“It went down like this- one little nigga snuck through the door/ Peeped the scene, sniped a few then crept through with two more/ Heads was gettin’ Nervous- that’s three now they wanna break north/ Too late- five more tore the door straight the fuck off!”
-Rock from Heltah Skeltah, “Operation Lockdown”
Around this time of year, I don’t know what it is, but my musical preference gets in a grimy mid-’90s hoodie-n-Tims kinda mode (well, either that or love songs, but that’s a story for next month). Something about the winter just brings out that moody shit, I guess. In light of that, I say that to say this: one crew whose music was always winter-appropriate would have to be Brooklyn, NY‘s own Boot Camp Clik. In a 2011 world where niggas are wearin’ Ugg boots and tight jeans, their music and presentation was a polar opposite of what we’ve come to expect as of late. But for a nice portion of the ’90s, the BCC had their own corner in the game. I’ve recently been listening to a great deal of their classic shit, which brings us here today for the first of a two-parter (!) on one of hip-hop’s most underrated units.
In the early months of 1993 is where things kicked off for the Clik. Black Moon‘s “Who Got The Props” was a song that I only had to hear one time to become addicted to, and I guess I wasn’t the only one. Much like “Protect Ya Neck” did for Wu-Tang (which was out around the same time), it was just a strong single by an unknown group that dropped out of nowhere and created heavy anticipation for more music. If the production of Da Beatminerz was that good all the time, and the lead MC Buckshot Shorty was always that charismatic and lyrically on-point, there was no way they could lose. And later in ’93, Black Moon lived up to the buzz with Enta Da Stage.
I’ve stated this before, and I’ll state it yet again: the fall of ’93 was a helluva time to be an avid hip-hop listener. It was a decent-enough year up until then, but shit got real during that last quarter. It didn’t get the big sales, or the widespread critical praise, or a street buzz that later led to platinum sales, but Enta Da Stage was one of the albums that made the end of that year great. Buck’s voice was a lot more raspy and the beats were a lot darker than what “Who Got The Props” indicated, but it was a change that made their music even better than I expected. There was a new era building, and Black Moon was a part of it.
As I spent a fair share of time in the ’93/’94 winter listening to Enta Da Stage (enough time that I was tryin’ to rap like Buckshot for about three weeks), that wasn’t the end of the story. There was a duo by the name of Smif-n-Wessun who’d debuted on that album, and dropped their own single in early-’94, which was another for the win column. With “Bucktown”, they were bringing more of that street/underground appeal that made Black Moon a favorite, while building their own buzz off one single just like “Who Got The Props” did the year before. Meanwhile, the Moon wasn’t done either- their remixes of “I Got Cha Opin” and “Buck ’em Down” was increasing their notoriety and showing that their music was getting even better. Safe to say, ’94 was a year that you couldn’t tell me shit wrong about the music coming out of that camp.
’95 looked to be a year of more big moves for the BCC, as they continued solidifying their brand. Smif-n-Wessun’s Dah Shinin’ was another win, as they lived up to their buzz. They dropped street hits like “Sound Bwoy Buriell”, and by that summer were guesting on a now-classic Mary J. Blige remix. Just as they were introduced on Enta Da Stage, they introduced two other groups from their crew on Dah Shinin’: Heltah Skeltah and OGC aka the Originoo Gunn Clappaz. Like clockwork, as soon as the fall of ’95 slid into winter, another new introductory single came out of the BCC. But this time, it wasn’t just one act- it was the combination of Heltah and OGC, known as the Fab 5, with both “Leflah Leflaur Eshkoshka” and “Blah”. Both of those songs caught a nice buzz, but “Leflah” was the one that really popped, with its comical video and the chemistry between the two groups.
’95 was the third straight great year for the BCC musically, and on the surface, things were so far so good. I can’t speak for anyone else, but as a listener of their work, I had no complaints about the Clik. However, the business side of things was about to throw a wrench in both their music and the momentum they’d been gaining since ’93. Shit gets deeper…
To Be Continued On Friday.