MF Doom's first group's never-released second album. Give thanks.
MF Doom’s first group and their controversial sophomore release Bl_ck B_st_rds now available as a double CD containing the full the album with a second disc of bonus material including rare cuts, remixes and instrumentals, and a 32-page booklet of liner notes and rare photos compiled by Brian Coleman, featuring interviews with MF DOOM, Pete Nice, Dante Ross and Bobbito Garcia.
+ Pressed as a double CD set.
The words “lost classic” get thrown around from time to time, but KMD’s sophomore album, Black Bastards, truly fits the bill. Originally scheduled for release in the spring of 1994, their label unceremoniously shelved it at the eleventh hour due to controversy over the provocative cover art. Surviving group member MF Doom (then known as Zev Love X) – as fans know, his younger brother Subroc was killed in 1993 tried to release the album on other labels, but met more dead ends. Sadly, it languished in hip-hop purgatory until six years later.
Even then, the album had only a limited release via small indie labels. Beyond the fact that the controversy surrounding the cover featuring the group’s long-standing mascot being hanged by a makeshift gallows was unfair, the group’s fans being denied access to this album only compounded the injustice. Because musically and lyrically, it was a truly amazing record, full of youthful creativity, tinged with the stress of growing up as black men in urban America.
Unlike on the group’s 1991 debut, Mr. Hood, Subroc had fully come into his own as both a producer and an MC on Black Bastards, and his untimely death made the album’s shelving that much more tragic. Heavily influenced by the mind-bending spoken word album Blue Guerrilla by Gylan Kain (from 1970), songs like “What A Nigga Know” (the only single released from the album), the slippery, bass-driven “Get U Now” and the album’s title track explore black consciousness viewed through young-but-experienced eyes.
Musically alternating between bouncy and raw many times both concurrently the tracks gave both MCs the springboard they needed to express themselves clearly, whether on the catchy, more lighthearted “Sweet Premium Wine,” the psychedelic, abstract “Suspended Animation” or the intricate mash-up of television samples heard on the instrumental “Garbage Day #3.
Bl_ck B_st_rds was voted in Ego Trip’s 'Book of Rap Lists' as the most notable rap album of all time that was never released commercially, and with good reason.
The fact that this excellent album, slated for a 1994 release, did not seen the light of day until 2001 (its first issue - now out of print) testifies to a time when shortsighted industry backlashes against records that inflamed Middle America were in vogue.
Elektra Records higher-ups canned the project due to its controversial cover art, which shows an exaggerated Sambo-like figure being lynched. This must-purchase concept album is worth the wait. From the jazzy, hypnotic samples on the title cut to Sweet Premium Wine, a farcical ode to swigging 40-ounce bottles of brew (remember when drinking St. Ides and Old English was trendy?), you know you’ve found rap heaven.
Classic headbanger What a Nigga Know? (and the remix featuring partner-in-rhyme MF Grimm) is equally off the chain. Constipated Monkey and weed anthem Suspended Animation are testaments to a time in Rap music when experimental beats and obscure sampling ruled the roost.
Bl_ck B_st_rds is where Brand Nubian meets De La Soul at the local bodega, heads wear Muslim kufis for kicks, and word to the Mutha’ actually refers to themes of pan-Africanism, repatriation, and reparations. It’s a place where Sambo-ism doesn’t sell.
Garbage Day #3
What a Nigga Know?
Sweet Premium Wine
Plumskinzz (Loose Hoe, God & Cupid)
Smokin' That S*#%
It Sounded Like a Roc
Plumskinzz (Oh No I Don't Believe It!)
F*#@ Wit' Ya Head
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Nominated "Indie Champions" at the 2015 AIM Awards.