March 25, 2008

Cru - Da Dirty 30 (July 15, 1997)


Some thoughts that popped into my head while I was searching for my copy of (Rhythm Blunt) Cru's first and only album, Da Dirty 30:

-When I first heard about the project (thanks to The Source, I believe, but don't hold me to that), I assumed that Cru was a fake group, and the album was just a concept album that featured other rappers playing roles (not unlike what Prince Paul would later do with his hip hop opera A Prince Among Thieves), thanks to the early word that rappers as diverse as Black Rob, Slick Rick, and Ras Kass would appear.

-On Foxy Brown's abysmal debut Ill Na Na, the introductory track inexplicably provides listeners with an unprecedented (to me, anyway) "coming attractions" reel, featuring Cormega (whose "Dead Man Walking" was featured, even though the song itself was banned in the United States for a time due to its graphic depiction of violence, and since Mega was dropped from the label soon after anyway, this preview was essentially useless) and Cru (I don't remember the song that was previewed, and it's not like I keep Ill Na Na within reach at all times). Even with this evidence, I still wasn't convinced that Cru was a real group.

-It turns out that I was wrong.

-Formerly known as the Rhythm Blunt Cru (and no, I don't know why they dropped two-thirds of their name), Cru consists of producer/rapper Yogi, rapper Chadeeo, and part-time rapper and hypeman The Mighty Ha, who fills the role that Flavor Flav played in Public Enemy. In no way should that last sentence be construed as any sort of comparison between Public Enemy and Cru.

-The group's debut album, Da Dirty 30, a reference to both the district the three men lived in and the fact that they crammed thirty tracks onto the album, was released on Violator Records in 1997. Unlike most modern-era rap albums, Da Dirty 30 is produced in its entirety by Yogi, and this allows a consistent sound to shine through. Yogi seems to have a preference for that old New York boom bap, and his beats go a long way toward bringing that nostalgic feeling back, even if he mixes in a little of the flavor of the day for good measure (Bad Boy was a popular record label in 1997, and the inclusion of both Black Rob and The Lox are far from accidental).

-Almost as if they knew the album was going to sell poorly (which it absolutely did), Cru emptied their minds of seemingly every single idea the trio had ever had, and committed it to wax, as if they were writing the Great American Rap Album. You shouldn't go into this CD believeing that it will be filled with sociopolitical rants, Buddhist chants, and spoken word poetry, though: as was the standard at the time, Da Dirty 30 is filled with tales of violence, some remorse regarding said violence, treatment of women as objects, and multiple attempts at humor (most of which fail). Hell, one of the songs actually stops midway through to present an unnamed woman blowing a guy. The only track that attempts something resembling a commentary is the final song, "Armageddon", which discusses the ramifications of rap beef, or as I like to call it, when keeping it real goes wrong.

-After the release of Da Dirty 30, Cru virtually evaporated from the face of the Earth. A brief appearance on a Violator Records compilation album can be easily explained away as a studio outtake, although it's not like I work for Violator, so I may just be talking out of my ass. Because of this career move, there isn't a lot known about the Rhythm Blunt Cru and the three men who swooped in to contribute to the cause of great hip hop music. (Yogi is still producing music, and landed two tracks on Method Man's Tical 0: The Prequel, but as any Wu-Tang fan will tell you, that shouldn't be seen as any kind of accomplishment.)

-Now here are some thoughts that popped into my head while actually listening to Da Dirty 30:

1. DJ FOOTLONG (INTRO)
This guy has an annoying-ass voice, which makes this rap album intro even worse than usual. Also, every time I hear the word "footlong", I think of the episode of The Simpsons where Ned Flanders's wife is killed by an overexcited cheerleader with a T-shirt gun. Is that just me?

