Time’s have definitely changed. Today’s definition of a mixtape often contradicts the original sense of the word by proposing a mish-mash of tracks by a single rapper or group instead of a wide variety of artists and styles. I mean, it’s great to have fifty-odd freestyles, exclusives and remixes by your favourite rapper on one tape but it can get a bit repetitious and lacklustre in comparison to a fine-tuned album. Thankfully, back in 1997, mixtapes were solid compilations of the hottest sounds on the street served up with prime cuts, scratches and fades. DJ Enuff Adobo! (Flava) brings exactly that – flavour – to the table.
Head over to DJ Enuff’s wikipedia page and you’ll quickly understand that this guy was pretty respected on the decks. A member of the reputed Flip Squad DJ crew and tour DJ for Biggie Smalls. A solemn note tinges these liner notes for Adobo! because of the chronological significance of it’s release date. DJ Enuff opens the tape with Junior Mafia’s C Gutta reminding us that Notorious BIG’s second album Life After Death is about to drop on March 25 (1997). Unfortunately, BIG was fatally shot on March 9 of the same year in Los Angeles. This tragic event sparked a massive outpour of love and dedication from the Hip Hop community through magazine articles and notably mixtape tracklists. Judging by the track selection on DJ Enuff’s Adobo!, the charismatic Brooklynite Christopher ‘Biggie’ Wallace was still very much alive and kicking and about to enter legend status with his new album release. When BIG died, DJ Enuff took a break from the scene which is totally understandable when a close friend passes due to some bullshit. In a dark twist of fate, DJ Enuff produced the forewarning track You’re nobody till somebody kills you on the Diamond selling double album. DJ Enuff drops the original cut of this track on Side B.
With tight connections to Biggie, it’s not surprising DJ Enuff can bless his listeners with some sweet sounds from the Bad Boy camp. There’s the Crush on you remix featuring Lil’Cease and Lil’ Kim, but the best track has to be Lil’ Kim’s spin on Biggie’s classic Dreams where “fuckin’ an R’n’B bitch” is replaced by an “R’n’B dick“! You got to love it when Lil’ Kim gives Prince a pass: “what the deal on that Prince cat / He be lookin kind of fruity / but he can still eat the booty“.
Other strong tracks on Adobo! include the combination of Heltah Skeltah, Rass Kass and Canibus who form like Voltron and drop dynamite on the mic for Uni-4-Orm. The strongest of the three emcees is Canibus by far who continued to prove he was light years ahead of everyone else in the battle rap game with lines about “international websites” in the AOL 56K era. Another avant-garde lyricist is the RZA who drops his solo Tragedy joint. Always with an eye for leftfield samples, RZA gets inspiration from the UK pop duet The Eurythmics Here comes the rain for his chorus.
Finally, my favourite track on DJ Enuff’s Adobo! mixtape has to be The way it is with Guru, Kai Bee and Lil Dap. The song has a great instrumental matching bass with a majestic flute loop. The track featured on the soundtrack for the acclaimed Rhyme & Reason documentary about the Hip Hop industry. I strongly advise you track this documentary down and peep how the movement was reaching it’s mainstream breakthrough point with talent stretching from coast to coast and down South. Much like the documentary, DJ Enuff paints a pretty good picture of the rap scene in the early months of 1997 before everything changed forever.
Feel the vibe – Rampage / Doo Wop / Heltah Skeltah
Uni-4-Orm – Heltah Skeltah / Rass Kass / Canibus
Whateva man – Redman
Crush on you (rmx) – Lil Cease / Lil Kim
Cheese like doodles – Sin Assasinz
You got me goin – Cormega / Il D Extreme
The way it iz – Guru / Kai Bee / Lil Dap
Don’t cry Dry your eyes – The Fugees
Pay ya dues – Keith Murray / Busta Rhymes / Coco Bros
Puerto Rico/Black People – Frankie Cutlass
Dreams – Lil Kim
In the ghetto – Beenie Man / Bush Babees
Me or the papes – Jeru the Damaja
You’re nobody (original) – Notorious BIG
Big Daddy – Heavy D
B-side to Hollywood – Camp Lo / De La Soul
Jazzy Bells (rmx) – Outkast
Know da game – Modd Deep / MOP / Kool G Rap
I’ll be – Foxy Brown / Jay-Z
Tragedy – RZA
Cranial Lumps – The High and Mighty
Outside lookin in – Darc Mind
Krystal Karrington – Camp Lo
Freestyle – Jay-Z
Please – Maurice Wilcher / Dr Dre
Live at the China Club – DJ Enuff / Jiv Pos