This 1998 Track By Big L, Ma$e & McGruff Is “Dangerous” To Overlook (Audio)

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The corner of 139th Street and Lenox Avenue in Harlem, New York has been immortalized through song several times by the late, great Big L—and also falls on the same block where the “Street Struck” MC tragically lost his life in ’99. Affectionately called the “Danger Zone,” the area was L’s home and also the point of origin for Children of the Corn—his group with Ma$e (back when he was “Murda Mase”), Cam’ron (when he donned the prefix Killa), Cam’s deceased cousin Bloodshed and L’s good friend Herb McGruff. This week—in discussing about his deteriorated relationship with Jim Jones, Cam’ called back to C.o.C., as a group of MCs he paid dues with, battled with, and broke into into the industry alongside.

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Not to be confused with L’s Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous track of the same name, which actually featured McGruff on the hook, “Danger Zone” is an offering off McGruff’s solo LP, Destined To Be, which was recorded during his brief, late ’90s stint on the famed Uptown Records—the label responsible launching the careers of The Notorious B.I.G., Mary J. Blige, and Heavy D & The Boyz. Hev’ would briefly serve as label president, around the time Herb McGruff released this overlooked gem.

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Featuring C.o.C. colleagues L, who was working on his posthumously released album The Big Picture, and Ma$e, who had recently released his multi-platinum Bad Boy Records debut Harlem World, “Danger Zone” is a hookless lyrical onslaught on which each MC spits some seriously memorable bars. The song plays out something like what one can only imagine a ’90s cipher in Fred Samuel Playground on the corner of 139th and Lenox, referenced on Lifestylez’ title track, might have sounded like.