As any rap scholar would tell you, 1993 was an incredible year for hip-hop. Perhaps even the last good one the beleaguered genre will ever have. Yes, it’s almost certainly been all downhill since, as that year’s stunning debuts alone will attest. Wu-Tang Clan. The Roots. Souls of Mischief. The Coup. Black Moon. Snoop. Digable Planets. Onyx. It was if the rapture had come and all good rap souls were being lined up for roll call. Well allow us to introduce the one that got away: Meet Tha Grimm Teachaz and their long lost ’93 classic, There’s a Situation on the Homefront.
But who are these blunted, mustachioed street scholars? Why haven’t we heard anything from them until now? And why does KDz’s mustache look so … familiar? Chill with the questions, yo! Trip with us instead, to a time when Shaq thought he could rap, and bucket hats were cool. The brothas Grimm were/are Chicago rappers PMDF (Prince Midnight Dark Force) and KDz (Kenny Dennis a.k.a. Tha Killa Deacon), plus producer DJ Koufie. Their first and only show took place in Philadelphia at a ’92 Jive Records showcase, opening up for Shaquille O’Neal and Tevin Campbell. In many ways, it was that night that sealed the trio’s fate.
KDz never forgave Shaq for insulting his ’stache. Homefront contains at least one overt diss leveled at Jive’s other recent signee -- check “Grimm Savyas,” a flute-driven slab of groove wherein GT deliver wack emcees from their fruitless existences. Some say that’s why the label shelved the album. In truth, the Teachaz had imploded by the time they finished their masterpiece. Impressed with their fierce live presence, Tevin had asked them to be on the “Can We Talk” remix, but the producers removed PMDF’s verse at the last minute. A disastrous period of paranoiac infighting followed, and one of the three (perhaps Koufie, in a last-ditch effort to remind his friends what was truly important) destroyed the masters. All was lost.
Until, that is, KDz’s little brother Tanya made a discovery in April of 2010. He was living in the ex-Teacha’s garage, doing a little spring cleaning when he found a cassette marked “TASOTH.” He popped it into his Walkman and heard with virgin ears what you too are now experiencing for the first time: the woozy boom-bap of “I Getz” featuring Son Doobie; “Melissa,” the earworming upbeat story rap; the aggressive and braggadocious “Ay Muthafucka!”; plus the apocalyptic, science-dropping titular closer, and eight other unreleased gems -- classics, every one.
Today, KDz occasionally raps simply as Kenny (see his 2006 unlikely buzz-maker, Dennehy, and his recent single on Asthmatic Kitty, “Kenny vs. Spring”). The Prince is now an assistant for L.A.-based painter Frohawk Two Feathers. DJ Koufie, so far, is nowhere to be found.
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