Da Backwudz, Wood Work

Da Backwudz, Wood Work (2006)

Contrary to popular belief, rappers don’t blow up just because they’re from the A. Like everyone else, they need good promotion, great music, a strong work ethic, and a lot of luck. Case in point: Da Backwudz, a pair of first cousins (Sho-Nuff and Big Marc) from Decatur who dropped their debut album, Wood Work, last April. Its lead single, “I Don’t Like the Look of It (Oompa),” got plenty of regional airplay. An imaginative video for the song, complete with twerking Oompa Loompas, leaned its way into heavy rotation on MTV2. But Wood Work sold in disappointing numbers, despite coming out on super producer Dallas Austin’s Rowdy Records with distribution through Universal Music; and guest spots from Killer Mike, Big Gipp, Sleepy Brown, George Clinton, Nas, Slim Thug, and others. It’s a shame Wood Work isn’t being promoted better, because it’s one of this year’s best local rap albums. Milwaukee Black, who produced most of Wood Work, likes to sample records, which is somewhat unusual these days for ATL beat makers. On “Welcome 2 Da Backwudz,” he loops a sample from the Delfonics’ “Funny Feeling” over a shuffling beat and percussive handclaps, while Sho-Nuff raps, “Church music is so easy/R&B consoles me/But nothing sounding better than what the hip-hop told me.” “You Gotta Love Me” slumps with a sped-up vocal by Jennifer Holiday, while “Making Money Countin’ Hundreds” uses a lick from Bob Marley’s “Iron Lion Zion.” The result is a disc that sounds familiar yet progressive, like an Outkast/Dungeon Family opus. Da Backwudz not only spit game, but also speaks about other aspects of life. “Single parent upbringing/No father figure/Brought up by the boys who did work, pimped and robbed niggas,” raps Big Marc on “Whatcha Know ‘Bout My Life.” “So I did what I did/Shorty know when it’s wrong/Asked the Lord to forgive me/Keep my family strong.” Countless rappers talk about street life, but Da Backwudz makes those familiar stories seem new and compelling again.

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