Tha Alkaholiks

Coast II Coast

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Tha Alkaholiks' wonderfully assured 1993 debut, 21 & Over, established the group as the closest thing hip-hop has to the Marx Brothers -- a trio of inspired comic anarchists devoted to, in their own immortal words, "hoes, flows, and 40 oz." But while 21 & Over won Tha Alkaholiks (who eventually changed their name to Da Liks) a sizable cult following, it failed to win the group the sort of attention and sales that Likwit Crew affiliate protégé Xzibit eventually snagged by hooking up with super-producer Dr. Dre. Undeterred, Tha Liks released Coast II Coast in 1995, a solid, consistent, and hilarious follow-up that sticks to the group's winning formula while offering enough variation, stylistically and sonically, to keep things interesting. Alkaholik DJ E-Swift still handles the bulk of the production, but he's joined behind the boards by Lootpack's Madlib (also known as Quasimoto) and East Coast heavyweight Diamond D, who provides the hypnotic Enter the Dragon sample that propels "Let It Out." Then-newcomer Xzibit makes his present felt throughout, ripping snidely misogynistic rhymes on "Hit And Run" and getting in touch with his inner Big Bank Hank on the hilarious old-school parody "Flashback." The rest of Coast II Coast nicely balances J-Ro and Tash's lyrical acrobatics with E-Swift's rubbery grooves, resulting in an album that's jazzier and more laid-back than Tha Liks' debut -- Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest even pops up on "All the Way Live" -- but no less winning. Coast II Coast failed to net Tha Liks gold or platinum sales, but it otherwise succeeds smashingly, effortlessly satisfying Liks diehards while still leaving them thirsty for more.

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