Hen-Gee & Evil-E

Brothers

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If you wrote a book about the development of hip-hop on the West Coast, two of the people you'd want to interview would be Hen-Gee and Evil E. Both were members of Ice-T's Rhyme Syndicate outfit in the 1980s, and Evil (who was Ice's DJ) had a reputation for being one of the finest turntable wizards in Los Angeles. Though Ice was a seminal figure in gangsta rap -- he and Philadelphia's Schoolly D were the first gangsta rappers -- Brothers is far from being a gangsta album. Produced by Hen and Carlos Alomar, Brothers can hardly be accused of being derivative of Ice. Socio-political offerings like "I Ain't Seen Nuttin'," "Open Our Eyes," and "Lil Trig" address crime and violence in the inner city, but Hen does so in the third person and, unlike Ice, he doesn't portray any of the criminals about whom he raps. In fact, Hen's rapping tends to be congenial and good-natured rather than confrontational. Not earth-shattering but generally decent, Brothers doesn't deserve to be ignored. Despite the fact that Hen and Evil had been employed by Ice-T -- the first hardcore rapper on the West Coast to really hit big -- this CD wasn't a big seller at the time of its release.

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