March 21, 2012

Special EFX - VHS Style

In 1992, Das EFX dropped a home video called Straight From Da Sewer to accompany and promote their debut album Dead Serious.  It seems like not many people know about this video, so I thought I'd share it with you.

I distinctly remember when Das EFX first dropped, in fact I distinctly remember the period just before they dropped as I first heard They Want EFX on Tim Westwood’s show (in his more credible days on the Capital Rap Show!) and I was blown away by it. He premiered it along with House of Pain’s Jump Around so you can imagine what a treasured tape that was for several months to come.

I recall hounding my local record store to get me the 12” for They Want EFX and the very helpful DJ behind the counter repeatedly telling me that he’d never heard of Das EFX and neither had the supplier. About 3 months later I was greeted by that same DJ proudly holding a copy of the 12” and now he was bugging out at its originality. That was the problem with Westwood back then, he premiered things months before they were released and as a DJ wanting to play it on my show, it was so frustrating not being able to obtain a copy.

Anyhow, enough of my recollections. The point I’m making here is that it was fairly rare something so distinct, or original, was released. There were plenty of great tunes, but not that many that would break the mould. Das EFX broke that mould.

Even though they’d used the same break as Lord Finesse had used several several years previous, and not done much to switch it up, it sounded perfect for their crazy style and it still sounded fresh.

On too many occasions I’ve heard people recall Das EFX as the diggity-iggity group and speak of them as though they were a short lived novelty act, but this is completely unjust.
Behind their innovative rhyme style were actually some fairly clever and playful lyrics, carefully balanced so as not to cross too far over into the mainstream and diminish their credibility. Having Eric and Parrish behind them and being part of DEF Squad also helped to maintain their reputation as artists to be taken seriously.

Unfortunately this wasn’t to last. For me, it was the blatant biting of their style by so many others that was ultimately their undoing. Nobody else seemed to emulate their style in the same technical way, instead they just threw in the odd iggity here and there to pad out rhymes and follow the craze. It was such a sloppy approach to rhyming, but one that seemed to work very well for certain individuals that shall remain unnamed!

It was this apparent laziness from other rappers that seemed to change a lot of people’s opinions on Das' style.  Whereas they'd once said ‘Whoa, Das have got a crazy original style’ it suddenly became ‘Anyone can stick an iggity into a rhyme’ (and let’s face it, how many times have you heard someone try it?).

Snoop’s fans don’t appear to have got tired of his repeated shizzle’s and nizzle’s etc, and Master P's fans didn't get bored of hearing his constipated Urrghs (insert more examples from other artists here, there are plenty) The only difference in these examples is that nobody bit their style in quite such a brazen way or in such volumes, so they've remained unique to the artist.  So I guess Das' fans didn't get bored of Das, they got fatigued with the sub par diggity and iggity rhymes from a slew of other artists?

At the peak of their career with a platinum album behind them, they decided (as many artists did back then) to record this home video. The standard format for home videos in the 90’s was a maximum of 30 minutes total running time, mostly filled with the video releases you’d seen repeatedly played on MTV and then some brief clips of the artist being interviewed in between each video. This video follows that format to the letter.

There’s probably no more than 5 minutes of Krayzy Drayzy and Skoob talking, and they don’t have anything ground breaking to say, but that is largely due to the format of home videos in the 1990’s, it was standard practice for the artist to answer basic questions like ‘Where are you from’ and ‘How did you get together’ etc.

But with that said, this is still a nice video to watch. Dray and Skoob weren’t all in your face when they came out and I don’t recall them doing that many interviews, so to have the opportunity to see them informally discussing their videos and their style is quite appealing. They come across as ordinary, humble guys, with a love for their craft, and a desire to maintain their appeal.

At 30 minutes in length, this is pitched just right with a balance between videos and interview. It’s shot on the video set for the single Straight from the Sewer which you then get to see at the end of the tape (I wonder where MTV got the idea for their Making the Video series?).

The videos are good too. Not only do you get the full length official videos for the released singles as you would expect (without MTV logo's on them), you also get to see them perform some of their tracks live with Redman DJ’ing for them!

Video List:
They Want EFX (official version)
Jussummen (Live)
Mic Checka (official version)
East Coast (Live)
Straight from the Sewer (official version)

Download AVI format (350mb)

Or watch it in full screen:

Das EFX - Dead Serious (VHS) 1991 by FoaWP

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