By J-Zone | While subbing for a college professor a few months back, a question popped up in a class discussion: Is Odd Future's "Rella" video offensive or funny? Apparently people on campus were protesting the group being booked at an upcoming festival at the school. Rap deemed as offensive has always ground gears, but if we go back 20 years this stuff was also political ammo. Tipper Gore, C. Delores Tucker, Rev. Calvin Butts, etc. - every utterance of “nigga,” “bitch,” “ho,” “bust a cap in his ass,” “don’t get caught up in a 187,” and “bend over for the God damn cracker” meant mo’ opportunities for folks like those to make statements and bolster some type of agenda in what was also an election year. No surprise then that some of rap’s most offensive and inflammatory albums dropped in 1992 - partly because controversy made headlines (and was the auto-tune of the day), but mainly because wide-spread political correctness and sensitivity toward others (while being cloaked in disingenuousness and Skrillex-like passive-aggressive liberal balderdash ) was still light years away. (Skrillex could've just said “Nigga, yo wobbles can’t fucks with mine. Yo bass game sound mad pussy, you arpeggiator-ass nigga!”) You couldn't issue an formal apology in 140 characters or less, either.
I’ve chosen 10 uber-inflamatory albums (a few of which are unintentionally hilarious) from 1992 (or on the cusp of '91 and '92), aka "the PMRC-era," and pose the question:
"Would they still be controversial if released in 2012?"
* Note: The views expressed in the songs below do not reflect those of ego trip or J-Zone.
CLICK ON THE THUMBNAILS ABOVE TO READ AND HEAR THE LIST
10. Poison Clan - Poisonous Mentality
Poison Clan MC J.T. Money had a knack for being lyrically adept when it came to garden variety misogyny - more so than labelmates and Miami predecessors, 2 Live Crew. Many bitch-bashing MCs of the day got over on sheer shock value, but the fact that J.T. was just as fierce an MC as he was a womanizer made you say, “Damn, he shot a guy five times on a record solely because they guy respected women, but he can actually rap.” Stuff like this gave Tipper Gore a boner to attack it, the man that she was, but despite the current climate of PC thinking, the incessant bitch-baiting and occasional outbursts of random violence wouldn’t spark the ire they once did.
"Uzi Gets Shot" (Skit)
"I Hate Ho’s"
9. Live Squad - Game of Survival
target="_blank">You can read my Live Squad Appreciation Post for more info on this never-released LP, but the days of albums being shelved and groups being dropped due to controversial content are long gone. The video for “Murderahh" is savage and still stands as one of the most violent rap videos of all time, but nobody would bat an eyelash at the rest of the LP today. Don’t you know that nobody gives a shit when those rappity-rappin’ young ghetto gangbangers shoot each other and Occupy All Streets (corners) anymore?!
8. Ganksta Nip - South Park Psycho
The gangsta-pimp-Freddie Krueger of Rap-A-Lot Records, Ganksta Nip (along with Detroit’s Esham) took horror movie gore and dumped it in a Cuisinart with your core credit gangsta rap elements (pimpin' a bitch, bustin’ a cap in someone’s ass, smokin’ a joint) and gave it some street cred. Nip was so outrageous that one would probably laugh more than cringe today. Lines like "So I drive to a Burger King, lookin' real muthafuckin' mean / Thinkin 'bout a hearse / Shot the people in front of me 'cause I wanna order first" and " Slap a bitch in a minute 'cause I love to fight / This bitch didn't have my money so she lost her eyesight" are proof. Soon to be a high-priced hipster favorite, but a great one; I got $5 on it.
7. X-Raided - Psycho-Active
If O-Dog from Menace II Society got a record deal, his debut offering would probably sound something like Psycho-Active. The whole "young, black, and didn't give a fuck" ethos is alive and well here. Sometimes it's funny (X plays a pizza delivery man and blasts somebody at their front door for the album's intro) and sometimes it's psychotic (he hunts down and penetrates a woman with a pistol, then pulls the trigger to make her come - that's a messy-ass climax). But the fact that life imitated art - X-Raided is currently in prison for a murder that took place around the time this album was recorded - made it all the more real. The content wouldn't be as shocking today, but knowing that one of the sonic bloodbaths was probably the actual event that landed him behind bars push it beyond sheer entertainment.
VERDICT: No, but the "real life" factor makes it ominous.
"Every Single Bitch"
6. Tweedy Bird Loc - 187 Ride By / No Holds Barred
Compton antagonist Tweedy Bird Loc hated everyone and everything: N.W.A., Tim Dog, Queen Latifah, New York, Miami, white folks, Asians, Hispanics, light-skinnded black folks, needlepoint, lesbians, algae, didinium, frogs, oatmeal, peat moss, etc. Both albums are lumped into this slot because...well, the gist of both albums is the same. Two years typically brings on at least a modicum of change in a man, but not Gangsta Tweed. Mr. Loc's vitriol is so over the top that both albums are more hilarious than uncomfortable, but "My Dicc Is Prejudice" and the sequel, "My Dicc Is Still Prejudice" (which total 8:18 of music about discriminant dick) may still get a rise out of the racially-sensitive. "I'm Callin' You A Bitch" (as reviewed here) would possibly be a hair in the cereal of LGBT groups as well, but the dead serious Tweedy still finds a way to come off as hysterical.
VERDICT: Somewhat, but there'd be the same amount of laughs as scowls.