2. BLUNTZ & BAKAKEEMIS (FEAT ANTOINETTE, JIM HYDRO, & TRACEY LEE)
Now that's more like it, dammit! Nice thumping beat, simple and effective. Haven't heard from Antoinette in a while, so this was a pleasant surprise. I still can't believe Tracey Lee is on this song: I loved that "The Theme" song that was produced by Bad Boy's own mad rapper D-Dot (and I'm sure I'm not the only one, don't kid yourselves). I do question sequencing a song that features multiple guests as the first real song on your debut album, especially when you're a rap group that nobody actually knows, making it even harder to distinguish who's who. But that's just me, I tend to make sense.

3. THAT SHIT
After what sounds like a looped sample of Godzilla rocking out with a Styx cover band, yet another simple and effective beat, although this one doesn't work as well as "Bluntz & Bakakeemis". The rappers aren't the best, but the sound decent enough over Yogi's instrumental. And I don't actually think Yogi sounds like Q-Tip, but I can see where the similarities can be found.

4. JUST ANOTHER CASE (FEAT SLICK RICK)
Not surprisingly, Slick Rick walks away with this track with all the subtlety of Ash's chainsaw hand. The chilled-out beat is good to relax to, but you should track down the remix, which finds room for some drums over the original instrumental.

5. HOE 2 SOCIETY
Skit...

6. NUTHIN' BUT (FEAT BLACK ROB)
Black Rob? What the fuck? He sounds better on here than he did on his entire debut album. Too bad the beat is wasted on the other rappers featured.

7. STRAIGHT FROM L.I.P.
While I appreciate the fact that Yogi has actually heard of Portishead, since he uses their "Sour Times" as a foundation for this song, truth be told Inspectah Deck did a better job of sampling Portishead on "Kiss Of The Black Widow" from the first Bobby Digital album, and all he did there was loop nine seconds of "Only You" repeatedly. This song sounds terrible.

8. GOIN' DOWN
The beat sounds like something Reggie Noble would have rhymed over on Doc's Da Name 2000. The blow job interlude came out of left field, but that I looked at the title of the song again, so I suppose the joke's on me.

9. SHOOT OUT
Skit...

10. TEN TO RUN
I like how the guy's heavy breathing (as he would be out of breath from the events of the last skit) is incorporated into the beat. This one-verse wonder is not bad at all.

11. WRECKOGNIZE (FEAT BLACK ROB)
Wow, that hook sucks balls. Black Rob and Cru pass the mic around the room, and while they never fulfill the promise of a Boot Camp Clik homage that the title would otherwise indicate (at least when it comes to mic skills), the final result isn't bad. It is kind of odd that Black Rob would make two separate appearances on an album by a group to which he is not affiliated, but this is the best I've heard from him in a while, so it's acceptable.

12. BULLETPROOF VEST
Skit...

13. THE EBONIC PLAGUE (FEAT RAS KASS)
The not-so-clever title betrays the hot beat and great rhymes, especially from Ras Kass, who always makes it a point to outshine whichever rapper is foolish enough to invite him to the studio.

14. UP NORTH
Utilizes a sample from Stevie Wonder's "Pasttime Paradise", which will remind you of fucking Coolio throughout the length of the track. That said, this isn't bad, but it's nothing to write home about. Dear Abby, Miss Manners, and Billy Graham, maybe, but not your actual house, and not just because your house is an inanimate object and you would be wasting both your time and your stamps.

15. R.I.P.
Skit...

16. LIVE AT THE TUNNEL (FEAT THE LOX)
This song is fucking awful. The underrated Sheek is the only member of The Lox that comes across as halfway decent. I know that Jadakiss and Styles P get all of the attention, but Sheek always sounds like he's trying at least four times as hard to keep up, which I appreciate. But it's not enough.

17. PRONTO
I think this song may have been a single. Which is absurd, by the way, when you actually hear the chorus: you will find yourself wondering what the hell Violator was thinking.

18. YOU USED TO
Skit...

19. FRESH, WILD, AND BOLD
Meh.

20. O.J.
A skit in incredibly poor taste. It would be one thing if it were actually funny...

21. LISA LIPPS
A Mighty Ha solo, and about as useless as a bag of condoms at a monastery. Unless they were used to make water balloons, which would just make them a huge waste of resources. Which you could also classify this song as. I don't like the guy's voice in small doses: imagine how I feel about spending three minutes with the guy.

