Music

What Went Right With… Call O’ Da Wild?

The Call O' Da Wild logo over a 1990s New York skyline

Call O’ Da Wild was a Hip-Hop duo who released a handful of memorable singles during the golden era. According to Discogs, the group consisted of Harlem rappers Barron Ricks and Angelo Campanioni, but to be honest I had no idea who or where they were from, only that they were affiliated with Cypress Hill’s DJ Muggs and that they made some great music.

Angelo’s slightly high-pitched voice alongside Barron’s deeper delivery was contrasting but the pair’s differing vocal styles were juxtaposing yet complimentary like Lil’ Dap and Melachi The Nutcracker from Group Home or B Real and Sen Dog from Cypress Hill.

Call O’ Da Wild released the singles “Clouds Of Smoke”/“Sometimes The Neighborhood” in 1995 on East Side Records and “Ruffturrain”/“Intellectual Dons” in 1996 on Ruffhouse Records. The group apparently had a deal with Sony but their album was not released due to the label deciding there were no radio-friendly or commercially viable songs.

The duo appeared on a few compilation albums and soundtracks, most notably on Muggs Presents The Soul Assassins with the song “New York Undercover”, a short, chorus-free ode to the real NYC…

“The Big Rotten Apple surrounded by waterways connected by bridges, and uplift the sky high in vertical positions. Keeps criminals in vicious cycles, unrestrainable, cats be untameable in ghettos [?]. You might see nightly drug busts on corners and in corridors, outside of tenement walls. Number [hoes] in back store fronts where senior citizens press their luck, to win a quick buck[s] while blood guts. Litter[ed] sidewalks where cops use chalk to outline, ya physical design, now peep the headlines; “Madman Kidnaps Four” or more, Torch a nig’ apartment store, on 25th and Douglas, parallel in pages ‘The Mob Hits’, In Central Park, rapists with shake faces.”

Punctuated by the line “It’s all thorough, one city, five boroughs, associated with interlocking sub tunnels. New York’s undercover” this was one of the standout tracks on Muggs’ album…

There were of course a few other Call O’ Da Wild songs, such as “Clouds Of Smoke” on the Bad Boys soundtrack and “Ninth Symphony” on the Gravesend soundtrack.

One of their best tracks was “Ruffterrain” which sampled The Doors’ “The End”. Even the chorus mentions another song by Jim Morrison’s group (“Living in the city that’s full of debris, trying’ to maintain. Struggling through rough terrain, but I move on. As the world transforms, stay strong. It’s the norm, it’s the riders on the storm”)…

There is an unofficial Call O’ Da Wild compilation album titled Straight Out The Wilderness out there on the internet but it’s a shame that an official album was never released by Sony Music. If you listen to “Urban Wilderness” with Muggs sampling the spaghetti western For A Few Dollars More by Ennio Morricone…

…Or tracks like Baron Ricks’ solo effort “Harlem River Drive”, these songs prove that the duo had a lot to offer the genre…

I can’t stress enough how much A&R’s and mainstream labels ignored all the talented and unique rappers during the late 1990s as they began to sign and promote all the generic, formulaic Hip-Hop. Groups like Call O’ Da Wild are an example of the overlooked and underrated rappers who were left relegated to the underground despite having all the talent to make it to the mainstream.

N.Y. Undercover.

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