July 10 in Hip-Hop History: KRS-One Preaches and Teaches, P. Diddy Celebrates
Today’s recap of July 10th's hip-hop and R&B history includes several album releases by prominent rap legends. On this day in 1989, Philadelphia's Tuff Crew continued their quest to put their hometown on the rap map with a well-received sophomore album, Back to Wreck Shop. One year later, “Blastmaster” KRS-One aimed to educate as well as entertain on Boogie Down Productions’ fourth release Edutainment.
Also on this day in rap history, Akinyele missed the mark with his third project Anakonda, Z-Ro repped for his hometown Houston on King of the Ghetto, Bad Boy Records mogul Diddy introduced a new crop of rappers on Saga Continues..., and Kurupt got deep and personal with his third effort, Space Boogie: Smoke Oddessey.
Check out our summary of the day’s biggest hip-hop and R&B anniversaries below.
Fresh off the success of their debut album, Danger Zone, an undeniable Philadelphia rap classic, Tuff Crew dropped their second effort, Back to Wreck Shop. On the collection, the group continued to elevate the Philly sound while giving nods to Miami Bass and southern rap. Sadly, the group would disband during the production of their third album, Still Dangerous, due to in-fighting and broken contracts.
"Tuff Crew’s contracts as individuals with [manager] Tony Mitchell were up as far as management were concerned, but the contract between Soo Def and Warlock called for one more Tuff Crew album," said Tuff Crew DJ Too Tuff (via Unkut.com). "We started to work on Still Dangerous and that’s when the break-up happened because that’s when the contracts ran out."
"When Tuff Crew was breaking up, I was Tim Dog’s DJ for four months. There was a gentleman named David Suckle, he was an agent. He knew, through dealing with Tony Mitchell, that the contracts had ran out," he continued. "He propositioned me and Ice Dog to leave Tuff Crew and sign with a management company that he had which had Tim Dog, Blackstreet, basketball player Sheldon Jones and somebody who used to play for the Supersonics. I was officially appointed Tim Dog’s DJ and then we started to do some s--- in the studio, but nothing that ended up on his album."
Boogie Down Production is a hip-hop collective established by KRS-One, the late Scott La Rock and D-Nice. By the time they released their fourth album, <i>Edutainment</i>, KRS-One was an established hip-hop intellectual (dubbing himself “the Teacha”) and a prominent speaker in academia, holding lectures at Ivy League schools such as Harvard and Yale.
As the title suggests, Edutainment was as much a lecture as it was an album, tackling issues like police brutality ("30 Cops or More"), black sell-outs ("House N----'s") and materialism ("Love's Gonna Get'cha").
The album didn't do well commercially, and KRS-One’s preachy diatribe drew ire from West Coast artists like Ice Cube who used "Rollin Wit Tha Lench Mob" to rap, "Some rappers are heaven sent / But Self-Destruction don't pay the f---in' rent!"
"They may do better here and there, but I don't have to look at the charts to see if the message of my records is getting across,” KRS-One told the The Los Angeles Times in 1992. “I just talk to people on the street and on the campuses. They tell me."
Unmoved by the negative feedback from his peers, KRS-One continued his activism through music by creating the non-profit group Human Education Against Lies (H.E.A.L) to uplift humankind through proper educational systems.
Queens, N.Y. rapper Akinyele is a lyrically ferocious MC who is mostly known for the over-the-top raunchy rhymes on his catchy, oral sex anthem “Put It in Your Mouth.” He would parlay that hit into two sexually-themed albums: Vagina Diner (1993) and Aktapuss (1999). By 2001, Ak went the indie route and released his third project Anakonda on Koch Records. Despite his best efforts, rap fans were simply tired of his sexual puns. With mundane tracks like "Eat P----," "I'll Kill 4 You” and "Do You Wanna,” the album was a major disappointment. The LP sold so poorly that it didn’t even crack the Billboard 200 album chart.
Since the late '90s, Houston legend Z-Ro has been delivering gritty rhymes about the street life in H-Town through a plethora of mixtapes and albums. Z-Ro's third effort, King of the Ghetto, established him as one of the major voices coming out of the Lone Star State. On the album, Z-Ro gets reflective about his life on the streets and his time spent in jail. Standout tracks include “Haters Song,” where he addresses naysayers, and “Pain” where he details his struggles surviving on the streets. On “Friends,” he waves goodbye to disloyal people.
With 20 years in the game under his belt, Z-Ro still remains authentic to his music. “I’m in my own lane,” he told This Is 50 in 2016. “When you are in your own lane, there’s no need to speed. There’s not too much hardcore reality rap and...I stay current to what’s going on [in the streets]."
In the mid-'90s, Diddy ruled the rap game with a stable of rap stars on Bad Boy Records that included Mase, the LOX, Black Rob and even the late Notorious B.I.G.
In 2001, after being acquitted on charges of gun possession and bribery in his nightclub shooting trial, Diddy (then known as P. Diddy) recruited more lyricists to his label and on July 10, 2001, released P. Diddy & the Bad Boy Family - The Saga Continues..., a sequel to his 1998 Grammy-winning compilation LP, No Way Out. On it, P. Diddy introduces fans to a new crop of rappers including G.Dep and Loon. On the anthem "Bad Boy for Life," P. Diddy proclaims, “I don’t write rhymes, I write checks.”
In a 2001 interview with MTV News, P. Diddy told MTV personality Sway Calloway that he felt invigorated after winning his trial and wanted to celebrate through music.
"If you're looking for a deep album or you're looking for me to talk about past situations, it's not even about that," he said of the album. "It's just 14 hot records that are gonna make you dance. Everybody's just been spilling their guts all over records and talking about how hard it is to be an entertainer and how much we get hated on and what we have to go through. But I ain't really got it that bad. I'm just happy to be here."
After his run on Death Row Records as one-half of the Dogg Pound, Kurupt went solo and delivered two solid studio efforts: Kuruption! in 1998 and Tha Streetz Iz a Mutha in 1999. Following his much-publicized split from Foxy Brown, the West Coast rhymer released his third album, Space Boogie: Smoke Oddessey, on July 10, 2001. It was his final album for Antra Records and his first solo project that didn’t feature any production from Dr. Dre. Highlights on the LP include “Sunshine,” a love ode to his then-fiancée Natina Reed of the R&B group Blaque. But he also delivered tough bars on “On Da Grind” and “The Hardest.”
In a June 2001 interview with AllHipHop.com, Kurupt said that Smoke Oddessey is a big departure from his previous works. "This album is more mature musically. I’m more or less letting people into my mind," he said. That’s why I named this one Space Boogie: Smoke Oddessey, because it’s a whole new realm that I’ve never been in."