I think it may be safe to say that no other prominent rap label of the 80s has had more quality artists fade away into obscurity, never to be heard from again, than B Boy Records. As I started to build a list of artists I hope one day to interview, B Boy Records artists appeared heavily. Among my top sought are KC Work, Castle D, Buzy Boys, Soul Dimension, 5 Star Moet, DJ M.A.T.E and the Latin MCs, Elf Elf & Dok Im, Reel Deal and The Brothers*.
The Brothers a.k.a Kickin Live Productions consists of Akiem The Rhythm Maker, Narkim, and DJ Supreme, representing the Bronx. They only released two singles in their career, both on B Boy Records in 1987.
Their second single was probably best known for the B-side, Akiem’s “I Got Rhythm”. I always loved this song! It’s got snappy drums, some high-pitched simple and dramatic keyboards, and the quality Human Beat Box skills of Akiem who are layered thru out. Although the song might be ultimately about his beat box skills, he makes ample time to diss the suckers and drop scientifics, “I’m Smooth, suave, not small, but seductive/Knowledge is life, that’s the way that I live/I don’t believe in no luck or a four leaf clover/I do believe that this battle is over.” It’s hard to explain, but this song is just extremely captivating and engaging…
The flipside is the crew theme song, “The Brothers”. The beat has a nice bounce and playful feel to it which fits perfectly with the singing intro, done by Akiem. He may not be the greatest natural singer, but he does have a great voice and knows how to use it effectively. Often his singing is one of the highlights of their tracks. Including this intro and his outro piece to “I Got Rhythm”, which is an anthem for the Nations of Gods and Earths. Here, Akiem, acts as support with Human Beat Box skills, including some real nice drum rolls, and back up vocals. Narkim holds down the lyrics. Technically, he’s the better lyricist and makes superb use of multi’s and punchlines. Akiem slips in at the end for a quick verse, amongst the organized chaos of sound effects, beat box, and DJ Supreme’s percussive scratching and he drops the most memorable line of the track, “I’m a king, also known as a sire/I helped Egyptians build the Roman Empire”.
The production for their first single is credited to Boogie Down Productions. “You Can’t Win” is in the same vein as the second single with quality battle rhymes, beat boxing, & harmonizing. It’s essentially a follow up to “I Got Rhythm”, except here Narkim is spitting the lyrics about Akiem’s beat box skills.
“Memories” takes things to a different plane to show some versatility and discuss relationships. At a time when most rappers were taking their Human Beat Box tracks about woman to the XXX level, The Brothers show a bit more class. It’s ultimately about a failed relationship. However, Narkim confronts not only the issues of how his girl did him wrong, but his regrets and flaws as well…something not all that common in Hip Hop, particularly at that time.
A few years ago, Traffic Distribution released Boogie Down Productions “The Best Of The B Boy Sessions”, which featured a few unreleased BDP productions. One track is listed as The Brothers “Out To Rule”. However, I don’t recognize the MC by voice so not sure who it is. The approach, voice and style doesn’t sound like Akiem or Narkim and the production style suggests that it’s probably in the same era as the two above singles.
Around that same time, Traffic was also promoting an upcoming unreleased “The Brothers” full album. When I saw that, my eyes nearly popped out. I must have checked for it to drop every day since I saw that AD, but it never came. I finally asked someone at Traffic and they told me it was a mistake. They had found a reel to reel labeled as a “Kickin Live Posse” album, but it ended up not being that. I’m wondering if “Out To Rule” came from that reel and moreso if it is actually The Brothers at all????**
However, Narkim did go on to do some music in the 90s. He was connected with MCI Entertainment and had tracks on two of their vinyl EPs; The Scam EP ’92 and Life’s A Scarm EP ’94. I’ve only gotten my hands on the first of the two, so I have yet to hear his, “See You When You Get Home”.
“Timebomb” certainly showcases that he was still on point with the lyrics and had improved the flow. The song centers on the pressure of the world around you and how that starts to build inside of you, until you are ready to explode. It’s summed up perfectly in the opening lines and continues thru the whole first verse, “So many problems, everyone has um/To a rich man, down to a street bum/A negative world with very little harmony/not only harming you, but also getting me/Making my heart cold, making my soul shiver/Making a time bomb, making me deliver/Something explosive because of society/Causing much problems, quite a variety/To build frustration and also stress/You couldn’t even sleep, now you can’t even rest/Toss and Turn, then you roll to awake/Just to ask yourself how much you can take/How much should you take? Or should you take any?/Who hears screams of one out of many…” Later he briefly discusses what might explain the aftermath of The Brothers, “Just a memory, slightly a past thought/Narkim was rebel who fought and fought/Fight after fight, Every day and night/Trying to make it right, waiting for a little light/When my boys (are) unloyal, I felt my blood boil/The Brothers fell apart, but I made a new start.”
Clearly, Narkim was still firing off lyrics with passion. I’m not sure what happened to Akiem post-The Brothers. I’ve continued to search for clues for years. The only info I’ve found were online comments that suggest Narkim was shot and killed a few years ago. I can’t confirm that though, so it’s currently just an “internet rumor”.
In any event, I’ll continue the search and in the meantime I’ll keep making sure people are aware of the few strong songs in their limited catalog!
*B Boy Artists: That’s just the main ones I’m looking for. There’s still several more that I have no idea what happened to them and would be interested in find out more about them; Tall Dark & Handsome, Positive Image, MC Rajah, K.D. Nice, Spicey Ham, Malibu & Storm, Levi 167, B.M.W, Money Earnin’ Crew, Cold City Crew, Camden Crew, Cold City Crew, Mike Gee, Sean Baby 7 Ninja D, Bennetton Gang, G Froce, Incredible Two, Babydoll, Prince G & Clever MCs, etc… All of those artists dropped a record or two and disappeared… Where is B Boy Records hiding their artists??? HA. No, I didn’t forget Waxmaster Torey and DJ Soundmachine, their story isn’t widely known, but I have recently found both of them and working on interviews!
**Unreleased “The Brothers” track: It sounds more like Levi 167 actually, but who knows…