So, I'm working on a gazillion things, which isn't abnormal, but it has limited my writing time. That in mind, I dug into some stuff that I've been sitting on for my "secret masterplan project" of the future and pulled out this...just because. Peep...
2 Deep came out with, what I believe to be, their only album release in ’90. It was on Cold Chillin’ and the album is titled “Honey, That’s Showbiz”. I would imagine that most consider 1990 a turning point for the label, transitioning into being past their prime of the mid/late 80s with the Juice Crew and Marley Marl years. In the 90s they were signing different groups in what seemed to be an attempt to recreate the Big Daddy Kane or Biz Markie formula…. One could guess that 2 Deep was an attempt to capture both…
The album had R&B smoothed out songs like “I Didn’t Do My Homework”, “Stay In My Life”, “Reality Is…” & “All Alone”, balanced with more Freestyle/Battle rap & skill based focused cuts like “Funky Sound”, “Show Biz”, “Beats ‘n’ Lines”, & “Simply Done”.
The album starts of with “I Didn’t Do My Homework”. Oddly enough it is even before the intro, which seems to suggest they wanted people to immediately hear this track that they were probably hoping could be the break out single. It’s a light-hearted tale (a la Biz Markie) of Jae Supreme, Lead MC, making the choice to party and have fun over the weekend rather than do his homework and the ensuing consequences. Basically, it’s the same marketing concept, of pushing a Pop sounding single that didn’t really reflect the true sound of the album, used again by Cold Chillin’ a year later for The Genius debut “Words From A Genius” with his “Come Do Me Single.”* Unfortunately, I think that formula alienated potential fans for both projects. Although, 2 Deep’s release is certainly far closer to being that type of album than The Genius was. Furthermore, the picture covers for the single and album are both pretty silly and probably didn’t do much to entice the hungry Hip Hop Heads and stayed under the radar of the commercial market it was seemingly trying to reach.
Regardless of all of this, Jae Supreme was a talented MC. Even on the more commercial sounding tracks you can hear hints of his gift for style. However, they are best showcased on the previously mentioned “skill based” cuts. He had a smooth voice which complimented his laid back delivery, but he could get swift when he wanted to really flex. This is all probably best showcased in “Beats N Lines”.
“Beats N Lines” makes use of the Wild Sugar sample made famous by Beastie Boys on “Brass Monkey”, but it’s given a different feel here and samples Chuck D’s, “Because our beats n our lines are so dope!” for added effect. The second verse is clearly one of the best on the album. He maximizes the use of his voice, delivery, slightly unorthodox rhyme schemes and a few nice punchlines, such as, “Boy, you need a lesson in discipline/Unless you want a meeting of your face and my fist again…”
In a similar vein of “Beats N Lines” comes “Groovy Thang”, which was the B-side of the 2nd single (“All Alone”). While “Beats N Lines” is lyrically better, “Groovy Thang” is slightly more exciting with how he approaches the delivery. Also, the track is probably the most creative production on the record. It’s got a club feel, but the various parts are pieced together really well and it reaches a peak on the bridge where they nicely cut up some Syl Johnson “Different Strokes” vocals.
“Funky Sound” is another album highlight and finds Jae Supreme rhyming about digging and making use of dirty and dusty samples, probably making it one of the early examples a song to tackle the subject. You can hear the crackles, pops and wear-n-tear in the loop and he gets to the root of it in the 2nd verse, “I mean loop a crazy stupid old dusty record/And bring it back from the dead cause it’s not protected/By a cover. No, I didn’t mean copyright/If I did, ha, you know I’d get sued, right?” He continues this thought at the start of the 3rd verse, “Snap, crackle and pop, old tunes to Hip Hop/Adds a new dimension, intended to hit the top…” The beat has this slow moving lazy feel, but at the same time the funk brings the hype.
Out of these braggadocio tracks, “Show Biz” is the least impressive representation of Jae Supreme’s mic skills and the beat is also a bit lackluster as well. The most redeeming quality very well may be the Kool G Rap cut up vocal hook, "Letting you know how it is in showbiz!” It sounds like it might have been an older track of theirs that just got thrown on the album. It’s a sort of pet peeve of mine when the album title track isn’t impressive. I feel like if you are naming it after the album that it should be a statement about the project and I don’t think this track makes the best statement about their work.
The other half of the crew is Thomas “On Time” who did some engineering work with Marley Marl (looks “suspiciously” like him too…connection?). Only one track has the production solely credited to him, “Rain Dance”, which is a hip house track that was nearly a standard album inclusion at the time. However, Thomas “On Time” actually has a solo vocal song called “For Those Who Dissed Me” to address just that issue. He is no lyrical master by any means and his delivery is questionable, but he apparently needed to get some things out of his system and you can tell he really wants to vent. I’m not sure exactly who is talking about, but suspicions could be raised based on his comments, “(you) put me down those times I begged for support/Now excuse me, hold that thought/I got a show to do, there’s no time for you/and your crab life, no Juice Crew”. Later he states, “Bet you those old days you regret/wouldn’t let me touch your set.” Other places you can find the name Thomas On Time is in the credits for these Cold Chillin’ albums; Craig G “The Kingpin”, Roxanne Shante “Bad Sister” and Master Ace “Take A Look Around”. His is listed as an engineer on all of these projects, perhaps he feels he was being limited to only that skill, but had more to offer.
The production is generally simple but effective and/or interesting, even though a lot of familiar breaks and samples are re-used. The album is mainly produced by 2 Deep themselves, with the “…Homework” joint handled by Tuta Aquino (known more for his disco-pop work) and a great surprise appearance by Larry Smith (one of Hip Hop’s earliest producers and greatest unsung heroes). He hooks up what should have definitely been a single, as it best captures what it seems Cold Chillin’ was hoping for on “How About A Kiss”. Larry Smith nicely combines the Apache drums & the Cerrone drums with some Jimmy Bo Horne. Jae Supreme kicks another song for the ladies, but still keeps it skillful enough that you can’t completely front on it.
The album ends off nicely with a posse cut featuring two unknown MCs who didn’t do anything else beyond this to my knowledge; The Enforcer LD & Champion Troop. It also features Rob Well (who is also credited as a co-writer on “For Those Who Dissed Me”) and he also released a single on DNA International in the same year as this album (which 2 Deep did some production on). The internets suggest that “Simply Done” might have been making a little noise in Brazil, as it found its way onto two different compilations in the early 90s. The beat is the most hardcore sounding one on the album, which I suppose is fitting for the posse cut. It’s primarily based on a reversed loop and some dramatic sound effects, again simple, but it works. The best verse comes in last and is delivered by Rob Well. Like the rest of the MCs here, it’s not really a verse based on memorable punchlines or quotes. The MCs mostly rely on their deliveries and vocal presence and Rob Well is the best at capturing the proper essence. However, I will give the Champion Troop props for his name. For whatever it’s worth, I always thought the rhyming on this track was very similar to LL Cool J's “Farmer’s Blvd” track, also released in 19990.
All in all, it’s a decent debut album and would have been curious to see how Jae Supreme’s skills developed on future projects.
Written By Kevin Beacham for RedefineHipHop
*For the sake of clarification it should be stated this wasn’t a practice exclusive to Cold Chillin’. All major labels and most indie labels all tried to capture the trending formula of the day to get the next big thing. At this time, Big Daddy Kane was pretty hot and people like Father MC were on the rise so most labels were trying to capitalize and cash in…