[NOTE: This isn't the album's artwork, just a picture of the group. My promo copy didn't come with cover art (most don't), and I couldn't find it on the net anywhere.]
NYGz, consisting of MCs Panchi and Shabeeno, have been down with DJ Premier and the Gang Starr Foundation for close to a decade. [By the way, can the Gang Starr Foundation still exist if Gang Starr is no longer together? Is Gang Starr no longer together?] Shabeeno first appeared on Gang Starr’s ’98 classic Moment Of Truth on “The Mall” (credited by the jiggier and goofier name, Shiggy Sha), and the duo appeared together on “Same Team, No Games” from Gang Starr’s last LP The Ownerz.
Unfortunately, the various ills of the music industry (according to their bio, their debut LP Pros & Cons was supposed to come out in 2003), in addition to a bid served by Panchi, has kept NYGz basically behind-the-scenes until now. Their street album Welcome 2 G-Dom is scheduled to hit stores on September 11th as the first album released by DJ Premier’s Year Round Records imprint, and Pros & Cons (their official debut set to be produced entirely by Primo) is set to follow soon after.
The thought of a duo of rappers being discovered by Primo will likely bring to mind memories of Group Home, but Panchi and Sha can more than hold their own as MCs. (I’ll give Lil’ Dap credit for having such a unique voice, but Melachi was booty.) Rather, NYGz are more comparable to The U.N., another group of N.Y.-area rhymers discovered by a legendary producer (Pete Rock). Panchi and Sha are both talented lyricists with solid flows, both sound undeniably hungry on the mic, their differences (Panchi’s gruff voice versus Sha’s finesse) add to their chemistry, and their music on Welcome 2 G-Dom is the epitome of grimy, no-nonsense New York hip hop.
Production on Welcome 2 G-Dom dips into many of the prominent sounds of hip hop coming out of New York’s underground. “Laundry Kings” (featuring St. Laz) and “Bow Down” (featuring Blaq Poet & Rave) both exemplify the chilling sort of backdrop you’d expect on such hard-hitting tracks, while “Sufferin’” (featuring Rave & M.O.P.’s Lil’ Fame) and “What Kinda Life” (featuring Raw), both produced by the underrated Emile, work successfully around sped-up vocal samples in their hooks to illustrate the hardships expressed in the lyrics. And DJ Premier’s contributions (7 in total), though not his best work, range from slowed-down and melodic (the opener “Itz On” featuring Rave) to booming and upbeat (“G’z & Hustla’z” and “Strength”).
All in all, Welcome 2 G-Dom stays within the dark and gutter tone, both lyrically and musically, needed to keep it fluid. There are very few bumps in the road — the most notable one being the generic “Giantz Ta Thiz”, which does nothing new with its sampling of Tyrone Thomas’ “7 Minutes Of Funk” (as used on EPMD’s “It’s My Thing”, Jay-Z’s “Ain’t No Nigga”, Tha Alkaholiks “Only When I’m Drunk”, and so on). Even though both Panchi and Sha are impressive on the mic throughout Welcome 2 G-Dom, unfortunately the album is not only heavy on guest rappers (only 3 of 17 songs feature NYGz all by themselves), but heavy on guest rappers who aren’t all that recognizable by name (Boy Bucka, anyone? How about Mic Ock?). At times, it can be tough to figure out who’s who, and that may end up hampering the exposure that the duo will gain from this album. But regardless of that, if the main purpose of Welcome 2 G-Dom is to get a buzz going for their proper debut, then NYGz merely having their name on the album cover should help accomplish as much.
Download: NYGz – “Itz On” featuring Rave
Download: NYGz – “Strength”