March 10, 2016

Scientifik "Lawtown's Finest" (R.I.P.)


"Two decades ago, a promising MC from small post-industrial Lawrence dropped some of the most tragically slept-on rap gems of the ’90s, in the Bay State or anyplace else. The critical album was called Criminal, and featured an all-star roster of producers including Diamond D of Diggin’ In The Crates and Wu-Tang Clan ringleader RZA. Tying together so much ingenuity was Scientfik, a versatile lyricist in a class all his own. Criminal may have been hobbled by a limited pressing and virtually no label support, but his canon has lived on in more ways than one. When Scientifik died in 1998, he had already paved the way for a slew of other Lawtown artists. “Lawrence holds an important place in regards to Boston hip-hop,” says Dart Adams, a music historian and journalist. “It’s the home of Krumb Snatcha, the W.O.L.V.E.S., Reks, Termanology, ST. The Squad … but it all started with Scientifik.” ... Still going by the name MC D-1, in 1990 Scientifik entered a rhyme contest at Club Seven in New Hampshire. His main competitor: Edo G, a rapper from Roxbury who would soon become a Boston legend. Scientifik wound up winning, but Edo thought the crowd was biased on account of the close proximity to Lawrence, so they took it to the bathroom to battle the matter out. “We went at it for about an hour,” Edo says. “Verse for verse. It went so long people started leaving.” Eventually they became friends, and started working together.... Less than six months later, Edo got a record deal. The two emcees agreed that whoever got signed first would help the other, and as such Scientifik was on hand for the whole recording of Edo’s 1991 debut. They kept at it, and when it was time to record Scientifik’s first opus, the 1994 album Criminal, Edo executive-produced with beatmaker Joe Mansfield. For the lead single, “Lawtown”—a track that veritably renamed Lawrence for the rap generation the team laced a crackling horn sample, followed by a bouncing bass line and the kind of thumping boom bap drum that defined the era. In his role, Scientifik flexed both his storytelling chops and his battle rhyme muscles...." Cont'd below via DigBoston + Lawtown's video...


"With such minimal promotional support, Scientifik wound up selling copies of Criminal out of his trunk around Massachusetts, and propping singles on college radio. He wasn’t bitter over record label letdowns, but had rather grown wiser in those years. Toward the end of his life, Scientifik’s readings on religion, self-help, and philosophy started influencing his music. Unreleased tracks like “Boston” (produced by Diamond D) and “Hard to Kill” (produced by Dialek) mixed vivid street lyrics and battle rhymes with references to the Five-Percent Nation, Louis Farrakhan, and God. Furthermore, his talent for penning dense rhymes was sharper than ever, and Scientifik was spending more time in New York securing yet another all-star lineup for his sophomore project, Black Jesus. But it never came. On June 4, 1998, Scientifik and his girlfriend Cora’s car was found overturned on the side of I-495, with a pistol about 20 to 30 feet from the vehicle. According to an article in the Lawrence Eagle Tribune from the following day, police determined that the former shot Betty and then turned the gun on himself. It was ruled a murder-suicide. Friends and family of the couple were shocked and confused, as were police. They had been together for 11 years, and had no history of violence. Most who knew them said the couple seemed happy. Rumors and speculation surfaced, but police never determined a motive. Only the couple knows what really happened in that car." - via DigBoston (October 13, 2004) Rest in eternal peace, Scientifik.