My first experience(s) regarding Together A Posse (a.k.a T.A.P) were intense in challenging. It was 1987 and there was a Hip Hop explosion in the Chicago and Surrounding Suburbs, specifically in Lake County area where I was based. My crew was Wildstyle and we were battle hungry for anyone trying to claim to be the best.
On this particular night, we were at this show/party in Waukegan*, which was not really known for a lot of Hip Hop performance shows yet, more so just parties. As an added bonus, His Majesti is in attendance. For those not in the know, His Majesti is a crew signed to Egyptian Lover’s Egyptian Empire label in the mid 80s. Making them, to my knowledge, the first Chicago area group to be signed to a prominent Hip Hop label. One of the MCs in His Majesti was Shakespeare The One Man Riot who was already a local legend around those parts. The other MC was Drew Rock later known as Psycho of the group Insane Poetry, who was also an ill DJ. I’m working on a full His Majesti story soon, so to get to my current point, here is the scenario…
DJ Pumpin Pete (of T.A.P) is on the turntables** and he’s killing it as he always does and did. Earlier him and his MCs, Kool Proskee (later known as Path of Undaground Soulution) and The Ultimate Weapon MC Swan, performed a nice live show. Anyway, Pumpin Pete is throwing down and Drew Rock is waiting to get on the turntables, but Pete is not ready to give up the decks or something to that effect. Next thing you know, words are getting exchanged, challenges being issued, and a bundle of money even gets pulled out, to put it on the line. It gets pretty heated, as the DJs are arguing, the MCs are having our own debates and it’s looking like this party could end in a riot rather than a DJ battle.
In the end, it all works out. No violence and the battle doesn’t take place. I don’t remember exactly what happened. There was too much going on and it’s all blurred in my mind.
In any event, from that point I considered T.A.P the competition***. They were definitely more polished on stage and talented than pretty much anyone else I had seen rock out in the Waukegan/North Chicago area up to that point. Although they weren’t directly involved with the North Chicago/Waukegan scene they had some ties there. Kool Proskee was from Maywood but was living in Round Lake at the time. However, they were more active in integrating on the Chicago scene. Particularly they were able to capitalize a bit on the House crowd, even though they were making some raw Hip Hop. Some evidence of that caught me off guard one day.
I’m at work at McDonalds unloading a delivery truck and we have the radio on, either WBMX or B96 because my co-workers loved their House and Freestyle music. Then all the sudden they play a Hip Hop cut by a local artist, which I feel was rare, unless it was straight up Hip House. The song was pretty ill and then they announce that it is the newly signed group, Together A Posse. It was bitter sweet. On one hand, it was great to have a local Hip Hop artist getting radio play. That was an encouraging sign for possibilities for me. On the flipside, it had to be the crew that I was considering my biggest competition AND on top of that, I find out while unloading a MCDonalds truck…not fly….ha.
Regardless, I continued to check for them because ill is ill. I don’t recall ever running into Kool Proskee again for a while, but I did check out a few Pumpin’ Pete parties and he was always one of my favorite Chicago DJs...still is.
As for the music, the first single was “Don’t Bumrush The Sound” b/w “Bring In The Funk” (1989). The A-Side was the song I heard on the radio and has a nice amalgamation of sounds. There was a touch of Bomb Squad influence (plus some PE samples), TR-808 beats, some “Funky Drummer”, and there was a certain bounce to it that, even though it was unmistakably Hip Hop, sat well with the House crowd. I actually prefer the B-Side, “Bring In The Funk”. It’s maintains the Uptempo TR-808 beats, but is more gritty. Swan’s flow is fluid, Kool Proskee presence is undeniable, and Pumpin Pete's cuts are executed with maniacal precision.
Don't Bumrush The Sound:
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Together-A-Posse-Dont-Bumrush-The-Sound.mp3|titles=Together A Posse-Dont Bumrush The Sound]
Bring In The Funk:
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Together-A-Posse-Bring-In-The-Funk.mp3|titles=Together A Posse-Bring In The Funk]
They followed up one year later with “In Full Control” b/w “Pumpin’ Pete On The Rampage”, also on Subculture Records. Subculture was a subsidiary of the House Music label, House Nation. Label owner, Mark Imperial is given split production credit on both singles with the group. I’m not sure if he actually was involved in putting together the music or if his role was more just providing the studio, engineering, funding, etc… I do know that Pumpin Pete and Kool Proskee both had plenty of production skill to handle the job. “In Full Control” kicks up the tempo even more than the first single and the accompanying keyboards perhaps liken it even more to the Hip House genre. However, the flow, confidence, and content are noticeable improved in both MCs. By now, Pumpin’ Pete had been making an impact on the DJ world with a few high profile battles and showcases. The results of that are definitely reflected in the lyrics and Pumpin Pete earns his props with a barrage of cuts and turntable trickery. In fact, the B-Side is a all-out scratch assault with just Pete and the beats.
