This is my first installment of a new segment entitled – Underrated. Each month, I’ll be showcasing a group/song/album from the past that I feel is often overlooked when the word “classic” comes up. The hope is new and old hip-hop fans alike will seek out these cuts and they will get the recognition they deserve. So here it goes…
The first featured group is a personal fav of mine, CRU aka The Rhythm Blunt Crew hailing from the Bronx, NY. The group removed the “Rhythm Blunt” from their name due to concerns with censorship and conservative retailers. The group consisted of Puerto Rican rapper Chadio, hype-man/rapper The Mighty Ha and mc/producer Yogi.
So what makes them so underrated? Their 1997 debut album Da Dirty 30. Yogi handled all production on the album and to put it bluntly, the beats are hot. While Yogi wasn’t the best on the mic, Chadio def held it down with his own style. Mighty Ha added the comedy/bugged out element to the group, playing a similar role as Ol’ Dirty to Wu-Tang. What you don’t know is the album featured several unknown artists that would later have hits of their own including The LOX, Black Rob, Tracey Lee, Ras Kass and R&B singer Anthony Hamilton.
The first and biggest single off the album was “Just Another Case” featuring Slick Rick. However, the real banger (at least in NYC) was the b-side “Pronto“. The infectious West coast-influenced track was played on Hot97 constantly and MC’s were known to freestyle over the instrumental. Their second single “Bubblin” had a very ATCQ-vibe, but I actually never heard it on the radio.
Unfortunately, the album wasn’t a commercial success. CRU was signed to the Hip-Hop power house Violator Management, so they had a few features post-debut. One of the better ones was Diamond D‘s “Hiatus Remix“. Their last appearance was on the Violator Album in 1999 and the group disbanded.
Yogi went on to have an extremely successful career as a producer. His production credits include Puff Daddy, KRS-One, Terror Squad, Black Rob, G. Dep, Busta Rhymes, N.O.R.E, Method Man, Shyne, and Wale.
If you haven’t already, check out CRU’s debut album Da Dirty 30. Below are some choice cuts to get you familiar with them.