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    Eightball & MJG – Comin’ Out Hard

    Year: 1993

    Among landmark southern rap albums—examples include UGK’s Ridin’ Dirty, Goodie Mob’s Soul Food, OutKast’s Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, Odd Squad’s Fadanuf Fa Erybody!!, Geto Boys’ We Can’t Be Stopped, Three 6 Mafia’s Mystic Stylez, Paul Wall and Chamillionaire’s Get Ya Mind Correct, T.I.’s King and Young Jeezy’s Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101, which, unbelievably, just hit 10 years old—this one flies under the radar.

    Slipped out in August 1993 on the unknown Suave House Records, the album put Memphis, Tennessee, on the rap map and has gained in stature over the years. The liner notes are sparse, “Special Thanks To: God, all of our parents, and everybody who worked hard to make this shit jump off. Smoke One!” Moving on to the equally scant production credits reveals that Eighball and MJG produced, engineered and mixed the album.

    That’s impressive given what’s here. Nine tracks begin with MJG threateningly introducing the duo with a demented effect on his voice before cackling like a demon while audibly smoking pot. From there it’s non-stop bouncy funk; a mixture of live instrumentation and weaponized samples over appealingly hollow programmed drums with non-stop rapping throughout; these guys weren’t too into choruses.

    As for lyrical content, there’s a lot of straight bragging here, and they sound great doing it, but there are moments that reach beyond that. Over a sample of the 1983 quiet storm “T.K.O.” by Womack & Womack, “Pimps” flatly outlines the subject of pimping; lyrically unforgiveable but infectious nonetheless. “Armed Robbery” let’s us ride along with Eightball and MJG on two crime sprees they’re committing concurrently, describing themselves robbing banks, shooting and stabbing people step by step over a deft recreation of Lalo Schifrin’s Mission: Impossible theme.

    Why did they do all this? Eightball says, “I took the money for the sake of me livin’ poor and wishin’ to be richer, and just like Picasso, I had to paint a picture.”