Da Bush Babees: Even Better the Second Time 'Round

Da Bush Babees: Even Better the Second Time 'Round

Naming your group Da Bush Babees doesn’t seem like the most adroit business move. That being said, it’s pretty funny even while the group occasionally addresses – or addressed – significant issues which faced its listeners. Of course, cropping up during the early nineties made the rap duo something of a failure upon its arrival. They never cultivated the same sort of public persona as De La Soul, didn’t approach politics like NWA or Public Enemy and weren’t necessarily chart-minded. All of that basically relegated the group to second tier status, even if that should really be better than it sounds considering Da Bush Babees’ contemporaries.

If nothing else – and there is quite a bit more – Da Bush Babees were pretty adept at recognizing extraordinary talent before others had. Releasing their second full length, Gravity, in 1996, the rap group went and feature two figures who would, a few years after their appearances here, be hailed as saviors of the rap game. Immediately when pushing play on Gravity, Mos Def greats listeners a good couple of years before Black Starr or Black on Both Sides. Not only does the emcee function as the album’s opening narrator, he goes on to grace a number of other tracks with a verse or two. His flow’s fully realized even at this early date. And it’s good Da Bush Babees recognized that.

Rahzel and the Roots crew were already relatively known, but as a collective instead of talented individuals. The gifted beat boxer, better known as The Human Beat Box, comprises the entirety of “The Beat Down,” an appropriate title given the song’s general bent. While both Rahzel and Mighty Mos impact the album in ways most listeners pick up on quickly, J Dilla, as a part of the Ummah, contributes musical backing to a pair of tracks, including the title song as well as one of those Mos Def features.

With those three figures heaped on top of the already engaging talents of Da Bush Babees, it’s a wonder this disc wasn’t more popular. But the fact that the album counts as a release on the periphery of the genre points to the groundswell it was moving towards. Granted, Da Bush Babees would basically be relegated to memories by the time an underground current, bolstered by Mos and the Rawkus affiliates, took hip hop into another artful period of time. Too bad even that’s in the past now.