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Why Onyx’s “Backdafucup” Was A Game-Changer

Very New York, very street, and very gritty.

A recent Tweet gave me—more so than an age check—some insight into how far back some of the younger listener’s insights into Hip Hop goes. While discussing the 19th anniversary of Eminem’s Slim Shady LP, one user tweeted that it was the album that he was forced to hide from his mother.

https://twitter.com/specialdesigns/status/967533107376197632

That instantly reminded me of the album that was the one that I—and others in my bracket—had to hide from our parent, Bacdafucup, the debut effort from South Suicide Queens foursome (now a duo) Onyx.

I was excited for this kid to learn about—and experience—this project for the first time, but more so stopped to reflect on why that album is such a notable standout in my timeline.

1993 was a vastly different time in Hip Hop. It wouldn’t be until later that year when heads would experience Wu-Tang Clan’s game-changing debut, and we’d yet to experience 2Pac and Biggie at their height.

While New York had set the tone in the 80s, many of its most prominent stars had begun to slightly dim beneath the height of ‘Gangsta Rap,’ as led by NWA. The departures of Ice Cube and (eventually) Dre from the group, the rise of Death Row, and the massive commercial success of this new sub-genre gave steam to a new breed of artists that wanted to bite onto the wave. Even some older respected names like RUN DMC (for example) tried to hop on the fad.

There was an alternative genre brewing, with acts such as De La Soul, Tribe Called Quest—and other members that eventually rounded out the Native Tongues—presenting what began as an almost “hippie” movement. They worked to counteract the over-glorified violent undertones that seemed to be not only dominating the airwaves, causing waves of controversy, but painting the black experience in a more negative spotlight than it may have needed.

This was the era. Discovered by RUN DMC’s DJ Jam Master Jay, Onyx—comprised of Sticky Fingaz, Fredro Starr, Suavé, and the late Big DS—became the hardcore answer to anything the West had to offer; while Dre may have amalgamated other’s experience to create what he called “entertainment,” Onyx was different on many levels.

 
They felt very, for lack of a better term, authentic. Very New York, very street, and very gritty. Their rough around the edges exterior never seemed to let it’s guard down, which ultimately bolstered their image even more. It was violent, without over-selling it to the point of macabre detachment from reality, like some horror-core acts from that era. It sounded as thought Sticky was a flop away from being the very figure he rapped about.

The Def Jam release of Bacdafucup was filled with no-holds-barred angst, incredible production, and a considerable amount of clear character development. The chemistry was crazy, but Fredro was the firecracker, Suavé was the lyrical third wheel, and Sticky was the shooter.

Sticky Fingaz never seems to make any lists, but day ones can agree that his verse on “Throw Your Gunz” made them instant fans.

Why Onyx’s “Backdafucup” Was A Game-Changer

They had a level of believable grit that translated into sales; ultimately they had some arguably classic releases, and Sticky and Fredro branched out into acting. “Slam” is still one of the biggest tracks of the era, and the album rests on more than one top albums ever list—which counts for something.

They are still active, and recently released a brand new project called Black Rock. However, without the proper context, it’s impossible for anyone who was first introduced to shock-rap by Eminem to understand their impact fully. Discovering this LP for yourself is highly recommended.

You’re welcome.

 

 

 

Riley here — father, artist, videographer, professional writer and SERIOUS hip-hop head. I'm a member of the Universal Zulu Nation, and I think everything is better on vinyl. Add me on Twitter! @specialdesigns
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