"My Dicc Is Prejudice"
"My Dicc Is Still Prejudice"
5. Ice Cube - Death Certificate
This is where the list begins to take a turn. Why? Race has now fully checked in at the scorer's table, but not by way of standard and vague broad-brushing like "haha, you white folks can't dance" and "the white man is the devil." Cube goes after specific races and groups with force - and it takes eyes (and ears) off any misogyny or other standard fodder for rap criticism at the time of the album's release. Homophobic barbs pop up and will probably make people wiggle with discomfort now more than in '92. (Eddie Murphy and Sam Kinison doing their trademark routines about gays in 2012? They'd be up shit's creek.) I know police officers who listen to "Fuck Tha Police" and the alpha-male ign'ance of "Gangsta, Gangsta" is three years from appearing in karaoke bars, but early solo Cube would still ruffle some feathers if released today. Yes, the goofy guy behind Are We There Yet? went hard.
VERDICT: Yes, but the effect is lessened every time you see ol' O'Shea sharing the big screen with snowmen and rushing to that little brat's aid with the inhaler. Get your money, Cube; I ain't mad atcha.
"Horny Lil' Devil"
4. Too Much Trouble - Bringing Hell on Earth
In an attempt to ride the success wave of The Geto Boys, Rap-A-Lot brought us another group with a midget, but get this: TMT's midget (Bar None) was white! That's how you cover all bases, and TMT themselves let it be known: "Skin color don't matter to me, I'm not a racist." They may not be racists, but they're letting it be known that they are definitely rapists. That makes it a bit better, eh? "Take The Pussy" is self-explanatory and should be extremely disturbing, but it just winds up being so unintentionally awkward that it could pass as shock comedy. The rest of the album continues the theme of mo' mayhem over some funky, classic Rap-A-Lot beats, but like Ganksta Nip, you wind up laughing when you shouldn't be.
VERDICT: Yes for the content, but the blow is padded due to the hilarity of the execution.
"Take the Pussy"
"Invasion of the Purse Snatchers"
3. Askari X - Ward of the State
Now we're getting serious. As Ansar el Muhammad, Askari X released Ward of the State while still a teenager. The album as a whole fits the mold of most pro-black, radical rap of the time, but "Hide Tonite" would've scared the shit out of a whole lot of people had they heard it. I'm sure if it had a higher profile, Askari would've had a designated slot next to Sister Souljah on Bill Clinton's AFN (Antagonist Field Negro) list. The song brings innocent victims of the Caucasian persuasion (babies, hippies, and women) into Askari's racially-charged rampage for what is without question the most violent, inflammatory, race-related rap song ever released (that I know of). The job descriptions and Linked In profile for rappers have changed - rap assimilation went from taboo to "totally, dude!" The average young, black rapper today would rather drive a Bentley and line up some Heidi Klum bitches for a lesson in Jungle Fever than ignite a race riot in a school cafeteria, so records like these are extremely rare now. But considering rap has crossed so many racial boundaries since this record was released...
2. The Convicts - The Convicts
Better known as the first group of the Geto Boys' Big Mike, The Convicts make fans of ign'ant rap feel like they're at a Sizzler buffet. Scoring high in all areas of the IRS (Ign'ant Rating System), the Houston duo go extra hard in the areas of race-baiting, domestic violence, drug dealing, auto theft, and even have a light-hearted gangsta moment for people who smell bad. But this album was another one that fails to be mentioned alongside the controversial Ice Cube and Geto Boys albums of the day, simply because not many knew about it. "Illegal Aliens" is the most offensive of the bunch, and considering the breadth of rap's audience and America's current racial dynamics, this album would be panned and placed before a liberal firing squad. Today's music bloggers would surely fire up their Macbook Airs and make a statement in the name of black presidents, white rappers, Asian point guards who drop 30 plus points on brothers, and our changing world.
"Woop Her Ass"
1. Dead at Birth - Genesis of A Madman: Book 1
There's very little doubt that Genesis of a Madman: Book 1 is the most offensive rap album ever released. There's a disclaimer from the record company on the CD insert. Info on the album is scarce. The only images Dead At Birth offer are masks and clown faces. It had to be an experiment of some sort (albeit with some incredible beats) - and turns out it was (read comments at the bottom of this You Tube clip) . Purportedly the group's MC (Loco) was a Warlock Records employee and was hired by the label to produce a "gangsta rap" album that would enter Warlock into the 1992 fray of controversy. The IRS is again maxed out in all categories: Violence, misogyny, racism, nihilism, gay bashing, matricide, rape, disrespect for the homeless, and not being a father to your child. Lines like "Lincoln freed the slaves, but he ain't said nothin' 'bout no hoes" say it all. An additional two bonus slices of audio are added below, but this one is not for the easily offended. You've been warned.
VERDICT: Hell yeah, but knowing it was done as an experiment may take some of the edge off.
"What Are Women Good 4?"
"That's What You Get"
"Drop The Load Wit' Tha Quickness"
"50 Ways To Pimp Slap Yo' Bitch"
THE OVERALL VERDICT:
Rap's audience has changed so much that controversy-starters have flip-flopped over the course of 20 years. Racist or anti-gay rhymes will probably land your ass in an alcohol river in 2012 - much more so than in 1992. Violence, dope smokin' and garden variety misogyny? Not so much these days. Selections from The Chronic and Doggystyle can now be heard at your average wedding if you need proof.