Friday, March 31, 2017

Dirty Jersey Week, Day 1: The Blaque Spurm Catalog

It's Dirty Jersey Week, folks!  I'm celebrating my home state with a week's worth of posts of underrated NJ Hip-Hop.  I've doing old stuff, I'm doing new stuff and I'm doing new releases of old stuff, like today's entry.

Blaque Spurm is some deep, underground Jersey legacy.  I first discovered front man B-Fyne on the Crusaders For Real Hip-Hop album.  Actually, I probably heard him first on the Fu-Schnickens first album, but I didn't pick him out as anybody of note until I started digging deeper into Tony D's career in the late 90s/ early 2000s.  Like, I grew up on YZ's first album, but I had no idea B-Fyne is the guy he was talking to on "Back Again," even though he clearly says his name.

Anyway, B's crew, Blaque Spurm, were briefly signed to American Records/ Ill Labels back in 1994.  Like every Hip-Hop act on that label, it was a short lived association, and they released their only other record on Tony D's indie label, Contract Records, the following year.  And apart from a couple other guest appearances and some self-released stuff you probably had to catch them at a show to cop, that was all they put out.  Two slick, well regarded underground 12"s.

That is until their Spurmacidal Tendencies album, anyway.  This is a collection of their previously unreleased 1994 recordings collected onto one, full-length CD released by Nustalgic Records.  And yes, that includes all three tracks from their two 12"s as well.  A couple of the tracks are produced by unknowns (including one or two from their singles, so you know those are still dope), but the overwhelming majority is by Tony D himself.  The crew is somewhat hardcore, but definitely on some serious 90s backpacker shit.  Songs like "Nonoxynol Rhyme'n" definitely reminds me of the days of collecting tapes by crews him Masters Of the Universe or Living Legends.  But those guys never had the benefit of the rich, polished production Tony D provides.

Is this album dated?  Oh yes, and that may add to its charm or be a serious weakness.  Lots of easy pop culture punchlines "I'm like that purple dinosaur Barney; I'm large" and nerdy super scientifical lines like "I hover over tracks using levitational skills."  Young artists today would never write songs like these, and that's not me being an old guy shaking my cane at today's generation; that's a compliment.  But if you lived through that period like I did, it's going to nicely swan dive into nostalgia value.  But even if it doesn't and hearing that stuff just makes you wince now, there's still undeniable skill on hand here; and most young MCs who have the advantage of living in more sophisticated times would still be lucky to write a verse half as compelling as B-Fyne does consistently here.  Like check "Awh Fuck It;" it's like his "Greatest Man Alive."  He kills it (and yeah, even though it's a group album, B-Fyne is definitely the star, with several solo songs).  My only criticism is that Spurm allowed themselves to be too influenced by the trends of their time.  Now, this CD's kinda been making the rounds for years on the down low.  But this new version has an unlisted bonus track called "Nearing the End;" so if you never copped it before, now's the perfect time.

And that's not the whole story.  Before Blaque Spurm was Blaque Spurm, they were known as The Funk Family.  They even had a 12" out in 1992, which I'm not gonna front, I knew nothing about until recently.  And in addition to Spurmicidal Tendencies, Nustalgic has also compiled a full album of The Funk Family's unreleased recordings from 1991 to 1993, called Everything'll Befyne.  Yeah, guess who's the star again.  Again, he has a couple songs, and again, Tony D produced almost the entire album.  Two were produced by The Baka Boyz.  But there's a big difference.  Despite the small gap of time between the two periods, The Funk Family stuff is much hyper.  They're yelling over faster, high energy beats with crazy, fluctuating styles, clearly influenced by crews like Fu-Schnickens, Rumpletilskinz, Das EFX and LotUG.  Some songs are slower, but it's still a big jump from Blaque Spurm.  Both albums are dope; I'm not sure I have a favorite; but they're definitely distinct.

There are some weird moments, like when they group does a very disharmonious rendition of a Sequence routine.  And Tony takes the mic a couple times.  Disappointingly, this leaves off one of the four songs from their original 12"; and curiously, the previous version of this compilation had a very different track-listing, with a bunch of different songs.  I wish we could just get everything; but I guess they just have too much music from this period.  maybe they'll do a Volume 2 down the road.

And that's still not the end.  Nustalgic has one more CD: Wake Up Call by Baby Chill.  Baby Chill is a member of Funk/ Spurm and actually B-Fyne's brother.  He's tragically passed away, but this CD brings back a full album of material he recorded in 1993 with his Secret Squirrels crew.  Production is entirely by Tony D, so it has a real nice sound as Chill seamlessly transitions from smooth to playful to serious.  It's more in tune with the Blaque Spurm sound than the Funk Family; but it's definitely it's own thing.  Really good.  The album's thirteen tracks long and has been floating around the internet for ages; but now it's got an official pressing with a bonus track: the "Good Morning Vietnam" posse cut from Tony D's mp3.com album.

It would be nice if there was vinyl for all this; but these CDs are packed, so at best we could've probably just hoped for EPs missing a bunch of the tracks anyway.  The CDs also come with some stickers and postcards with group photos and stuff, but they've also added all this stuff to ITunes and probably some other mp3 outlets if that's more your thing.  Me, I still demand a physical copy for my collection, so I had to have the CDs; and it helped that they were on sale (still are as of this writing) from their official online store.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this incredible write up homie! I sincerly appreciate the accalades as well as the critiques and will be a new reader to your blog. My homie PQuest from Germany put me on to ur Blog.

    I just wanted to give a couple of fun facts for your readers. I actually debuted on YZ's first album Sons of the Fathee on a song called "In The Party" with was a remix that features myself and Tony D(RIP). I also wrote on that album a track called "In Control of Things" which YZ penned a few lines but it was a rhyme I wrote for myself that he heard, liked and wanted on the album. I also wrote "Back Again" on that album. One other fun fact is I was actually rapping fast years before I ever heard of The Fu or Das and I didn't listen to the other two crews. Chip Fu was my homie back then. I actually introduced him to Tony D and they were supposed to work on some music which would've been dope. But my influences were YZ, Rakim, BDP, Kane, Nas and yes PRT. Even though they were rivals at the time Wise was definitely in my top five fav Emcees. Anyone who know me though in the industry or from me just coming up in the ranks Knows that I fathered my own style and not saying anyone immilated it but great minds must think alike. Thx again for showing love and eventually I'll get around to some vinyl releases. In the meantime I'll be releasing more of our catalog and othe artist we worked with back then on my site www.TheStandHouston.com

    RIP B-Chill aka Baby Chill aka #9 and Rest in Production to my bro forever Tony D. Respect to all my fellow New Jeruz and Houston Emcees from then and now and thank you Fam for shining light on our legacy.
    - BF

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