There were rumors of a Trends of Culture comeback around December 2008. That sparked my curiosity – I hadn’t heard from Nastee, M.O.L. or Grapevine since they dropped a couple of singles and the full-length album “Trendz…” back in the early 1990’s. One of their most famous contribution or well remembered contribution to the hip-hop scene is the single “Off & On,” which still holds up 20 years later as a fun freeform East coast flow. Production for most of their debut album is done in-house, with an able assist from Lord Finesse on this track and a bonus remix.
I made the decision to wait for T.O.C. to make their big comeback, holding on to my copy of “Trendz…” until such time as I could run both reviews simultaneously. Time passed and I never heard another word about the brothers from Harlem releasing their long overdue sophomore LP.freel free to give us a shout.
After waiting almost five years I don’t think there’s any reason to sit on “Trendz…” any longer. If you take the album on in sequential order “Fuck What Ya Heard” is a fairly run-of-the-mill East coast track for the era – not memorable but not terrible. Guest rapper Indego is notable simply for being even more obscure than the Trends themselves – I’m convinced this was his one and only appearance on ANY record.
“The roar of the crowd – it makes my dick hard
My nature rises when I hear the Uptown get hype
The mic in my hand is like a basshead with a crack pipe
Cause I’m a fiend, and if a fella redeemed
Indego and Trends makes a whole team”
Things pick up on “Let Tha Big Boyz Play” starting with a KRS-One sample. From there the funky bassline, some hard rim shots and an ethereal synth weave in and out of the instrumental, occasionally sharing the spotlight but often working independently of each other. It’s an intoxicating mix and well EQ’d with the vocals, letting you pick up the individual flows of each member of the group. “Old Habits” is instantly recognizable as mining the same samples as the Black Moon classic “How Many MC’s,” yet giving it their own unique spin that makes it worthy of standing side by side. While Buckshot wanted to buck down unworthy rappers, these brothers want some trim.
“Well – at age 15 there was a chick
Brown skin, about five two and quite thick!
Thinkin she was all that, cause her gear was fat
And brothers always sweated her, just to get the cat (meow!)
But she wasn’t up in no puddy to the bros
Who KNOWS what goes through minds of some hoes?
Gettin brothers heated, and horny from her tongue
Then when it’s time to get done, she front and gotta run!
… You know the kind – loose with your wallet
Wearin jeans so tight, jimmy gets solid”
There’s a generally light hearted feel to “Trendz…” as you continue on through the presentation. Though the disc came with the obligatory “parental advisory” sticker most rap albums did in the day, the nature of the cursing is conversational and you’d be hard-pressed to find it offensive. Grapevine sums up their level of violence on “Who Got My Back?” nicely: “Verse number three in the mix with the flavor/Styles stay lethal, and no one here could save ya.” Though they’re occasionally crass when it comes to their pursuit of women, no one song comes anywhere close to the level of misogyny found in four random bars of Weezy’s recent CD. Even at their most blatant, “Crotch Ripper/Mad Speaker” seems more playful than threatening, featuring promises to give and receive like “I’m live and my skills is fat/Nastee’s my name and yes I eat the motherfuckin cat.” Are they obsessed with their sex life though? Well…
There’s no doubt that Nastee is trying to live up to his name with lines like “seven inches limp, eight inches harder” on “Valley of the Skinz” but he offers balance for the “blow(s) to your pelvis” with thoughts like “known to drop a story, but I prefer a freestyle/cause when I flow like this you get the gist and start to smile.” TRUE. Listening to Nastee flow makes me get all Kool-Aid. In fact the entirety of “Trendz…” is a welcome throwback to a halcyon era of hip-hop we are still celebrating 20 years later. This may not be the easiest old school album to find, but Trends of Culture are worth the time (or money) you’ll put into the effort.