Who Dat Rapper 11-27-2016
Celly Cel is a Bay Area gangster rapper who started releasing his tales in the early 1990’s. Known for his strong vocals and funky west coast production, Celly Cel reached his pinnacle in the mid 90’s, but still churns out music today. He may not be a lyrical genius, but is able to take control of the mic and rap about what he knows; life in the Bay where violence is prevalent.
Celly Cel’s first single was the funk infused bay area jam, “Lifestyle of a Mack” released in 1992. This was an introduction to Celly Cel. Macking broads, his preference to gin with no juice and getting paid are a part of his everyday life. It was a regional favorite that didn’t venture too far from the bay. Distribution was handled by his own company, Realside Records. This helped forge some allies and became the foundation to the artist signed to Jive.
Celly Cel – Lifestyle of a Mack
Celly Cel’s single helped aligned him with Mr. Flamboyant himself, E-40 who signed him to his Sick Wid It Label. He was now apart of the Jive Records onslaught of gangsta rap in the early nineties….and gangsta is what Celly Cel represented. Heat 4 Yo Azz was his debut released in 1994 and generated some heat. The first 3 songs definitely grabbed at you and made you pay attention to Celly Cel’s strong rhymes. These 3 songs were my favorite in his entire catalog and one of my favorite first 3 songs to an album ever.
The title track starts the evening and O My damn does this bang. The beginning of the song is a sampled from the One Way classic, “Cutie Pie”. You’ve heard this skating jam plenty times. But instead of wanting to put some skates on and find the cute girl Devona with the big booty, the beat turns savage. Now you just want to choke Devona while Celly Cell starts up with his verbal threats. The female on the hook helps create a more sinister experience. B-Legit joins the party on the ultra smooth “Bailin Thru My Hood”. Lyrically nothing new here, just a story about a rough night over a beat that makes you want to cruise to until the break of dawn. But dayum!!!! B-Legit shows his barbaric side when he exclaims at the end of the song, “I don’t want the baby, just give me the pussy”. Ouch. “What Am I Supposed to Do” is more murder and mayhem over a fast paced Parliament sample. The KRS One vocal sample on the hook is a nice touch.
Celly Cel-Heat 4 Yo Azz
Celly Cel-Bailin’ Thru My Hood
Celly Cel-What Am I Supposed to Do
E-40 and the rest of the Sick Wid It family appears throughout the album. Their resident singer, Levitti appears on the hook of “Hot Sunny Day”. It’s one of those feel good, summer time jams. He starts out letting cats know if you test him, he’s got a 380 under the seat….but then proceeds to rhyme about water ballon fights and barbeques. I’ve listened to Spice 1 though the years, and was a refreshing sight to see him in the video, laughing using Super Soakers.
Celly Cel “Hot Sunny day”
After a couple features in 1995, Celly Cel came back from the lab in ‘96 and dropped his next album, Killa Kali. His biggest single, “Its Goin Down” helped jettison this album to the top 5 of the Billboard R&B/Hip Hop charts. The familiar Keith Sweat sample is the backdrop as Celly Cel explains a day in the life. This is one of the west coast jams my cousins and I used to watch over and over again on The Box and Rap City. East Coast radio just wasn’t banging this stuff.
Celly Cel-It’s Going Down
Celly Cel’s brethren, E-40 and B-Legit show up on the speaker destroying, “4 The Scrilla” while Spice 1 does what he usually does on the track “RedRum”. This time around, Celly Cel shows a bit more lyrical range. “Remember Where You Came From” is a reminder to those become successful, don’t ignore your past. “In Tha Bullet” is a unique record. He discusses actually being the bullet and the destruction that comes with it. The funky west coast beat and the evil menacing laugh throughout the song will keep that head moving.
Celly Cel – Tha Bullet
Later on that year, he continued to feature himself and then landed on the powerful America Is Dying Slowly album. The project was created to raise awareness of AIDS and features music from across the country. At the time, this was one of the most diverse hip hop albums I ever heard. Wu-Tang and Mobb Deep (Street Life was one of their hardest songs ever) represented the east. Common personified Chicago, while Eightball &MGJ showed up with their Southern funk. Then Celly Cel joined Spice 1, Ant Banks, Gangsta P and the 187 Fac on “Check Ya Self” to represent for the West Coast.
Spice 1, Celly Cel, 187 Fac, Ant Banks & Gangsta P – Check Ya Self
The G Filez was Celly Cel’s third album released in 1998. It was the first time he had features with artists outside the bay area. No Limit soldier, Silkk The Shocker shares his machine gun type flow to the “Fuck the World”. This falls a bit flat, as the two just don’t have the chemistry that Celly Cel does with Spice 1 or any of his Sick Wid It family. UGK stopped by to share their Texas funk on “Pop That Trunk”
And don’t forget, the remix in the 90’s usually added another dimension to an already smash hit. Rappin 4-Tay, Mac 10, B-Legit, and E-40 (my all time favorite verse from him) all jumped and created magic on the previous single, “Its Goin Down”.
Celly Cel-It’s Going Down (remix)
“You Neva Know” is a funky ride discussing the mishaps that may happen in his neighborhood. Hardcore fans may hate “Eternal Life” track. The R&B chick singing on the hook sounds something more suitable to players like 8Ball and MJG, but this upbeat production was a welcome change from the hardcore. Fans still ate this album up as it reached top 20 in the hiphop/R&B charts.
Celly Cel bought in the new millennium with Deep Conversation in 2000. He left Sick Wit It and Jive and decided to return to his roots, his own Realside Records. WC and Kurupt joined Celly Cel on this ride. He hasn’t slowed down and he released 3 more albums including 2013’s Morphine. When he isn’t releasing new albums, Celly Cel stays busy by releasing compilation albums. He also formed a group with Spice 1 called The Criminals and they released Criminal Activity in 2001. Celly Cel then got his hometown potnas, Mac Reese, D Enemy and Protajay to form The Hillside Stranglaz and released Bad Influence in 2006.
Fans of 90’s gangsta rap, but are stuck on Death Row, King Tee and CMW, need to pay attention to Celly Cel. A Bay Area legend who never quite reached the acclaim of fellow Bay Area representers like Spice 1, E-40 or Too Short. He has however given us music for 25 solid years.
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