Hip Hop Time Capsule: Spice 1 – 187 He Wrote

By SquareOne

You ever find yourself living in a moment? Like watching the sun rise, or set, or how about when you’re at a dope ass show to one of your favorite groups and you’re elated with happiness. Or like that moment when the West Coast not only took over hip hop, but put it in a strangle hold, held a gun to its head and threatened any and everybody who dared to try and take it back, remember that moment? Well a lot of us do. But what gets lost in the Death Row and Gangster Rap take over is the tons and tons of fresh ass albums that not only put Compton, South Central, Oakland, and The Bay on the map but scared the living shit out of corporate and middle America. It’s time we unearthed these gems and give them their proper due.  Our first salute goes to the East Bay Gangster, Spice 1 with his tale from the darkside, 187 He Wrote.

1993 was a turning of the page in many ways for Americans, the country was just beginning to heal after a year removed from witnessing the L.A. Riots and Rodney King. The Chronic was undeniably the best dope you could buy without harming your actual health. And gangster rap was the soundtrack to social injustices and law enforcement brutality in the urban community and was wildly accepted by all demographics, because I mean really.. what other genre made it cool to just “kill a man?” But maybe that’s something you just can’t understand. But I’m here to help you out.

In September of 93’ an album filled with so much truth, paranoia, and wickedness hit the record shelves. Spice 1 wasn’t really a household name although just a couple years prior  he put out a very impressive self-titled debut album, but when 187 He Wrote dropped everybody knew that the Bay was not f’ing around. See up until that point Too $hort was the voice and face of East Oakland, and Short Dawg to his own admission wasn’t a gangster at all. A player! Definitely not a gangster. But Spice 1? Dude was a gangster, killer, stick up kid, and a guy who just loved his nina.

The record opens up with a out of breath man saying “studio gangsters,” a term developed by Eazy-E to describe Dr. Dre and Death Row as being criminals on the mic, but “who ain’t never done shit wrong,” when it came to doing dirt in the streets. The rolling drums in “I’m a fuckin’ Murderer” and talk of drive by’s and ducking the po’ echo the cries of somebody who’s been in the streets for one day too long.  It’s a ridiculously oversold track, but the stuttering style Spice incorporates in to the song is a beautiful way to open the album that is far from anything that resembles beauty.

LISTEN: I’M A F##KIN’ MURDERER

Where in a lot of records of yesterday and today, the artist commits violent acts and comes off as superman or just unbelievable. When listening to Spice 1, never at any point do I not feel that he wouldn’t put a bullet in you if need be. The streets and the art of armed robbery are poetically told over the darkest piano keys, drum arrangements and sounds Spice could find. Don’t Ring the Alarm featuring Bo$$ captures the heist of the century in the most criminal story telling.

LISTEN: DON’T RING THE ALARM FEATURING BO$$

The Murda Show featuring MC Eiht, arguably one of the greatest gangster rap artists ever, bangs hard! The boom bap and sinister piano keys alone could turn a Jedi to the Darkside. Long before we cared about who killed who on who’s track, a dope collaboration is all we wanted. Spice and Eiht literally riddle the track with bullet holes and bodied it with raps bragging about gun play, and murdering while driving off with the cannon hanging out the whip. DJ Slip from CMW provided the heat, all Eiht and Spice had to do was point and shoot.

LISTEN: MURDA SHOW FEATURING MC EIHT

187 He Wrote is a bubbling pot of a murky black formula that the whole country drank up because for us that couldn’t be gangsters, listening to it was a real as it got. Real gangsters however, from Chicago to Houston and back to California respected the G mentality of Spice 1 and the architects that built a West Coast classic. If you don’t believe me, just look below from one of the contributors to the album.

“Trigga Gots No Heart” resonated with anybody whoever was a victim of senseless violence. “Clip & The Trigga” introduced us to Ant Banks and his synth heavy production. “380 on that Ass” is probably no different than any other song on the record, but who cares, it’s dope.  Closing out the record, “R.I.P” ironically salutes all the dead partners in the streets but coming only after 50 minutes of murder, mayhem and blood baths.  If we could learn anything, 187 He Wrote is memoir of a American Black man who toted weapons and didn’t let anybody stop him from surviving, much like the philosophy of West Coast gangster rap and as Eazy told us, “and that kind of shit you can’t sweep under no rug.”

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~ by @WeekendGabe on July 17, 2011.

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