KMD – Black Bastards
Few shelved hip-hop albums get a happy ending like this one. Comparatively cuddly (their debut single was called “Peachfuzz”) underground NYC rap group KMD was basically done preparing its more militant sophomore album Black Bastards when lead MC Zev Love X’s brother Subroc was killed trying to cross an expressway. This, combined with the album’s racially charged cover art, caused Elektra to shelve the record and drop the group. Fondle ‘Em Records put it out five years later and it’s been reissued a couple times since—it even came out as a lame pop-up book this past Record Store Day.
Listening to it, it’s easy to see why it endured. It’s a perfect rap record; every track is irresistibly funky and elastic, and Zev Love X (soon to reinvent himself as MF DOOM) is on point. Sample lyric: “I got it, my tool, my utensil to draw lead in that ass like a pencil with a stencil. And let me see them kids who had beef in the summer, and they mugs, all look like Helen Keller but dumber; ain’t that a bummer? I’ll take you out your misery; I’ll be the mad bluff caller like, caller ID motherfucker!” This has it all; black power, sex, weed, humor, dense posse cuts, the works. Check the lengths to which Zev Love X will spin the simple story of a bus driver refusing to drive his group to its next tour stop unless they stop smoking pot and bringing on girls (“plus he said no bitches on the bus except for his one bitch”) on “Contact Blitt.” We take it for granted now, but thank God this album finally made its way into wide distribution. Makes you wonder how many other lost classics lurk on Ampex reels or in dusty corners of someone’s hard drive.