Section 1: The Ass End
Woof woof. If you do a little barking right now, you’ve recreated about 67% of all of DMX tunes. I realize that was his “gimmick” but really, did he need it in every song?
I’m not sure if DMX is a good rhyme spitter or not really. Maybe he’s right in the middle of the pack because I’ve never really hated or loved anything of his other than “Ruff Ryders Anthem” which is a great rap tune. It’s also remarkable that it only hit #94 and was on the chart for 4 weeks. I heard this one all day back in ’99.
Doc Box & B. Fresh
“Slow Love” 1990, #51 (15 weeks) (download)
Man, I had never heard this song or even recognized the artist before right now. I’m assuming that’s because this is nothing but a cut rate attempt at capturing LL Cool J’s “I Need Love” audience.
“It’s My Life” 1993, #88 (11 weeks) (download)
Christ, I hope you know more tunes than me this week. I don’t think I’ve ever heard this one before either. Dr. Alban was a Nigerian born DJ who had relocated to Sweden. His Nigerian background comes into play here as he sort of blends a little reggae with the dance music.
Doctor Dre & Ed Lover
“Back Up Off Me!” 1994, #85 (7 weeks) (download)
Doctor Dre and Ed Lover’s only album, Back Up Off Me! kind of sucked. I mean, I watched Yo! MTV Raps and liked these guys a lot hosting that show. But they weren’t much in the way of rappers. The beats were generic and the lyrics were lame. Maybe the title track is supposed to be a tribute to old-school rap but it comes across as two artists that can’t write a rhyme so they have to repeat a hundred verses from other classic rap tunes.
“A Bitter End” 1999, #88 (7 weeks) (download)
Dodd had a string of charting country tunes from ’96-’99 but this was the highest charting song at #26 and the only one that crossed over onto the hot 100. And as we’ve discussed before, it didn’t take much to get at least one #1 record on those charts, so this guy must have sucked.
The Dogg Pound
“Let’s Play House” 1996, #45 (16 weeks) (download)
Upon reading the Billboard Hot 100 book, I was a little shocked to learn that neither Nate Dogg or Warren G were part of the Dogg Pound. I was almost certain they were actually running the joint. But instead, the group consisted of only two well known members of the LBC, Dat Nigga Daz and Kurupt the Kingpin though Daz was the cousin of both Nate and Snoop Dogg. The female you hear on this track is Michel’le.
This one kind of shocked me too. I was familiar with “Small Wonders” which, while it isn’t a bad song, had no shot of being a hit following the polar opposite vibe of “Everything Falls Apart.” What was surprising though, was that “Everything Falls Apart” hit #14 in early ’96 and then was released again in September of the same year as a double A-side with “Small Wonders.” Billboard lists it as “new version.” Did anyone even realize there were two versions of the song? I certainly didn’t but I have a feeling the song I’ve got up here is the “new version” as I just listened to the album version on iTunes and it’s not nearly as robust as this one.
“Physical Funk” 1996, #87 (6 weeks) (download)
Both “Getto Jam” and “Sweet Potatoe Pie” off Domino’s self-titled debut were my jams back in the day and the former has stood the test of time in my opinion. I remember not really like “Physical Funk” back in the day, but listening to it here, I’m not sure why. It’s a cool jam, so maybe it’s just because I didn’t hear it enough as by this point Domino had faded.
Do Or Die
“Still Po’ Pimpin’” 1998, #62 (14 weeks) (download)
Do Or Die is the group that really launched the career of the soon to be more famous Twista. He wasn’t in the group, but was influenced by their sound and had a verse on both “Still Po’ Pimpin” and the original, of course “Po’ Pimp.” The really sad part about both these tunes is that Twista is clearly leagues above AK-47, Belo Zero or N.A.R.D. That is if you even care enough to figure out which one he is.
“Summertime in the LBC’” 1995, #54 (20 weeks) (download)
A G-Funk group like the Dogg Pound above, 2Scoops, Bo-Roc and C-Knight had the typical sound of the time but were more of a laid back vocal group than pure rappers. “Summertime in the LBC” was their biggest hit – cool but definitely not memorable.
Nothing special about these two tunes or Dru Down, a member of the Regime – of which the only rapper you should really know in it is Tech N9ne.
The other Dru on this list was actually named after Druid Hill Park from their hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. And these guys were actually solid R&B artists until they had a little downtime and member Sisqo went on to release “Thong Song” and well, Dru Hill was never the same again.
JD featuring Jay-Z
“Money Ain’t A Thang” 1998, #52 (20 weeks) (download)
Jermaine Dupree is a much better producer than he is a rapper but he had a couple of great songs, like “The Party Continues” with Da Brat and “Ballin’ Out of Control” in 2001, but “Money Ain’t A Thang” is his best tune and is also one of those mysteries to me as the inclusion of Jay-Z on the song should have assured a top 10 hit for him. But still to this day I wonder more about how in the world he landed Janet Jackson more than anything he ever did musically.
God, I had forgotten “Violence of Summer” most likely because I put their 1990 album – Liberty – so far in the back of my brain that I probably wouldn’t even have been able to mention it off the top of my head (and I do love some Duran Duran.) Liberty was a brutal listen and both John Taylor and Simon LeBon have both said it came out pretty shitty. In fact, Simon has come out and pretty much said “Violence” wasn’t much of a song at all. And it is the worst single they released (including the singles from Thank You.)
The ‘90s were actually a very bad period for the group for the majority of the decade. Liberty was dreadful, so was Thank You and Medazzaland wasn’t anything to write home about. But of course somehow in the middle of all that they made the self-titled record that has become known as the Wedding Album.
Maybe they had cleaned up their act enough to care again or they just drank the good kool-aid in ’92 while recording this record but they struck gold with an album that’s still a front-to-back listen. With an updated sound for the ‘90s and a couple of slick pop ballads in “Come Undone” and “Ordinary World” it’s the record to own of later period Duran Duran and without it I’m certain the group wouldn’t have made it much longer.
The only problem is that their fun little covers record that they released next wasn’t cool, funny or even remotely likable. What could be conceived as just the band having a little fun turned into a media nightmare because it was so bad. I still maintain that it was better than Liberty though.
Then came Medazzaland in 1997 with “Electric Barbarella” as the first single. By that point, John Taylor had left the band and in all but four songs Warren Cuccurullo played guitar and bass. The album is certainly better than the covers album but not nearly up to the standards they set with the Wedding Album. Although there’s a bit more electronics on that record than most people remember, Medazzaland had a ton of it because most of the record consisted of songs written by both Cuccurullo and Nick Rhodes for their dance side project, TV Mania.
Although they keep releasing records and the more recent ones have actually been pretty good, it would take another Wedding Album transformation for them to ever get another hit at this point.