Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Old School Hip Hop: 3rd Bass' The Cactus Album (1989)

3rd Bass

Members: Michael Berrin (pka MC Serch), Peter Nash (pka Prime Minister Pete Nice), Rich Lawson (pka DJ Richie Rich or Daddy Rich)
3rd Bass was formed in 1987 in Queens, NY, United States, and disbanded in 1992 after releasing two full length albums (1989's "The Cactus Album" and 1991's "Derelicts Of Dialect") and a handful of memorable singles.
Notably, 3rd Bass gave time on early wax to two eventual legends: Zev Love X (later known as the great MF Doom) from KMD first appeared on "The Gas Face" in 1989, and Nas's second studio appearance was on the MC Serch song "Back To The Grill" in 1992.

3rd Bass - The Cactus Album front
''The Cactus Album''

( LP Def Jam Recordings, 1989 )
Catalog # C 45415, FC 45415

Tracklisting & Hide Credits:
A1 Stymie's Theme
Producer – Prime Minister Pete Nice 0:12   
A2 Sons Of 3rd Bass
Producer – Prime Minister Pete Nice, Sam Sever 4:46   
A3 Russell Rush
Producer – Prime Minister Pete Nice 0:24   
A4 The Gas Face
Co-producer – 3rd Bass, M.C. Serch, Pete Nice
Producer – Prince Paul
Rap [Featuring, Uncredited] – Zev Love X 3:48   
A5 Monte Hall
Producer – Prime Minister Pete Nice, Sam Sever 5:24   
A6 Oval Office
Co-producer – 3rd Bass, M.C. Serch, Pete Nice
Producer – Eric "Vietnam" Sadler, Hank Shocklee, Keith Shocklee 3:30   
A7 Hoods
Producer – Prime Minister Pete Nice 0:17   
A8  Soul In The Hole
Producer – Prime Minister Pete Nice, Sam Sever 3:49   
A9 Triple Stage Darkness
Producer – Prime Minister Pete Nice, Sam Sever 4:09   
A10 M.C. Disagree
Producer – Prime Minister Pete Nice 0:43   
B1  Wordz Of Wizdom
Producer – Prime Minister Pete Nice, Sam Sever 6:30   
B2  Product Of The Environment
Producer – 3rd Bass, M.C. Serch, Pete Nice, Sam Sever 6:15   
B3 Desert Boots
Producer – Prime Minister Pete Nice 0:22   
B4 The Cactus
Producer – Mr. Puffy McScruffy, Prime Minister Pete Nice, Sam Sever 4:39   
B5 Jim Backus
Producer – Prime Minister Pete Nice 0:02   
B6 Flippin' Off The Wall Like Lucie Ball
Producer – 3rd Bass, M.C. Serch, Pete Nice, Sam Sever 3:16   
B7 Brooklyn-Queens
Producer – Prime Minister Pete Nice 3:36   
B8 Steppin' To The A.M.
Co-producer – 3rd Bass, M.C. Serch, Pete Nice
Producer – Eric "Vietnam" Sadler, Hank Shocklee, Keith Shocklee 4:53   
B9 Episode #3
Producer – Prime Minister Pete Nice 0:12   
B10 Who's On Third
Producer – Prime Minister Pete Nice, Sam Sever 0:57   

Art Direction, Design – Howard Zucker
Design [Logo] – Cey Adams
Edited By – Adam Gazzola (tracks: B1, B2, B10), Steve Ett (tracks: A2, A5, A8, A9)
Engineer – Bruce Buchalter (tracks: A8, B1, B2), Chuck Valli (tracks: B1), Curt Fresca (tracks: A4), Greg Gordon (tracks: A2, A5, A9, B4),
Kevin Reynolds (tracks: A5, A8, A9, B2, B4, B6, B10), Mark Mendelbaum (tracks: B2), Nick Sansano (tracks: A6, B8)

