A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Hatas All Pause

Crooked Path came together in the early 1990s when DJ Funk Daddy teamed up with J-Skee and Dee-Lyrious. The group’s first album After Dark in 1994 was a success, and they returned with a follow-up CD called Which Way Is Up in 1998. Their label Dogday Records put out a 12″ vinyl promo maxi-single to accompany the CD. This wax contains four songs from Which Way Is Up, and it displays the many styles of this important Seattle rap group.

“Hatas All Pause” is the A-side. The lyrics are about how nobody can mess with Crooked Path because they are “making big moves.” When they walk into the room, everybody freezes. Side B includes the instrumental and the acapella versions of “Hatas All Pause” so that DJs can mix it up in the club, always a smart idea for a twelve-inch release.

Side B starts with “Bad Mutha 4 Ya,” which brings that party vibe. It’s a sweet slice of funk, with a deep, fuzzy bassline that could be mistaken for an earthquake. J-Skee describes his player pedigree in verse after verse. Next on the B-side is “Feel Like A Nut,” which explores the group’s sexual tendencies with lines like, “I’m a motherf***er, I put a bitch to a test, I goes and gets another trick and see who f***s best.” The last song on the maxi-single is “Don’t Give A Phuck,” which is the most gangsta of the four offerings. The track features Lil Frank, and it tells how Crooked Path is gonna “put you in a body bag.” Now in 2023, twenty-five years after this release, DJ Funk Daddy can still be found entertaining music fans in the Northwest. Written by Novocaine132

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Which Way Is Up

Seattle’s Crooked Path may not have come together were it not for Sir Mix-A-Lot’s matchmaking. After his mega-success with “big butts,” Mix produced Seattle’s first hip-hop compilation, Seattle… The Dark Side. On that compilation, rapper Jay-Skee appears on two tracks, both produced by Greg B, aka Funk Daddy. It was a two-song partnership that birthed the first Crooked Path mixtape, After Dark, in 1994.

Four years passed before the duo dropped Which Way Is Up on Oakland’s Dogday Records. By this point, Funk Daddy was a certified hitmaker, having contributed his signature squelch to E-40’s platinum release, In A Major Way and other mainstream hits.

On Which Way Is Up it’s clear that he and J-Skee, with the addition of Dee-Lyrious, are messing around, having fun, creating classic gangsta cuts, all posturing, reputation, drug-dealing, sexual conquests, finger on the trigger shit.

Favorite tune “Young Playa” lifts the melody from Steve Miller Band’s “Fly Like An Eagle,” and tells the story of a young man trying to keep just a hair on the right side of the law while walking around Yesler Terrace. (There’s also a sweet reference to “Where the Ghetto Chilldren play…”) This whole record is on Spotify and you should go spin it today for them classic Seattle vibes.

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from


In 1994, 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

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A film about Northwest hip-hop from

After Dark

DJ Greg B aka DJ Ready was involved in several Seattle rap groups in the 1980s. In 1992 he dropped a full-length solo cassette called Listen To The Greg B with DJ Skill. Around this same time, he teamed up with fellow hip-hoppers Dee-Lyrious and Jay-Skee to form a new group called Crooked Path. According to Greg, “All three of us went to the University Of Washington where we all met. Jay-Skee playing football, Dee-Lyrious playing basketball, and me DJing all the college parties. Jay-Skee brought everyone together and we all meshed naturally.” Their debut album After Dark combined the more humorous, wordplay elements of early ’90s rap with a more violent, shoot-em-up gangsta vibe. It would be remiss of me if I didn’t mention that Greg B changed his name a couple of years later to one that is more familiar to fans of Seattle hip-hop, that name of course is Funk Daddy.

After Dark was re-released by Belgian label Southwest Enterprise in 2021 and is now available on vinyl and CD. The 2021 version contains Funk Daddy “fun facts” on the jacket which give contextual info about some of the tracks. For example, two songs from After Dark also appeared on Rhyme Cartel’s Seattle…The Dark Side compilation, “Menace Crook,” and “12 Gauge.” The best thing about “Menace Crook” is the track’s pulse-quickening momentum created by the clamorous scratching and catchy bassline. “12 Gauge” has a slower, suspenseful sound, and the lyrics talk about how the group is strapped up for any situation. “I got your back *****, I got the gat *****, I got the shit to make a sucker fall flat *****,” goes a typical line from “12 Gauge.” Tacoma artist Wojack from Criminal Nation makes an appearance with his laid-back track, “Something 4 Your Trunk,” in which he expresses his feelings toward his record label. One could conjecture that he was referring to either Cold Rock, Nastymix, or Ichiban, three labels he had worked with in ’92 and ’93.

Other After Dark highlights include “Where De’ At,” a super funky cut in which all three group members bust rhymes over the famous One Way “Don’t Fight The Feeling” sample flipped so successfully by Too Short. Jay-Skee’s “I-5 South” features some lovely, stirring backup singing by Gina Douglass, and her voice is perfect for the chorus. After Dark was not the last project for this crew. Dee-Lyrious completed a solo CD two years later in 1996. Funk Daddy continued putting out music throughout the ’90s. Crooked Path returned in 1998 with their second album Which Way Is Up on Dogday Records. Written by Novocaine132

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