Wednesday, July 15, 2009


First time I recall hearing Black Mafia was deep in the not so dark basement of 90.1FM KZSU. My grindcore homies Noisear were in town to play a couple shows and work on a recording with Portland's Superbad. I caught wind that Big Chief was attempting to have both bands perform live during during a shorter than usual time slot. Seeing that they would need all the help they could get, I extended my engineering services. Both bands wanted to use their own drums which meant remic'ing and soundchecking the second drumset inbetween performances. It was war.

Sometime during chaos of that night, Noisear bassist Joe mentioned he had a mix cd of some obscure rap 12"s he wanted to see if I knew. Now, those who have been around Joe and I when we're getting drunk can attest to the fact that we can argue over some rap shit! You name it, we disagree: who produced the track (it's a Madlib beat!), what crew that mc rolls with, what record came get the picture. But we do it old school, no iphone, no laptop google shit - just dank singed memories of Rap Pages writeups and hissin-ass TDK pause mixes.

So we hit the listening station tucked in the corner of KZSU's library and Joe busted out the CDr. The sound was distorted beyond belief. "I like it all distorted and fucked up. It sounds better," Joe said. What I could hear through all the noise was a few tracks I didn't know. Namely a Phil Blunts track and a track from Black Mafia. Joe said he'd make me a CD and we exchanged mailing addresses. Joe is from the old school tape trading days. He doesn't have a facebook page let alone an email address I know of. Folks like us correspond with packages of the dopest shit. Either way, that night at KZSU ended up coming out pretty flawless with super engineer Josh at the helm. But I never did get a CD from Joe!

So I was on the hunt. Phil Blunts was easy, but Black Mafia was a bit tougher. There's all these Black Mafias and this Black Mafia and Above The Law's classic "Black Mafia Life", I kept fishing off the dock of the 'bay (wastin' time). I wasn't even sure what the record was really called. One day I stumble across this cassingle and fucking EUREKA! Of course, I find the 12" version a few weeks later. When it rains it pours. The tape version has a sick, felt tip marker rendition of some sort of stick up swamp zombie, looking more like private press metal release than a hardcore rap tape.

The casual listener will sit befuddled by the fact that the first version of "Gotta Get Paid" is the instrumental. College radio DJ's likely lost it in they're shorts seeing how the instrumental is immediately followed by the radio version. Mic break city, duke! But jus wait a sec here, we gotta go back to the beat. Raw as shit drum loop, bass line, horn squeal, a twinkle in Showbiz's eye. Oh shit, he drops the sax stab. Proof right there that producer/MC The Driva had been listening to quite a few D.I.T.C. platters prior to this session at Tommy Boy OG Fresh Gordon's Brooklyn studio. Driva is one cutty producer, I dug six feet and came up with nothing. The radio version switches it up adding a hi hat and a familiar piano stab to the mix. The street version obviously wins, adding a nice holdup skit. Driva, Shank, and Mr. Hood kick some straight forward 9-4 Brooklyn street shit.

"Revenge on F--k N.Y." is a more keyboard driven production based around John Bonham's famous breakbeat. Here we find The Driva on the synth, controls set to B3, replaying Pete Rock's sampling of some sublime Tom Scott horns from his "Shut Em Down" remix. Driva's production makes this record more of a homage to classic hip hop than the gangster rap record it was striving to be. The subject matter here is pretty simple, talk shit on NY and Black Mafia will body you.

Gary Williams wrote both these songs even though 3 different MC's spit the lyrics. This is actually Black Mafia's 3rd record. The first being a 1992 release on DNA International that was produced by Gary and (his brother?) Derrick Williams (who's engineered for everyone from the Alkaholiks to Outkast). Gary recorded a second Black Mafia 12" called "Ghankstazwhalk" for Crimewave Records in 1993. The label on the record says "From the upcoming album 'From Brooklyn With Love'." I wonder if that was ever finished? "Gotta Get Paid" was released by Mascot Records who also released Wu affiliates K.G.B. who had 4th Disciple on the boards early on. Mascot was owned by dance label C&S Records. Unlike Derrick, Gary stayed true to the underground and produced a 12" for Ilfunction in 1998. Anyone got that? Also, if anyone out there has any of these other Black Mafia records, please share!

At the request of Smooth Triumph, y'all get the tape rip.


Smooth Triumph said...

dude the trademark TM next to the handrawn medieval zombie in peasants clothes holding a gat is fucking awesome. Good thang they trademarked that. Makes me hope someone posts a link to Pete Rock's remix so we can compare. I'd post it but you have my copy. Oh, duh.

Slowtimer said...

Long Live The Breathalizer. 505. Burque por vida.

Eons One said...

There was a dude wearing a Black Mafia shirt in my dream last night.

SHAWN said...

They called me shank back then, i was on both records. my uncle produced both tracks on the mpc 60 and the s900, back then that was major equipement. What a ventage sound that was, straight 93 hiphop, damn we need that sound back in hiphop today. later

ENY \Broolyn