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Bigg Jus - Black Mamba Serums v2.0

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Artist: Bigg Jus

Album: Black Mamba Serums v2.0

Label: Big Dada

Review date: Sep. 2, 2004

The Company Flow saga is well-known in underground hip hop circles. In 1993, the trio released their debut single, "Juvenile Techniques," Not long after, seeking total creative control, they set up the Official Recordings label. Subsequent releases led to a deal with Rawkus, which put out their debut LP Funcrusher Plus. The album sent hip hop spiraling off on a tangent that might have hit an apex with Cannibal Ox’s The Cold Vein; way ahead of its time, and "independent as fuck," as they liked to say, CoFlow had no company.

The trio’s credo eventually clashed with Rawkus’ major distribution and the crew went separate ways. El-Producto shortened his name and later spit “he’d rather be mouthfucked by Nazis” than release music on Rawkus. Raw yes, but El-P’s spite did result in Def Jux, arguably the most successful independent hip hop label ever.

El-P’s high-profile p.s. to the Company Flow legend has overshadowed some daring work by his former colleague Justin Ingleton, a.k.a. Bigg Jus. After helping launch the dope, independent Sub Verse Music (M.F. Doom’s Operation: Doomsday) and relocating to Atlanta to establish their southern post, he originally intended to release his debut full-length in 2001. But weeks before Sept. 11, he felt like something wasn’t right and pulled back the master. Clairvoyance or coincidence, Bigg Jus reformatted the design, released an EP featuring some of the new material, and recorded two albums known as The Nephlim Modulation Sessions with California emcee Orko Elohiem.

El-P once declared “So inevitably my style will survive when your now turns to then.” This could be the Bigg Jus ’04 campaign slogan. Almost three years since his original street date, he’s unleashed the confrontational convention-crusher Black Mamba Serums from virtual obscurity, presenting the LP in two forms: One, an overhauled version developed out of sessions in Atlanta last year. The other is the original Black Mamba record, included as 23 mp3s.

On both albums, Jus literally whips the drum pads as macabre piano/808s evoke By All Means Necessary. He loops El Debarge and (I swear) samples the Silver Apples. His barbed flows effortlessly shift from battleground to lax to robotic. Laced with autobiographical graffiti tales, would-be divas show up and choruses say shit like “No dessert till you finish your vegetables.” This is gloom-bap, like Kanye if he were starving.

The main difference between the two versions is their focus. The original is mostly concerned with the state of hip-hop, where the recasted version is far more politically opinionated and aggressively targets Bush’s America. At the tail end of “Silver Back Mountain King” he chants, “America uses depleted uranium-tipped weapons” and echoes everyone from Franz Fannon to Eldridge Cleaver with the line “to eliminate terror you have to eliminate mankind.” Jus keeps the movement subversive, his stance culminating with the clean-up verse on “Suburbian Nightmare Texas Size New World Order.”

The minimal framework and jagged production only work to enhance both themes. The record reads like it’s still in progress: a subway car that is only half-bombed because the writer had to duck out from Jake. Back on Funcrusher Jus actually detailed his modus operandi best: “Kool G Rap music made for concert piano.” Hip-hop is a living culture. The elements are all here. Bigg Jus is just giving it breath.

By Jake O'Connell

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