Exactly 17 years ago San Francisco’s Lakeview district rap crew I.M.P. (Ill Mannered Posse) released their long overdue official debut album Back in the Days on In-A-Minute Records. Three years later, on the same now-defunct Oakland independent label, they would release their only other full length album Ill Mannered Playas. Regionally popular, and to a lesser degree nationally, I.M.P. never really got the level of fame that they so deserved, which is too bad because they were such a talented, distinctive sounding hardcore rap group. That sound was defined by the raspy voiced rapper Cougnut, who tragically died in an auto accident in 2001.
I.M.P. began in San Francisco in 1989 when DJ/producer Rob V, along with fellow DJ/producer and longtime friend and musical collaborater Stingy, had the idea to form a rap group. Shortly afterward, Rob V’s cousin, rapper Cougnut, was enlisted, with rappers C-Fresh and Lou-E-Lou joining the fold next. Within months they had recorded and released their acclaimed debut, the EP No Prisoners. After that, in 1990, they released the six track EP IMP Dogs on Sucka Free Records. Soon word traveled about this talented new Frisco rap group and the requests for concert and radio appearances started pouring in.
A busy period for I.M.P. followed that included appearing in Digital Underground’s “Doowutchyalike” video. The 17 track Back in the Days showcased the combined talents of the group; C-Fresh's engaging gangsta rap flow, Cougnut's distinctive gravely voiced delivery and clever wordplay, plus the ever-entertaining Lou-E-Lou (“the Flavor Flav of the group”). In one song (“Nigga Rays”) Lou-E-Lou became a total of five different characters, including Willy The Wino, Salamander Fred, and Sick Tos. The album also featured production assistance from prolific 1990's San Francisco producer TC, plus some microphone cameos from local SF rap talents Dre Dog, Totally Insane, Cellski, RBL Posse, Chewy-C, and 2.2.
Back in the Days was great because it featured new cuts plus some older I.M.P. tracks like "Scandlous," a hometown underground hit that originally appeared on No Prisoners. Much like fellow SF rappers RBL Posse’s “Don’t Give Me No Bammer,” I.M.P’s “Scandlous” was an already established part of Frisco’ hardcore rap favorites and considered one of the city's earliest rap hits since it originally was released in 1989. Another older IMP track, "Merciless,” which first appeared on the five-track 1990 release IMP Dogs, also appeared on Back in the Days in an updated recording.
If you look you can still find this album, as well as Ill Mannered Playas, which is good but not as great as Back in the Days, at Amoeba Music. If you appreciate West Coast hardcore gangsta 90's music, go back and listen to em!