Just a little background here: Enta Da Stage released late in the year 1993 on Nervous Records which is now a terrible little dance/electronic label. Back in 1993, hip hop had already gone threw its widespread expansion. MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice were already names of the past. NWA had disbanded, but a young 2Pac was beginning to take the place on the West Coast helping keep that strong pedigree of "gangsta rap" alive. The artists that not only defined New York hip hop in the mid-to-late 80s, but created it were on the back side of the careers if they even had one left. The Kool Gs, Run DMCs, De La Souls, BDPs, KMDs, PEs, EPMDs were all names of the past and no one was carrying the torch except for some relatively small commercial successes of groups like Das Efx and Tribe Called Quest to name a few. It was post-DMC and pre-Nas, pre-Biggie, pre-Wu Tang. Beasties were recording on the West Coast, the Beatnuts got no shine and artists like Tribe were still considered less New York hip hop artists and more just hip hop artists (at most they were given the dreaded "East Coast hip hop" tag) given the number of media avenues that had been opened up for hip hop. It was no longer a localized phenomenon and where you from or where you at really had very little meaning anymore. Enter Black Moon.
Enta da Stage was one of those records that had that definitive New York sound. The boom-bap. Those smokey jazz samples. The ruffneck delivery of Buckshot. The bass levels were dropped to a deafening level that most stereos in a Dodge Aries stationwagon could not survive. For those who thought that Low End Theory represented the very finest in blending jazz and funk with hip hop, Enta da Stage created new dimensions with the sounds. Similiarly, Digable Planets released their jazz-fused Reachin' only a month earlier and while both would draw on the same roots for their masterpieces, they achieved polarizing recordings. I envisioned that, by now, people would talk about "that Black Moon sound" because of its impact, but the truth is that even though they were at the helm of the New York rebirth of the early 90s, they're hardly recognized. They'd be followed shortly (and largely overshadowed) by Illmatic and Life After Death. Unfairly, Black Moon had become a footnote.
I suppose that's why I gravitate to the recording is its proverbial underdog appeal. And, for sometimes-elitists like myself, it makes for a great litmus test of who you're talking to and how much they know. If you mention "Black Moon" in a conversation about hip hop and you're met with a blank stare, you can pretty much move on to a discussion about Jay-Z or, as I sometimes do, just move on. Black Moon is like Organized Konfusion, Digable's Blowout Comb, the Beatnuts, KMD, Main Source, etc. There's that collection of recordings and groups for heads that are sick with the fascination of hip hop. It's like peeling back the onion...Black Moon is like when you peel that sucka back to the size of a golf ball and what you're left with is one stinky, repugnant muddah.
Enta da Stage, for all of my praises, echoes the magnificence of some of funk's greater achievements. It manages to blend beautifully the compelling sounds of CTI-era funk/jazz with Buckshot's gritty and sometimes hopeless assessment of street life. It's as hazy, claustrophobic and brutal as it's smooth, soulful and slick.
Here's the tracklisting for those who care. There's some incredible stuff in there namely Ten Wheel Drive's "Come Live With Me" and 9th Creation's "Rule of Mind" which, no doubt, I feel in love with after working with them in this mix. Dope stuff. Either click here to download or the cover art above.
Keni Burke "Risin' to the Top"