In 1997, the hip-hop underground was jolted awake with the
release of Company Flow’s classic debut, Funcrusher
Plus. Fresh-faced MC’s El-P and Bigg Jus and DJ Mr. Len utilized a
no-frills but slightly off-kilter template of beats and rhymes to craft
certified bangers. Always dark and often cerebral, the album helped to solidify
Rawkus Records’ place in the ‘90s hip-hop pantheon. That relationship would
soon sour, though, causing El-P to note on his solo debut, “Signed to Rawkus?
I’d rather be mouth-fucked by Nazis unconscious!” Indeed. A few years after Funcrusher’s release, the group
disbanded. While Jus and Len have remained out of the spotlight, El-P has gone
on to a successful solo career and runs an excellent little label, Def Jux,
which is releasing this re-mastered and beefed-up reissue.
The album kicks off with “Bad Touch Example,” an eerie PSA
that shouts out WKCR’s Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito, who supported Company
Flow from their inception. But the group was looking ahead more than backwards,
into a bleak future of paranoid totalitarianism where hip-hop is the driving
revolutionary force. “Population Control” and “Blind” are two songs that
exemplify this vision. Fortunately, the crew wasn’t all dour business and
self-serious rhetoric. “Lune TNS,” a solo track from Bigg Jus, showcases
cartoon and old school-referencing wordplay, while “The Fire In Which You Burn”
is a posse cut that employs an ultra-minimal beat laced with sitars. This is
forward-thinking battle rap at its best.
Maybe complaining about how they don’t make them like this
anymore shows one’s age and makes one sound bitter and out of touch… but they
really don’t make them like this anymore. In addition to the re-mastering, the
album contains a few additional pre- and post-Funcrusher tracks. If you missed this one the first time around,
it’s not too late – especially since this is probably better than any new
hip-hop you’ll hear this year.
Standout Tracks: “Krazy
Kings,” “The Fire in Which You Burn” JONAH