Ever Hear The 5 Deadly Venoms Of Brooklyn? It’s Widely Considered To Be Rap’s Greatest Tape (Mixtape)
1997 was an interesting year for Hip-Hop, especially as far as New York City was concerned. Tragically, The Notorious B.I.G. was murdered just months into the new year, throwing a dark cloud and massive vacancy in the hearts, souls, and earphones of many. Additionally, the part of Biggie’s music that was pushing Pop sample-driven, incredibly catchy, mainstream-aimed music (known to Heads as “shiny suit era”) was popping up all over. Great lyricists like Jay Z, Nas, Busta Rhymes, and even Ol’ Dirty Bastard began making music, music videos, and messages different. Sales were spiking, but some underground-aimed fans were scratching their heads, looking for a fix.
In addition to the steady output of high-selling bar-coded studio albums, the streets were hot. Pioneering DJs like Kid Capri, Doo Wop, DJ S&S, Ron G, and others were working in cooperation with emerging masters such as Tony Touch, DJ Clue, DJ Silver Surfer, and others. Cassette tape culture was on smash, and there was now a method to taste records outside of radio and clubs, and a channel for fans to hear their favorite artists beyond the confines of the release system.
Out of this has come a number of legendary mixtapes. These works included actual scratching, mixing, blending, and freestyles, at a time when artists were giving top DJs acetate test pressings and promo copies they paid for themselves, much to a label’s chagrin. What those moments amounted to changed history and Hip-Hop as we know it.
In an effort to stay at the top, five acclaimed DJs—three of whom were associated to renowned groups—came together to shake things up. DJ Premier (Gang Starr), DJ Evil Dee (Black Moon), PF Cuttin (Blahzay Blahzay), Tony Touch, and Mister Cee united to make 5 Deadly Venoms Of Brooklyn. All DJ’s claiming BK (where Texas native Premier was then-living), the tape took its name from the 1978 Chinese martial arts film.
The results were (and are) spectacular. Each DJ took a fifth of the tape allowed, and got busy:
P.F. Cuttin (a/k/a The Lizard) (who stays making joints today for Sean Price, Meyhem Lauren) secured a rarity from Dr. Dre and B-Real (later heard on the Soul Assassins compilation), showing that it’s not all New York-centric, just BK pride. From Native Tongues to Camp Lo to veteran super-slept-on MC Breeze Evahflowin, Cuttin cuts it up.
Mister Cee (a/k/a The Toad) did as Cee is a master of: blending. The DJ to Big Daddy Kane and Biggie Smalls showed how BK likes to party, blending up hook queen du jour Yvette Michelle, Zhané, and KRS-One’s would-be ’97 smash. To let everybody know we’ll always love Big Poppa, “Hypnotize” is in there too.
Tony Touch (a/k/a The Snake) brought his signature freestyles over with him. Rapping himself, Toca enlisted a Jewelz-era Freddie Foxxx, as well as a pre-Heavy Mental-era Killah Priest/Sunz Of Man (who he was producing at the time), along with the late, great Guru. All of these free-form verses are amazing, and any DJ/personality who beckons freestyles from artists today, owes The Wake Up Show and Tony Touch a deep nod of gratitude.
DJ Premier (a/k/a The Scorpion) took a sec to look back. Works Of Mart plays the Busy Bee vs. Kool Moe Dee battle, in an era when such was not readily available online. He works in classic MC Lyte, alternate LL Cool J mixes, T La Rock, and Malcolm McLaren. The “return of the boom-bap” was still ongoing, and P-P-P-P-Premier gets it in.
DJ Evil Dee (a/k/a The Centipede) made a rare return to the medium that made him a Bushwick, Brooklyn legend in high school: making tapes. The mixmaster works in M.O.P., Jeru The Damaja, and Guru’s then-protege, Krumbsnatcha for a ferocious and thoughtful attack of bars. The “c’mon, kick it!” DJ throws a flying round-house to close out the tape that showed Hip-Hop’s unification, not only in DJ’ing or in Brooklyn, but in the culture that was still confused and mourning.
Support the tape properly, as its available thanks to Tony Touch. However, in 2015, you can listen 18 years later and still marvel at the mixtape that just might be the greatest in a culture that “eats tapes” up like a broken boombox.
Mixed By The Lizard aka P.F. Cuttin’
P.F. Cuttin’ – “5 Deadly Venoms Of Brooklyn – Intro”
Verbal Hoods – “I’ll Be Damned”
Dr. Dre & B-Real – “Puppet Master”
Breez Evahflowin’ – “Forsaken”
Busta Rhymes & Q-Tip – “Wild Hot”
Camp Lo – “Say Word”
The Dutchmin’ – “Surrounded”
Powerule – “Bright Lights, Big City”
Mixed By The Toad aka Mister Cee
Zhané – “Request Line (Mister Cee Blend)”
KRS-One – “Raptures Delight”
Yvette Michele – “Not Feelin’ You (Mister Cee Blend)”
The Veterans – “The Medicine”
Notorious B.I.G. – “Hypnotize”
Frankie Cutlass, Kool G Rap, Mobb Deep & M.O.P. – “Know The Game”
Mobb Deep – “Young Luv”
Mixed By The Snake aka Tony Touch
Tony Touch – “Deadly Freestyle”
Steele Kat One & Lil’ Noc – “Freestyle”
Freddie Foxxx – “Freestyle”
Sunz Of Man & Makeeba – “Freestyle”
Guru – “Freestyle”
Channel Live & Benny Boom – “Freestyle”
Jeru The Damaja & Lil’ Dap – “Freestyle”
Mixed By The Scorpion aka DJ Premier
Grand Wizard Theodore & Kevie Kev Rockwell – “Military Cut”
Busy Bee vs. Kool Moe Dee – “Live At The Harlem World”
Double Trouble – “Live At The Amphitheater L.E.S.”
The Cold Crush Brothers – “It’s Us”
T La Rock – “It’s Yours”
LL Cool J – “I Need A Beat (Jazzy Mix 1984)”
Malcolm McLaren & The World’s Famous Supreme Team – “Buffalo Gals”
MC Lyte – “I Cram To Understand”
Divine Force Crew – “Holy War”
DJ Premier – “Ending Interlude”
Mixed By The Centipede aka Evil Dee
Black Skavengers – “Poison Pill”
Jeru the Damaja – “Me Or The Papes”
M.O.P. – “Downtown Swinga”
Krumb Snatcha – “Gettin’ Closer To God”
Shamus & Flu – “Tight Team”
AK Skills – “East To West”
Shadez Of Brooklyn – “Calm Under Pressure”