Someone asked me recently how important Black Moon was to me in the 1990’s. I went on to describe their debut album “Enta Da Stage” as being like “the air I breathed” and their catalogue of 12″ singles as absolute gems. I couldn’t imagine doing college radio or making mixtapes without a Black Moon song being considered if not routinely included in the session. The B-sides were just as much oxygen to my lungs as the originals. It’s apparent Nervous Records thought the same thing when they released “Diggin’ in dah Vaults,” but there’s a few things you need to know about this compilation.
First of all the version of “Headz Ain’t Redee” here isn’t the STELLAR Beatminerz product heard on the “New Jersey Drive” soundtrack. In hindsight the songs have been subtitled “Buckshot’s Original Mix” and “Beatminerz Remix” to try to clear up the confusion, but on a compilation album why not include BOTH versions? That seems like a huge oversight until you realize that being thorough wasn’t what Nervous Records had in mind here. In light of a protracted legal battle between the group and the record label over recording a new album, Nervous simply scraped up any material they had laying around and put a “Black Moon” album out against the wishes of Buckshot or anybody in his camp (pun intended).
Inferior versions seem to be the order of the day. No offense to DJ Evil Dee but the new version of “How Many MC’s” pales in comparison to the one that samples “Hydra” by Grover Washington Jr. It insults me to the point that I am tempted to say it straight up SUCKS, but I must be fair and say that in a world where the original wasn’t a legendary rap song, Evil Dee’s take would be “okay.” It wouldn’t have become an all-time classic like Kenyatta Blake’s original take, but I don’t actually hate it. I’ll reserve no such compliments for his new version of the Black Moon posse track “U Da Man,” which was absolutely STOMPING and as an album exclusive needed no second look. At least “How Many MC’s” was a single. This wasn’t.
What’s even stranger about this is that the very next song labelled “Buckshot’s Freestyle Joint” actually has the ORIGINAL “U Da Man” instrumental, which can only be interpreted as a slap in the face. It’s not until the “I Got Cha Opin (Remix)” that the album stops insulting Black Moon fans, but I’m willing to bet that if you were as much of a fan as I was back in the 90’s you probably had the single or a mixtape with the track.
The exact same can be said for the “Buck Em Down (Remix)” that follows, and the “Murder MC’s” track that was that single’s B-side. These three songs are arguably the only reason to own “Diggin’ in dah Vaults” if you need to hear them again, but even then you’d be better off buying the songs a la carte or bootlegging them. If the album was trying to be an essential collection of Black Moon obscurities then the “Reality” B-side from “I Got Cha Opin” would have been included… and it’s not. Instead we get underproduced material like “Six Feet Deep” that was best left buried in those vaults, and overproduced takes like the “Act Like U Want It” remix that don’t improve on the originals. Take a hard pass on this release.