(As a compliment to my post on Kuruption!, Sir Bonkers tackles Kurupt's Dogg Pound partner Daz, whose solo debut album, Retaliation, Revenge and Get Back, was one of the last actual albums released by Death Row Records before the implosion. I'll let him get started: make sure to leave some comments below.)
I'm not going to get into the Death Row Records backstory, since everybody should know all about it at this point. If for some reason you've been able to avoid it, well, you have access to the Interweb; otherwise, it would be impossible for you to be reading this right now.
In 1998, Daz Dillinger, who inherited the role of Death Row’s head producer after Dr. Dre left the label, released his solo debut album, Retaliation, Revenge and Get Back, which could be considered as the official follow-up to his group Tha Dogg Pound’s 1995 project Dogg Food, especially since the other member of Tha Pound, Kurupt, pops up quite often during the first half. (Maybe this was supposed to become the second Dogg Pound album, but Daz changed his plans after Kurupt left the label partway through the recording sessions. Who knows?) Since Dre was already gone and label CEO Marion “Suge” Knight was in prison, Daz was able to oversee the creation of this disc all by himself, which he probably would have done regardless, since he went out of his way to not allow Dre an opportunity to produce anything on Dogg Food (which led to Dr. Dre “only” mixing all of it). According to Wikipedia, Retaliation, Revenge and Get Back sold over five hundred thousand copies, although I don't personally know anybody who would admit to ever owning this.
Daz has never been a breathtaking rapper (like, oh, let's just say Kurupt), but he has also never embarrassed himself in the booth by being so stoned that he thought rhyming “bitch” with “bitch” would be clever (like, oh, let's just say Kurupt). On Retaliation, Revenge and Get Back, he stacked the odds in his favor by recruiting many of his friends to rhyme alongside him over beats that he exclusively produced (well, DPG affiliate Soopafly walks away with two co-production credits), something that your favorite rapper doesn't do, unless your favorite rapper is Kanye West, in which case you should discard this comment.
Retaliation, Revenge and Get Back is considered by some to be the swan song of G-Funk, as everyone associated with the musical style moved on to different shit after this (although it should be noted that most of their later output sounded at least a tiny bit similar to the style that
Big Hutch of Above The Law Dr. Dre pioneered. Daz's solo debut was also the last album of somewhat recently recorded material from a single artist that Death Row Records would release until 2005 (as Michel'le's album doesn't count).
1. GANG MEETING (INTRO) / GANG BANGIN’ ASS CRIMINAL (FEAT. KURUPT, SOOPAFLY, TRAY DEEE & TECHNIEC)
The first person to actually rap on this track is Kurupt, who is followed by Tray Deee. This makes Daz Dillinger the third act to appear on his own debut. Except for the unnecessary use of the word “ass” in the title and the skit tacked on at the very beginning, this was a pretty good posse cut featuring a large number of Snoop Dogg’s legion of weed carriers, with each and every one of them contributing worthwhile verses. Nice!
2. IT’S GOING DOWN (FEAT. KURUPT & PRINCE ITAL JOE)
Over a pounding instrumental, both members of the Pound rip shit up. Prince Ital Joe, that guy who occasionally pops up on Death Row releases to annoy listeners with his (fake?) Jamaican ranting, does just that, but manages to keep things brief so, yeah, this was pretty solid.
3. PLAYA PARTNERS (FEAT. B-LEGIT & BO ROC)
Over a smooth and funky beat, everyone involved gets the opportunity to provide random boasts, but everyone manages to sound good doing so. (I'm actually kind of excited by the presence of The Dove Shack's Bo-Roc, as I had no idea that he was close enough to any other West Coast artist (aside from Warren G.) that he could have theoretically popped up on a Death Row Records release.)
4. IT MIGHT SOUND CRAZY (FEAT. TOO $HORT)
I'm sure you correctly surmised the subject matter of this track after you discovered who guest stars on it. It isn't horrible for what it Is, though, thanks to the Daz/Soopafly instrumental picking up the slack. This was also apparently the first single from Retaliation, Revenge and Get Back. I have to ask: why?! (Um, because Too $hort is the longest-serving West Coast veteran to appear on the project, maybe?)
5. OUR DAILY BREAD (FEAT. KURUPT & PRINCE ITAL JOE)
Reminded me of “If We All Fucc” off of the Dogg Food album because of the beat. However, the songs themselves are very different, as that track is about sexual encounters with groupies, while this one is about nothing in particular. It keeps the flow of the album moving, but there isn't much more to say.
6. IN CALIFORNIA (FEAT. VAL YOUNG)
According to Wikipedia, this was also a single, and Daz actually shot a video for this song. That makes sense: this is easily the most radio friendly song on the album thus far, and co-producers Daz and Soopafly throw in every single G-Funk cliché that came to mind: music at the very least inspired by Zapp and Roger's “More Bounce To The Ounce”, some classy vocoder work, cheesy female backing vocals on the hook (courtesy of Death Row songstress Val Young, who sounds exactly like Jewell, the former Death Row songstress), and boatloads of Cali pride. It is a rather catchy song, though, so that counts for something.
7. INITIATED (FEAT. KURUPT, 2PAC & OUTLAWZ)
Since 2Pac actually gives a shoutout to both Tha Dogg Pound and The Outlawz, this song was probably actually recorded with the participation of everyone involved (before Pac's passing, obviously), and not simply constructed under Suge Knight's hand after the fact using studio trickery. Kurupt and Outlawz member Hussein Fatal sound pretty awesome together; I wish they had collaborated more often. Pac also sounds pretty good. My only complaint about this banger is that the song seems to noticeably dip in lyrical quality after the first three verses, which are performed by, unsurprisingly, Kurupt, Hussein Fatal, and 2Pac. Oh well, this still knocks.