22. BUBBLIN'
Makes you appreciate the limited rhyme skills of Yogi and Chadeeo that much more, especially after listening to "Lisa Lipps", but this song still isn't any good.

23. GOINES TALE
Chadeeo goes solo on a track that I found myself liking a lot. It probably doesn't even compare to any actual Donald Goines novel (as I've never read any of the books), but enjoyable nonetheless.

24. THE ILLZ
Not to be confused with MTV's pseudo-reality show The Hills, but just as unnecessary.

25. FOOTLONG
Skit...

26. MY EVERLOVIN'
This track is set up as a track for the ladies that was forced upon Cru by the label, in the same vein as Harvey Weinstein forcing all of those cuts on foreign films when he and his brother still ran Miramax. The tactic may have actually gotten radio spins for Cru and (gasp!) may have actually sold records, had Cru not fucked it all away by repeatedly using the word "bitch" on the hook, a term that has been scientifically proven that females love to hear themselves referred to as, regardless of context.

27. PAY ATTENTION (FEAT ANTHONY HAMILTON)
Zzzzz......I'm up! Sorry, dozed off for a bit, but that's to be expected with the overlong bloated affair that is Da Dirty 30.

28. LOUNGIN' WIT MY CRU
Reminds me of one of those chilled-out club songs that they played on the radio in my area a lot back in 1995-1996, like (Mad) Skillz's "Move Ya Body", and sounds amost as good, but with one glaring defect: the most annoying part of the song (the hook, which features The Mighty Ha repeating "I like") is the only part that will stand out in your mind, and that alone will make you hit the skip button.

29. DA DIRTY 29
Skit. We're almost home, kids.

30. ARMAGEDDON
Some people would think that ending your group's debut album with a diatribe against rap beef in rhymed form would be bizarre at worst, questionable at best. Questionable in a "who the fuck do these guys think they are" kind of way. Honestly, though, all of those concerns fly out the window when DJ Footlong appears to close out the album in the most dumbass way possible, thus negating the entire listening experience as a whole.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Da Dirty 30 presents a consistent sound that, unfortunately, isn't engaging enough to require listeners make it through one sitting. Yogi and Chadeeo come across as a less talented and more thugged-out A Tribe Called Quest (oh, that's where the Q-Tip comparison comes in!), and The Mighty Ha is, honestly, a nuisance that would have been best left in the green room with the salsa. Overall, the disc is a disappointment, regardless of what ego trip's Big Book of Rap Lists or a lot of other blogs would have you believe. I know that my two readers were probably expecting me to pray to the shrine that is Da Dirty 30, but I'm not buying it: this disc isn't that great. I am surprised, though, that Cru didn't find new life on an indie label. Was the major label experience with Violator so taxing that Chadeeo decided that investment banking would be a better career move?

BUY OR BURN? There are some things on here that I really like, but the package as a whole is fatally flawed. I would recommend a burn, but only of the songs I list below, as I don't want to be held responsible for your hard drive being full when you download the entire album, accursed skits and all.

BEST TRACKS: "Bluntz & Bakakeemis"; "Just Another Case"; "The Ebonic Plague"; "Goines Tale"

B SIDE TO TRACK DOWN: "Just Another Case (Remix)"

-Max

43 comments:

  1. Zzzzzzzzzz....Oh, is this thing on? Reading this review was more entertaining then listening to Da Dirty 30. I copped this joint on cassette back in the day & I never made it through the whole album in one sitting. Yogi's production is the only positive on this album. I think I'll put this joint back on & catch up on My Z's. Peace.
    ...Zzzzz

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  2. ampgeez - I knew that there was at least one other person that felt the way I do about 'Da Dirty 30'. There seems to be a lot of unconditional love on the blogs for this disc, and I couldn't understand why, but due to my lazy nature, I couldn't sit down with the album until now. Your comments are always appreciated.

