Double Exposure

Brother Marquis and DJ Toomp tag-team for the future

This political correctness thing's gotten so out of hand there aren't too many words left that won't offend someone somewhere. Americans don't call themselves Americans any more, they come up with ethnic hyphenations. You better not call a woman anything more affectionate than "woman." And people lacking certain senses or appendages are "impaired." What's next -- the orgasmically challenged?

Prob'ly, which might in part explain why II Nazty feels the need to point out, or demand really, that "all whores suck dick and all niggers eat pussy." Maybe that sounds a wee bit offensive to some, but then again, terms like "visually under-enhanced" or "morally limited" are offensive to others.

The dirty-rap world places less emphasis on adverbs and more on bitches and niggaz. "If the shoe fits, wear it," says one half of II Nazty, Mark "Brother Marquis" Ross. "You'll see, as I prolong my career, we'll do more stuff that's radio friendly, that the whole community will like. I'm not saying I'll stop using profanity, but I will show some diversity."

Marquis and his new partner, DJ Toomp, display some of that diversity on their first album, the just-dropped Indecent Exposure. As for the nasty tip, it's required, says Marquis, who achieved stardom with the 2 Live Crew. "That's where I left off, man," he says. "If I went straight into, let's say, R&B, I'd lose my fans. I was the leading voice in 2 Live Crew, and with all that cussing, I could not change my style for this record." Not completely, but the diversity is already beginning to show. Mixed in with the "Mr. Big Dick" and "Be My Bitch" cuts is an R&B-drenched (yes, sung) beauty called "Can't Say I Love You."

Where Brother Marquis left off about two years ago was at a press conference on the top floor of a downtown Miami skyscraper where attorney Richard Wolfe was announcing that Marquis and the Crew's DJ, David "Mr. Mix" Hobbs, were suing Luke Campbell and his record company for ripping them off. The fourth member of the group, Fresh Kid-Ice, sided with Campbell and released a solo album not long after the Crew dissolved into enmity and litigation.

Brother Marquis moved to Georgia, where friends and relatives lived, and briefly dabbled in standup comedy before hooking up with Toomp and a third partner, Daryl Jones, to form a label, Down Payment Records, which has just released the II Nazty CD. "Yeah, I did the comedy thing like I said I would," Marquis says. "But it's hard to be funny when I'm focusing seriously on the music business. This is some serious shit here. I got the flavor for standup, it's something I would like to do, but I have to tighten up on it."

For now the laughs come via the thirteen hooty tracks on Indecent Exposure. And the enmity remains. "Luke still owes me money," Marquis asserts. "Luke's gonna try to close doors on us. He'll badmouth us verbally." Or so Marquis hopes. He's got plenty of shit to sling at ol' Luther Lucifer, but he also admits that a street brawl A or at least some highly seasoned and well-stirred controversy -- will only help to publicize his new undertaking. That's one trick he learned from the master. "Yeah, a big controversy," Marquis says. "We take advantage of any opportunity."

DJ Toomp also retains hard feelings toward Campbell, and on their record II Nazty takes a jab at Luke in the track "Be My Bitch" -- "Whores know me as a fly talker/Signing up with me is like signing with Skyywalker/So you can put that knife away/Because, bitch, you just signed your life away." Luke as pimp. Now that's a dis. Hey, it worked for Dr. Dre.

While Marquis associated closely with his boss in the Crew, Toomp was on the fringes, working first with MC Shy D, another Atlanta-based rapper who exchanged disses with Luke. Toomp was also part of a team of DJ/producers that handled the knobs on several of Luke's projects. "I also helped on the New Jack City soundtrack [on the track "Dick in the Dust"]," Toomp says, "and the album went triple platinum. I never saw nothing from it, but I just brushed that off." Toomp is probably best known for his contributions to Poison Clan's albums.

Marquis and Toomp have issued a formal statement ripping Luke up one side and out the other. Apart from the opportunity to get a good pissfight going with Luke -- thereby generating the prime commodity of the rap world, publicity of the controversial sort A Down Payment affords Marquis and Toomp the chance to try new things. "If I did something that showed Luke up," Toomp says, "well, let me just say he wants to be the hog with the big nuts. Luke would've rejected 'Can't Say I Love You.'"

Maybe so, maybe not. Luke Records has released a number of R&B records, and the Crew itself delved into reggae, blues, and, of course, a parody of a Roy Orbison ditty called "Oh Pretty Woman." Marquis's point is that 2 Live Crew had its constraints. And either way, it's easy to dish it on Luke, he's used to it, it's not going to interfere with his golf game. And shit-talking's a huge part of the rap milieu. What talks louder, what really says something you take to the corner, is the music, and the music knocks boots on Indecent Exposure. Clever story lines and double-dope rhyme schemes are laid over skirt-flipping, ass-bumping beats as strong as any on the hip-hop market today.

In the II Nazty lyrical world people do the nasty in a Honda Accord and when a girl complains to her beau that she saw another girl wearing the ring she gave him, he tells her, well, you gave it to me so I'll do what I want with it. All of the plot and character development is facilitated through a healthy dose of fuck-suck-bitch-ho imagery. The first single is a monster, "Somebody Say Ho," backed with "She Got You Whipped." "Somebody Say Ho" -- that's "oh" on the clean version -- borrows the chant used by fans of teams with Native American monikers, the one you hear at Braves and FSU and Chiefs games, the oh-oh-oh-oh thing. (Toomp attributes the hook to the Atlanta Braves; Seminole fans, send your complaint letters to him.)

So let's drop the chatter and cut to the meat: Marquis remains among the most charismatic of rap vocalists and contributes the "concepts" and many of the lyrics. Toomp kicks it on the production side and also writes words. No matter what anybody says, the proof's in the mix. There's going to be a lot of pissin' and dissin' thanks to the backgrounds of Marquis and Toomp, and Luke Campbell isn't going away any time soon. But all ears should be on Indecent Exposure. That's where you'll really hear some shit.

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