Time and time again it seemed like the Dayton Family had fallen off for good, not for lack of talent or motivation but rather because the group had been dealt a difficult hand from the get-go. The Family's debut album, What's on My Mind?, released in 1995 on the teeny-tiny Po' Broke label, was an unlikely success, for sure. Again, not because of the Dayton Family itself, nor because of the album, because in fact both were quite impressive. Instead, it was because the group was from Flint, MI -- a dilapidated industrial town an hour north of Detroit, not exactly a prime market -- and because it was 1995, a few years before the hardcore rap underground began flourishing with the advent of No Limit, Cash Money, and so on. But What's on My Mind? became a remarkable underground favorite, from Michigan to Atlanta to California. The group then, unfortunately, encountered problems with the law in years to come, which put operations on hold for a while. But the Dayton Family proved resilient, regrouping for a series of solo albums in 2001 followed by a comeback album in 2002, Welcome to the Dopehouse. Then another lull, a long one that finally came to an end in summer 2005 with the release of Family Feud, yet another remarkable comeback album that proves just how hard it is to keep the Dayton Family down. Despite the passage of time -- an eventful decade separating Family Feud from What's on My Mind? -- not too much has changed for the boys from Dayton Avenue. Down to the core duo of Shoestring and Bootleg, the Dayton Family are still about as hardcore as hardcore rap gets. Nothing seems taboo for them -- not murder, not cocaine, not hoes, not ass-whooping, seemingly nothing -- and frankly, it's nice to hear rappers so unhinged and unconcerned with pop crossover. Rather than rap about fantasy cars, these guys dedicate an entire song to "Chevys." Rather than rap about fantasy women, these guys rap about an "Everyday Hoe." Well, you get the idea -- these guys are real with a capital R. Plus, they're extremely aggressive rappers. They'd be tagged as hardcore regardless of their lyrical content. Moreover, they have a good variety of street-level beats by a small roster of producers you've probably never heard of (again, real as in out-the-trunk real), and they have a few likewise street-level rappers who guest: Capone, Cormega, Kurupt, and MC Breed. And it's worth mentioning, too, that they have a lot of standout songs on Family Feud, the rare hardcore rap album that gets better as it plays, with the second half remarkably solid, highlighted by the heartfelt album closer, "Can't Get Out," which brings the album to a sincere, sad conclusion imbued with a real sense of hopelessness. A rap album that's more often than not uncomfortably real, Family Feud is a startling return to form for the Dayton Family, and further proof that these guys aren't just another hardcore rap group. No, there's something special about the Dayton Family, no doubt, precisely why they've defied the odds and endured over the years despite the difficult hand they were dealt from the get-go.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
feat: J. Notiq
feat: MC Breed
feat: J. Notiq