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by
15 April, 2009@5:47 am
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Although they saw the pinnacle of their success with their later singles “Watch Out Now” and “Off The Books”, most longtime fans of The Beatnuts will argue that the group was at its best during the Intoxicated Demons and Street Level era. During this period, which spanned 1992-1994, the ‘Nuts released the aforementioned two classic releases, with one element that was absent from their other LP’s – Kool Fashion. Fashion, who would later find Allah and embark on a solo career as Al’ Tariq, left the group, while Psycho Les and Juju released consecutive LP’s such as Stone Crazy and Musical Massacre. Hip-Hop changed drastically during that time period, but despite all of this, LP’s from The Beatnuts (or Fashion himself, for that matter) lacked the classic sound of their first two releases.

Emerging almost twenty years after these recordings were released is the “new” Intoxicated Demos EP (read: “Demos”, not “Demons”), a vinyl only release (!) with a press run of 200 copies, sold online at exorbitant prices per unit (around $90 a copy), from mysterious label One Leg Up Records. Whether or not the artist is cut in here is unknown, but judging from the exclusivity of the material and high quality of the recordings, it’s highly likely. This EP collects previously unreleased material from the Beatnuts archives, capturing those moments of their respective careers which is long gone.

The EP opens with “Snatch My Crops”, build around a Cypress Hill sample, over a typical sinister Beatnuts bassline, as each Fash, Juju, and Les spit their usual brand “bullet in the cunt” (actual quote) style of rhymes. Sample clearance may have killed this song back in 1992, and the same could be suspected for other tracks included here as well. While reportedly “Fashion Goes Off” was recorded before Black Sheep’s “The Choice Is Yours”, it utilizes the same Sweet Linda Divine “I’ll Say It Again” sample. The same could be hypothesized on “You Got My Back”, which uses the break from Ultramagnetic MC’s mega-hit, “Poppa Large”, however Psycho Les quotes the actual song here, proving it was recorded later. Notably, he also flips Run DMC’s “Sucker MC’s” opening lines in their usual dirtbag style, bragging “two years ago, a hoe of mine, asked me do her in her hine…”. You can guess where it goes from here….

Also included on this EP are a series of radio recordings, such as “DJ Red Alert Promo”, which is a short, glorified commercial for the legendary DJ’s radio show, as well as the “Reign Of The Tec” single. Even though it was just a radio promo, it flawlessly captures that distinct sound that was only present on the group’s first two releases. Meanwhile, “Catch A Little Wreck” is a freestyle session featuring the Nuts over a familiar, jazzy break (crate diggers, feel free to ID this), featuring Rob Swift on the cuts (here called DJ Swift) and the Lost Boyz looming in the background. Thankfully, no ad-libs from Freaky Tah, rest his soul.

Finally, we get a collection of original demo versions of songs that were released in other forms. “In My Room” is a demo version of the Chi Ali song of the same name, with Fashion ghost-spitting lyrics from the perspective of the then 14-year old, Native Tounge affiliate and future-murderer. “Do That” is another version of a Chi Ali song, however here it is intended as a Beatnuts song, with the group’s usual brand of silliness and no ghost-written rhymes for Chi. Finally, we get a bonus alternate version of the group’s famous single, “Props Over Here”, with different lyrics than the original version.

Is it worth spending almost a bill on? For the esteemed hip-hop archivist and vinyl enthusiast – yes; for the rest of the world – no. It may not hold the classic status that the group’s two EP releases have had, but it definitely allows longtime fans an exclusive look into The Beatnuts creative process, and is in fact a lot better than much of the group’s post Street Level material. – D.T. Swinga

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