By Armand Hill
This is the first in a series of articles highlighting classic artists and albums that should universally hailed as classics but somehow have been overlooked.
Growing up in Western Massachusetts in the early 1990’s finding hip hop on the radio required dedication and perseverance, but it was always worth it. Springfield Technical Community’s radio station was known for breaking the newest song and I still remember the morning I got in trouble in high school for trying to record Black Moon’s (Buckshot, 5ft, and DJ Evil Dee) “Who Got the Props” when I should have been headed to class.
Enta Da Stage was released in the winter of 1993 during the New York’s and cultural and commercial return to prominence in hip hop. New York was no longer considered the driving force in hip hop. With the release of the Geto Boys “We Can’t Be Stopped” in November 1991, “The Predator” by Ice Cube in November 1992, and Dr. Dre’s The Chronic that December, the ears of had turned almost completely turned away from New York and the East Coast. Enta Da Stage was one of the first albums that showed that birthplace of hip hop still had jewels it had yet to share.
Released in October 1993 Black Moon’s Enta Da Stage represented a sound distinctly different from not only from the aforementioned classics from the West Coast, but also from anything else the East Coast would bring forth. Enta Da Stage’s unique sound was architected the Da Beatminerz, who mixed inspired sampling, talented djing, and superior skill to create tracks that are timeless. While the first song on the album “Powaful Impak” has never been one of my favorites, I literally destroyed one cassette tape playing the first 30 seconds of “Niguz Talk Shit” with its menacing horn over and over.
When it comes to lyrics it’s not always just what you say it’s how you say it. This cliché is apt description of the lyrics on the album. I won’t lie the subject matter of Enta Da Stage isn’t always ground breaking but Buckshot’s word choice and delivery absolutely were. His opening verse on “How Many MC’s” is one of the most memorable for any album released in the 90’s “I’m takin it back, come follow me, on a journey you’ll see of a real MC, the mind tricks the body, body think the mind is crazy, whateva’s lazy, when I get the flow I’m swayee…” With the addition of the beat which cleverly samples Hydra by Grover Washington Jr, you have one of the best songs done by any group ever.
Ultimately Enta Da Stage is overlooked not because of a lack of quality of the album but because of the greatness of the albums that came after it. Within 18 months of the initial release of the album Wu-Tang, Nas, Notorious Big, and Jeru the Damaja had all dropped classic albums. Somehow Enta Da Stage fell off the radar, it shouldn’t. It served as the genesis for one of the best collectives in hip hop the Boot Camp Click (Smith and Wesson, Heltah Skeltah, O.G.C.) introduced the world to the production of Da Beatminerz who are still making amazing music, and it gave us this dope MC, Buckshot.
Oh and while I might have gotten in trouble for getting to class late cause I was recording “Who Got the Props” it was worth it when I was the only guy to have it one tape for a week.