BLAZE YA DEAD HOMIE: Gang Rags 10 Year Anniversary Edition
Release year: 2010/2020
Label: Psychopathic Records/Majik Ninja Entertainment
It seems like Majik Ninja Entertainment don’t do a whole lot of vinyl releases, but the ones they do are pretty neat. Not vinyl junkie masturbator neat with a ton of extra loot, wankery-level vinyl thickness and shit, but MNE’s vinyls look nice and sound good, and don’t cost an arm and a leg. This, in my opinion, is how you should do it – the packaging should never overshadow the music.
The double vinyl 10th anniversary re-release of long-running juggalo rapper Blaze Ya Dead Homie’s 2010 album Gang Rags is a prime example: nice design, sharp graphics, and good sound quality on the vinyl. So if you’re a vinyl collector and horrorcore fan, this one is pretty much a must-have to augment your MNE vinyl collection.
Gang Rags was Blaze’s fourth full-length album, originally released on Insane Clown Posse’s own Psychopathic Records label. Less than surprisingly, several label mates – including the label owners – guest on the album, and though most of the lyrical focus is more in line with a morbidly, slightly humorous take on gangsta rap, a certain juggalo theme runs through the album. The infectious chanting about dub sack prices for juggalos and other ho’s in Dub Sack certainly underlines where Blaze locations himself.
Musically, Gang Rags offers a well-balanced mixture of styles: you can hear a lot of funk vibe in a lot of tracks, mixed with abrasive electro synths and even the occasional burst of distorted electric guitar, but also tracks that go back all the way to a simple, old school drum beat-and-vocals structure. Blaze keeps things pretty laid back and relaxed in his delivery; machine gun fast rapping is not the thing here, nor super abrasive, aggressive delivery. Rather than a soapbox preachin’ rapper, Blaze sounds like he’s just enjoyed the contents of one of his dub sacks, kicked back on a comfy sofa and started laying down the truth in a mellow but not sugar-coated fashion. This serves to emphasize the funk, giving the album a slightly sleazy feel. Of course, a track such as Tokyo Spa, which is all about the lewd and the sleazy, only amplifies the raunchy and dirty feel.
Other reviewers and commentators have compared Gang Rags to Insane Clown Posse in style and approach – I can only nod. There definitely are strong parallells to be drawn between the godfathers of all things juggalo, and this album. But, by no means is Gang Rags a cheap imitation: especially Blaze’s characteristic voice and delivery lend this album a strong unique aura.
I suppose it is safe to say that Gang Rags is a minor underground classic. At the time of its original release, it peaked at fifth place on Billboard’s independent chart, which is certainly no mean feat. Since then, it has seen a variety of different editions. Though this is the first new version of the album since 2011, the fact that there are in total four different version of the album listed on Discogs (counting Gang Rags: Reborn which, to my knowledge, consists of bonus tracks originally released on the extended edition of the album) says something. It’s not many underground rap albums that get released in so many different editions.
And it’s not without reason: Gang Rags is a good album. Through solid production, laudable diversity, humorous lyrics and memorable choruses, and all around good delivery from both the main man himself and his guests (ABK in particular manages to shine on the two tracks he guests on), Gang Rags is an album worthy of a 10th anniversary edition.
So to circle back to the beginning: thanks to nice but not gimmicky packaging and the quality of the album itself, here’s pretty much a must-have for juggalo/horrorcore fans. Especially the nice vinyl edition. The album has stood the test of time admirably, still sounding fresh and fun.
Summary: A gangsta-meets-horrorcore rap album that ten years later proves it deserves its status as a cult classic.