How did 20 years go by so fast? 1994 was a dope year for Rap music, perhaps the best. Some can argue on that for a long time, and for good reason. So many classic albums like Warren G “Regulate G-Funk Era”, Nas “Illmatic”, Notorious B.I.G. “Born To Die”, Outkast “Southernplayalisticaddilacmuzik”, and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony “Creepin On A Come Up” were all classics and deserve to be at the top of the list for mainstream Hip Hop. As great as those albums, and artist were, many people stuck to the underground music scene, and the Bay Area was leading the way that year. Here are the top 10 underground bay Area albums of 1994!
1. RBL Posse: Ruthless By Law
There are times when you can tell the chemistry in a music group is right, and RBL Posse had the spark. This sophomore record was really the peak for the group, and it would be the last album that featured both Black C and Mr. Cee together, because of an unfortunate event that took Mr. Cee’s life on New Years Day in 1996. Classic tracks that stood out, and got heavy radio play, was “Bounce To This”, and “Blue Bird”. However, RBL Posse never aimed for radio play, they just kept it real with underground tracks like “M.N.O.H.P’ and “Smoke A Blunt”. This is one of the best albums to ever come out of Frisco period.
2. West Coast Bad Boyz: Another Level of the Game
No Limit Records
Master P “Tryin To Make A Dollar Out Of Fifteen Cents” (feat. RBL Posse)
Master P was a genius bringing the whole bay together on this classic compilation. Underground legends like RBL Posse, Young Cellski, C-Bo, and Dangerous Dame came with timeless tracks. More bay area compilations would follow through the years, but this album was the first of its kind in bringing the whole bay together. Rappers and producers from every city in the bay took this concept to another level, hence the name of the album…”Another Level of the Game”.
3. Spice 1: Amerikkka’s Nightmare
“Strap On The Side”
By 1994, Spice 1 was already on his third album, not counting “Let It Be Known” in 1991, recording dope gangsta albums was nothing new to him. The production by Ant Banks, Blackjack, Battlecat, DJ Slip, and himself kept that original west coast flavor rattling trunks everywhere up and down the coast. 2pac, E-40, and Method Man had Spice’s back on a few tracks like “Jealous Got Me Strapped”, “D-Boyz Got Love For Me”, and “Hard To Kill”. You could always rely on the East Bay Gangsta to come with dope albums in the 90’s, but Amerikkka’s Nightmare was one of the dopest to own….Blawwww
4. E-40: The Mail Man
Jive/ Sic Wid It Records
“Captain Save A Hoe”
The Mail Man EP only had a limited number of tracks, but damn, 40 water came sick on all of them. The special ingredient added was production by Studio Ton, Mike Mosley, and Sam Bostic. Of course, the classic singles “Captain Save a Hoe” and “Practice Looking Hard” lead the way to take this EP to another level success. This was around the time 40 got his deal with Jive records, so being the “Mail Man” you knew he had to deliver.
5. Rappin 4-Tay: Don’t Fight The Feelin’
Chrysalis/ Rag Top Records
The Fillmoe OG 4-Tay came dope for the 94’ season with “Don’t Fight The Feeling”. This album is very diverse with a wide range of song concepts. 4-Tay provides tracks for any mood, whether it be thuggin, smoking, or macking to a bitch. What really separates this album from the rest is the OG game he spits on songs like “Playaz Club”, “Sucka Free”, and “I’ll Be Around”. Even with all the different producers like, Franky J, JT the Bigga Figga, Black C, and Fly, the album has a consistent sound with dope samples and original Frisco production that doesn’t allow you to fight the feeling.
6. Dru Down: Fools From The Streets
C Note Records
“Pimp of the Year”
Explicit Game delivered some of Dru Down’s best work, with tracks like “Pimp Of The Year”, “Ice Cream Man”, and “Rescue 911”. DD had a lot of help with dope production from Ant Banks, Tone Capone, JT the Bigga Figga, and featured the Luniz all over the album on multiple tracks. Dru Down’s pimp style gangsta character, the Luniz comical lyrics, G-funk production, and song content is what set this album apart from being just another bay area album in 94’. If you wanted to know about that East Oakland lifestyle, this album provided fools from the streets to tell it.
7. Celly Cel: Heat 4 Yo Azz
Sick Wid It/ Jive Records
“Heat 4 Yo Azz”
“Heat 4 Yo Azz” had that real hardcore Vallejo gangsta sound for 1994. Cel’s lyrical skills, dope voice tone, and no holds bard content on tracks like “Gin Wit No Juice’, “Bailin Thru My Hood”, and “Pimps, Playaz, & Hustlas” really highlighted what he was all about. Thanks to Studio Ton, Mike Mosley, and Sam Bostic on the production, this album had a very consistent sound that represented the North Bay to the fullest. Cel came hard for most of the album, but there are a few tracks that were smooth like “Hot Sunny Day”, and tracks about females like “How To Catch A Batch”. But don’t let the smoothness fool you, Celly Cel was packing Heat 4 Yo Azz”.
8. C-BO: The Autopsy
“Groovin’ On A Sunday”
With only 6 songs on this EP, Bo Loc proves it’s not all about quantity, but quality. Furthermore, with Mike Mosley and Sam Bostic behind the production of all the tracks, it was bound to rattle trunks. At the time when this album dropped, C-Bo might have been the hardest rapper out. The previous year he dropped “Gas Chamber”, and in 94′ “The Autopsy”…the titles of the albums alone are hella hard. In addition to the dope beats, hard lyrics, and track titles, the group Dual Committee (Agerman & Keak Da Sneak) was introduced on “Stompin In My Steel Toes” and “Murder Man”. Young rapper Pizzo was also introduced on the sick track “Ghetto Flight”. Just imagine if Bo provided six more tracks on this album…he would have had a great career as a Pathologist as well.
9. GLP: Straight Out The Labb
Get Low Records
“Game Recognize Game (remix)”
JT was like an audio scientist mixing beats and rappers to come up with the perfect formula for Straight Out The Labb. From the concept of the compilation to the production, mixing, and engineering, the Figgaro was in beast mode recording the whole project out his Fillmoe home. JT gave you exclusive insight on Fillmoe life with “Don’t Stop Till We Major” and “Playaz N The Game” albums, but this was a chance to get a different perspective from all his homies from the Moe. Seff Tha Gaffla, D-Moe, San Quinn, Ive Low and all Get Low Playa affiliates all represented with that Fillmoe sound. The single “Game Recognize Game (remix)” really put JT on another level and got major exposure on radio and video play.
10. Ant Banks: The Big Bad Ass
“The Big Badass”
Burping and farting are just some of the funky sounds you can hear from Oaktown’s super producer Bad Ass Anthony Banks. The big dick gangsta came dope for his sophomore album “The Big Badass”, and perhaps this is his best work to date. The funky ass production intergraded with live instruments such as; drums, bass, piano, keyboards, and even a saxophone really stands out. Living the Oakland life of a player/ gangster, getting money, and playing hoes, drives the theme of the album. No Ant Banks album is complete without features from familiar casts The Dangerous Crew (Too Short, Bad-N-Fluenz, Goldy, Pee Wee, Fatha Dom), and Spice 1. Tracks that stand out are “Parlaying” featuring Goldy, which was the first single released, “Packin’ A Gun” released on the Menace II Society soundtrack, and “Fucking With Banks”, a dis track aimed towards Pooh-Man (MC Pooh) about why he got dropped from the crew. Without a doubt, this is a record you can slap front to back without skipping a song. If you ever wanted a glimpse of Oakland life in 1994, just take a listen from the Big Badass.