Poison Clan Tell 'Em

Hopefully you had the chance to see the excellent 30 for 30 documentary The U when it premiered a few months back. It chronicles the rise and fall of perhaps the most dominating/entertaining/lawless collegiate sports team in history, the University of Miami Hurricanes football teams of the late '80s/early '90s. For me it was a flood of nostalgia. I remember vividly my family's frequent trips to FLA to visit the relatives and our eventual allegiance to one of the big three teams in the state. Doug was a Gator, Adam was a Seminole, and I often fantasized of one day being a Hurricane on the campus of UM. It was really hard not to like a team that carried themselves as a flashier, quicker, more culturally tuned-in NFL franchise. They were bigger than the native Dolphins at the time.

I do believe a lot of my Hurricane love went in tandem with my increasing fascination with Luke Skyywalker, 2 Live Crew, and the emergence of the Miami Bass sound. In retrospect, 2 Live Crew were an awful group nearly on par with ICP -- kind of like hip-hop's version of Larry Flynt. I would never endorse Hustler, but would be right up front to trumpet their triumph's with the First Amendment. The Banned in the USA album is pure trash, but did teach me a lot about the saga that unfolded that year in Broward County. Their beats were revolutionary and sustaining (see the evolution of Baile Funk), though who created that beat is still in question. So by all accounts, Luke's reign was over a false empire. I suppose besides his fight for his right to be nasty as he wanted to be, his only other achievement is discovering Poison Clan.

Dubbed the "baby 2 Live Crew," it's likely, should a memoir be written about the scene, that JT Money and Debonaire were the over-achievers of this Miami circle, kindly pushed to the side to make room for the 2 Live spotlight, even though they were the only speck of talent on the roster. Giving them this title was already a slight they would never be able to squeeze out of despite the success of "Shake Whatcha' Mama Gave Ya" and the influence their primitive samples and beats had in shaping the eventual rise of the Dirty South. That hit (as seen below in it's full uncensored glory) does co-opt the Miami Bass to full effect, spiraling the Bambaataa arpeggios into a club banger all about the booty, and it's probably the most recognizable, but in no way should it be emblematic of Poison Clan's M.O. On the album 2 Low Life Muthas, the lyrics are blunt and dumb, but full of an attitude and relaxed cadence that it sounds like sweet tea in the strip club -- not trying all that hard to impress, boast, or steal turf. Here it's the samples, from pliable funk to skunky blues to stuttering soul horns. Highly recommended is the epic "Juveniles," very similar to Too Short's "Cuss Words" only slow and easy, likable and humorous. A Floridian's narration of life as a Sunshine State hoodlum. Too bad Luke didn't see all that talent and instead saw competition. Just like the mentality that ruined the U. I don't think this duo had a mean bone in their body.

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