August 9, 2009

Smif-N-Wessun - Dah Shinin' (January 10, 1995)

See, you two? I do read the comments and my e-mails.

In 1993, Black Moon (made up of Buckshot, 5ft, and DJ Evil Dee, also of Da Beatminerz production crew) released Enta Da Stage, a drastically dark take on New York hip hop that also introduced the Boot Camp Clik, a not-so-loose collective of like-minded artists who wanted to shift the audience's focus back towards the East Coast after Dr. Dre and his Death Row Inmates successfully took over the radio airwaves (and started collecting spots on the Billboard charts like some may collect baseball cards), and also wanted to rid the world of the usefulness of dictionaries. Rappers Tek and Steele made their debut on two tracks on this seminal project: "Black Smif-N-Wessun" and "U Da Man" (the latter of which also featured a young Havoc, of Mobb Deep fame), and with the blessing of de facto crew leaders Buckshot and Dru Ha (the co-founder of the movement), they released their first album, Dah Shinin', in 1995 as Smif-N-Wessun.

Tek and Steele went on to sell more than three hundred thousand copies of Dah Shinin', an album which came off as a continuation of the sound Enta Da Stage introduced, with a few elements tweaked to prove that they were, in fact, not technically Black Moon. Smif-N-Wessun returned the favor granted to them previously by inviting Buckshot on a few tracks, and some more extended family members joined in the fun: both Heltah Skeltah (Ruck and Rock) and the Originoo Gunn Clappaz (Starang Wondah, Louieville Slugger, and Top Dog; also known as O.G.C.) made their respective debuts on Dah Shinin', which were successful enough to lead to their own debut albums the following year. And the cycle continued. Da Beatminerz exclusively handled the production duties on Dah Shinin': Mr. Walt, Baby Paul, and the aforementioned DJ Evil Dee worked together to locate even darker themes than what they conjured up for Enta Da Stage.

Well, you two have been waiting for this for a while, so let's go.

I think there used to be a blog that used this song's title. Tek and Steele opt to bypass the traditional rap album intro (cue collective sigh of relief) and decide instead to make their first impression on the listening audience a good one. Over a dark-as-shit Beatminerz beat, both rappers state their case as to why you should proceed beyond the first track on Dah Shinin'.

A simple beat accompanied by Tek and Steele spitting their general braggadocio. This is really good, though. I especially dug how the chorus (as weak as it is) switches up a bit after Steele's middle verse. It's the little things that count, folks.

“I ain't goin' home till Neveruary”? Hilarious! Da Rockness Monsta's hook is effective enough, but his presence reminds me of Nocturnal, the Heltah Skeltah debut disc that is much more accessible to newbies than Dah Shinin' would be. Still, this isn't bad.

Some of my two older readers will be familiar with this track. It still sounds alright today, but it won't help secure Tek and Steele any new fans, no thanks to the misspelling of the word “recognize”, which even today's rappers would scoff at. Once you get to this point of Dah Shinin', the Smif-N-Wessun blueprint is fully realized, and this song comes off as Boot Camp Clik track number 742-C.

The title of this very song is what comes to mind anytime anybody mentions Smif and/or Wessun, it's that memorable. However, the song itself is actually boring as shit, and it doesn't hold up very well for today's listening, either. Starang Wondah makes an admirable enough debut, but his verse is made up of catchphrases and complete sentences that he has since used verbatim on all of the other songs he has appeared on. And I like the guy. So, yeah, this was a disappointment. You can leave your comments below.

6. K.I.M.
Includes a hard-hitting beat, but the lyrics aren't sticky enough to make an impression. Not like that really matters on here anyway, since Da Beatminerz have created an instrumental that you can successfully bump in your ride, but still.

Could they repeat the phrase “original gun clappers” any more? I would say that I was worried that my love for the O.G.C. Is based more on the subliminal messages in this song than because of any actual talent, but then I remember that I'm only really a fan of Starang Wondah, not the other two. Oh, the song? It's the shit. Da Beatminerz bring listeners an instrumental that is both isolated and engaging, and Tek and Steele accompany it beautifully.

The intro to this track doesn't work: it sounds as if both rappers lose interest in the song before it ever really starts. That obstacle is hard to overcome even with the assistance of some dusty-ass drum breaks. I wasn't impressed.

I just listened to this, and other than the brief interlude at the beginning, I can't remember anything about it. Sad, that.

The Tim Dog reference at the beginning of this Boot Camp posse cut (brought to you by Sean Price and the letter “R”) sets this track off nicely. Give these guys a thumping beat and they can, apparently, pass the mic around fucking forever, never running out of lyrics. That's a pretty good quality to have in your overly large rap crews. Some of the guys on here come off better than the others, but that's to be expected: the song itself doesn't suffer because of it.

The mandatory weed song, although this one is more entertaining than most, thanks to the sampled strings throughout (and the cool title). Although the concept of spending literally all of your cash on weed is ridiculous and takes you out of the song a bit (you still need some money to buy all of the food you'll be eating after smoking a bowl, folks: where else will you get it, from the dumpster? You need to create a fucking budget or speak with a financial adviser before sending your dealer's kids to an Ivy League school), it's still a good listen, and it makes you want to go smoke something yourself.

