Rap-A-Lot Records has amassed a legendary catalog of classic albums from Houston, most released in the mid-90s and many of which have now gone out of print. The Odd Squad's 1994 LP "Fadanuf fa Erybody!!" is one that stands among the label's finest releases, but barely resembles the others at all. Rap-A-Lot made a name for themselves with dark, gloomy, slow, and funky hip hop from the likes of Geto Boys, 5th Ward Boyz, Menace Clan, Facemob, and Mad CJ Mac, among others. Odd Squad's product of lighthearted, friendly, and upbeat hip hop stands out among the rest.
The trio of Devin the Dude, who later would become an underground legend as a solo artist, Jugg Mugg, and Rob Quest, a hilarious blind rapper, could make a case for the funniest trio of MCs around. If you like the comedic stylings of the Pharcyde, this is the album for you. These guys sarcastically rap about the average life they live, and instead of rapping about guns and violence like many of their contemporaries, they rap about smoking weed or humorous tales of a day in the life. Rob Quest even pokes fun at his handicap, and Devin delivers a lot of the hooks in his sing-song flow like he is known for doing today. Their rhymes are conversational and often hysterical. They emit a truly laidback vibe that makes it perfect for just listening to while relaxing.
The music is similarly laidback, but it's often beautiful. A southern funky-fried guitar lick can be found as the backbone for most tracks musically, and the use of harmonicas, saxophones, horns, and bass is also prevalent. It's loose and sometimes even feels kind of live. The combination of the ripe jazzy and funky music with the upbeat, goofy rhymes makes a truly unique hip hop album. Their are multiple guest appearances, all from rappers that adapt to Da Squad's brand of humor. Scarface once called this "the greatest Rap-A-Lot release ever," and while I believe he was being a bit humble there (he did make The Diary after all!), it's easy to see where he's coming from. The skits are funny, the rappers are hilarious, and the music is perfect.
After the intro, the album opens with the introductory "Da Squad," a heavy funker that immediately induces severe head-nodding with their unique sound and funny verses. On "H..s Wit Babies," they spin hilarious yarns about the problems with trying to get with single mothers, such as having to take little kids to McDonald's and being interrupted. Again the music is dense and funky. Then on "Here to Say a Little Something," they shun mainstream hip hop devoid of any lyrical substance and assert themselves as the opposite. "Smokin' Dat Weed" is an enjoyable, chilled-out weed ode, and "Putcha Lips" in a silly, desperate attempt for some more love from the ladies. The accurately titled "Jazz Rendition" is a higlight, and "Coughee" is another dedicated to their drug of choice. "Fa Sho" is a slow, addictive groove over which the trio raps about a female dilemma. This song later appeared on Devin's 2002 album Just Tryin' ta Live. "I Can't See It" is another very memorable one, where Rob Quest makes fun of his blindness over some fast and funky production. The low-key "Your P's Like Dope" has a slow, slippery musical backing and well-delivered performances. Another true highlight is the 8-minute posse cut "Came Na Gedown," where darn near every rapper signed to Rap-A-Lot in '94 shows up to kick it on a party jam with Da Squad. It's great to hear even the hardest of Houston's gangsta rappers sound like they're having fun, such as Scarface, DMG, 2 Low, and 3-2. The album closes with "Long Time Comin'," a funky outro of sorts.
"Fadanuf fa Erybody!!" is every bit as good as its legend, and now that it's finally been rereleased after all these years of being out of print, it should be an immediate addition to any hip hop collection. Fans of Devin the Dude's work will adore this gem, it stands tall among even his wonderful solo albums, although the sound is quite different. Hip hop was at its finest in the great year of 1994, and obscure classics like this are one of the reasons why. For those who are interested, the group released a new LP as The Coughee Brothaz in late 2007 called Waitin Our Turn. Do yourself a favor and peep "Fadanuf fa Erybody!!"