In the initial days of The Source Magazine, when it was arguably the most powerful national voice for Hip Hop, they spoke highly and frequently of the T.D.S Mob. The repeated mentions of the “Dope For The Folks” b/w “Crushin’ Em” single had me flipping thru the vinyl racks of every vinyl store around town, but to no avail. I never got my hands on it.
One day in 1989, while driving down Grand Ave (Waukegan, IL), as I regularly did, I noticed a new record store*. I made a quick detour and headed in. I picked up 3 Cassingles that day, all of which were huge influences on me: Sir Ibu’s “I’m The Peacemaker,” Hijack’s “Doomsday Of Rap,” and T.D.S Mob’s “What’s This World Coming To.”
I still hadn’t heard that first T.D.S Mob single, but I needed to hear what all the hype was about. I was not disappointed. The a-side, “What’s This World Coming To,” kicks in with a sparse but head-nodding beat that quickly builds up with a sense of urgency. MC Kool Gee speaks exactly on what the title suggests: “Even now as I recite this song/Outside the studio crazy stuff is going on.” Yet he’s not here to bore you with the same old stories, as he continues: “I won’t talk about drugs or gangs so you can say, ‘Tell us something we don’t know.’” He goes on to speak about police brutality, which indeed had been covered before, but he presents a different approach. It often seems that MCs/police beef songs are presented with scenarios like, “Me an my crew rolling out 20 deep, drinking 40s, smoking weed, packing straps…why these cops sweating me.” Uh, probably because that’s a huge red flag with a few illegalities mixed in…ha. However, Kool Gee speaks about a guy just out on his lunch break who checks his beeper with a call from work but is mistaken for a drug dealer—you know, good ole fashioned B.W.B (Black With Beeper). He doesn’t just focus on the oppression around him, he goes on to speak from the perspective of the “street thug” and detail the consequences of those actions, as well as the difficulty in escaping that lifestyle. The song is done well and I enjoyed it back in the day, but to be honest, it has aged better with time as a more powerful song. In ’89, I was much more likely to be rocking the flip side, the masterpiece which is “T.D.S Scratch Reaction.” Again, many had used the concept (Rodney O & Joe Cooley, Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince, etc.) of the DJ assisting the MC by cutting in various vocals to complete the rhyme. Yet I’m pretty sure no one did it this intricately, impressively, or ingeniously, possibly even to this day.
Several years later, I finally got myself a dubbed copy of their first single and I was surprised to find it possibly even better than then the second. “Dope For The Folks” is Kool Gee at his lyrical finest. He kills with great quotes such as: “Stomping suckers into the ground like a national sport,” “When I write a masterpiece I must be isolated,” and “I tried to rock with crews but I prefer to rock alone.” He doesn’t heavily rely on metaphors or fancy styles; he leaves it up to his strong presence, great voice and matter-of-fact in-your-face style.
Meanwhile, “Crushin’ Em” is a perfect example of the layered production style used in all their joints, where classic breaks and vocals are mixed, blended, sampled and scratched to great effect.
Unfortunately, after those two singles, the T.D.S Mob went unheard of from the scene...until the always resourceful and impressive DWG (www.diggerswithgratitude) tracked them down and packaged this great new CD + DVD Combo.
The CD features all pre-mentioned tracks plus three never before heard T.D.S Mob songs from the same time period (’88-’89) taken straight off the original reels!! All three tracks fit nicely in the crew discography and maintain the quality of the previous singles: “Head Of The Dope Committee,” “Bounce,” and “The Rhyme You Are About To Hear Is True.”
The DVD is an amazing accompaniment to the CD. It features two music videos; “What’s The World Coming To” & “T.D.S Scratch Reaction”. There’s live performance footage from two shows in 1989; Opening for MC Lyte & Opening for Rob Base, which is part of a Local Boston Video Show with an interview and behind the scenes footage. The image gallery has original flyers & press photos. Plus there’s acapellas for six of the seven tracks, so producers can flip remixes or DJs can cut up some of those great quotes, as I’ve personally been waiting to do for the last 20 years or so.
The highlight for me is definitely the live show footage. I’m a fiend for that sort of glimpse into the history. Plus T.D.S had a great live show, which is another testament to how true these brothers were to their craft. The two DJs, Michael K & DJ Dev, work in unison with Kool Gee to rework, remix and enhance the songs, all while rocking the crowd.
As if that isn’t incentive enough, even the packaging, CD sequencing, and DVD menu functions are executed excellently. You are seriously hard pressed to find a better and more complete archived package than this. Be sure to check their site for previous projects, which are all sold out, but it’s likely to encourage you to bookmark that page as not to miss whatever is in store for the future. DWG I salute you once again.
*To this day I can’t remember or find anyone who remembers what the name of the store was. It was only there for a very short time and became and window glass replacement store soon after…
Written By Kevin Beacham