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KMD - Best of KMD

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Artist: KMD

Album: Best of KMD

Label: Nature Sounds

Review date: Feb. 17, 2004

Before MF Doom became everyone’s favorite urban eremite, he was Zevlove X and he was in a group called KMD. Founded by Zevlove and his Brother DJ Subroc, the two along with MC Onyx, were discovered by 3rd Bass (Zevlove made his debut on 3rd Bass’ infamous Hammer-dis cut “Gas Face”) and quickly signed to Elektra. Their first album, 1991’s Mr. Hood centered around a grammar instruction record with Oswald type cut-ups creating the title character and his interactions with urban staples such as the Jewelry store, the Barbershop, and the thugs on the corner. Built largely out of jazz samples, Mr. Hood was only a couple months ahead of Tribe Called Quests Low End Theory and addressed the sociological problems of African-American adolescents and the dissipating environment that surrounded them, but with a humorous approach. Unfortunately, Elektra’s lack of promotion/marketing abilities and low sales had the label questioning what they got themselves into. Gangsta rap and west coast production had become the flavor of the month (nay, year) by this point and Elektra pushed the group to go into a more “gangsta” direction.

Tragically, Subroc was killed in a car accident in 1993. Distraught, angered and devastated, Zevlove finished production on Black Bastards, alone and released the album in 1994. The end result was quickly pulled from shelves; the cover image of the blackface character “Sambo” being lynched did not sit pretty with the suits, nor did the content within (the album was eventually released by the indie Subverse in 2000). Filled with black ire and violent rage, Black Bastards stands up as a solid document of young black urban strife, much like Eugene McDaniel’s Headless Heroes of The Apocalypse and the Last Poets. Filled to the brim with dark imagery of racist cops, negative political rhetoric, equally racist neighbors, and loaded hip hop attacks on drug and alcohol abuse with incendiary sentiments, Black Bastards did not provide the label with the instant hits they were looking for. KMD quickly found themselves without a home, and with Subroc gone, Zevlove went into seclusion only to resurface years later as the Metal Faced villain he is today.

Thankfully, Doom has collected 21 tracks of prime KMD material for those that missed out for a “Best Of” collection. It combines the brightest moments of the group’s brief output, with tracks from both records, along with an unreleased track called “Popcorn.” What’s more, with Elektra not having any plans on re-releasing Mr. Hood anytime soon, this is many people’s first chance to hear a group that could have been contenders, caught at a time when hip hop was politically conscious but still playful and fun before it got sullied by the glamorization of drugs, guns and violence. A time when you wanted to go to the party, get the girl, and not get the bullet (or the bozack, for that matter!)

The only problem with this release is the complete lack of a track listing, but even then it shouldn’t really matter. Consider it a blank tape serenade from a time that some remember, but all want to relive; when you ran home from school to catch the Ed Lover dance on Wednesdays, or when you were RUN and your best friend was DMC…there was innocence in all of us, but like Doom, we all had to grow up. And maybe that’s why he’s considered a hero to real hip hop heads – Doom’s the only real bridge back to that adolescent era who’s still making records to remind them of why they loved it in the first place.

By Stephen Sowley

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