Gangsta Without The Rap
old school “mobb” groups like The Click began fizzling out of mainstream radio, West Coast artists grew less media-friendly:
The next wave of Northern Cali
gangstas –which included Messy Marv, Guce, and Killa Tay- seemed considerably more homicidal than their antecedents.
Moreover, during the ‘90’s, West Coast innovations like made-up words and sample-driven beats became less important
than the artists’ ability to sustain a convincingly sociopathic, enduringly pissed-off persona. Yet, as their themes
got darker, their commercial viability also plummeted.
mobb emcees began stepping up their game to create funkier, hit-worthy beats, verbally inventive rhymes, and tracks with higher
replay value. Gangsta Without The Rap, the latest release from Bullys Wit Fullys
–a duo comprised of Guce and Killa Tay- is arguably the most ambitious mobb rap album of the year, next to San Quinn’s
hit-oriented I Give You My Word, and Frontline’s Bootleg series. Save for the guy holding an M-16 on the back cover, it’s overall a happy sequel to Bullys
Wit Fullys’ West Side Stories, on
which the group posed with hockey masks. The album’s single, “What It Do” –which features Keak Da
Sneak- is a brilliant homage to a favorite regional expression. Peppered with signature gurgles and growls, and set to a grimy,
boombap track with a looped flute on the hook, it’s the most infectious song currently playing on KMEL’s Chop
Marv, who is also jockeying for play on Top 40 radio, adopted a more commercial sensibility on his new album, Disobayish –which includes a CD and DVD. Known for the likeable, firecracker hits “That’s What’s
Up” and “Baby,” the album mostly foregrounds Messy Marv’s adolescent sexual fantasies and wanton braggadocio.
Production-wise, it steers more in the direction of mainstream “crunk” music than the traditional gangsta fare
of glacial beats overlaid with gunfire and sirens. While the singles are funky enough, the best track on Disobayish is actually Marv’s more politically abhorrent ditty, “Stop Callin’”, which
he performs with E-40.
KMEL’s continual lip-service to “The New Bay” is any indication, West Coast artists are bringing more depth
to their music, and broadening the scope of what can be talked about –if only to up their sales tallies by a few thousand.
Still, the core values of mobb rap will never change: Messy Marv and Bullys Wit Fullys still take delight in rapping about
the most reprehensible behavior possible. Evidently, these artists see very little distance between their actual selves, and
the gangsta characters they inhabit. (Rachel Swan)