That's not the actual album cover, by the way: it was simply all I could find without ripping the Interweb apart. Sue me.
A lot of you two may have been wondering just when I would actually get to the career of R.A. the Rugged Man, the New York emcee with powerful guest verses who has only managed to release one fucking album in his lifetime. Night Of The Bloody Apes is not that album, which you two probably figured out thanks to the "Not Available In Stores!" qualifier in the post's title, but it's what we're going to talk about today.
Night Of The Bloody Apes took its name from a Mexican horror movie, and the lyrical content reflects R.A.'s faux-horrorcore fantasies of the time. It's credited to Crustified Dibbs, who, contrary to popular belief, was not an alias for the Rugged Man: Crustified Dibbs was actually a duo made up of R.A. and his friend and producer Niles, but somewhere along the way, someone fucked up and attributed the group name to just our host, and his fate was sealed. Hell, I'm even perpetuating this myth with the title of this very post. But when you actually listen to the album and hear him refer to himself as the Rugged Man, at least now you won't be left scratching your head.
Night Of The Bloody Apes was intended to be R.A.'s major label debut: he had recently been signed by Jive Records (home of A Tribe Called Quest and Britney Spears) after a bidding war caused by some early demos that impressed record executives. Singles were pressed up, and at least one music video was filmed. But, alas, it was not meant to be: R.A. was soon dropped from the label after being accused of sexual harassment by several female employees at Jive, and the label quietly chucked Night Of The Bloody Apes in its vaults, never to be seen again (except for online in mp3 form, of course, although many heads swear that the label fucked up and let loose some cassette tape copies).
Night Of The Bloody Apes will forever be thought of as a hidden gem, regardless of the fact that the only version most people have ever heard is a poorly mastered copy with our host's lyrics pitched way too fucking loudly. But it has its own place in history, thanks to his inclusion of a song called "Every Record Label Sucks Dick" (which makes it even more shocking that Jive shelved the project) and an early guest appearance by a young-as-hell Biggie Smalls.
R.A. would eventually rebound on the independent circuit, but that's a story for another day.
1. TOOLBOX MURDERER
The first track on Night Of The Bloody Apes plays right into the horror movie feel of the album title, as R.A. threatens to murder anybody who dares to peek into his toolbox. Or, you know, simply gets in his way, or something. This song achieves a rare synergy: sure, there's lots of talk of graphically killing people (the sound effects help), but the verses themselves are much more lyrical than one would expect. The Rugged Man uses the serial killer motif as his method for delivering his message (basically, we shouldn't fuck with him), and even though he's just fucking around (he steps away from the whole horror movie thing multiple times throughout Night Of The Bloody Apes), he still sounds a tiny bit more convincing at this shit than either Cage or the Insane Clown Posse did earlier this month. I think our host's rougher flow tricks you into thinking that he's very capable of snapping at any moment, and yet, it also sounds so cartoonish that the listener feels perfectly safe. Strange combination, that.
2. YOU AIN'T NEVER BEEN DOWN
It's rumored that Erick Sermon produced this track, and the fact that R.A. name-drops the Green Eyed Bandit probably lends that theory credence. Either way, the sound quality on Night Of The Bloody Apes only hints at what Sermon's beat might have sound like properly mastered, as everything was mixed so wildly that our host's rhymes (and hilariously terrible singing voice during the hook) dominate the proceedings. The track itself is alright, and in a historical context, it's pretty interesting to think of Sermon working outside of his Def Squad crew so quickly after EPMD's breakup (in 1993).
3. WALKING DOWN THE STREET WITH MY NUTS IN MY HAND
R.A.'s Onyx song, as evidenced by the contagious chorus that Fredro Starr would have killed to have written first. Unfortunately, there's little else to recommend about this track aside from the hook, as our host's verses all kind of float out of your consciousness without ever having made an impression. Moving on...
4. EVERY RECORD LABEL SUCKS DICK
The most infamous song, and the best known, in the Rugged Man's catalog. How could it not be? Just look at that goddamn title! But it's all a ruse, since our host used that title to suck you in to three verses of clear, concise condemnations of his experiences with a major label. After listening to this, you can't help but feel bad for every single artist put through the music industry machine: there wasn't a creative bone in any record executive's body back in 1994, either. The section during the final verse where he describes the labels comparing him to pretty much any other popular artist as justification for signing him made me laugh, especially the Onyx stuff, considering what I wrote for the previous track. Diggin' In The Crates's Buckwild handles the musical side of things, providing our host with a calm, relaxed instrumental that clashes nicely with his gruff delivery. Still sounds pretty good today, as long as you can sit through the ridiculous chorus (which only adds to the charm).
