From when they first formed in the East Bay in the late 1980s, the funk/rap/hip-hop ensemble Digital Underground (DU) was as much a collective of creative-minded artists as simply a singular rap group. As such, these young P-Funk disciples tended to have an ever-rotating stable of members and associated artists. Digital Underground, whose consistent core members over their two-decade timeline were Shock G (aka Humpty Hump, aka M.C. Blowfish) and Money B, spawned several spinoff acts in their prime years (circa '88 - '93) that included most notably a dancer and roadie turned actor and rap superstar Tupac Shakur or 2Pac, Raw Fusion (DJ Fuze and Money B), Gold Money (who were also signed to Tommy Boy for a minute, but long enough to do the cool money-themed promo items pictured below), Saafir (f/k/a The Saucy Nomad), female emcee/singer Mystic (who was also down with Conscious Daughters), and Pee Wee. Pee Wee, who was part of the aforementioned Gold Money along with Bigg Money Odis, would go on to produce for 2Pac as well as being a member of another Bay Area collective, Too $hort's extended Dangerous Crew rap family.
Lately I have been digging in my long neglected hip-hop crates and it has been a lot of fun rediscovering a bygone era. Comprised of mostly 12" singles, but some LPs too, that era is made of mostly late-'80's to early-'90's releases. That time is known as the golden era for good reason since so much of this music is truly golden. Under the letter K I stumbled upon a string of rappers named "Kid" including Kid Named Panic, Kid Rock (back when he was rap), and Kid Sensation as well as (pictured above) Kid Frost, Kid Capri, Kid Flash, and Kid 'N Play. Had I been including more recent era hip-hoppers named Kid, included would have been Kid Cudi, Kid Ink, and Kid Sister or perhaps turntablist Kid Koala.
But back to those four golden era "Kid" records that I dug out to pop onto the turntable recently. These included three 12" singles and one album: Kid Flash's forgotten 1988 LP He's In Effect, which was released on Tabu via distribution from CBS and featured some great tracks like "Go Jackson" and "I Hate The Bus," as well as the main single and video off the album "Hot Like." (Note that this LP shows up in the used bins at Amoeba from time to time and usually at a nice price.) Kid Flash's career began and ended with this record (he's rumored to have gone on to become a doctor), which was because, I'm guessing, that while he was very good, his sound was nothing new or original. All the He's In Effect album tracks have a distinct mid-'80's hip-hop sound. Hence, from a hip-hop historic perspective, Kid Flash's whole style and sound contributed little to the overall development and growth of the genre. Compare say Kid Flash to another hip-hop act also releasing an album in 1988 such as Eric B. & Rakim's Follow The Leader and you have two totally different schools of hip-hop artist. While Eric B. & Rakim's sound signalled the beginning of a new era and decade in hip-hop, Kid Flash had the end of the '80's hip-hop sound. Down with the prestigious Cold Chillin' label, Kid Capri was part of what that new hip-hop sound would be like with his 1991 12" "Apollo" release that came in both "Album" and the then popular "Dub" versions, in addition to the "Shout Outs" track.
Centered in New York City and with direct ties to the Universal Zulu Nation, the Native Tongues were not a crew but rather a collective of different crews and acts that came together as a loose knit movement bonded by Afrocentric rooted hip-hop with uplifting lyrics focus on positivity and with a musical / production focus on jazzy grooves and eclectic samples (along with jazz, funk, and soul samples, the aforementioned Jungle Brothers album title track sampled Cameroon, Central Africa artist Manu Dibango). In addition to its leading act The Jungle Brothers (aka the JBs), the Native Tongues also included De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest (its core members), as well as such artists as Queen Latifah, Black Sheep, and Monie Love as among its many members. Other Native Tongue members - albeit to a much lesser and/or later degree of involvement - have said to have included Chi-Ali, Fu-Schnickens, The Beatnuts, Brand Nubian, Leaders of the New School, Common, and Da Bush Babees. However while these hip-hop acts continued for many years - some up until the present - the actual Native Tongues collective slowly disintegrated and became no more by the early nineties - many correctly correlating the demise of Afrocentric hip-hop with that of the Native Tongues movement.