Artist: MC Ren
Album: Kizz My Black Azz
Label: Ruthless Records
Rating: 9 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
This album is an ebayer’s dream. Quickly and quietly released after the breakup of NWA, this EP seemed to be overlooked in all the major Hiphop magazines when it was released back in 1992. Despite this, it still went platinum as many checked to see if MC Ren could still make it without Cube and Dre. Me, I copped both the tape and vinyl, and while quietly congratulating myself for picking such a quality release, was still a little miffed that I wasn’t able to get the cd to complete the set. And this my friends is why this shit is flying around on ebay for $50+. EVERYONE wants the cd, but nobody seems to stock it anymore, and with the collapse of Ruthless Records its become increasingly more difficult to pick up copies.
So imagine my surprise when I see a remastered re-release in the store with improved audio quality and an extra video of ‘Final Frontier’ tacked onto the end. Yeah, yeah, it ain’t the original release – but with this re-release hitting stores in 2002 it gives people another chance to get into the mind of MC Ren as he was back in the day – hard, remorseless, and uncompromising. (The fact that this was the only one I saw in the store, and that this was the FIRST I’d heard anything about a re-release means that this may still be hard to come by : so I’d thought I’d write the shit up to let y’all non-havers know what you’re missing.)
First things first – DJ Train rest in peace. The DJ for so many of LA’s golden era acts died in a house fire over 10 years ago, but his work lives on through the releases of that time period, including this one where during the intro he cuts up half a dozen Ren lines from popular NWA tracks over stunning Bobcat production. Its extremely hard to put what the man does on the 1’s and 2’s into words – it really must be heard. The sequencing is perfect throughout and all the scratches are on point. Bobcat meanwhile doesn’t disappoint either, with his funky bassline and shuffly drum break providing the perfect ying to Train’s scratched yang.
‘Behind The Scenes’ gets the shit off to a real start though, with Bobcat and Train’s work on boards and wheels complimenting Ren perfectly as he breaks down the story of a good girl gone bad. After his initial approaches to her are rebuffed, Ren follows her home and takes a ringside seat by her bedroom window as she does the nasty with her next-door neighbour. The tale don’t end there though, as next night he convinces his boys to return to the scene of the crime, only to discover that the nice little girl is a big fan of incest, with both moms and pops getting down and dirty with their beloved.. So THAT’S why the EP has the parental advisory sticker : In the background, Bobcat’s funky electric guitar loop and hard snare run on and on, as Train cuts up another NWA classic : “she like sucking on dicks, and licking up nuts, and’ll even take the broomstick up the butt.” Yeah, so in case you didn’t catch it the first time – parental dizcretion iz advized :
‘Final Frontier’ continues in the same vein – Ren dropping the gems on the mic, Bobcat laying down the fonk on the beats, and Train supporting with the cuts. This time Bobcat jacks BDP’s ‘The Bridge Is Over’ and gives it a special west coast twist, as snippets of ‘Atomic Dogg’ get laid over the top. Ren’s flow on the mic proves why so many still put him in their top 20 (and even top 10) emcees of all time – he rides the beat supremely, nonchalantly spitting explicit threats at a gang of wack muhfuckas. Again, the chorus here is built around old NWA samples, and the familiarity of the lines, combined with the extra oomph that Bobcat has added to BDP’s beat make this another winner.
Halfway through, and ‘Right Up My Alley’ kicks off with a little “100 Miles N Runnin'” type skit, before Bobcat again works his magic, combining a morose piano sample and some Slick Rick cuts to provide a noisy base for Ren to drop some brutally vivid street images. The old line about NWA and the so-called ‘gangsta rappers’ being nothing more than “street reporters” sums up this track perfectly :
“In the alley, bitches sell pussy real cheap
Waiting to rob a trick when the fucker fall asleep
Bitches, 15 and 16 got the claps
And crabs in they pussy crawl around in the naps :
Right up my alley, niggas strip cars that they stole
And niggas outside lifting weights getting swoll
Taking turns sipping on a 40 O.Z.
Pumping some funky shit by The DOC”
Yeah, of course it ain’t pretty to listen to, but as a way of shining light on some of the fucked up situations going on in the hood, having a cat like Ren writing the reports is probably the best part of such a hopeless existence. The way he puts the message across that “Hey, this place is SERIOUSLY fucked up”, without compromising his lyrics, and the sheer dopeness of the beat that Bobcat has running in the background means that you can’t do anything BUT listen.
‘HoundDogz’ is possibly the first glimpse at how Ren’s future releases would eventually pan out. Although still not on the socio-political commentary tip that a lot of “Shock Of The Hour” contained, the shift in beats here is extremely interesting. Here Bobcat takes a backseat, as Train and the Torture provide a much more laidback cut with sparse arrangements of strings, and less emphasis on the funk (and yes I know despite this that there’s STILL an ‘Atomic Dogg’ vocal sample on the hook.) However I hope you get my drift – ‘HoundDogz’ treads the path where “Shock Of The Hour” and “Villain In Black” seemed to follow. However at this stage in his post-NWA career, Ren was still focusing on little more than kicking it with the cats in the hood – the lyrical changes didn’t seem to appear until later.
Rounding the EP off comes the title track. Think of ‘Kizz My Black Azz’ as MC Ren’s version of Icecube’s ‘Nigga Ya Love To Hate’ – a quick-tempo romp over familiar funk breaks, as Ren addresses a variety of wack muhfuckas trying to pull down him and his vision of how Hiphop should be. Amongst those getting some heat include emcees who rhyme while backed by live bands (“The pioneers didn’t draw up bands in the blueprints, cos it doesn’t make sense / Rappers doing this should retire – niggas looking like Earth Wind & Fire”), and backstabbers who smile in his face but talk shit behind his back (“They always on my dick when they see me, I think beneath that punk they wanna be me.”) Once again, Bobcat comes correct on the boards, seamlessly blending Ren’s words with Bobby Byrd, Parliament, and Zapp samples to keep the head nodding.
Conclusion? Well there’s really no need for one. MC Ren has ALWAYS been a dope lyricist – its just in later stages of his career, his choices in beats were not always the greatest. However THIS is Ren in his prime backed by some of the best west coast beats of that time period. There’s nothing more to say than – YOU NEED THIS! Now wipe up the drool and go hit up ebay.