Side 1 Sound Clips:
[audio:http://fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/stranj-side-1.mp3|titles=stranj side 1]
Side 2 Sound Clips:
[audio:http://fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/stranj-side-21.mp3|titles=stranj side 2]
Dope Folks Records strikes again! The Mixmasta D “Turntable Scientist” EP + Bonus is still giving me smiles whenever it comes on in the store Itunes rotation and they are already back with a new gem.
Stranj Child, originally known as Stranj Fruit*, hail from Wisconsin (the home of Dope Folks) and this project was never officially released in ’95 as intended** so it’s basically gone unheard for all this time. The group is extremely polished from the production to the lyrics. The 8 tracks definitely fit together cohesively as if it was intended for it to be packaged together as an album. Their sound is definitely difficult to limit to a simple definition. Listening to it the first time struck me with images of Redman, Jungle Brothers, Ultramagnetic MCs, Yaggfu Front, etc... Chicago 90s Hip Hop experts could probably easily visualize them rocking stages alongside Kinetic Order, Children Of Reality, Whatnoxic, & East Of The Rock.
However, don’t get lost in the comparisons, my true point is that they are effective in mixing a variety of sounds, styles, & moods, giving a hint of each of the above mentioned artists, but resulting in their own refreshing sound.
Things kick in with “Holyer Than Thou”, acting as an introduction to the group with a focus on slick styles and punchlines.
“Paranoid” or “S.O.D.IS” would have probably competed for the best first single choice. “Paranoid” has the more energy of the two. The voices get deeper, the delivery is looser, and the writing a bit more abstract. Meanwhile the beat finds an odd by intriguing balance between aggressive and calming. “S.O.D.I.S” has a strong hook that should translate well in the live show and the lyrics take a more conscious approach dealing with everything from criticisms of having dreadlocks, violent crimes, eating pork and religion.
If “S.O.D.I.S” was chosen as an A-side, I would ride for “Split Personality” as the flip. It has an ill bassline with crisp drums and allows them to show a lighter side of their character with ill visuals like, “The Grim Reaper refuses to visit it/is it/he sees himself in me, but only iller/and when he looks at me, he says he’s looking in the mirror”.
“Masterpiece” drops in hard and heavy with a chorus lifted from one of my favorite LL cool J tracks, “You’ll Rock”, “The momentum of this party can only increase, the design of this rhyme is a master piece”. The beat has some sparse drums and an ill sounding reversed Isaac Hayes “Hyberbolicsyllabiscequedalymistic” Sample.
The complete project is solid from front to back and although it is great for this project see the light of day, it still bothers me to know that there was a group this talented putting it down back then and never got their proper shine. Who knows what could have been, but Stranj Child definitely had as much potential as a lot of the signed groups of the time period.
Another particularly great thing about them is they were apparently pretty well organized. All to often, I find groups from the 80s/90s don’t have most of their own music so you can usually forget about performance videos, old flyers, bios, press photos and so forth. However, Stanj Child has it all, including a mini-documentary on the group! Peep the goods below.
STRANJ CHILD MINI-DOCUMENTARY!!:
Stranj Child-"Paranoid" (Live at The Rave In Milwaukee)
Stranj Child Unreleased Album Cover***
Stanj Frut Original Bio:
Stanj Child Flyer:
Strange Frut Logo:
*Stranj Frut became Stranj Child after finding out a group in Chicago already had the name Strange Fruit.
**Besides some local compilations they never had any music officially released
***Group Member, Kumays, told me about having an album ready to be released back in the day,“We were so confident that we were gonna get signed by Speech's label, VAGABOND, that we never focused on putting our own record out.”