Defari Drops The People’s Gem “An All Time Sleeper”

Defari Drops The People’s Gem “An All Time Sleeper” –  Hip Hop was busy as the last millennium was coming to a close.  Now classic releases from the likes of Eminem (“The Slim Shady LP”), Mobb Deep (“Murda Muzik”), Nas (“I Am…”), and Dr. Dre (“Chronic 2001”) dropped alongside some lesser known classic albums from Kurupt (“Streetz Iz A Mutha”), The Roots (“Things Fall Apart”), and Defari’s debut “Focused Daily”.  Defari wasn’t more than a west coast rapper with ties to the Alkaholiks and Xzibit.  That’s all I knew.  Oh, and he was a high school teacher in Englewood, California with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Master’s Degrees in History and Education.  As we would say here in New England – “He’s Wicked Smaht” AND a member of the Likwit Crew.  That’s some impressive credentials and definitely enough hype to get me interested in the debut from the “Herut”.  In the 17 years that has passed since its release, the album has become one of the strongest rap debut’s in the last 25 years and an all-time hip hop sleeper.

Defari Drops The People's Gem "An All Time Sleeper" - Back In The Day Buffet

To make a solid album you need to start with a strong foundation, and “Focused Daily” spotlighted 3 of the best producers in the game – Evidence (of Dilated Peoples), E-Swift (of Tha Alkaholiks), and Alchemist.  Alchemist definitely brings that grimy East Coast sound to the album, the tracks “Focused Daily” and “Killin Spree” are two highlight tracks.  Throughout the album, Defari spits rhymes that sarcastically and witfull insults weak rappers like on “Killing Spree” – “Of yourself, get a hold/ Next time you on stage, use primatene for some breath control/ (ha ha ha) but now don’t let asthma be the excuse/ You was definitely doper, when no one knew you”.  The Alchemist beats seem to bring something out of Defari as the first verse from the title track “Focused Daily” shows:

Sleep on the champ, man you better read the scouting report
You doubtin this so I connect wit Mr. Alchemist
The Soul Assassin straight blastin, bringin heat
You marvel at my connects wonderin why you can’t compete
You’re not competitive, you’re more like a sedative
You put me to sleep wit each line, are you the bedtime kid?
Yet in still, I remain crisp like newly printed bills
And watch for those money-hungry Anita Hill’s
Lyrics are effortless, no matter how stormy the weather gets
Those who know me like Kobe say “he’s proliferate”
The gifted kid, focused like triangular pushups
Why you claim to be hard when you a buttercup?
I fuck shit up, stutter step wit action packed mag
Don’t pull no crap just hit the track like a fullback
Lead block, don’t mistake this for no pop-rap, pop
But that raw deal feel, that real hip-hop

Alchemist also shows his ability to flash the laid back vibe with the track “Checkstand 3” where Defari’s storytelling  abilities are nicely showcased.  He talks about meeting a fine young woman at the supermarket who turns out to be a mafia don’s girl.  Reminiscent of “I Got A Story To Tell” by Biggie, the track adds a different layer to Defari’s debut and is a nice change from the lyrical darts spit over most of the album.

E-Swift brings his now classic California sound to four tracks on the album with one track “Juggle Me (For The DJ’s)” being one of the few songs on the album that I pass by.  “Lowland Anthems Pt 1” is a smooth low rider beat over which Defari pays tribute to his West Coast roots.  “Likwit Connection” features Phil Da Agony, Tha Alkaholiks, and Defari bringing it verse after verse making it one of the true posse cuts where everyone’s verse is on a par with the next.  E-Swift saves his standout beat for the track “Yes Indeed” where Defari appears locked in and primed to deliver:

Hard work pays in many ways, seven days a week
Hard beats, E-Swift magnifique for the streets
And Defari Herut, true lyrically complete
This (singing) perfect combination
Firmly holdin’ down firm ground for future generations
Quick to lace ’em, these super-heavyweights
And just when you think that it’s over we regenerate
Like gamma, from ninja scroll, we everywhere like cable
Steady watch these card table emcees fold


The majority of the album features production from Evidence and while he is best known for his lyrical prowess in the group Dilated Peoples, his ability to create textured deep beats is in clear review.  There are very few tracks on this album not worth praising, so I’ll just say that “Keep It On The Rise” and “These Dreams” along with the aforementioned “Juggle These” are the 3 tracks that I have never gotten into.  Everything else that Evidence touches on the album is gold.  “Never Lose Touch” is a reminder to keep your mind on the prize, with the chorus of: “Never lose touch never lose sight/ Never lose sight of my moms who gave me the birth right/ I never lose touch never lose sight/ Never lose sight of my will to ill and get the crowd hype”.  “Bionic” is the first single released from the album and good reason.  With references to Steve Austin and Gangstarr, Defari makes it quite clear the MC that he is:

Every minute every hour I use brain power
For Mr. Space Shuttle Challenger I devour
A Tower like Eiffel
Bust off verses like rifles
Bust all bullets through flesh unless you’re wearing a vest
And even then I still enter
The human form of a splinter
The summer fall spring winter

Live Likwit Crew member


“405 Friday’s” is a nice little nostalgic look back to Friday nights and chillin and partying.  The chorus and beat will have you going back to listen again.  “Thunder & Lightning” pairs Defari up with the X to the Z when Xzibit was at the top of his game.  Both drop ill verses and Tash brings the chorus.  “Gems” is a dark Evidence beat where Defari continues his MC slayin.  The last track “People’s Choice” has a beat reminiscent of Dilated People’s “Work The Angles” and is a perfect end cap to a great album.  Defari makes sure to leave you with the knowledge he so long has worked for:

Lurkin’ in the ranks
I’m tryin’ to be like that brother Ant and stack mad Banks
Plus give thanks and praise
For each day I’m able to raise
And see that foggy haze
Comin’ off the coast of the Pacific
We stretch to the Atlantic my crew is Likwit

Can’t forget to mention the lone track produced by Barbershop Drevin “No Clue” featuring Barbershop Chocolate Tye.  The beat is this dark tight little offering that has always left me with wanting more from the MC Chocolate Tye.  This ends up being one of the hidden “gems” on another wise “gem” filled album.

Many might have listened to this album “Back In The Day” and never gave it more than a few listens.  There were many artists coming out at the time as hip hop was glowing in its mainstream acceptance.  If you did you need to go back, there is some classic hip hop contained within.  If this is the first time you’ve ever really heard Defari’s name and “Focused Daily” being discussed, again do yourself a favor and cop the CD or download the album.  With top notch production from producers whose discography consists of legendary tracks and an MC who brought it with every verse, “Focused Daily” is one of those hip hop albums that stand the test of time.  The songs still hold up today, the beats are raw as ever and the lyrics still make you smirk.  Be smart and find this album, put it in your catalog and don’t take it out.  You won’t be disappointed.  And for those of you that already knew – Never Lose Touch, Stay Focused Daily!

Defari Drops The People’s Gem “An All Time Sleeper”

by DJ Puicy Juice

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