Album

What Went Right With… All Up In Ya by Nexx Level Recordings?

A review of All Up In Ya compilation album by Nexx Level RecordingsAfter the release of Smoothe Da Hustler’s underground classic Once Upon A Time In America and the non-release shambles of Trigger Tha Gambler’s Life’s A 50/50 Gamble, the duo’s clique-slash-recording studio Nexx Level, released a compilation album titled All Up In Ya… to showcase their stable of talent and to serve as a jump-off for further releases. All of the Nexx Level recording artists were highly-skilled MC’s and fans were looking forward to solo and group releases from each member. But, almost like a curse, almost every artist from this clique never received their time in the music spotlight.

All Up In Ya… contains a few impressive freestyles but also a number of classic singles. Smoothe Da Hustler & Trigger Tha Gambler’s “The Smith Bros” is one of them. Damon and Tawan Smith trade verses with their usual complex flow over a sample of “Cramp Your Style” by All The People and the end result is a Hip-Hop classic…

Another Hip-Hop classic is Rhyme Recka’s “To My Lady” (featuring Smoothe Da Hustler on the hook). This positive and upbeat track was played on local pirate radio stations and was mentioned in a couple of magazines including The Source. The lyrical content broke rap stereotypes by abandoning the idea of “bitches and hoes” in favour love and respect. As Rhyme Recka says “It takes an X chromosome to make a happy home”…

Rhyme Recka’s “Blowin’ Up Spots” aka “Blowin’ Up The Spot” was another standout track. After these two singles fans expected Rhyme Recka (formerly of The/Da Punishers) to drop a solo LP and the ill-fated tray card promised this would happen (more on that later)…

Since Trigger Tha Gambler’s album never saw the light of day, his song “Make A Move” (featuring D.V. Alias Khrist) from the unreleased Life’s A 50/50 Gamble was at least included here…

And if you bought the vinyl version of this compilation album, you had a bonus track. “The Anger” by Trigger Tha Gambler does not appear on the CD version which makes the vinyl more valuable (unless you own the Gambler’s “Make A Move” single in which this is the B-side)…

All Up In Ya… also includes various freestyles by members Gold ‘en Smiles, God Bros. (D/R Period and Kooch), Boogie aka Lil G, and Retsam, and there’s a jiggy track called “Just Got Paid” by The Empire, Sniper, Nizam, Supream and Stereo. There’s also an early freestyle from lyrical legend Papoose…

The production which is all handled by D/R Period (with the exception of the Gold’en Smiles’ “Freestyle” and Trigger’s “Make A Move which are produced by Low Mid and Kenny Gee respectively) is agreeable and it doesn’t overpower the lyrics, which this band is primarily know for. The only problem I have with this LP is the fact that the singles “Past The Basic” and “Don’t Sleep On…” which were both released at the same time on Rockboy Records/Nexx Level Recodings (in 1997) aren’t included in this album. Other than that (and the aforementioned jiggy, pop-joint which isn’t to my taste) the album is filled with lots of memorable material.

The release date of this LP differs online; some say 1997, some say 1998, I personally think in was the former because I remember finding the CD unexpectedly one day whilst looking for Trigger Tha Gambler’s album which I’d been on the look-out for since the end of 1996. I recall that I didn’t buy this CD because I didn’t have enough cash in my bank account and that’s a decision I regretted for a while until I located a copy further down the line. All Up In Ya… is a sought-after album that sometimes sells for almost £50 on eBay, so I’m glad I own a copy. This is a hard to find LP and it will most likely never be available on streaming platforms.

Coming Soon from the Nexx Level music groupAs I mentioned earlier, the LP cover stated there’d be a Smith Bros. album and a Trigger Tha Gambler album in ’98 and the liner notes in the CD promoted further releases from the Nexx Level clique (left) but like Fab 5‘s Simply Fabulous, they didn’t come to fruition. The printed inlay under the banner of “Coming Soon from the Nexx Level music group”, mentioned…

The Smith Bros.’ Album, Blazin’ Into The Millennium LP, Blahzah “Get Over” single, Kaotic Styles featuring Big Jaz “Player” single, RockBoy LP “12 Day Struggle”, Trigger Tha Gambler LP on Nexx Level/Def Jam, DV Alias Khrist LP on Nexx Level/Def Jam, Yankee B “Dangerous” single, Main One LP “Against All Odds”, and a Night Hawks LP

…but, with the exception for a few singles, almost all of these releases remained, err… unreleased. This situation was f-ed up because almost everything the clique touched in the 1990s was Hip-Hop gold.

For all I know, some, most, or all of this material mentioned above was recorded but remained unreleased for one reason or another. If that’s true, then there’s a veritable treasure trove of golden era Hip-Hop out there. Along with the extremely hard to find D.V. Alias Khrist’s Govarmynt Officials mixtapes, these releases need to be officially uploaded to Spotify or Bandcamp by those who own the copyright and the publishing.

Pretty much everybody in the Nexx Level clique were lyrical giants (with at least three rap geniuses in there) but without major label backing and big-budget marketing, they descended further and further into the underground. It’s so fucked up that the mainstream pretty much buried some of the most talented MCs from the ’90s. It’s sad to say it but almost everything noteworthy is on some dusty 12” but all the dross is on Apple Music. Discovering this shit must feel like unearthing dinosaur bones to young Hip-Hop fans.  But let’s for a second forget what the record industry did to these unsung talents and let’s instead acknowledge that the Rockboy/Nexx Level Click were on some…

Nexx Level Shit.

Beats: 8/10

Rhymes: 9/10

Overall: 8/10

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