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"The Lords Of The Underground came out with their second album, "Keepers of the Funk" in 1994, and as their name suggest, the New Jersey trio (consisting of members DoItAll, Mr. Funke, DJ Lord Jazz) are a underground rap group, and with this record they were really able to take their names into the mainstream.
2. "Ready Or Not"
They jump straight into it on this one as they show what this album has to offer from the get-go with a tune which references what they came with on their debut, and comments on how exactly they hope to take things forward on this one. It is a fly one, and I felt that it was pretty representative of their music.
3. "Tic Toc"
From the title alone, most Hip Hoppers should associate it with MC Ricky D's classic words on "La Di Da Di", and this is just what you get for the hook of this track, and it pushes things forward to lift them up and get them to get things done on one of the most familiar samples in the Hip Hop world with work from The Git Fresh Crew making this one go as they do some rare classic rap work out of New Jersey.
4. "Keepers of the Funk"
With "Funk" used for the title, you could only have the innovator of the Funk movement being featured on this one and so with George Clinto (behind Funkadelic and Parliament), you get a killer tune which makes you right back. This mirrors what went on out on the West coast at the time with music which advances pat the G-Funk peak in 1992 and 1993.
5. "Steam From Da Knot"
Directly off the banger prior to it, you have them calm thing down quite a bit here as they choose to do one which has them turn to another side of their music with a tune which has them do one which has them bringing in some of the other underground rap of the time, which was Gangsta Rap (before it came over to the mainstream a couple of years later). Some of the techniques here are pretty progressive, and sound far ahead of their time.
6. "What I'm After"
Using a samples of BLACKstreet's "Tonite's The Nite" and Trouble Funk "Pump Me Up", this one is a straight killer tune which has them rap about their progression with Hip Hop and how they came up and grew up with the genre and the culture as a whole. It is a banging joint from them and it really stands out for its heavy production and the engaging rhymes.
The whole sound of this one sounds like a significant shift from the track prior to it as if it has been recorded a long time from the one before it, and it really throws you off as it takes from the flow off the album, but as it was one of the singles from the album, this is likely to distort the sound (due to its familiarity). Here they rhyme about their religious faith, and it is a very different tune from them.
8. "Neva Faded"
This more heavy sampling coming out of this track, you have them go for a tune which seesm to take things to the direction which you typically expected from underground East Coast rap of this time as they do one which is a straight head bopper, and it compels you to do so to a degree where you simply can't do anything but this.
9. "No Pain"
The beats in this one seemed cushioned, and if you listen to it when juxtaposed with so many hardcore tracks close it it, is feel so mellow in comparison as if it is being protected from all the rough and rugged stuff in the record. However I find this to be a strength to the track as it makes it stand out and makes you take a lot more notice of what they do with it.
Starting things up with a little brass wind, this one has them a track where they really carry through the emotions of the tune to the listener as with the rhymes they explain exactly why they are in this state of frustration to the degree where all can relate to what is done on it. It takes a lot out of you, and at times they offer ways out of it.
11. "Yes Y'all"
The beats in this one are as funky as what we started the album with, and so it appears to give the album some sort of cyclical roundness to it, and with beats from the legendary Marley marl, you have them forcing you to bounce to the dunking flow of the MCs out of Jerz. It has a retro feel to it, and I expect the fact that Marley Marl produces it, is a heavy influence upon it.
12. "What U See"
As the final proper tune on this album you have more funky stuff to remind you what the real aim of the release was, and I couldn't say that I was going to discourage this sort of stuff. On it you have them promote themselves as the most real thing you get in the Hip Hop world, and give examples to back it all up.
This is consistent album from the Lords of the Underground, but I can see why it was held back a little as it seemed to be a little samey throughout with very little variation being offered with it, and it seemed that the early George Clinton appearance and the singles were the only times were the thing lifts, but on the whole it is strong.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Ready Or Not
3 Tic Toc
4 Keepers Of The Funk
5 Steam From Da Knot
6 What I'm After
8 Neva Faded
9 No Pain
11 Yes Y'all
12 What U See