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Straight Lace Playaz

E.C.P. (Emerald City Players) had three members, Stylez, L1D, and MC Linn. According to Discogs, “E.C.P. got into the music game through their close friend Kid Sensation, who landed a deal with Nastymix Records in 1990. The group first appeared on the debut Kid Sensation album on the dedicated cut “Maxin’ With The E.C.P.” On Kid’s second and third albums, The E.C.P. played a greater role by lending a hand with verses and production. In 1995 the crew released their solo album (Straight Lace Playaz)…” In the credits for Straight Lace Playaz the group gives respect to the E.C.P. original lineup, which included legendary figures like Attitude Adjuster, PLB, and Maharaji.

The rippling beat of “Twistin Corners” is nothing but smooth, glassy g-funk, with lyrics about car culture, a hip-hop staple. Perhaps the strongest cut on the album is the two-part, “Emerald City Players.” The beat on part one has twists and turns, but mostly just bounces along under the verses, which describe the pimping lifestyle rather literally. “Emerald City Players” part two is also about hustling and pimping, but it’s more of a view from 30,000 feet. For example, “Cake a** n****s wanna love em, take a h** home, hide em, hug em, kiss em, feed em, purchase em gadgets, whips, cars, clothes, gold, trinkets, I think it’s, way beyond player status, your profit’s gone.” The spoken word-ish cut “Cold Souls” by Star Breaka evokes the arresting street tales of Iceberg Slim captured on his 1976 album Reflections.

“When I Wonder” is a peppery cut with more reflective and personal lyrics than other tracks on this album, and it shows that while E.C.P. wholly embrace the pimp culture, they also have other topics from which to draw. “Livin in this Mecca of a city filled with dreams,” goes a standout line. Straight Lace Playaz seems to be the group’s only album, so if you like pimp tales then give it a spin. Written by Novocaine132

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Seatown Funk

Seattle’s Nastymix Records was in financial trouble in late 1991 after losing Sir Mix-A-Lot and his lucrative catalog. To stay afloat, Nastymix partnered with Ichiban in Georgia for approximately a year, finally closing at the end of 1992. Artists who remained at Nastymix in 1992 had the Ichiban distribution logo on their tapes and CDs. Kid Sensation was no exception, and his 1992 album The Power Of Rhyme was a complicated Nastymix/Ichiban/Emerald City Records collaboration. Kid continued making music after the demise of Nastymix, and in 1995 he recorded his third album Seatown Funk strictly for Ichiban.

The songs on Seatown Funk fall into three main categories: party life, tough guy gangsta talk, and knocking boots. Highlights of the fun cuts include the Kevin Gardner produced “What Comes Around Goes Around,” which sees Kid reminiscing about his past relationships and what he has learned. The title track “Seatown Funk” borrows its silky beat from a 1977 hit by The Floaters, and it is a good way to start the album. “Rhyme For Me” is a funky interpolation of “Flashlight” by Parliament. For these radio-friendly type tracks, Kid keeps the topics light and the rhymes fairly simple.

On the tougher side of things, tracks like “I Come Wicked” and “Neva Goin Out” show a harder component of Kid Sensation. “Fools in my city, even those who don’t know me, stab me in the back, but in my face they’re my homie,” he observes on “Neva Goin Out.” Later in the track he shoots his adversary point blank, “There’s a hole in your chest, your heart is pumping clots of blood into your lap.” “Seatownanina” uses lots of wordplay to describe how dangerous his crew can be.

As mentioned earlier, Kid is intent on showing his player side on this album. “Sex In The Studio” is a long voyeuristic instrumental beat with lovemaking sounds mixed in, vaguely evoking Madonna’s 1990 hit “Justify My Love.” “If My Pillow Could Talk” sees Kid’s pillow dishing about all the women Kid has slept with, but the repeating loop from “You’re A Customer” doesn’t allow any space for the song to be sexy. “Late Night Hook Up” is predictably a rap about exactly what you would expect it to be about. Kid showed stamina and longevity in the game by not giving up, and admirably he continued building his personal hip-hop brand even when he was unceremoniously forced to switch record labels. Written by Novocaine132

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The Power of Rhyme

Let’s be honest: The Seattle rap scene has become a disappointment. At one time a couple of years back it was being hailed as a budding talent pool, just notches below New York and LA. NastyMix was at the forefront of Northwest rap and Kid Sensation looked to be a potential national hit right after his first LP.

Kid Sensation’s new album, The Power of Rhyme, will not be the area’s savior. The style is a mediocre hard hip-hop attempt–showing no improvement from his debut–with one noteworthy song, “The Way We Swing,” a collaboration with Ken Griffey, Jr. It’s not enough to save this album. The LP has been out since early spring, and by now it is fair to judge the Kid’s mass appeal; outside baseball collectors, there has been little. (This review originally appeared in The Rocket and was written by Scott Griggs.)

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Prisoner Of Ignorance

For almost a century, vinyl records had been the dominant medium for music playback, but in the ‘90s, the format’s long reign was quickly eroded by two newer options: cassettes and CDs. Both were smaller, cheaper, less fragile, and portable. You could play cassettes and CDs in your car, throw them in a boombox, or go stroll with headphones and a fancy new Walkman.

“Prisoner of Ignorance” marks the first time NastyMix put their marketing and promotion efforts behind a cassette edition rather than the vinyl. (A plain-sleeve vinyl was made for DJs, but it was the cassette of “Prisoner” that got the cool cover art.)

NastyMix also splashed out on an MTV music video. In it, Kid Sensation is tied to an electric chair. He’s about to be executed. A white, racist cop narrates, saying “another Black youth is being appropriately punished.”

When asked if he has any last words, Kid raps that he’s a product of the system: “My only crime from birth is dark skin.” He recounts how he was expelled from school, how he turned to the streets and gangs. He started running with the wrong crew. In desperation, he tried to rob a liquor store. It went bad. He took a hostage, he killed two cops, the hostage was killed, too, I think? The story gets a little convoluted, but the message is clear: The system has failed him over and over again.

For his fall, he blames bigots, the school system, the media for promoting white supremacist falsehoods as truth. Americans are being brainwashed. Where is his piece of the so-called American dream?

At the end of the music video, Mix-A-Lot stands over Kid Sensation’s grave and makes the song’s anti-gang message clear: “Minorities make up 93% of all gang membership in the United States of America today. Whether you choose to call this genocide or just straight-up homicide, you brothers need to remember it’s all suicide.”

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