I Used to Love H.E.R.: The Gray Kid

The fifth installment of I Used to Love H.E.R., a series in which artists/bloggers/writers discuss their most essential hip-hop albums (read intro), is a thought-provoking and entertaining piece from The Gray Kid, who released what’s shaping up to be one of my favorite albums this year, … 5, 6, 7, 8. He dissects Black Moon’s bangin’ debut Enta Da Stage with his typical gusto and well of knowledge that goes deep beyond the surface.

[mp3] The Gray Kid | Lonely Love (see also, The Gray Kid’s PaxilBack spoof.)

Black Moon
Enta Da Stage (Nervous Records, 1993)

“Mount Up: Enta Da Stage = Enter the Posse”

“I bought my first cassette copy of Black Moon’s Enta Da Stage in 1993 on the strength of a song that wasn’t even on the album, the irreplaceable “I Got Cha Opin (Remix).” The song had exploded at radio following the first proper single from EDS, 1992’s “Who Got the Props?,” and had immediate appeal to a 13-year-old boy who was still hiding the bulk of his RapLove from his parents. I wore out the unmistakable horn sample from Barry White’s “Playing Your Game Baby.” The defenseless cardboard sleeve where Buckshot donned a bright yellow poncho and trademark Timz didn’t stand a chance either, its black ink ceding from soon-rounded corners. It only took a few complete listens, though, for Enta Da Stage to enter my Top 5 for good, hit remix or not.

“In an era that was made up of more rap groups than we’ll ever see again (*Star* culture can’t afford to spread the love like that), Black Moon was wedged in between A Tribe Called Quest and Onyx: a veritable rock – ATCQ was on top, releasing Midnight Marauders in ’93 to critical acclaim – and a hard place – Onyx was set to redefine what a fear-instilling rap squadron was supposed to look like. Good thing “Who Got the Props” was, without question, a party song at the same time as being the tune which established Buckshot as the hard-ass Brooklyn MC not to be fucked with. EDS, on the whole, was a violent record. It was unforgiving in its content, from the song titles (“Buck em Down,” “Niguz Talk Shit,” “Black Smif-n-Wessun”) to the Beatminerz filthy and often-mangled sonics (particularly on “Slave,” my favorite track). Yet, EDS succeeded largely because it was intensely groovy, comprised of clear and memorable samples (“How Many MCs…”) that let Buckshot shine for the lyric-obsessed just the same.

“What was so fresh and visceral about Black Moon, though, and what really had such a broad impact on the surging New York hip-hop scene, was their relentless posse nature. Remember, this is the group that ushered in the Boot Camp Click, the crew that, for my money, was the most accomplished in the ’90s, releasing multiple records from their sprawling team to consistent musical and cultural acclaim (“Lefleur Leflah Eshkoshka” was FUCKING WEIRD – these guys had their own ideas).

“The way the posse functioned for Black Moon, however, was even more psychologically disarming. Buckshot was not afraid to remind you of his physical stature (“yo who’s the shortie?”) with the same breath he used to remind you of the physical harm you’d subject yourself to if you crossed his path (“I’m bustin’ niguz with my six-shooter“). He was the littlest guy you didn’t want to fuck with the most. His occasional partner-in-rhyme was another 5-footer, and the rest of the squad at the time (Smif-N-Wessun and the young Mobb Deep) were hardly Ruck and Rock (who came a couple years later).

“In retrospect this seems anomalous, but upon re-listening to Enta Da Stage everything makes perfect sense. Of the album’s 14 cuts, 10 contain legit posse choruses made up of emphatic multi-dude overdubbing, one (“Powerful Impak”) contains a sample of 4 screaming Busta Rhymeses, one (“Shit iz Real”) contains loosely recorded chilling 10-deep in the studio, and the rest (the KRS-One sampled “How Many MCs” and the ahead-of-its-time for being psycho-maniacal “Slave”) are just plain fire. This shit is terrifying if you think about it in musical terms: the hooks as close to horror as you’d want them to come whilst remaining musical, engaging, and ultimately hip-hop. Mad dudes are yelling at you. The MC is threatening you 80 percent of the time. He knew he could truly spit with anybody, and he knew his click could throw down just as well. It was more like enta da stage, at your own risk.”

[mp3] Black Moon | Who Got Da Props?

Previously on I Used to Love H.E.R.:
Sarah Daly of Scanners (Run-DMC – Tougher Than Leather)
Pigeon John (De La Soul – De La Soul is Dead)
Joel Hatstat of Cinemechanica (Digital Underground – Sex Packets)
G. Love (Eric B. & Rakim – Paid In Full)
An introduction

4 thoughts on “I Used to Love H.E.R.: The Gray Kid”

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