Breeze-T.Y.S.O.N (The Young Son Of No One)
Produced By L.A. Posse (except one track produced by DJ Pooh)
Atlantic Records 1989
Breeze is a natural at “rapping”. He makes it seem so easy. He’s got a great voice, perfect delivery, and as if that isn’t enough, he is also a great writer.
The album starts off with the title track, “T.Y.S.O.N”, which explains the metaphoric meaning of the album’s name. It’s an acronym for “The Young Son Of No One”, but he also uses it to claim his dominance on the mic, in reference to how the name’s owner, Mike Tyson, reigned supreme in boxing. Evidence on the album lends to the suggestion that he’s a boxing enthusiast. For example, despite the title, the song uses several great clips from Muhammad Ali on the breaks. I don’t clearly recognize any of the main samples to the track. I notice they use The Temptations “Runaway Child, Running Wild” briefly before the start of the first verse to build up the anticipation. As for the drums, (possibly the same ones used on LL’s “Big Ole Butt”, also produced by L.A Posse in ’89) are pretty sparse, complimented with a few key sounds (one which I believe is a flute, but I really suck at naming instruments…ha). Those sounds alternate thru out the track to add some additional flavor. In the first verse Breeze is just warming up and by the second he’s ready to come out swinging, “Stop keeping me back, suckers are steadily tracing me/ Control’s my goal and soul is how I’m living see/My step is kept so let me rule the industry/The top of Hip Hop (is) where rap is taking me/ Promotional hype, yeah, that’s why I wrote this/You claim I owe you this so then promote this/Cut the ‘sation, my talent your wasting/Front on this, man, you must be basin’…” I never really thought about it before, but I’m guessing those last two lines are directed at his record label, Atlantic. He continues, “Tyson hits hard, the kid is hitting harder/I’m good at what I do. Pooh’s my sparring partner/Throwing cuts, stabs, hooks, jabs, bolos/It’s not many, if any who can throw those/Tyson is an adjective to describe the kid/Not many of you can do or (have) done what I did/My game plan is splendid, it ended in round one/Yo, yo another K-O for the young son of no one.” The DJ Pooh reference in the verse (although DJ Poosh isn’t credited for anything on this track) makes me wonder if he originally intended to record more of the record or perhaps the entire record with him. Further evidence of that is suggested with his debut verse on King T’s “Just Clowing” (Act A Fool LP ’88) where he states, “I only lay my voice on a track that Pooh cut.” Of course DJ Pooh is (or was…) a member of the L.A. Posse, so Breeze didn’t go too far astray.
In any event, DJ Pooh isn’t absent, as he does his magic on the exceptional “Goin Thru A Phase”. Being that I listen to music with a “lyricist ear” I always appreciate when producers can make the music talk to you and convey messages that support a songs concept. In this case, for the breaks, DJ Pooh has a reversed sample treated with a “Phasing” effect, which makes it feel like slow motion and represents the song title. The snares are excitedly out of control here, particularly on the breakdowns. They have a real bouncy feel to them that at times intensify and feel like they are just smacking you silly…ha. The hi-hat is very minimal and easy to overlook in a casual listen, but in headphones it becomes a heavy, somewhat mechanical sound that becomes a prominent part of the track. Take all that and add in a few stabs and you have another DJ Pooh classic. Breeze compliments the track straight from his intro, “I’m going thru phases wondering what is expected of me/For the money or the girls to love me?/For the juice, the clout, the recognition?/Naw, that’s already a known tradition/Sometimes I think to myself and say, ‘why me?’ /Waiting for a fool to step up and try me/ Ain’t as easy at it seems, looks are deceiving/You’re stepping up and shutting up quick…and believing”. His comment, “You say that I’m soft cause I’m hanging out west now/You suckers are silent cause I’m showing the best how”, suggests he is originally from elsewhere. I recall hearing this before, somewhere on the East Coast, but it escapes memory. He reaches his peak in the 3rd verse, “If a MC on the mic is weak stop the fella/ Rock accapella, so I can tell a/Sucker that I can get hotter than hell goes/You’re trying to flex, didn’t know a chicken had elbows/Many phases and stages to my attitude/Act friendly to a foe then turn around and slap the dude/You met your doom from my rhymes you consume/I’m knocking you out like I was a valium/Trying to act as if I was a friend of yours/I’m going thru a phase. You’re going thru menopause/First your Moe, then your Kane, tomorrow your Ra, you sound kind of funny money…Ha Ha/Rap is a gift and I refuse to lose it/Without a doubt it’s something about the music…”.
I actually jumped ahead to make the DJ Pooh connection (Goin Thru Phase is track #4). the 2nd track on the album is “Pull A Fast One”. The L.A. Posse does a creative job sampling of Lyn Collins “Think (about it)”, while Breeze just does as his namesake suggests and flows swiftly and smoothly.
