3rd Bass – The Cactus Album

3rd-bass-cactus-album-back-n-the-day-buffet3rd Bass released their debut album “The Cactus Album” on November 14, 1989. The album was produced by Sam Sever, Prince Paul and The Bomb Squad.  The album dropped on Def Jam Records and is considered one of the greatest Hip Hop albums of all time.

When the Beastie Boys left Def Jam in 1988, 3rd Bass took their place and inherited the record label’s beef.  The album starts off nicely with a song targeting and dissing the Beasties with the song “Sons of 3rd Bass“.  MC Serch and Pete Nice are not only angry that they left the label but also because they left New York.    The hold nothing back and go for the throat with rhymes like these,

[MC Serch]
Servin the role, a sole step-child
Talk of C.C. or keep sleepin
While wakin up to noise of 3rd B-A-S-S, Bass
Success is butter for Serch’s space
Spoken slang gets played like the lottery
Your lyrics are incorrect, so you step to me
Lookin for the key to release that first piece
Three times two is six, Pete is one-three
I’m the other half, known as the other trey
Tourin to wild screams, the Third Son’s born
Swarm to the lyrics cause Serch is your father
Screaming “Hey Ladies,” why bother?

* DJ Richie Rich cuts “How can you be so stupid?” *

[Pete Nice]
Sons, slim ones flee from the 3rd
Words, spoken, a silver spoon stuck in the throat
Young useless, lyrically careless
Rhyme revolves around modes of mindless
If everyone spoke of stick-up, it’s pick of a Beast’
Prone to a lick of a waste
Taste the flav’ of the original
Orphaned trio, abandoned by lyrical
Through us, the echelon exposed with the roll with no soul
Counterfeit style, born sworn and sold
Out with high voice distorted
If a Beast’ to wish play fetus, I’d have him ABORTED

* DJ Richie Rich cuts “How can you be so stupid?” *

[MC Serch]
Put to bed, three kids to a third track
Cap the front and grip, when they heard that
The crew from the L.Q. stepped to the Club Mars
Shook the Beast’ and soon to be dubbed stars
Starring roles stone-faced from the brothers
Ludicrous whining, meaning when the others
Stand by em, while they take the fall
The Beast’ now lives in the Capitol
Record wrecks sets, Def Jam a true wrecker
The label is nothing but MC Black’n’Decker
Three boys buggin to the A.M
You step to the Serch and I slam!

The first time I heard these guys was on Yo! MTV Raps.  I saw their video and I was blown away by their sound.  These guys were not trying to be black or something they are not.  The video I saw was for the single “Steppin’ to the AM” and after rewinding my VHS tape about 100 times, I knew I had to cop the album the day it dropped!  Using a funky sample of Kool & The Gang’sMother Earth” and the bassline from “Shack Up” by Banbarra, the songs comes to life and sticks to your ribs!  As for the lyrics, these guys take it a couple of notches above the crew they replaced!  Why was it so dope though?  Both Pete and Serch wrote these lyrics as if Rakim was spitting them. Lyor Cohen advised them to ghostwrite the song, but the song was turned down by Rakim.  It is the gem off the album and sounds so good even after more than 25 years in existence!

Ready in the intro, cue up the Serch-lite
Point us to the center stage (I’ll grab the first mic)
Projectin the voice with this mic that I’m cuffin
You ain’t my nucka, SUCKER I’m snuffin
The word of the 3rd stands true, so no panickin
(Man verse man) you freeze up like a mannequin
Petrol, you let go, the wax for the new jacks
To dwell upon you’re steppin on the trigger as the tune smacks
(Square in the butt) Pete gave me the cue
So I’mma put up or shut up until my jam is through
But for now I wanna freak em, so I’ll embark
To spark your mission posse, til way past dark
(Don’t park there’s no standin) or I’ll play the five-oh
You don’t stop movin until the Serch says so
To keep the tribe open, shootin out to play em
Three the hard way’ll keep you steppin’ to the A.M