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  3. Yeah, I'm with you. this album is as fun to listen to as dialing 976-evil (the movie not actually dialing 976-evil because: 1. I think the number is no longer active and 2. most calls require 10 digits nowadays. Both of which would leave you with an operator message which would, in fact, be more enjoyable than listen to the record.)
    "your house is an inanimate object and you would be wasting both your time and your stamps."
    I feel so foolish now.

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  4. I have to agree. 976-EVIL was an awful movie, and I usually like crappy horror flicks.

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  5. live at the tunnel is the only track i still listen to off this album

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  6. There are some good beats on here.

    Pronto is actually a hot song, and had things on smash back in the day.

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  7. Russell Simmons, Lyor Cohen and Kevin Liles ALL suggested/told Yogi, Chad and The Mighty Ha that they couldn't be released as the Rhythm Blunt Cru. They still called themselves by that name in songs though (Bubblin').

    One.

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  8. OOOOOOOO..your killin' me with this....I've always loved this album! Anyway, just wanted to let you know that you have one of the most well-written sites out there...very,very impressive...kudos X 10!!

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  9. OK OK OK. I have never seen a site like this, willing to go back into the archive of the Almighty 90's and review core material that helped to build hip hop. It gives the new blood a real look at the roots of hip hop. I have ONE MINOR INCONSISTENCY IN THE REVIEW though.I just used Caps-Lock because I really stand by this Album's covert meanings to tracks, and think that if they are understood correctly, then they wouldn't be as "flawed" as they have been depicted in this review. Here is one main example:

    "My Everlovin" (Bitch)
    The track was actually not for or about women whatsoever. It is actually about weed (marijuana) and their love for it.

    "Hey good lovin what ya got cookin, nothin but u got my baby in the oven"

    "Bring me knowledge to my brain sooth my pain, make me the man that I am, Keep me sane"

    "As we set it on the left, lets talk about those that take away our breath, my everlovin bitch"

    "im talking everlovin, the real from the fake, the one that'll bend but then again that won't break"

    "I heard you was the mother of the earth, true"

    "A dime piece is more food than work make me go berzerk"

    OK so do I have to go on?
    I really think whoever wrote this review deserves credit for the attempt, but needs to work on their street lingo and see the true meaning of hip hop in the 90s- wasn't always about the lyrics, or the music, just having fun with it.

    BY THE WAY, PRONTO WAS THEIR #1 SINGLE.

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  10. I love the fact that this blog brings out comment ssuch as these. They mesh nicely with the "Fuck you Max, go suck a dick" posts. Anywho, eric, I appreciate the notes on the Cru joint, and you're right, the metaphor completely slipped past me, but in my defense, at that point in the album my attention span had waned down to a nub. I mean, the album has thirty tracks, dammit! That would be overkill even for the best, most consistent rapper, of which there is none.
    Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  11. I thought this album sucked nuts.. I'd seriously never felt more gypped in my life after spending dough on this album... The radio cut of the single Pronto was actually doper than the album ver. because the edit bleeped the silly words and actually made it kinda funky. So I thought.

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  12. Eric? I this the same Eric from the The Buzz? If not, you remind me of him because your comment was really on point. This is RT from Vital Signs outta Bmore and the 90's saw a revolution in hip hop that will probably never be matched. And this album is indeed a hip-hop classic! Don't get it twisted. The lyrics, the beats, and the delivery (never mind the raw attitude) is just on point the whole way through.

    I don't know what happened to my copy but I have to get another one fast!

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  13. so what was the name of the track called on foxys previews?
    anyone know?

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  14. give up blogging(not writing, blogging, as thats as far as you will likely go).
    not for your opinion on this album,(even though i disagree) or the other 10-15 reviews i have read so far, but simply because you lack a huge amount of the skills needed to review any album. you lack any sign of the objectivity and from what i can see, listening patience that are necissary in order to review hip-hop LPs. Damn man, you even sometimes sound like those "hip" alternative rock magazine writers when they review hip-hop (albeit a fairly knowledgable one).
    I only read so much because you were reccomended by vincent from thimk, and he seems to know his tunes, but youv even managed to sour my faith in him aswell, just by being so woeful.
    you just gave one of the best underrated and forgotten LPs a shit review, further decreasing the possibility of a deserved re-issue.
    oh and your taste in rap sucks ballsack a lot of the time my dude. AND "loungin with my crew"'s hook is the shizwop, what are you puffing on?

