A film about Northwest hip-hop from 1996
In 1993, Seattle group Crooked Path dropped a rap classic called After Dark. The trio consisted of Funk Daddy, J-Skee, and Dee-Lyrious. Funk Daddy also included Crooked Path material on his 1995 release Funk You Right On Up. By 1996, Dee-Lyrious was ready to drop his own solo debut, and his self titled album Delirious hit the streets of the S-E-A with a bang.
“Letter From The Pen” is serious and well paced, addressing the subject of incarceration. The vibe of “Wise Up” is a reflective meditation about life choices and the passage of time. It’s got a heavy message, “I’m tripping, paranoid, scared to leave my block. In ’84 I was locked up, in ’94 shell-shocked.” When taken with “Letter From The Pen,” the two tracks complement each other well.
On the party side of things, the high energy song “Planet Path” has a b-boy vibe, and the Bambaataa beat bounces while the MCs display some fun wordplay. “Tales From The Strip” cleverly combines the “Paul Revere” story framework with some liquid piano notes from a classic Grover Washington Jr. joint. “Planet Path” and “Tales From The Strip” both reach across generations, and Dee-Lyrious captures the early days of rap in the two songs.
“Northwest G’s,” featuring F-Lee, Funk Daddy, and J-Skee, has a slow, measured beat. At the beginning of the song, Dee-Lyrious tongue in cheek refers to himself as a “studio gangster.” This implies that real gangsters get locked up or killed, and the ones that survive certainly don’t rap about their crimes. To follow the paradox, only fake gangsta rhymes would make sense for music industry consumption. True gangsta raps constitute legal evidence and unwitting confession.
Perhaps my favorite detail of the album is a skit where the crew calls a fake psychic hotline. At one point during the hilarious conversation, our caller makes a rambling observation about rap stereotypes: “Gangsta rap is a mutha f***ing business. Just like Steven Seagal made the flicks and s***. He’ll go out there and shoot some people up, and they say that’s mutha f***ing art and s***. This is art. We’re just talking about what we be seeing every day.” He’s right of course. Gangsta rap in many cases is simply the art of being a witness on wax. Written by Novocaine132