fuck J-Zone name pops up here??

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  8. Beatnuts had documented beef with Das EFx.. at last creative beef. The Nuts apparently already had the riggidy rah, diggity dah rhyming style and when Das Efx used it.. not necessarily stole it, the Beatnuts licked shots.

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