With that in mind, “Steadily Trying To Flow Like” is a different platform for Breeze to showcase his ability “to flow like the breeze”. This time the track is slowed down and has a unique rhythm (partial encouraged by the use of Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man"), allowing Breeze to get creative with the patterns. He hits so many great peaks here, such as:
“How do you think you compare to me brother?/I double and triple em up compared to your six dollar studder/I’m flowing like champagne, you’re still saying the same thing/Trying to maintain, that’s a damn shame”
“A record (is) a method of showing one’s intelligence/It’s quite evident depending on who’s telling it/Kick some logic, Yo, that’s the object/ Avoid a weak topic. Before you start it, stop it.”
There are no breaks, instead at three points he just drops the “Steadily Tryin’ To Flow Like” phrase. After the second time he goes all out, “A lyricist is hearing this and then he wonders if/He wants to get some of this. I didn’t come to dis/Trying to play me, but I’m not lettin’/Talking smack beyond my back, what’s the matter, feel threatened?/Reactions are spontaneous, confused between dangerous/ and deadly, but you’re steadily trying to anger this/Forget comparing me to you or saying what you would do/if you got with, trying to riff, how dare you/Separate me from the beat when I’m creating/putting yourself on hold because you’re waiting/to see what I’ll make so you can take and duplicate/It’s breaking your ear now take a year to recuperate/hold a edge on competitors cause I can out smart them/I know it hurts to hear it but if the shoe fits, wear it/You can’t understand why your plan don’t seem to right/You’re claiming that you’re so hype, but steadily trying to flow like…the Breeze.” Resulting in definitely one of the best tracks on the record.
The original forms in which I owned this album were the cassette and the vinyl. In both cases there is just one more track to complete Side A, “Loungin’”. The name says it all. L.A. Posse captures the moment just right with a lazy soundscape courtesy of an interpretation of George Duke’s “Reach For It”. Breeze takes all three verses to assure us he has mastered the art of the lazy day. However, even when the topic is relaxed, Breeze puts in the extra effort to show his great writing skills. Case in point, in the second verse, rather than illustrate more ways he can “lounge” he paints the picture form the perspective of the Tyson Vs Spinks fight (1988 Atlantic City). He rather vividly describes the fight from the “opening bell” until the moment where Spinks “flew thru the ropes”. He finishes it off letting us know to make no mistake, that after a quick 91 seconds of punishment, Spinks was most definitely “Loungin”. I decided to watch this fight on youtube while listening to this verse and it nearly matches up perfectly with the fight if you start verse right when they hit center ring…awesome. Do it!
After mellowing it out at the end of the first side, Side B comes in high energy with the lead single and biggest song of his career, “L.A. Posse”. The fairly popular music video to this song allowed Breeze to show off his smooth dance moves, which he referenced more than a few times in his lyrics. The L.A. Posse turn to some West Coast classics, including Zapp’s “Mo Bounce…” as the main beat. Then they nicely chop up and mix in some Hank Ballard “From The Love Side”. The hook, which makes it a certified L.A. anthem, comes from Bootsy Collins “Hollywood Squares”.
Breeze never lets up and gives you the best of his style that is heavily based on great rhyme schemes, as he sprinkles in enough punchlines to make sure you stay engaged. He keeps his focus on the fact that he is “ill” when it comes to rhyme writing, but he maintains a cool demeanor and he wants the listener to “Bust a step or two” on the dance floor. The only time he deviates from those themes is in the second verse with some scattered direct shots, which start with, “Stop what you are doing, this is directed to you and yours…” and gets more direct with, “I roll over suckers who even claim to be on my tip they even got the same name as me/All your doing is causing confusion/I’m speaking to you frankly, you need to thank me…/Sit back, relax, in fact, take notes/Not only do I break hearts, I break hopes!”* The track is 5 minutes long, but Breeze says his last words at 2:26. For the second half of the song The L.A. Posse just freak the beat and I’m sure they were envisioning the listener riding around in their car with this up on full blast, which is what this song is perfect for.
The only other tracks, besides “Loungin”, were Breeze talks about something other than “rap” would be “Girls On My Mind” and “Great Big Freak”. I imagine the subject matter is obvious, but for those who can’t figure it out; “Girls On My Mind” informs us of his addiction to hooking up with as many girls as possible, while “Great Big Freak” explains how he prefers to spend the time with them. “Great Big Freak” has the only vocal guest on the album, Big Dad of L.A. Posse.