Format:Vinyl, LP, Album
Art Direction for Drawing Board Graphics.
©1989 CBS Records Inc.
Manufactured by Columbia Records/CBS Records Inc.
A2, A5, A8, A9, B1, B2, B4, B6 & B10 recorded and mixed at Chung King Studios, New York, NY 
A4 recorded and mixed at Island Media Studios, West Babylon, NY
A6 & B8 recorded and mixed at Green Street Studios, New York, NY
Text on back cover:
The cactus stands firm on the desert plain, juicing fluids from its desolate environment. Two solo MC's absorbed and deciphered culture from far rockaway to Bedford-Stuyvesant and, like the desert plant, stood alone. Predators never set it off, for all over sharp thorns protrude. Step... and your mack-daddy license is revoked. All shades knowlegde cactus techniques, and jet from ignorance in the desert.
Cat# on labels: C 45415
Cat# on spine: FC 45415
Runout Grooves:
AL-45415-1A AL-45397-1A Dmm G1 (Side A)
BL-45415-1A AL-45397-1A Dmm G1 (Side B)
3 iN DECCA CYPHER, R.I.F. K.M.D.  (Side A)

3rd Bass - The Cactus Album label 1

''Brooklyn Queens''

''The Gas Face''

Comments & Reviews:
The Cactus Album, also known as The Cactus Cee/D, was the debut album by hip-hop trio 3rd Bass, released on Def Jam Recordings on October 23, 1989. The album received positive reviews from the hip hop press, and the group gained some publicity by being arguably the second white group to achieve hip hop credibility, after the Beastie Boys.
The Cactus Album peaked at #5 on Billboard's Top Hip Hop/R&B Albums chart and at #55 on the Billboard 200 chart. In 1998, the album was selected as one of The Source's 100 Best Rap Albums. A decade later, Rhapsody (online music service) included The Cactus Album in its list of "The 10 Best Albums By White Rappers".
Most of the music was produced by Sam Sever alongside members MC Serch and Pete Nice, except for the Prince Paul-produced tracks "The Gas Face" and "Brooklyn-Queens," and "Steppin' to the A.M." and "Oval Office" by The Bomb Squad. The album generally features songs that are lyrical showcases or are about women (such as the hidden sexual meaning of "Oval Office"). The song "Sons of 3rd Bass" can be viewed as a diss to the Beastie Boys (who had recently severed ties with 3rd Bass' record label, Def Jam) in that it references them in many lines such as this one uttered by MC Serch in the first verse.
Swarm to the lyrics cause Serch is your father
Screaming "Hey Ladies", why bother?
The song "Wordz of Wisdom" was recorded while the group performed under the name "Three the Hard Way." Their name was changed after they signed to Def Jam, however, the recording made its way onto the album.
The group had a minor hit with the single "The Gas Face". The accompanying video, which featured a bevy of humorous cameo appearances that included Gilbert Gottfried, Flavor Flav, Salt-n-Pepa, and Erick Sermon, garnered respectable MTV airplay. The song also features Daniel Dumile in his recording debut. At the time, he was recording under the alias Zev Love X, a member of the rap duo KMD, but would later come to be known as MF DOOM. KMD were mentioned several times on the album, and they appeared in the music videos for "The Gas Face" and Steppin' to the A.M."

3rd bass label 12 collage BL

''Steppin' To The A.M.''

Besides the upper-middle-class frat-punks-in-rap-clothing shtick of the Beastie Boys and emissary/producer Rick Rubin, who both gained a legitimate, earned respect in the rap community, there were very few white kids in rap's first decade who spoke the poetry of the street with compassion and veneration for the form. That is, until The Cactus Album. Matching MC Serch's bombastic, goofy good nature and Prime Minister Pete Nice's gritty, English-trained wordsmithery (sounding like a young Don in training), 3rd Bass' debut album is revelatory in its way. For one, it is full of great songs, alternately upbeat rollers ("Sons of 3rd Bass"), casual-but-sincere disses ("The Gas Face"), razor-sharp street didacticism ("Triple Stage Darkness," "Wordz of Wizdom"), and sweaty city anthems ("Brooklyn Queens," "Steppin' to the A.M.," odes to day and night, respectively), with A-plus production by heavyweights Prince Paul and Bomb Squad, as well as the surprising, overshadowing work of Sam Sever. The duo may not have come from the streets, but their hearts were there, and it shows. The album embodies New York life. Not every single idea plays out successfully -- Serch's Louis Armstrong impression on "Flippin' Off the Wall..." is on the wrong side of the taste line, and "Desert Boots" is a puzzling Western-themed insertion -- but they are at least interesting stretches that add to the dense, layered texture of the album. The Cactus Album was also important because it proved to the hip-hop heads that white kids could play along without appropriating or bastardizing the culture. It may not have completely integrated rap, but it was a precursor to a culture that became more inclusive and widespread after its arrival.

The 10 Best Albums By White Rappers Referenced 26 July 2010

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