I found the instrumental to be a chilled-out low-key affair, but the rhymes don't fit into that mood. They still sound alright, but something a tad bit more upbeat might have been downright menacing. Oh well.

This song sucked balls. They can't all be winners.

My dreams for a cover of the Marvin Gaye classic are dashed when I notice the traditional Boot Camp dismissal of spellchecking. However, I still received a cool-ass song with some knocking drums and melodic tones underscoring Tek and Steele's threats. The fuck?

15. P.N.C. INTRO

16. P.N.C.
Why this isn't just titled “Potnaz N Chrym” (the misspellings are my own, no matter how close it is to how the Boot Camp Clik might tackle that phrase) I'll never know. Da Beatminerz provide the most soulful instrumental found on all of Dah Shinin' for Tek and Steele's ode to fallen comrades. This is a pretty good way to end your album.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Dah Shinin' has many moments that still hold up today, but for the most part, new listeners will find themselves turned off entirely. While older heads will fall in love with Da Beatminerz and their hard-hitting, dark, and damp instrumentals all over again, others will feel that a lot of the songs blend into one another, both beat-wise and lyrically, which may not aid in a distinctive listening experience. Tek and Steele are entertaining rappers, and they play off of each other (and the rest of the Boot Camp Clik, heavily represented on Dah Shinin') very well, but with the exception of the final song of the album, they don't talk about anything meaningful or substantial: the topics range widely from why they're better rappers than you to what kind of weed they smoke, and then back to why they're better rappers than you. Fans of hip hop supergroups like the Wu-Tang Clan will enjoy this more than newer listeners who live and die by record sales and find crews with more than four members hard to follow, which is a shame. And why the hell haven't the Wu recorded a full-on posse record with the BCC? I'm just saying. I'd buy it, anyway.

BUY OR BURN? The album may not hold up today as a whole, but Smif-N-Wessun deserve your money. I wouldn't call it a classic must-have album (mainly because of the first sentence in this paragraph), but it is entertaining, and hip hop heads that miss the sound of the New York of olde will find a lot to love on here. I realize that, even though I recommended a purchase, a lot of you two will find something to object to with what I just wrote: the comments section exists for a reason, folks.

BEST TRACKS: “Cession At The Doghillee”; “Wrektime”; “Hellucination”; “Bucktown”; “Let's Git It On”


Yes, I have written about other Boot Camp Clik albums. Here's the proof.


  1. Bap! Bap! Bap! "mr brown and his jamaican friend" was the shit, still rock this joint every now and quote meth weh dih bloodclawt!!!? sound bwoy burial ah BIG BIG tune...sparce as fuck but engaging nonetheless,especially for hedz (still use them slang) that came to hip hop from the dancehall reggae rout, when the man quote Buju on the first line to the 1st verse the place done...the sound bwoy waxing poetical (Bunny General i think it was) which serves as the chorus sell it off ..."LEAVE!!!" bucktown was the second single i think, wicked wicked sample amd drum track and hedz represented excellently ... then there was the ominous sounding get it on, dark as fuck and heads was belevable the way they was spitting... allround tuff album, even if the lyrical content stay grounded in the smoke weed/fly heads/punk battybwoi/rep bucktown cycle, the beats pounding on that headnod ish so yuh get yuh rocks off either way...
    a classic of the timbsN'hoodies era
    definitely worth a buy...fuck you if yuh can't dig it

  2. once again you shot down a back to front classic , you youngsters will never get it , why don't you kids go listen to some other type of music and leave hip hop alone 1973-1996 r.i.p

  3. Yeah, that's about what I figured, which may be why it took me so fucking long to get to this disc: simply because I didn't go out of my way to suck on the cock of a so-called "classic" record, the review gets trashed. Did you two finish reading the write-up and realize that I still encouraged people to BUY this album because it's fucking entertaining?

    Oh, well. Can't please everybody. Thanks for reading!

    1. For some people who formed a very deep connection with what this album had to offer, which is quite a lot if you quickly head over to Rap Genius, simply encouraging to BUY is NOT enough.

      And you STILL found time to run the fucking thing down, even with your recommendation.

      Maybe THAT'S what pissed people off. NOT your recommendation.

      Almost seems like you regret recommending this shit.

      I'm repeating this recommendation thing to prove a point.

      So far for entertaining.

      This album, despite your opinion, is not only a classic but a timeless hip-hop gem.

      Suck on TRUTH'S cock, for a change.

  4. Its an undisputed CLASSIC you homo shit.

  5. jose cuervoAugust 09, 2009

    Fair review, I'll definitely look into this one, prolly cop it used. Everyone else seems to have bruised egos. If you like it cool, say so. Just don't get your panties in a wad over it.

  6. Anonymous it's not a fucking classic.. it's a good album but it's no Illmatic/Liquid Swords/Amerikkka's Most Wanted/Criminal Minded/Paid In Full/etc.

  7. I'm glad you finally did it.

    While I personally love this album, I thought all the negative points you made were valid, so... nice review.

