Back in the early nineties, West Coast Gangsta Rap ruled Hip-Hop music, but once the sub-genre began to feel stagnant, Hip-Hop required some new blood and an injection of new ideas. In 1993 that’s just what it got; along with the Wu-Tang Clan, the Boot Camp Clik’s lead group Black Moon (consisting of Buckshot Shorty, 5 Ft, & DJ Evil Dee) brought Hip-Hop firmly back to New York. Over the years that followed, The B.C.C. alongside groups like Mobb Deep, Onyx, Gravediggaz, and Blahzay Blahzay kick-started a resurgence of head-nodding, gritty tales of realism straight from the streets of the five boroughs.
Black Moon’s début album “Enta Da Stage” was the collective’s first offering, and although it didn’t get acknowledged by the mainstream, the album was instantly recognised as being a classic by real Hip-Hop Heads. Within the underground Hip-Hop movement, you couldn’t go anywhere during the mid nineties without hearing tracks from “Enta Da Stage”, albums like this are what made the Golden Era gold… but not necessarily platinum.
“Enta Da Stage” has no tedious intro or outro, it has no skits, and no filler. It begins immediately with “Powaful Impak!” a rowdy track with elements such as reggae vocals, record scratches, and Jazz horns. The second track is “Niguz Talk Shit” which sports a warm, mellow feel, and this mix of uproarious and melodious sounds becomes a trend of the album as a whole. The gentle “Niguz Talk Shit” leads to the more up-tempo “Who Got Da Props” which thanks to its video, single-handedly ushered the backpack into the Rap scene…
After that super catchy chorus and upbeat feel comes the track “Ack Like U Want It” and this is followed by the great “Buck Em Down” with a sample from Donald Byrd’s “Wind Parade”…
“Black Smif-N-Wessun” is the next song and it contains a mean sounding reggae sample juxtaposed against Jazz strings (courtesy of a sample of Ahmad Jamal’s “Misdemeanor”). It features verses from fellow Boot Camp members Smif-N-Wessun to make a firm and brawny track. This is followed by “Son Get Wrec” which serves as 5 Ft’s only solo effort and the joint bumps along nicely. Then comes “Make Munne” another track with a super catchy chorus, boisterous lyrics, and a tough overall sound. “Slave” then reigns the album in to a more mellow sound-scape, and this compliments the following track “I Got Cha Opin” a song that was played extensively on pirate radio and which featured a great mix of the laid-back and the bold…
“Shit Iz Real” is one of the best tracks on the album. It has no chorus except for the amazingly chilled sample from “Love Song To Katherine” by John Klemmer; and thanks to this sample, this tremendous track is a perfect example of genuine, undiluted, underground Rap. This track is the very definition of “Real Hip-Hop”.
The title track “Enta Da Stage” is another hard song with an obligatory background group vocal (shouting “Jump Up!”) and this is followed by “How Many MC’s…” a laid-back offering before the final track.
“U Da Man” is a great posse cut (kind of) featuring Smif-N-Wessun and Havoc (of Mobb Deep). The track even features Nervous Records’ Head of Hip-Hop Department (and later Duck Down’s head honcho) Big Dru-Ha, but despite delivering a decent verse, he unfortunately uses the N word despite being white. Aside from that, “U Da Man” is a strong way of closing this great LP, and “Enta Da Stage” finishes with the sound of a needle scratching a record as the arm is abruptly removed.
“Enta Da Stage” is not the kind of album where you can pick a stand-out track because the entire product is brilliant from beginning to end, with each song having its own merits. There’s the laid-back “How Many MC’s…” to the bass-thumping “U Da Man”, you can dip in and out of this album and any song you select can fit any mood you’re in. DJ Evil Dee and Mr. Walt (collectively known as the Beatminerz) do a great job with the production, with samples ranging from Miles Davis, James Brown, to Frank Zappa. The album as a whole blends together perfectly, more-so on the CD version which includes “Ack Like You Want It”, a song missing from the cassette release.
Sometimes the test of a truly great album is how many times you purchase it, and after I first heard a bootleg copy back in 1993, I bought the cassette and then later the CD; if it was re-mastered and re-released I’d probably buy it again. Even though the album was released at the end of ’93, to me it has a distinctly summer feel, probably because I listened to it all the way into summer ’94. But regardless when you first heard “Enta Da Stage”, the rowdy production and grainy samples takes you back to the early nineties, especially with tracks like “Shit Iz Real” which ooze the sound of a hot New York summer.
The Boot Camp Clik have released some great music over the years, and individually they have been responsible for some of the most credible and most enjoyable Hip-Hop of the nineties. Along with the other great début albums by Smif-N-Wessun, Heltah Skeltah, and Originoo Gunn Clappaz, Black Moon’s “Enta Da Stage” is definitely one of the Boot Camp Clik’s best work and its influence can be heard to this day on songs by Joey Bada$$ and Pro Era. “Enta Da Stage” is a true Hip-Hop Classic.
A Powerful Impact!