August 09, 2019

Gravediggaz "Six Feet Deep" (August 9, 1994)

Looking at it with rear-vision goggle it seems like the first Gravediggaz record would have been jocked unanimously when it hit in 1994. Just check it out on paper: produced by legendary super-producer and imagineer Prince Paul, joined by RZA, the late, great Poetic, and Stetsasonic heavyweight MC Frukwan. But it wasn't that way at all. In fact, when Paul first got this quartet together it was the exact opposite experience. "We were a bunch of misfits," Paul recalls... "It was a time when I felt like I had to prove myself, and I felt like I had to help the other guys prove themselves. People thought I had fallen off." The first spark for the Gravediggaz began in early 1992, after Paul's Dew Doo Man Records label fell through and after the luster for De La Soul's daisy age had, sadly, lost some shine in the public's eye. Paul started making "all these dark, sad, slow tracks. I knew I couldn't MC, so I needed to find some guys." (Too) Poetic was called first, since Paul had already been talking to him, hoping to sign him to Dew Doo Man. Poetic had been dropped from Tommy Boy previously, after recording an album that never saw the light of day. Next was RZA, another Tommy Boy reject. Finally, Paul called upon Frukwan (aka Fruitkwan), an old associate from the way-back days in Paul's first crew of note: Stetsasonic. The Gravediggaz name was agreed upon and the concept fit quite easily over Paul's macabre sounds. A death-defying demo was done by late 1992, but "I shopped that demo for a year and nobody would bite," Paul says. "It was literally a week before the time I was going to give up and John Baker at Gee Street came through." Cont'd...

Although the group was two years old by the time their brilliant, cadever-infested debut 6 Feet Deep came out in summer of 1994, a bit of serendipity helped these misfits to get more ears to their sound. In the convening years, a little group called the Wu-Tang Clan had blown up. RZA was the production mastermind behind Wu-Tang, but Gravediggaz was all Paul, and a point can most certainly be made that RZA's apprenticeship under Paul served him well in making Enter The 36 Chambers. But "when it came to Gravediggaz," Paul says, "RZA was more about lyrics" ... Paul continues, "People didn't know whether they should take it serious or whether we was buggin', or if it was a gimmick. Donahue or somebody back then wanted us on their show because somebody's son tried to commit suicide and they wanted to blame it on our record [1-800-SUICIDE]. He adds... "To me it was about the music and the rhyming." Over the past decade, the album has certainly gotten its due: "A lot of people still talk to me about that record today. And I'm like, "Wow, where were y'all 10 years ago when I was in tears, trying to figure out why people hated me?'" - Scratch, 2004.