Onyx: All We Got Iz Us - Rage with a sense of direction.
May 9, 2012
Review by Frankie Torres
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Well written and tight lyricism, gritty yet great production
The Bottom Line: Come into this expecting something different from their previous release.
Back in 1993, the Queens NY hip hip group Onyx, took the hip hop world by storm with their hardcore, rowdy, and in your face style with their first album Bacdafucup. Some folks I remember claimed that they were NWA(N*ggas With Attitudes) clones or wannabe's. This was always an argument I debated for one simple reason; Onyx were actually better lyricist to me, and with the exception of Ice Cube, NWA were not lyrical monsters. And this was the one thing that set them apart in my view.
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Their first album seriously slammed and folks were starving for them to drop a second release. In 1995, they would go on to release their second LP All We Got Iz Us, but this was a different Onyx though, as this album did not have a radio friendly feel, and it didn't recapture that energetic vibe of their first album. Ironically, their first album ended with a skit, that saw Onyx burning down buildings and rioting as if they were preparing for a pending apocalypse. This album seems to reflect that in a way, because it's much darker than the first album, and the group lays down a majority of their vocals with a sinister feel behind them, as an example, for the most part, just think Shiftee coming into this one, from the mic presence to the production. This album didn't catch on immediately, however, in time, many fans of the group would go on to hail this as their best album, despite it not selling as well as the first.
Fredro Starr, Sticky Fingaz, and Sonsee return for the album, and the late Big DS refused to, because he felt he didn't get enough play on the first one. The group definitely grew lyrically for this album, as there's a bit more complexity in their lyrics. Each of them hold their own very well and the chemistry can be felt. Even though I don't feel the teamwork is as tight this time around, they still do a fantastic job. The production was handled in house by the group members and it's very dark, but the beats are easy to bob your head to.
The intro pretty much sets the pace for the album, as it opens up with a man contemplating gun suicide, with a voice that could either be in his head, or perhaps a second person is present talking him into doing it. The beat has a sinister feel to it, letting the listener know this is something different if they heard the first album, it could also be playing into Onyx mindset as well, in which the first track kind of feels like this. The lead track Last Dayz, features one of my favorite instrumentals ever, with a nice background vocal that fits like a glove and perfectly captures the mood. It works in parallel with the light bass line, filled with a slow drum loop. This track is completely different from the rest of the album, since every thing else has a higher tempo. The lyrics are well thought out, and the group appears to be fed up with some things in the political system, and they even think about suicide. This is one of my favorite tracks on the album.
The follow up happens to be the title track All We Got Iz Us, which is Onyx delivering a street narrative, and basically being brutally honest on taking what they want, and telling you what you need to do if you want to survive. And I love that hook delivered by P.I. Purse Snatchaz is an awesome lyrical, introspective street narrative with the group throwing it down with a multi-syllable rhyme style, over a pretty basic beat with a depressing violin piece. The album contains almost no features, but there's one posse cut that I do like called Getto Mentalitee, with the crew getting ill on the mic with more street poetry. Betta off Dead is one of my favorite tracks without a doubt with eerie production. I remember hearing this first on a mix tape before the album dropped, and the slow menacing "Onyx" chant felt like they were signifying their comeback after two years. The crew delivers some hard violent lyrics. This is one of their deeper tracks though, and the metaphor can be taken in different ways. Many feel their going at commercial rap here.
My favorite track on the album happens to be Onyx most conscious track 2 Wrongs, which was surprisingly produced by Sticky Fingaz. Here, they go after the US government and just talk about things that gets on they nerves. Now don't come into this expecting Public Enemy because they're not as deep and detailed, but it was a very nice change of pace from a group that appears very one dimensional. The beat has a simple old school feel, but I think it has a damn good bassline filled with well placed scratches. Walk in New York closes out the album on a strong note. The production like the rest of the album doesn't have that radio friendly feel, and the crew just give their perspectives on New York streets.
The album could have been a lot better had the skits been better or left off completely. Unlike their first album where the skits weren't the issue because they were so fun. Here, they feel as if they add little to the album, thus, adding in that bit of unnecessary filler. Looking over that small issue there, the tracks are very strong to the point where they overshadow all of that. Personally, this is my favorite Onyx album, and I do like their first one a lot, but I'm the type of person who prefers my hip hop to be on the darker side a little more. Now don't get me wrong, I do love the fun stuff too.
In any case, this is a very strong album by the group, and I highly advise not coming into this expecting what you got from their first album. It's two different animals, and I feel this beast has a bit more bite.
2 Wrongs, Last Dayz, Betta Off Dead
Shout, Purse Snatchaz, Most Def
1. Life Or Death (Skit)
2. Last Dayz
3. All We Got Iz Us (Evil Streets)
4. Purse Snatchaz
6. I Murder U (Skit)
7. Betta Off Dead
8. Live Niguz
10. Most Def
11. Act Up (Skit)
12. Getto Mentalitee
13. 2 Wrongs
14. Maintain (Skit)
15. Walk In New York
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