In Full Control [Hip Hop Mix]
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Together-A-Posse-In-Full-Control-Hip-Hop-Mix.mp3|titles=Together A Posse-In Full Control (Hip Hop Mix)]
Pumpin Pete On The Rampage:
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Together-A-Posse-Pumpin-Pete-On-The-Rampage.mp3|titles=Together A Posse-Pumpin Pete On The Rampage]
Now fast-forward a couple years later. I have been living in Atlanta and I’m about to move back to Waukegan. I’m making plans with Wildstyle DJ, Madd Maxx on a recording plan for when I get back. He tells me he’s been going to this new producers house who has a nice recording set up and he doesn’t charge, you just got to bring him donuts! That sounded like a…shall I say, sweet deal! When I got back in town and went to the spot I got a chance to meet KBATE (Knowledgeable Black Asiatic That’s Equal) who ran the studio and was a super ill producer as well. He played me a bunch of his crews demos that were pretty dope. The MCs sounded familiar but I couldn’t quite place them. However, once they started rapping about their DJ it all connected…Pumpin’ Pete! This was the new incarnation of T.A.P, with KBATE as the new producer.
KBATE**** joined the T.A.P crew on tail end of their time together. They recorded a handful of demos with him after their two singles on Subculture Records including; “Brother To Brother”, “Steppin’ In” (two different versions), “War Of The Words” [T.A.P Version], “Soul Advice” [T.A.P version], “Slippin’ And Slidin’”, and I seem to recall a song called “Abstract Metaphor” that they performed live. That’s all songs with the original T.A.P members and mostly produced by KBATE. That’s just the tracks I have, there’s bound to be at least a few more out there, so they easily had enough material for an album at that time. However, not long after this batch of songs, Swan left the group and I don’t know of any other musical projects he did.
The remaining three members formed Two Brothers And A Stranger, but that name was short-lived and they eventually became Undaground Soulution, which is how they are probably best known on the 90s Chicago Hip Hop scene.
Undaground Soulution became part of my Rage Productions Crew and they worked on a couple albums worth of material, rocked countless shows, and we, of course, put all that ridiculous “beef” and ego behind us in the name of quality music!
D/L Includes "Bring In The Funk" (vocal, instrumental, and acapella), "Bring In The Funk", In Full Control [Hip Hop Mix], and Pumpin' Pete On A Ramage!
Here are a few of those unreleased demos (Circa ‘90/’91)
Brother To Brother: I feel like this might be produced by Pumpin Pete. He had a knack for producing these radio friendly Hip Hop beats. This is one of those tracks that I feel could have got them a deal. It’s not the best representation of what they were about, but it could have been their entry into a bigger audience. The song concept somewhat relates to the crews name. Together A Posse, is at least partially about the combined races of the crew; Black, Hispanic and White. With that in mind, regardless of the sound, they are dropping some well-written lyrics with meaning.
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Together-A-Posse-Brother-to-Brother.mp3|titles=Together A Posse-Brother to Brother]
Slippin N Slidin’: I feel like this might have been one of the first tracks that they worked on with KBATE. Soon as you hear the beat the title takes form...
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Together-A-Posse-Slippin-N-Slidin.mp3|titles=Together A Posse-Slippin N Slidin]
Steppin In (No Competition): This is probably my favorite of the KBATE T.A.P demos. It’s a great example of his production style, which was creative. He was influenced by Ced Gee and Bomb Squad and you can hear it, but it has it’s own unique feel as well.
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Together-A-Posse-Steppin-In.mp3|titles=Together A Posse-Steppin In]
War Of The Words: This is a very early version of this song. It was remixed several times, over a few years, to become one of the more famous songs by Undaground Solution. This is a rough version featuring Swan who takes some shots at House music with, “As I get going with the program/making more sense than your average House man/Who tells you to dance and boogie and woogie and get on the floor/Man, your style sucks and I can’t take it no more”
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Together-A-Posse-War-Of-The-Words-with-Swan.mp3|titles=Together A Posse-War Of The Words (with Swan)]
Soul Advice: This is another song that was remixed into multiple new versions once Swan left and the group became Undaground Soulution. Swan drops an inspirational message for his Puetro Rican brothers and sisters. Kool Proskee, by now known as Path, drops one of his most classic verses from this era. It’s a great example of why he is one of the most unsung heroes of Chicago lyricists.
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Together-A-Posse-Soul-Advice.mp3|titles=Together A Posse-Soul Advice]
*I believe that this party was at the JM Club. I also believe that White Boy Mike was also there. He was one of the first popular Chicago MCs to get radio support and notoriety in the city beyond the underground crowd.
**This is the party where Pumpin Pete infamously murdered Public Enemy’s “Rebel Without A Pause” for a ridiculously long amount of time. I literally left the club with him rocking it and came back and he was still going in like a maniac on the cuts on the same track! It had just dropped and he was doing it justice!
***Wildstyle DJ, Madd Maxx, once went to A T.A.P show and I couldn’t make it because of work. He claims that while on stage, Path pointed him out in the crowd and issued a challenge to us. I think I have since come to believe that he made that story up just to motivate us to work harder, but I always forget to ask Path if he remembers that happening…ha
****KBATE actually lives in the Twin Cities now. He still makes ill beats when he wants to and he has a ridiculous amount of unreleased music from Undaground Soulution and the various artists he has worked with over the years. Some serious gems! I need to get him to make those songs available to the peoples!