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As the Hip Hop world rolled into 1995, things started to get a lot more serious. No longer was there a place for Pop-Rap. The likes of DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice could no longer hang while the gritty underground took over. Throughout the East and West Coasts the beef ripped through the industry and parted the game and the only way to be heard was to turn to the violence-based Gangsta Rap. As this had occurred, it was no surprise to find that Das EFX, one of the few commercially-friendly underground Hip Hop acts of their time had lost popularity. On "Hold It Down", they hoped to show that they still had what was needed to hang with the likes of Nas, 2Pac and the Wu-Tang Clan.
"Hold It Down" is considered this duo's magnus opus. The Krazy Drazy and Skoob (Books backwards) claim it to be their best work themselves. On it, Das EFX come as if they're truly on a mission to devastate. Bringing an all-star line-up of beatmakers, Das EFX appear readied for complete destruction. They'd shown how to come up with an original rhyming style on "Dead Serious", displayed an ability to go without it on "Straight Up Sewaside", and were back on track with this record. They came back with that fire. Easy Mo Bee, DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Clark Kent, DJ Scratch and others all pile in to become a part of the roster.
Just before BLACKstreet took charts by storm with a track of a similar name, Das EFX had the underground Hip Hop world on lock with a crazy DJ Premier-produced banger going by the name of "No Diggedy". A track they pushed to be a single (only to be refused by their label) it's a perfect opener to the album and sets things up effectively for them. From that point, it's all about taking their music to bigger and better places. That tune draws the listeners in and then from there they can really show what they came to do with their infectious music.
It's impossible not to get excited by this two. The way the hype things up on the choruses and then bounce their rhymes in the verses is magical. It seems as though they just never run out of energy supplies. For "Can't Have Nuttin'" they show what great ideas they have for themes, on "Buck-Buck" they give a fresh freestyle over "The Big Beat" shows that they aren't scared to take risks and "Real Hip Hop" - the album's most notable single - ensures that they stand above all others as a pure Hip Hop group who don't wish to go down the commercial route. There's so many great songs here that sound just as good today, and so this album really does what it's aiming to achieve as a record with staying power and a feeling of timelessness.
It's apparent that it's usually only every exciting when Drazy kicks the opening verse. For "Ready to Rock Rough Rhymes" it appears as if Books is has really mellowed-down his steez so that its more in-tune with the dark side that Hip Hop was taking at the time. It seemed as though this made the music less interesting. This track puts a downer on "Hold It Down" and was a real weak point to the album, as an individual track. In addition to this, Books' decision to adapt his style had an impact on the contents of the remainder of the record. Another example of where things don't quite feel as comfortable as usual is with "Microphone Master". The icy Easy Mo Bee beats seem to be a bit too ahead of times there and so mean that the duo press on with their usual style to make for an uncomfortable mash-up of mis-matched music. These aren't major things, but are reasons why its clear that this album isn't as well-crafted as their previous releases.
In conclusion, this is an extremely underrated album from Das EFX. The act seemed to lose attention after their first record dropped and their mild sophomore release could be said to be a reason for this, but they show that they're capable of amazing things with this album. As they join forces with all the best names in the Hip Hop production industry of that time, they really show the world what mid-nineties Boom-Bap was about. It's an album you should know about if you like it hardcore and it reminds contemporary Hip Hop fans how well tag team rhyming can come together. I wouldn't call it their best, but it's certainly a big one.
1. "Intro" (Once Again)
2. "No Diggedy" **Five Stars**
3. "Knockin' N***az Off" **Four Stars**
4. "Here We Go" **Five Stars**
5. "Real Hip Hop" **Five Stars**
6. "Here It Is" **Five Stars**
7. "Microphone Master" **Four Stars**
8. "40 & A Blunt" **Five Stars**
9. "Buck-Buck" **Four Stars**
11. "Can't Have Nuttin'" **Five Stars**
12. "Alright" **Five Stars**
13. "Hold It Down" **Four Stars**
14. "Dedicated" **Four Stars**
15. "Ready to Rock Rough Rhymes" **Three Stars**
16. "Represent the Real" (feat. KRS-One) **Five Stars**
17. "Comin' Thru" **Five Stars**
18. "Hardcore Rap Act" (feat. PMD) **Five Stars**
19. "Bad News" **Five Stars**
20. "Real Hip Hop" (Pete Rock Remix) **Five Stars**
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Once Again
2 Real Hip Hop
3 Microphone Master
4 Buck Buck
5 40 A Blunt
6 Bad News
7 Hardcore Rap Act
8 Comin' Thru
9 Represent The Real
10 Ready To Rock Rough Rhymes
12 Hold It Down
13 Alright Alright
14 Real Hip Hop (2)
15 Can't Have Nuttin'
16 Here It Is
17 Here We Go
18 No Diggedy
19 Knockin' Niggaz Off