“Da Storm”, the forgotten rainstorm of Duck Down
Duck Down / Priority, 1996
The founding of the naughtiest collective in New York
1993, Brownsville, Brooklyn, a young rapper with devastating fervor will revolutionize Hip Hop along other artists such as Wu-Tang and Fat Joe. Buckshot released Enta Da Stage with his group Black Moon, produced by Da Beatminerz, a filthy revolution and a surge of raging violence. Hip Hop is changing and gangsta rap made in New York is reborn. Naturally, Buckshot did not stop there, he accompanied, with his business partner Dru-Ha, a young group from the same neighborhood with the same rage in the belly, Smif-N-Wessum, which he introduced on the first album of Black Moon. The duet album, Dah Shinin, released in 1995 was a phenomenal critical success on the underground scene.
However, as is usually the case in Hip Hop, once again the problems of royalties with the record companies appeared, and Buckshot decided with Dru-Ha to found his own artist management company, which would quickly evolve into one of the biggest underground labels in New York, Duck Down Music Inc. Buckshot signed his friends from the neighborhood, originally The Fab 5, which was split into two separate groups, Heltah Skeltah, composed of Rock and Sean Price a.k.a. Ruck, and O.G.C. composed of Louieville Sluggah, Starang Wondah and Top Dog. The Boot Camp Clik was born.
The fall of the Originoo Gunn Clappaz storm
Originoo Gunn Clappaz will come last in the achievements of the young label, but we could see them very frequently on the previous achievements of their compatriots, especially on Dah Shinin and on Nocturnal of Heltah Skeltah. The public was definitely waiting for the arrival of the Brownsville trio. But this is also the tragedy of O.G.C., the band doesn’t bring any particular surprise compared to their compatriots of the Boot Camp Clik, they don’t sound warmed up for all that, they manage to bring a touch of their own, but it remains in the line of their predecessors, and it’s hard to pass after the great achievements of the label.
As for the other releases of the label, Da Beatminerz are on hand to produce, but rather solo than as a group. We find indeed productions of Baby Paul, Mr. Walt or DJ Evil Dee in addition to a production co-signed by E-Swift of Tha Alkaholiks and Mablib. Logically, the Beatminerz’ touch is present with a dark and chilly atmosphere composed of obscure jazz loops on raw rhythms. But where Enta Da Stage or Dah Shinin sounded grimy and raw, Da Storm will follow a slightly more melodic backdrop, with an album that is almost conceptual. The album isn’t conceptual per se, but it will follow the theme and imagery of the storm, and it shows in the production. This is where O.G.C. will stand out.
A rainy and stormy atmosphere
We have the softness of rain in a foggy atmosphere but with the rage of the storm and the threat of a thunderclap that can sound at any moment. In this sense, Da Storm is more melodic with a false threatening softness. The drum beats are penetrating with soft, soothing jazzy samples while at times being more ominous or anxiety-provoking.
After a short introduction, the band launches into a boastful ego-trip on Calm Before Da Storm, perfect to kick off the storm. We get a cold wind from the north on a foggy night rhythm provided by Shaleek. No Fear is slightly more threatening with a rumbling beat on very low tones with a similar theme but describing their arrival in Hip Hop, without fear and with a disconcerting confidence. So much so that they will even diss Notorious B.I.G., the beef did not finally fester after the intervention of the two record companies, but still caused a heated exchange between the two clans in the studio of Duck Down.
One of the beauties of the album arrives, Gunn Clapp, composed with a sample of some melodious notes taken from Earth, Wind & Fire’s Power, but Walt makes it something dark yet hypnotic for a sweetness that is both disturbing and soothing. It’s simply irresistible and shows the power of good sampling. Starang Wondah, arguably the sharpest rapper of the trio, follows with Hurricane Starang, a storm of skillful wordplay with a devastatingly precise flow over a meditative xylophone sample from The Gary Burton Quartet’s Country Roads.
The constant threat of a thunderclap
Danjer will be much more threatening with a raw rhythm and a rumbling bass line by Baby Paul. If Starang is the head of the group, Louieville and Top Dogg show here that they are also doing great with a sequence of exceptional verses and aggressive flows. The three of them reunite on Da Storm with a verse each and a chorus sung together that prove the group’s chemistry over a heavy beat topped by two high notes from DJ Evil Dee.
Sadat X joins the trio on Wild Cowboys in Bucktown to put his versatile flow and clever lyrics over a long whistle from DJ Ogee. The next three tracks work in the same way, a heavy beat, a soft jazz sample and the usual evocative lyrics of the trio. If not the best track on the album, they flow on their own like water flowing in a stream.
The final song, Flappin, produced by Madlib and E-Swift couldn’t make a better conclusion. Flappin works perfectly with a little flute on the chorus that skillfully contrasts a menacing, rumbling beat of harp and bass from Alice Coltrane’s Paramahansa Lake. Simply magnificent.
Da Storm is too often forgotten at the expense of the previous achievements of the Boot Camp Clik. The trio of rappers is indeed not the most memorable of the collective, especially compared to the versatility of Buckshot, the skill of Tek and Steele from Smif-N-Wessum or the lyricism of Sean Price, but they are able to send out clever puns and rap with very convincing flows, especially Starang Wondah, while offering a nice group chemistry.