ovie sequels are never as good as the first, and in hip-hop that holds just as true. Gangstarr's "The Militia II" was good, but captured nowhere near the amount of hype and excitement the first one brought. "C.R.E.A.M. 2001" and “Friend or Foe '98” are all good songs, but songs that would be better if they didn't have to live in the shadow of their classic predecessors. Onyx's first LP, Bacdafucup, released in 1992, is one that could be labeled as a classic album- one that changed the face of hip hop irrevocably. After releasing their last album, Shut 'Em Down in 1998, Onyx took a hiatus while its two frontmen, Fredro Starr and Sticky Fingaz, both took on acting roles as well as releasing clever, expressive and underrated solo albums. Early in 2002, they reunited with original member Sonsee to start work on a sequel of their own, Bacdafucup 2. With big expectations to face, Onyx only proved the rule, rather than the exception: sequels are never as good as the first.
In the beginning, Onyx's subject matter was limited to sex and guns, as songs like "Blac Vagina Finda" and "Throw Ya Gunz" peppered their debut. In 1992, hip-hop was a bit tamer and this was somewhat shocking, but one of the interesting things about the group (besides their bald heads) was the evolution that took place within the group into a multifaceted and, ultimately, stronger group. Each subsequent release from the group contained more and more narrative and conceptual tracks, culminating with fantastic efforts like "Rob and Vic", "Veronica" and "Conspiracy" on Shut 'Em Down. Both Sticky and Fredro's solo albums built on this. The promise and talent both delivered on their CDs made it appear as though Onyx's newest effort would contain all the members at the top of their game. This promise was somewhat derailed when they chose yet another sequel, "Slam Harder", as their first single, a track devoted to Onyx's braggadocio and ramblings about how much they've improved, but it's not even as witty or original as the track it follows, "Slam". The production by D.R. Period is interesting, featuring a skillfully chopped "Welcome Back Kotter" sample and a tough, but pop sensible, beat befitting of Onyx. The track is thankfully interesting and fun, and is actually a good first choice for the first single, as its vintage Onyx. The problem is that the rest of the album doesn't live up to the promise offered by "Slam Harder", and never gets beyond the façade of depth that past history indicated might come from the group on this offering.
The production follows the formula of most Onyx albums: inconsistent. D.R. Period (of M.O.P.'s "How About Some Hardcore" fame), produces four tracks on Bacdafucup II, the aforementioned "Slam Harder", "Gangsta", "Big Trucks", and the horn-filled chant "Bring 'Em Out Dead", a strange combination of sounds that somehow work perfectly together and against each other to create a great backdrop for the group. As with almost every song on the CD, Sticky Fingaz completely murders it lyrically, and the other members complement him well. One of the most underappreciated MCs, Sticky's solo Black Trash is a must buy, as unlike this album, the production is on par with his rhymes. Here, the production is nearly always two steps behind and even amateurish in places, however, it is also haunting and challenging in others. Davinci's production on "Feel Me", recorded on September 11, adds a nice somber and reflective touch to the album, leading into Self's track "Hood Beef". Even though the generic topic of "Hood Beef" limits the overall impact, it definitely fits Onyx's style well as the sinister drums and main track add an impending sense of doom, similar to something found on The Notorious B.I.G.'s Life After Death. Davinci also does a nice job on the opening track, "What's Onyx", featuring a nice orchestral sample within the chorus, along with what Onyx is known for- a grimy and unfiltered beat that allows them to yell at their best.
Unfortunately, despite a few good tracks, much of the album is filler. Mobb Deep's Havoc meets up with Onyx for the first time on "Hold Up", bringing a beat that tries for the normal Onyx production style but instead seems sloppy and amateurish, and not at all near the capabilities of someone who brought us "Shook Ones Part II". Besides the probable singles, "Slam Harder" and "Bring 'Em Out Dead", D.R. Period falters badly on his other two tracks. "Gangsta" offers a subdued and tinny Havoc imitation and a fantastic chorus about how tough Onyx's lady friends are, with the all-important "Cause she's straight gangstaaaaa-aaaaa-aaaaa-aaaaa / Gangstaaaaa / Cause she's straight gangstaaaaa-aaaaa-aaaaa-aaaaa / Gangstaaaaa". "Big Trucks" also has a generic meeting between Onyx's normal production style and a club song, being an ode to SUVs with a terrible falsetto hook that is far below the depth Onyx has displayed in the past. Even worse is "Clap and Rob 'Em", based upon the melody from the infamous "Rockin' Robin", creating the most syrupy track Onyx has ever performed. No better is Scott 'Overrated' Storch's generic Dre imitation "Wet The Club", a cluster fuck of keys and drums that allows Onyx to brag about their ability to steal bottles from the club and get people drunk for free. New territory? Maybe. Territory we don't want to reach? Definitely.
If Bacdafucup was released in 2002, instead of ten years ago, it wouldn't be as revered as it is today. However, that's one of the wonderful things about time - what's advanced and innovative ten years ago isn't today, but can still serve as a valuable history lesson. Bacdafucup 2 just tries to ape off their previous biggest success. That's the main reason it doesn't succeed - Onyx throws back all of the progression they’ve made over the years and attempts to relive past glories. The effort isn't terrible, but rather lackluster and uninteresting, one that only Onyx fans will appreciate, and not even much in that case. Don't bother with the sequel - go straight for the original.
Reviewed by: Brett Berliner
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01