“Scene Of The Homicide” is a very moody track that sounds how “Gotham City” looks, if you can visualize that. The vibe is prime for Breeze to fantasize on how he would like to deal with the sucker MCs. Every encounter doesn’t necessarily end with a trip to the coroner, sometimes they might get away with just a few lumps, “It’s a sad scene that I had to fight ya/Cause you were shy on that and at first I liked ya/Don’t expect no affection, just look for protection/From punches coming in every direction…”
For the closing track, “Watch The Hook”**, they pick up the pace with another great production job, with an excellent reworking of the Incredible Bongo Band’s “Apache”, with the intro horn from Parliament “Getten’ To Know You” (also used on The D.O.C’s “Whirlwind Pyramid”) and a touch of Zapp “So Ruff, So Tuff”. The intensity of the track has Breeze at his most aggressive on the album. He carries this energy up until the song, and ultimately the album’s, final seconds as it comes to an abrupt end with, “Must I remind you I’m designed to flow/React to the rap and adapt to the tempo/So before I loc’ed up I’m glad you woke up/You would’ve got broke, Watch The Hook!”, then silence…
*First assumption and most likely he is referring to MC Breeze out of Philly (a.k.a The Singing MC Breeze or Joey B Ellis. Not sure if this ever prompted a rebuttle or not. However, you could also apply it to the other L.A. Posse out of New York. I know there was some sort of lawsuit going on, probably around this time. The New York version of the “L.A. Posse” was the crew down with Mikey D. The name was representing Laurelton, Queens (New York). The ironic thing is that L.A. Posse (West Coast) made some their first hits with LL Cool J and LL and Mikey D, both from Queens, have a history dating back to the early 80s. Mikey D claims LL got some of his flavor from him. I’d like to get the story on this whole name business from all parties…as it is oddly entangled. On top of that, rumor has it that The West Coast L.A. Posse got their name from JamMaster Jay, another Queens native...
**Young rap fans might recognize the opening line, “Some like to sing this, I’d rather hum this/Kick the beat with the help of the Drumsticks”, as the sample used for Doomtree’s “Drumsticks”.
-Misc Info: After this album Breeze made an appearance on L.A. Posse’s “The Winds Too Def To Die” track in ’91. Then he dropped an indie 12” on what I believe was his own label in ’92 with three tracks. Actually, some magazine back then reviewed this 12” and they had a number in there for more info. I called the number and actually spoke to Breeze and we were supposed to hook up later for an interview and for me to get the 12”, but for some reason none of that never happened. I have never heard that 12” and it’s apparently not easy to come by, but I’m still on that mission. Here’s the track listing:
“It Ain’t Funky No Mo”, “Black Owned” and “Bad Press”.
Much like this record, Breeze hasn’t been easy to track down. I always seem to get close but don’t quite connect. I imagine he has some stories to tell and a vault of music I’d like to unlock. I was once told that he was “black-balled” from the industry (King Tee told me that) so I’d like to hear Breeze’s take on that.
Speaking of which, the only other place that I know to hear Breeze verses is on 3 King Tee albums; the aforementioned “Just Clowing” (Act A Fool ’88)*, “Played Like A Piano” (At Your Own Risk ’90), and “Freestyle Ghetto” (King T IV Life ’94). All the songs are Posse Cuts and by my account Breeze walks away with the top verse each time. That’s pretty impressive considering who he’s rhyming along side. Plus he also lays a verse on Nas “Where Are They Now [LA Mix]”
“Played Like A Piano” also features Ice Cube. Now I can’t front King Tee is snapping on this track and Ice Cube isn’t playing around either. However, where Breeze sets his verse apart is in the style. This is the definition of rugged and smooth, not to mention swift. When I heard this verse I just knew that he was working on second album that was going to be knocking out the T.Y.S.O.N release.
“Freestyle Ghetto” also features The Lixx and Xzibit. To be honest, Xzibit and Breeze are running neck and neck for top billing here. However, it’s the last few bars were Breeze edges him out, “To the promoters on tours/short me a buck and the buck shot in the barrel is yours/I’m psychopathic like Manson, aint’ with the dancing/but still I get more cheers than Ted Danson/More doe than Moreno or roles than Pacino/you beating me, that’s only in your dreams ho/I’m not saying I’m unbeatable, I’m saying I’m untouchable/Living comfortable just like a Huxtable/Plus I’m rolling with the crossroads/moving fast forward while you other suckers stuck in the pause mode/I go deep like a great white, but I’m stay black no matter how the pay stacks/or if my rep gets bigger, you might can take this n***a out the ghetto, but not the ghetto out this n***a.” That’s hard to beat…
Beyond that, I’m not sure where he has been. The L.A. Posse Myspace page says that he’s doing well with acting, producing, remixing and somehow “closely involved” in the career of Ne-Yo. He recently performed with the L.A. Posse at the Skid Row 1st Annual Hip Hop Summit, so I may still be able to track him down yet…. Here's that Nas track he popped up on a few years ago w/Breeze, Kam, King Tee, Candyman, Threat, Ice T, Sir Mix A Lot, & Conscious Daughters! Nas gets mega-props for pulling this all-star line up together...although I would opted for Cold 187 or C.P.O rather than Candyman, but that's just me...actually, it's probably not just me...
Written By Kevin Beacham