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  15. oh and if you don't approve my comment, you will just be aggreeing with me, in a way, as any good writer accepts criticism. it would also negate any opportunity for you to offer any sorta rebuttal.

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  16. I'm sorry, you completely lost me when you used the word "shizwop". Thanks for reading!

    And I'm sorry if one man's opinion has soured your day so much (thanks for referring to me as knowledgable, by the way), but, ultimately, this album didn't hold up for me as much as it did back in the day, which is the point of the blog in the first place.

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  17. i had composed a whole fuckin quasi-apology there about how a combination of woman troubles an reefer influenced that post i wrote, but me computer just wiped it, darn.
    but seriously, dont completely disregard any valid points that i may have made in amidst all the hate and pompousness, and keep at the blog, its a good idea.
    oh, and shizwop is the only word ridiculous enough to describe the majesty, singalong-ability, and just sheer jammin-ness(damn, theres a lot of made-up words in that sentence, including shizwop) of "chillin with my people, and tomorrow theres gonna be a sequel...", come on max, that is the SHIZWOP.

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  18. You Suck! This album was a classic.

    Loser.

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  19. Yo which sample is used on the Just Another Case joint?

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  20. I ask people about that album all the time, as I enjoyed it.. well , no, let me correct that. I enjoyed " Just Another Case", "Pronto" (which JAMS a LOT harder then you think it does) and "Bubblin"---Jams as well.

    The rest of the album was a hard sit thru... but those three songs make the album worth the purchase... in 1997. lol

    In 2009..u niggas need to go download those 3 songs.. BUT I will have to go listen to the track with Anthony Hamilton...as he was attempting to get that career 2gether..

    one.

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  21. AnonymousMay 05, 2009

    veramente un bellisimo album!
    da ascoltare!!!

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  22. AnonymousJuly 16, 2009

    Live at the tunnel is a sick song and same with just another case, the blogger is a fucking idiot.

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  23. I saw this group in a line-up with Ziggy Marley/Melody Makers, Cypress Hill, A Tribe CQ, Busta, The "Orig" Fugees,and CRU opened the show. Nissan Pavillion attendees chanted every verse to every song and we smoked freely. Underated and unappreciated. But better than this "church boy" non hip-hop knowlege blogger. Breast fed Bama.

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  24. They have a pretty dope song on the first Violator Album called "Ohh Wee". Also worth tracking down!

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  25. I have misplaced my copy and was looking for it and I came across this post. Well written and thoughtful but it’s VERY difficult to evaluate an album 10 years after its creation. I remember the feeling I had listening to the album when I first played it and that’s what matters.
    Were they the greatest rappers? Of course not, but as you go back thru rap history, how many of those raps would have been considered “quotable” today? (There is an obvious handful, but only a handful). We classify them as classics because they were hot for their time.
    Some of the comments are on point but told from a 2008 point of view and where hip-hop is today. That being said, I do remember there being hip-hop heads that were on opposite sides even in 97/98 about what they felt about the album, so you are not completely crazy… I just disagree.

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  26. 1. Good Review.
    2. I thought this album was mediocre in 1997, and it still is today unless you like filler. Four or five good tracks do not make an album classic – especially when the album as a whole is almost impossible to listen to all the way through.
    3. The CRU song in the intro of Ill Na Na was "Just Another Case", which only plays for about ten seconds but still upstages half of the album.

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  27. cant believe people are dissing this record..it has one of the dopest illest vibes and production iz topnotch..the emcees arent tech they fresh wid laid back smart lyrics..you dudes i just dont understand

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  28. AnonymousMay 18, 2010

    I have to totally disagree with you on this one. DA Dirty 30 album was dope. If you listen to the Violator Compilation they were on the following year, CRU had the sickest joint on it and thats saying a lot considering the talent that was on that joint (Big Pun, Q-Tip, Busta Rhymes, etc). I would say that CRU is not for every Hip Hop head. In my crew of homies, we were all split down the middle when it came to this album.

