Tuesday, April 07, 2009



Released as a B-side to the song that started it all ("The Gas Face"), "Wordz of Wizdom" is one of those songs that defies the perception of the group. Most people wouldn't recall 3rd Bass as anything remotely "lyrical," but Serch and Pete Nice truly exhibit their mic mastery in "Wordz." Back in 1989, there were few true lyrical masters: Rakim, Kane, LL, Pos, KRS...it's tough company for two Jewish emcees not named Adrock, Mike D or MCA.

But "Wordz" is an offering that quietly places 3rd Bass among the ranks with it's twisted phrasing, constant barrage of metaphors and almost cryptic messages deliberately scribed to tout the duo (and, of course, Sam Sever on the tables) as a lyrical force. Whether or not, over time, it did just that is hard to assess. The popularity of a "Gas Face" (or later "Pop Goes the Weasel"), while not especially gimmicky, created the dreaded "one-hit" stigma (while technically, that's at least two hits) that would attach itself to 3rd Bass even though, owners of their second record, would be quick to denounce such a claim.

What makes "Wordz" the complete package, however, is both the work of Serch and Pete Nice as lyricists, but also the extraordinary production of co-producers Pete Nice and Sam Sever. On the original mix, the drums of the Commodores' "Assembly Line" lays the foundation for Gary Wright's "Love is Alive" giving way later to Wright's "Dream Weaver." Totaling over six minutes and thirty seconds, the original recalls earlier hip hop compositions more intended to showcase the skills of the group rather than desperately aiming for radio play with the perfectly packaged and delivered three-to-four minute banger with a video in rotation at MTV. The remix, anchored by a cleverly flipped Depeche Mode sample, actually teases eight minutes in length.

Altogether, "Wordz of Wizdom" is one of those forgotten classics worthy of its place at #32 in The Root Down's 33 Greatest Songs in Hip Hop. 3rd Bass is just ill.

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