25 Years Ago Das EFX Checked The Mic With Dead Serious Rhymes (Video)
1992 was a deeply transitional year for Hip-Hop. By the end of the calendar, The Chronic and Stunts, Blunts, and Hip Hop were heavy in the air. However, one of the first sparks of the hardcore flame came in the form of another debut. That album, Das EFX’s Dead Serious, released 25 years ago tomorrow (April 7). EFX had come up under EPMD’s apparent Midas touch. Joining K-Solo and Redman, the New Jersey/New York City duo of Dray and Skoob (respectively) had connected with Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith following a Virginia college talent showcase.
In retrospect, Das EFX has a completely different vocal style than E and P (more so than Red’ or Kevin). However, the energy of joints like “Head Banger” and “Get The Bozack” was apparent in EFX. The younger of the two duos was able to package songs with commanding deliveries that made them sound approachable and cocky at the same time. While the charisma, whimsicality, and pop culture references likened Skoop and Dray to ’80s Rap stars, they were emblematic of Hip-Hop’s early ’90s trends too. As their introduction Dead Serious would cement, EFX stood for weed-scented rhythms based around hard drums. They were dread-head MCs draped in camouflage and Timberland boots, representing a very specific time in the tri-state area. Moreover, their music worked in parties, Jeeps, and on Walkmans.
As Das EFX was not a heavily promoted group ahead of their EastWest Records debut, the album was the true introduction. While “They Want EFX” was the first single, “Mic Checka” not only followed, it was the jumping point for Dead Serious. Solid Scheme (the label producers of Chris Charity & Derek Lynch) laced multiple James Brown samples (as well as a Lyn Collins vocal), along with the Skull Snaps drums, and B.T. Express.
The rhymes are a crash course in style. The “iggety” cadences appear here. Not unlike Jaz-O’s (and young Jay Z’s) stutter-style, this was a fly effect on vocals. While new-jacks, Skoob and Dray let people know who it was. Notably, The Tribe co-signed Fu-Schnickens would be freaking a similar style across town, as would Lords Of The Underground, Kris Kross and others. While the originators can be debated, Das EFX took this style to the mainstream. Dead Serious was a Top 20 debut, as crossover audiences liked the rhymes about The Flintstones, canned tuna, Reebok Pumps, and an ’80s SNL comedian from New Jerusalem. Thanks to its handful of hits, this LP would grab platinum status in ’93, just in time for follow-up, Straight Up Sewaside.
For those in and around the New York City, Das EFX joins fellow Hit Squad alum DJ Scratch, as well as AZ for Combat Jack’s anniversary concert in Manhattan.
#BonusBeat: Solid Scheme also flipped this very popular remix:
Amazingly, EastWest’s Solid Scheme squad would stay a bit underground despite their literal track record. The duo produced for PMD solo works and Top Quality, as well as early joints for M.O.P. and EastWest label-mates Kam, Knuckleheadz, and a young Martin Lawrence.