    Pronto still gets mad rotation on my Ipod and I have an extra rare mp3 of them live with Dj Scribble. CRU is one of the groups that should have made a second album to see how for real they were/weren't. Their basic emcee flow complimented each other. If either of them would have made this cd as solos instead of a group, it would have never seen the light of day.

    4080

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  29. AnonymousMay 25, 2010

    This album, as in many albums of the day, was probably rushed to completion after their first single received some positive feedback. Consequently, the album as a whole may have some mediocre tracks and everyone will not be pleased. However, their are some extremely creative, fun, intelligent tracks that represent true hip hop. The raw creativity and intelligence from the street perspective makes those incredible "good" tracks a hip hop original. Back in tha day, there were only a few cd's that I would buy knowing that I would like 95% of the tracks...Tribe Called Quest was one of those groups and they NEVER let me down. Everyone else: just hope for a hand full of "good" tracks. CRU's cd meets this criteria thus making it a decent purchase. Plus when you just compile those 5 tracks you like together, you've got a nice playlist.

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  30. What man?You said no consistent rappers?What's up with Redman,Tech N9ne,Ghostface,Immortal Technique,Eminem(except for Relapsee).I think Cru was alright for a group that failed at there first attempt.They should of just went underground with it, but at least they are better than the mainstream rappers of today.

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  31. AnonymousJune 09, 2010

    Well I respect your opinion I don't agree with the article. I thought it was hot in 97 and I just bought the album a couple days ago of ebay. It's still fire.

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  32. AnonymousJuly 01, 2010

    Yeah u do suck - First I seen of this site and I was only hear to find out what happened to these dudes cause the album is classic, I just bumped it 2010 and it still goes off so I dont know what da fuk u on

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  33. AnonymousJuly 01, 2010

    PS - I thought Yogi went to work for Puffy after this so called crap album

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  34. One of my favorite CD's of all time , just because it was an all around great album. It must be relevant because here we are in 2010 and we still have people buying and listening to this cd...To me thats what I call a classic...(I was actually just listening to this last week!!)

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  35. I play Ohh Wee off the Violator still...

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  36. dope album..dope features..dope emceez..dope beats..wack review

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  37. This albim is way better than you make it sound. Live at thr Tunnel, fire. The fact that you "slept" on Pay Attention says a lot.

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  38. I been trying to find out who these dudeswere for years accidently finally after a good 14 yesrs I stunmbled upoon the slick rick track now I need the whole album

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  39. this album is unique in that there was nothing like this at the time.too many rappers were posing too hardcore.and the goines tale,loungin,and everlovin bitch were just leftover tracks that werent supposed 2 be taking seriously as representative of the groups art as a whole,i took it more as satire,even though it contained serious subject matter..at the same time..black robs album although getting 4.5 mics at the time (due to what i think was a promotional copy they received in which some of the best tracks weren't released on the official album) isnt nearly half as coherent as this work.dont forget this is violator records.same company that didnt release a Jojo Pellegrino album.

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  40. How did you miss "Pay Attention"?
    Lame.
    Classic album. Period.

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  41. This was a classic...........I miss these days of the real . I was digging in the crates just the other day looking 4 y copy of Da Dirty 30. To my dismay It's missing. Someone else must of really liked it to help themselves to it...anyways. I came across this site looking to order the disc. I came across thr comments and had to drop a line or two about the album.

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  42. Badass c.d. I loved it. Every song kicked ass. It was so different from everything else when it came out

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  43. Hip Hop purist think to be a Hip Hop head, you need to be opinionated. Stop... this album, talked with by many active Hip Hop artists, is a slept-on enigma of a classic... I could hear it all the way through perfectly as it's exactly what 'art' should be: hitting you where it's supposed to, but in Hip Hop terms, in a fun vibrant way. Sorry b, this review was terrible.

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