25 Years Ago, ONYX Knew Just How To Make Heads Back Up & Slam (Video)
On Friday (March 30), ONYX’s debut album Bacdafucup turned 25 years old. The LP is quintessential Big Apple “tough-guy Rap” and perhaps one of the more hardcore Hip Hop albums of all-time. Back in 1991, the group sent a demo of some of their earliest music to Jam Master Jay, who would later sign the group and set up their first release via his JMJ Records, a subsidiary of Def Jam.
Leading up to the Bacdafucup‘s March 30 drop was their single “Throw Ya Guns,” released in November of 1992. It exemplified ONYX’s violent and menacing musical style and became a precursor to perhaps the group’s most famous single ever in “Slam,” which eventually would make it all the way to #4 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart.
A majority of the production for Bacdafucup was handled by Jam Master Jay and Chyskillz, who also doubled as the ONYX’s DJ. As a note, Chyskillz passed away from a heart attack this February. As for Jay, he was crucial to ONYX’s success. Last year, during an episode of Drink Champs, Fredro Starr detailed how if it weren’t for a long-ago traffic jam, J.M.J. might never have run into his group.
“We’re on the highway going home from Jones Beach, and it’s a traffic jam,” Fredro recalled last summer. “Mad people! So the cars is movin’ like… they ain’t even movin‘. It’s like a party. Everybody got HOT 97 on. Everybody playin’ [‘Back to Life’ by Soul II Soul]… the whole beach [together]! My mans is thinkin’ about weed, but I’m thinkin’ about a record deal,” Fredro continues after noting Sticky [Fingaz’] smoking intentions while realizing they were parked next to Jay’s vehicle and wanting to seize an opportunity to further their musical career. “This is my chance! I got this ni**a in the traffic jam. He ain’t goin’ nowhere!… We were just vibin’ with him. We from Queens, he from Queens. It was more than Hip-Hop, Jay was a real ni**a… Jay was the streets [representation] for Run-D.M.C.”
The below footage from a 1992 Video Music Box interview with the collective perfectly encapsulates their slang, style, and mantra. It first starts out with a freestyle by Sticky Fingaz and then a short Q&A with the group, during which a rare Big DS appearance occurs as he describes what people can expect sonically from ONYX.
“Our style of Rap is called the grimy style, straight up and down because we ain’t having none of that bullsh*t,” he says to the camera. “We coming out crazy grimy, just like Ahyahahyah.” Subsequently, the video for “Throw Ya Gunz” is premiered on the episode. Oh yeah, and then the “100 MAD” squad reenacts buying a firearm. Then, for TV purposes, they advise kids not to purchase weaponry. It is the kind of vibe from ONYX that branded them hardcore in music, and later TV and film. This group blazed a trail for M.O.P., DMX, Gunplay, and many others.
Bacdafucup and their critically-acclaimed second album All We Got Iz Us stand for most as the pinnacle of ONYX’s catalog. However, the group is still putting out music to this day as prolifically as at any point in their discography. Big DS left the group after their first album’s release and sadly, passed away in 2003, while Sonny Seeza status with the group has been questionable since an absence on 2014’s Wakedafucup. This February, Fredro Starr and Sticky Fingaz released the group’s eighth album Black Rock, which features appearances by Skyzoo and R.A. The Rugged Man, among others.