5. R.A. MEETS A.R. (SKIT)
Kind of goofy the first time you hear it, if only for R.A.'s cavalier attitude toward murder.
6. HOOKIN' WITH THE HOOKERS (FEAT. GLEN GIBBS & CAPITAL T)
Album credits for Night Of The Bloody Apes are so fucking hard to come by that I took the guest list from a YouTube user named CrustBoundNuts, who went out of his way to upload all of the Crustified Dibbs album to his personal channel. So to that dude, thanks for your help. And to the readers, here is a song that I absolutely think that you should hear: the Rugged Man and his boys ride all over this dusty instrumental with purpose, delivering one of the highlights of the entire album within their six verses, each man getting a couple turns. This shit was nice!
7. BLOODY AXE
8. R.A. CLASSROOM (SKIT)
Not nearly as funny as the previous skit.
9. R.A. BE DOWN
Our host devotes an entire song to chastising those who wish to support his career that weren't there at the beginning, when he wasn't shit. True, he's not actually talking about any newer fans: he's referring more specifically to people who claim that they wish to help him further his career. But it is ironic that I'm listening to this diatribe on an album that was never officially released.
10. CUNT RENAISSANCE (FEAT. THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G.)
I wonder if R.A. realized that he had a fucking budding superstar in the booth with him when he recorded this ode to the pussy for Night Of The Bloody Apes. Hip hop heads who are otherwise unfamiliar with the Rugged Man may already know this track, as anything even tangentially related to Biggie Smalls appeared on mixtapes dedicated to the man, but if this hilariously graphic track was your introduction to the work of our host, then I'm scared to ask what you thought of "Toolbox Murderer". There's a famous story about this track: after they finished recording it, a young Christopher Wallace allegedly named R.A. the Rugged Man the illest rapper alive, even though he plays along and gets just as filthy as his host does on here. I wish the track were longer than it is, but my understanding is that there was supposed to be another guest that wasn't able to record his verse, so somehow that means that it was okay to simply end the song? The fuck? That's not hip hop!
11. BACK TO THE RUBBER ROOM
The title of the track implies "crazy", but the music on the song itself is straight-up hip hop, and it knocks. The Rugged Man holds on to his sanity just long enough to provide some entertaining verses, while the instrumental works in some well-known samples that are guaranteed to get your head nodding. Nice!
12. BLOODSHED HUA HOO
I couldn't get into this track. That's all I got.
That random-seeming title is short for "statutory", as in "statutory rape", as this track is about the Rugged Man's courtship of a minor. Pretty ballsy for a rap song, and strangely enough, our host doesn't turn the track into anything crazy: it's actually quite the rational song, with R.A. telling his tale of the rise and fall of the relationship, all while he questions his justification for actually going through with the act. This track may leave listeners feeling unclean, but it wasn't a bad song. Probably don't need to hear it more than the once, though.
15. BLOODY BODY PARTS IN DA FRUIT PUNCH BOWL
As with a lot of tracks on the album, I'm left wondering just what this would sound like if it were properly mastered, with R.A.'s vocals cleaned up a bit. The title of this song goes straight to shock value for shock value's sake, which isn't always a bad thing, but I couldn't wait for this shit to end.
16. BLOODSHED HUA HOO (N---A NILES CRUSTY REMIX)
After the outro on the previous track, on which our host attacks people who have no idea what real hip hop actually is, Night Of The Bloody Apes ends with a remix of a track that appeared only four songs ago. I liked the beat on here just a tiny bit better, but I still wasn't a fan of it as a whole. It is what it is.
SHOULD YOU TRACK IT DOWN? It depends. Do you enjoy listening to unmastered, incomplete hip hop tracks? Are you one of those heads who likes having a piece of history on your hard drive, or do you just like having something that you're not supposed to actually have in your possession? Are you a fan of R.A. the Rugged Man? If you answered "yes" to any of those questions (it doesn't matter which one), then Night Of The Bloody Apes may be worth the Google search for you. It is a piece of history, if only for the Biggie contribution, and R.A. has a distinct flow that you may enjoy, but this isn't for all audiences. I would encourage you two to enter at your own risk, not because you may be appalled by some of the violent imagery on Night of The Bloody Apes, but simply because some of this may give you a fucking headache. There are tracks on here that deserve to be heard, though, such as "Hookin' With The Hookers" and "Back To The Rubber Room", so if you're into this sort of thing, have at it. There's no shame in passing on this project, though: I'm sure R.A. would understand. I can't imagine that this album would have sold many copies, so if we look at it from a financial point of view, Jive Records may have made the correct choice. But they didn't have to be such dicks about it.