In 1979 and 1980, Dallas was the last place anyone expected to find a rap group; back then, the vast majority of MCs lived in and around New York. But when Nemesis' first album, To Hell and Back, came out in 1989, things were a lot different. An abundance of platinum-selling rappers were coming from the West Coast and the South, so why shouldn't a Dallas group like Nemesis do their thing? To Hell and Back makes no attempt to hide the MCs' Texas background -- Nemesis is quite open about the fact that they are representing Dallas (the city that gave listeners the D.O.C.). One hears a combination of influences on this CD. Big Al, the Snake, and MC Azim have been influenced by New York groups like Run-D.M.C. and the Fat Boys, but their sound also owes something to the West Coast and the bass artists who were coming out of Florida in the late '80s. However, no one would mistake To Hell and Back for a 2 Live Crew album. Some of the beats are bass-influenced, but this CD doesn't inundate listeners with the type of X-rated booty rhymes that 2 Live Crew and their fellow Floridians are known for. The members of Nemesis insisted that they were Muslims, and their lyrics are uplifting, if a bit preachy, on conscious tracks like "Greet 'Em With Peace," "Pusherman," and the title track. However, the album also has plenty of fun, escapist material. This CD is uneven; some of the tunes hold up better than others. But more often than not, To Hell and Back paints an attractive picture of the Dallas group.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson