There were basically two kinds of classic awkward rap group names in the ’90s: 1) the ones where the rappers were intent on keeping it so real they spelled out everything foe-net-ick-lee, and 2) the ones where the rappers came off trying to sound a little deeper than actually worked. Providing a fine example of the latter – Puppets of Chaos .
To the best of our knowledge this NYC duo did not consist of hip-hop puppeteers (a missed opportunity given the subsequent popularity of puppets in rap music videos). Nor did they appear to dress up as puppets themselves. In fact, outwardly they looked somewhat conventional: baggy jackets, baggy jeans, Timbs. Musically, they were nice enough to garner Unsigned Hype honors in The Source in July of '92.
However, with no visible sign of puppet paraphernalia anywhere in PoC's midst the smart money’s guessing that these guys symbolically considered themselves puppets – metaphorically repping the pawns in life’s game, if you will. Only “Pawns In the Game” - despite also being the title of Professor Griff's first solo album - is kind of a blah name. “Prisoners of War"- despite also being the name of a wonderful Organized Konfusion song - also not so memorable.
“Puppets of Chaos,” though? Classic. Not only does it adopt the very trendy for the time “_____ of _____” group name format. (Oh, Opio, Phesto et al – what did y’all done start?!) But it’s sort of the rap name equivalent of that old In Living Color punch-line, “A mind is a terrible thing to develop without help.” "Puppets of Chaos" instantly evokes an era (the post-KRS, Illuminati-obsessed ’90s) during which East Coast hip-hop often couldn’t get out of its own way conceptually – still unsure whether overtly dropping science or dropping N-bombs was the way to go. While you could ascertain as much from the sound of PoC's lone single, the collectible “Tru Dat” b/w “New & Improve" (sample lyrics: " I take your violence/Turn it into violins "; " N*ggas in my face like cheekbone "), the group's name says all that and more.
Here's where you may be tempted to imagine some comical variations (“Marionettes of Madness”? “Dolls of Despair"?). But those names could never have realistically happened in rap. “Puppets of Chaos" did. The shit is real.