OOP: Da Bush Babees

OOP: Da Bush Babees

Cut from the same aural cloth as fellow New Yorkers Smiff and Wessun as well as Mobb Deep, Da Bush Babies weren’t quite as smitten with tough guy stances and violent narratives. And while the trio wasn’t exactly a Native Tongues affiliated group, Da Bush Babies share a few similarities with those positive thinking late eighties’ and early nineties’ groups. If nothing else Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest fame contributes some production works to the ensemble’s first long playing album Ambushed.

Released in 1994, Da Bush Babees’ debut showed up just in time to sit alongside classics from the early period of rap’s commercial success. These guys weren’t ever set to compete in the marketplace with Nas and his ilk. But it seems like even the KRS One or Black Sheep level of notoriety was to elude these folks as well – there aren’t any reunions on tap.

The ensemble’s three members were all born in the Caribbean and moved to the city during their collective youth. Island vibes permeate much of the disc, but not always musically in a Fu Shnickens sort of way. There are some dancehall styled rhythms in various song’s backgrounds, but more often than that, emcees affect a patios tied to reggae stuffs from the late seventies. At the same time, one efforts like “Clear My Throat/Ya Mammy,” all involved ape an aggressive stance and wind up sounding like an East Coast Cypress Hill. It’s all guttural hollers and talk of sluts and diarrhea jokes. Granted, the group’s name should have hinted a bit of comedic appreciation, just not on par with KMD or anyone so willfully political, it obscures their music.

But maybe Da Bush Babees reliance on a wealth of tropes already being disseminated throughout the rap world was the cause of its eventual dissolution. “Ruff ‘N Rugged” could have been turned in by anyone, even Das Efx, another group from just about the same era working in second tier terms. With the ragamuffin delivery serving as the hook, though, Da Bush Babees should have seen some sort of dance floor renaissance. In that confluence of time and lack of utterly unique approach, the group only squeezed out one more long player before shuffling off into anonymity. All the reunions currently in the works have passed over these guys. And really who knows where these folks are. Whatever the answer, though, if Ambushed was given a gilded re-release, there’d probably be some interest. OOP.