Wednesday, May 3, 2023

OFTB - Straight Up Watts LP


Big Beat (1992)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

Operation From The Bottom, or OFTB, were a gangster rap group from Watts, CA.  Straight Up Watts was their only full length album in the 90s, though they put out a few singles and made some compilation appearances before the decade was over.  I had never heard of these guys until somewhat recently when I was digging around for something new (but old) to listen to.  It's a solid record, but it's difficult to listen to without making comparisons to other West Coast hip hop that was coming out at the same time.

The easiest one to make is to NWA.  Subject matter is similar, beats are not too different from what NWA was working with on Straight Outta Compton, but are a little more advanced, from a technology perspective anyway.  The beats sound less old, but I couldn't call them better, if that makes any sense.  On top of that one of the guys in the group sounds just like MC Ren.  Not at the same lyrical level or anything, but the tone of his voice and inflections are eerily similar to Ren.

Ultimately, this is a fun listen.  It captures West Coast hip hop before it was completely transformed into g funk land.  I like this sort of thing way more than I like The Chronic or any of the soundalikes that spawned in its wake.  This feels more like the path that Ice Cube was forging with Da Lench Mob.  I can't say this is elite, but it's pretty good and was worth it to me to add to the collection.

OFTB - Straight Up Watts:

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