8. OH NO (FEAT. TRAY DEE & J-MONEY)
9. RETALIATION, REVENGE AND GET BACK
The first song on the album without any guest stars, and it just so happens to be the title track. Unfortunately, this isn't a very good song, and not just because it's entirely unclear what exactly Daz wants to extract revenge for. He doesn't provide any clues for whom this is supposed to be aimed at, either (I couldn't hear anything helpful, anyway).
10. O.G. (FEAT. SNOOP DOGG & NATE DOGG)
This isn't a terrible song or anything, but all it makes me want to do is listen to other, better Snoop Dogg/Tha Dogg Pound/Nate Dogg collaborations. I will say that it is pretty interesting that Daz was able to include this track on Retaliation, Revenge and Get Back, though: neither Nate nor Snoop were technically signed to Death Row Records at this point in time, which probably explains their absence from the rest of the project. (Maybe Daz snuck this composition in at the last minute, when Suge Knight was already imprisoned and wasn't able to make the call and erase it, as he has for many other lost Dr. Dre songs.)
11. BABY MAMA DRAMA (FEAT. LIL’ C-STYLE & BIG C-STYLE)
A mediocre track featuring two guys who used to carry Snoop Dogg's weed and, later on, Crooked I's.
12. ONLY FOR U (FEAT. VAL YOUNG & BIG PIMPIN’ DELEMOND)
Daz makes an attempt at a serious song for the ladies. The idea of the artist formerly known as Dat N---a Daz not wanting to find 'em, fuck 'em, and flee takes a while to get used to. He also doesn't use any profanity on the track...at least until the last few seconds, when he screams, “Biaaaatch!”. Well, that was reassuring. This song isn't the shitstorm that it could have (should have?) been, but it isn't very good, as it sounds awkward and Daz doesn't exactly sound sincere. Remember the older Death Row albums that didn’t feature blatant attempts to appeal to a female audience? Then again, Retaliation, Revenge and Get Back wasn't released during the label's golden age, back when Death Row actually put out good music and people actually wanted to buy their shit.
13. RIDIN’ HIGH (FEAT. WC & CJ MACK)
Riding around to this song while really, really high would be very pleasant indeed, although that would be a completely irresponsible thing to do.
14. THE ULTIMATE COME UP (FEAT. BAD AZZ & MC EIHT)
In my previous Reader Review for Suge Knight Represents Chronic 2000, I dismissed rapper Swoop G as just a Bad Azz clone. One of the readers felt I wasn’t on point with that comparison, but now that I'm hearing the actual Bad Azz rapping for the first time in along while, I have to ask: how can you not think that they sound alike? Also, MC Eiht, late of Compton’s Most Wanted, leaves no impression whatsoever. This song was nothing special, but Daz certainly could have filled up his album with worse tracks than this one.
15. THANK GOD I’M ALIVE (FEAT. BAD AZZ, TRAY DEEE, SOOPAFLY & BIG PIMPIN’ DELEMOND)
Daz, you shouldn't ever record inspirational songs on which you croon your little heart out on the hook. Also, stop writing songs for the ladies. Nobody who has followed your career up to this point wants to hear that kind of shit. Goddamn, this makes for an awkward listen.
16. WHY DO WE BANG? [OUTRO]
That's a good question. It's just too bad that you refuse to provide any answers.
(The vinyl and cassette tape versions of Retaliation, Revenge and Get Back include a bonus final track, “Pimp City”, which is produced by and features Soopafly. As vinyl isn't necessarily the easiest commodity to come by and because nobody buys fucking cassette tapes, “Pimp City” is also included on Soopafly's own debut album, Dat Whoopty Whoop, for those of you two who are interested.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Musically, Retaliation, Revenge and Get Back is just as good as Dogg Food. Lyrically, this album is okay, even though Daz Dillinger gets blown out of the water every time his friends such as Kurupt, Hussein Fatal or 2Pac appear (although he does manage to hold his own when paired with “legends” like Too $hort, B-Legit, MC Eiht and even his mentor Snoop Dogg). (The quotation marks were the author's; for the record, Too $hort, MC Eiht, and Snoop are absolutely West Coast legends. B-Legit, however, doesn't deserve to appear in the same universe as those three.) I still think that Retaliation, Revenge and Get Back sounded really good today, although it is perfectly clear why this project didn't do The Chronic, Doggystyle, All Eyez On Me or even Dogg Food numbers. Daz Dillinger is a gangsta rapper who doesn’t have the charisma of a Snoop or a 2Pac for his music to cross over to a pop audience: the concessions made in exchange for a potentially wider fanbase range from decent (“In California”) to meh (“Only For U”). The album also doesn't capture the spark that those four previously mentioned projects had. Nevertheless, Retaliation, Revenge and Get Back is worthy of each and every Death Row fan’s attention. This shit will take you back to the era of Snoop, Dre, Tha Pound and Pac much more efficiently than anything that, oh, let's just say The Game, has released in the last few years. Retaliation, Revenge and Get Back makes it clear why he still has a cult following picking up his indie label discs to this day. Nobody makes music quite like this anymore.
BUY OR BURN: If you’ve read this far, then I assume you’re familiar with The Chronic, Doggystyle, All Eyez on Me, various Death Row soundtracks and Dogg Food, and you also happen to like those albums. If this is the case, Retaliation, Revenge and Get Back is for you and you should pick it up. (You can opt for the original out-of-print pressing or the newer digital remastered edition, as they are both exactly the same.)
BEST TRACKS: “Gang Bangin’ Ass Criminal”; “In California”; “Initiated”
(Questions? Comments? Concerns? Might as well leave your thoughts below anyway.)