  8. I agree, fair review. Although I thought "Shinin...Next Shit" was the shit, I definitely agree on "Sound Bwoy Bureill" - even in '95 I couldn't get into it. Some songs do blend together, but they still rock. Solid album, not a classic.

  9. i get the feeling the guy that does the reviews downloads the albums a few days before and never bought them when they came out?

  10. To the last Anonymous - both my wife and my bank account wishes that were the case.

  11. SOUND BWOY BUREIL is an utterly incredible track. Smif N Wessun are collective wastemen though.

  12. Sound Bwoy Bureill is a motherfuckin classic track!

    All in all, the only problem is Tek & Steel lyrical abilities, they flow nicely but they are/were too dumb to say something interesting. If Evil Dee and Walt gave these beats to Buckshot alone we'd have another timeless classic such as Enta Da Stage. Anyway, this album is FUCKING GOOD, and definitely deserves cash. Tims-N-Hood Chek is THE BEST INTRO EVER (except maybe The Chronic Intro). Da Beatminerz any day all day!!!


  13. it aint a hip hop classic or must have album like max said, if any bcc stans like me dont have this album, get it now!!, it deserves to be in your bcc collection

  14. if someone likes real hardcore dah shinin' and enta da stage must be considered as classics (i think that nocturnal and da storm have a lower level... but still fucking good). The sound of the firsts boot camp clik's albums with da beatminderz production it's just awesome

  15. I definetly agree with the part that the newer heads won't get this album...I'm a relatively new head myself, i started listening to hip hop a intesively about 4 years ago and then I thought Illmatic was boring...yeah...but about 2 years ago, I listened to it again and I couldn't believe how dumb I was...same thing with this album, except of course this is no Illmatic...
    Anyway, good work again!

  16. this is BCC classic

  17. Why is Sound Bwoy Bureill thought to be so great, it's about killing gay people... it's fucked up.

    I love hip hop but the amount of hatred towards gay people that I find in the music just keeps growing and it really bothers me.

  18. I read these reviews and comments ad I think to myself that it's not possible for you to understand why songs like Sound Bwoy Bureill are considered classics to some people. It's one of thos ethings that you would have had to experience from being in the clubs when this song came out and seeing this performed live on stage with the whole Duck Down family. The reason certain people just don't get it is becaue they never experienced the attitude and energy of the time when this was released. Sound Bwoy Burreil, in particular, was the soundtrack for the grimey, raw and gritty hip hop kids as well as that fly as Lo-rockin' crew that was on the come up. This wasn't for the suburbs. This is B-Boy and B-Girl music so you can't expect everyone to get it. A review is just an opinion....even if it's wrong (lol).

  19. This album was so dark and raw ...... It was my favorite album over ready to Die over Illmatic ......
    This was a definite classic , if you didn't live in the times when this came out , you wouldn't get it.
    Give me two mc's who go back and forth better than tek and Steele ........
    In the 90's this was a certified 4 and a half MIC's

  20. shinin next shit was a great tune... the outro, tears..

  21. Tile GroutJuly 06, 2011

    This album is so dark, so heavy. If Black Sabbath were from that era (and recorded hiphop) this is the album they would make.

  22. "Dah Shinin" is a classic album, man, come on now. Some of ya'll got that bad taste in hip hop music or what?? "Sound Bwoy" (re-edit vocal version) with the video was super ill! You clowns are sleeping, man, for real. Big Bad 18th Street Gang, E'z up!

  23. I know you recommended a purchase here, Max.

    But if this album is anything less than a classic for you or anyone else, you're all on crack.

    I just cannot see how you could hate a track like Sound Bwoy Bureill and proclaim a snoozefest like Timz N Hood Check a "good, dark-as-shit first impression."

    This is easily my favourite BCC album. Most of the tracks on here are FUCKING AWESOME.

  24. Shinin'...Next Shit is a classic take on the paranoia that comes with the usual tough street mentality.

    Stand Strong & Wrekonize are very fitting life lesson tracks disguised as street anthems, mixed in with some typical weed love. Definitely standouts.

    Wipe Ya Mouf is the lone letdown

  25. Dude.

    The only letdown on this album is Wipe Ya Mouf, and even then the beat standed out...

    As far as the rest, nothing less than mature introspection, welded with vivid imagery and thrown in with the impressively in-form Beatminerz production in an alloy of damn fine hip-hop.

    You recommended a purchase, big deal. But if THIS doesn't hold up, I don't know what will.

    A MUST-HAVE CLASSIC if I ever heard one.

  26. Hey Max, I can't believe no-one's said this yet (5 years after the review!) so I'll step up to the plate. "Da Rockness Monsta's hook is effective enough, but his presence reminds me of Operation Lockdown, the Heltah Skeltah debut disc that is much more accessible to newbies than Dah Shinin' would be." Yo, that Heltah Skeltah disc you were on about is Nocturnal not Operation Lockdown, OL is simply the last song on Nocturnal. Thought you'd appreciate the correction. Oh, and good post even if I strongly disagree about your stance on whether this album is a classic or not

    1. You're right. Given the nature of the Interweb, I also can't believe that nobody's mentioned this until now. It's since been corrected. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.