One of the catchiest tracks off this classic LP is “The Gas Face“.  “The Gas Face” is that face you make when you think something is absurd or stupid.  In this case it speaks about bad record deals, racism and Zev Love X (MF Doom) gives us the definition of “The Gas Face” by saying,

A Gas Face can either be a smile or a smirk
When appears, a monkey wrench to work one’s clockwork
Perkin his brim to the rim of my cup
Don’t tempt me, you’re empty, so fill’er up!
Is I’m talkin coffee or cocoa, is you loco?
Cash or credit for unleaded at Sunoco
KMD and 3rd Bass is just ace in the hole
I mean soul, so make the Gas Face (HUAHAHA)
Damn, if looks could kill
You look like host was a ghost from your grill
But still, what’s the new fed, to recollect
To our passing phase to facades to ’80-deca
For my label reads Hood, street might have a tattoo
Don’t pick any card or no rabbit from my hat
Never a magician if I ever tricked em
“Oh shit!” Another Gas Face victim

The title track is hilarious and it’s Serch’s part of the song that will make you realize that these guys are really having fun while making this album.

The smart villain, chillin’ like Gilligan
Out on an island
Fishin’ with my string and bamboo
Caught somethin’ in a see thru nighty
Might be a little tasty
A 300 pound white girl
No one to see this, boom, I dropped my fluid like a chemist
She’s contained and I’m a lame brain
But doing the wild thing
Kicked the fat thing off of my swing
Larger than Jim Backus
It’s the cactus

One of the greatest tracks off this album is “Products of the Environment” where the duo talk about their lives on the streets of New York.  Later, Marley Marl would serve up a nice remix to this track that gave the rhymes that extra kick and made it shine.  The album version uses a dope Ebony Rhythm Funk Campaign sample of  “Get Off Me” while Serch and Pete exchange lyrics like these,

Back in the days when kids were mack daddies
Striped Lee jeans, playboys and Caddies
Long Beach, the M.O.K. center
He almost caught a bad one when he tried to enter
Our way
Bum rush the back door
Then scatter, onto the dance floor
Me and my boys, skeezin the cuties
Never had static, cuz everybody knew me
Local DJ’s, tearin up the wax
And out the corner, some kid gets taxed
After the party, crack open a forty
Vicked it from the store yo the man never caught me
Went up to the arcade, cranked the bass
And then the five-oh chased us from the place
Hop on the railroad, play the conductor
Everywhere I went, I always tucked a
Marker in my jacket to tag where I went
Cause we were just products, of the environment

Lastly we have “Brooklyn Queens” where the duo warns us about those girls from Brooklyn that just want you for your money or fame.  Using the bassline from The EmotionsBest of My Love“, they trade stories about some scandalous females that were turned away for obvious reasons.  The track is slow and smooth and the video has some dope black and white footage of Brooklyn landmarks.

Squared away.. with my digits and tonight’s plans
When I feel a crab grab my right hand
Slapped her on the back, tried to calm her
Asking her, “What’s the reason for the drama?”
Her next move was straight out of textbook
“Haven’t we met before?” Giving me a sex look
Yo Wisdom, your lyrics are in bad taste
So I’m forced to give you nothing but the Gas Face
You better go, for hoppin on the cab or bus
Cause you’re downtown and you’re simply too fabulous
But get this, ain’t this a humdinger?
She stepped to a retard sportin’ a four-finger ring
Somewhere in the skin tight jeans
I’m gonna scoop the best of the Brooklyn-Queens

When I listened to Hip Hop in the 80’s and 90’s, I never disliked a group or MC because of their skin color or looks.  If the guy had skills on the mic, I gave him my respect and copped the single/album.  If these guys would try to fake it, they would stick out like a hitch hikers thumb!  These guys were genuine and had me buying everything they put out.  Unfortunately they only had another full album and then disbanded, but this album is one of those eye-openers that will have you rewinding the tape over and over again.  One of the greatest debut albums in Hip Hop history is honored today!  Word to the Third!!!


Al E.

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