Friday, March 03, 2006

The $yndicate

As much as I love hip hop today nothing will ever be as good as the way it was for me back in the early '90's. I remember the more popular artists were rappers like Tone Loc, Young MC and MC Hammer and I was never really a fan of any although Loc wasn't too bad, but if you compare them to the commercial rappers of today like 50, Nelly, Ja Rule and all that other wack shit that gets me angry just writing their names on the blog, those old school chart toppers were pretty dope and at least were 'hip hop'. If you asked someone on the street what rappers they knew of back then they could run off MC's like 2 Live Crew, Public Enemy, NWA, Run DMC and Ice T who were and always will be dope rappers that helped set the table for alot of todays artists, Today the chances of them running off r&b pop music instead of real hip hop is higher than the chances of a granny switching shoulders of her hand bag as a youth with a baseball cap approaches.

Hip hop was at it's greatest when Eric B and Rakim were still together and when Eazy E was still alive and when the LA based posse 'The Rhyme Syndicate' were on top of their game. Alot of my favourite artists were in this crew like King Tee, Hijack, Donald D and of course Ice T.

There have been alot of different rappers in the Syndicate over it's time, some more known artists like Lord Finesse and other lesser know rappers like the Rhyme Poetic Mafia. It all started off back in around '86, '87 as the west coast version of the Zulu Nation. I have a compilation called 'Posse Records' that has a track by 'The Rangers' which is Kid Jazz and a couple of tracks that feature Melle Mel, Bronx Style Bob, Afrika Islam and Ice T ('The Beach' and 'Cars'). I can't help but think that it was on these tracks on 'Posse Records' that Ice hooked up with these guys and then made the 'Rhyme Syndicate'?

No need to get into Ice T's discography but after his 'Rhyme Pays' debut Warner gave Ice some cash for a compilation called 'Rhyme Syndicate - Comin' Through' that came out in '88 with most of the early Syndicate artists on it like Nat The Cat, Everlast, Toddy Tee, TDF, Bronx Style Bob, Spin Masters, Low Profile back when Zero was a member and Donald Dee from the B Boys.

In these early Syndicate years there were some pretty mad albums being released like Low Profile's 'We're In This Together' that was the now famous W.C. with the incredible DJ Alladin. After this album the two split up and went their seperate ways. Alladin stayed in the Syndicate and dropped an album as well as some work with Ice, while W.C. hooked up with his brother DJ Crazy Tunes and Coolio and made 'The MAAD Circle' and then hooked up with Cube and Mack 10 for 'Westside Connection' and some solo stuff.

King Tee that was always down with Ice and the Syndicate since his dope debut 'Act A Fool' and even had the logo on the back of 'Triflin Album' cover sort of forgot about the Syndicate when he hooked up with Tha Alkaholiks. For one of the west coast pioneers both his music and his fame are nothing on the way it was 15 years ago.

The Syndicate Sniper Donald D who was responsible for one of the madest albums of all time 'Notorious' hasn't released much since the 'Let The Horns Blow' album. He was living in Italy for a while and released the B.R.O.N.X. EP. Everlast that released the very average 'Forever Everlasting' moved on to bigger things from House Of Pain to a successful blues career.

Bronx Style Bob who is capable of ripping the mic on other Syndicate members albums has a diverse taste in music and it showed in his solo album. The only problem is if you bought his album your probably into hip hop which means, keep your receipt!! Toddy Tee dropped a couple of albums on different labels like 'Pump' and 'Thump' and arn't bad albums but ain't shit on the 'I Need A Rolex' days.

Ice T signed a hard core UK group called Hijack (The Terrorist Group) from Brixton who released the incredible 'Horns Of Jerricho' album but because of the Cop Killer shit Ice left Warner and Hijack got fucked over, with their album only getting released in Europe. Hijack split up shortly after with DJ Supreme going on to produce other artists and Kamanchi Sly going wack for a while before getting back to his best recently with a dope 3 track EP.

I don't know what happened between Ice and Lord Finesse who released 'Funky Technician' with DJ Smooth before joining the crew and releasing 'Return Of The Funky Man' on Syndicate and then joined D.I.T.C. There have been many rappers in the Syndicate that never actually released their own albums and also plenty of rappers that you wouldn't know were in the Rhyme Syndicate but either in a track or in their 'thanks' claim it like C.O.D. (not K Rino and Dope E), Raw Breed (Marc Live) and female rapper Nikki D, or in the case of U.K. rapper 'Merlin' has the Syndicate logo on the back of the cover.

When Ice left Warner he started off Rhyme Syndicate Records and for some reason a few of the old school syndicate artists like Donald D had disappeared and the Rhyme Syndicate were never the same again. Ice did hook up with Mexican rappers Rhyme Poetic Mafia who released a couple of dope 12"s and JEL appeared on a couple of tracks on the 'Return Of The Real' album as well as DJ Ace producing some of it. There are plenty of other Rhyme Syndicate artists that I didn't mention like Body Count, Divine Styler, Bango and of course the Syndicate queen Darlene (I know your thinking of the cover right now).

Ice was still slangin' Rhyme Syndicate badges at his show last year but was also promoting his new label 'Tony Montana Records' and has a new album coming out soon called 'Gangsta Rap' which is his first solo album since '7th Deadly Sin' but has still been dropping gems like the SMG album he did with Smoothe The Hustler and brother Trigger.

Either way, whether the Rhyme Syndicate is dead or alive today the memories of shit like the 'What You Wanna Do' video or listening to all the old Syndicate posse tracks will live in the minds of those likeminded forever. Posse of the clever.......... SYNDICATE FOREVER!!!

Ice T - Rhyme Syndicate Comin' Through
Donald D - F.B.I.
Hijack - The Terrorist Group
Low Profile - Think You Can Hang?
King Tee - At Your Own Risk (Budha Mix)


travis said...

Beat me to it, I was toying with the idea of writing up something on them. Some people don't like that "Comin'Through" album, but I always did. That Nat The Cat song was my joint back in the day.

I remember when I was a kid I sent away to be in the fan club and I got a black hat that had "SYNDICATE" on it and some of Ice T's "Locs"...which I could find that shit now just for laughs.

Never knew Donald D released that EP.

BULLANT said...

I always loved 'Comin' Through' as well. That Nat The Cat is dope as is the Toddy Tee track.