Originally published at Passionweiss
In 1996, G-Funk was still the soundtrack to bouncing cars, block parties and Malt Liquor bottles. DJ Quik dropped the classic Safe + Sound the year prior and 2pac was yet to introduce rap music to suburbia with “California Love.” Oakland’s Moe-Man took influences from G-Funk as well as the Bay Area’s Mobb Music on Straight Real, which he released independently the same year. Sadly, the project went unheard in the mainstream despite its quality. Considered an underrated Bay Area gem and a rare find even in the golden age of music piracy with copies selling on Ebay for $800.00, Straight Real deserves to find its way to your stereo.
Producer K.T. The Orchestrata laced the album with bass heavy beats and fly synth jams. Moe-Man shouts him out various times on record and claims they’re brothers. Whether he means brother in blood or soul isn’t clear, but K.T’s relationship with the funk is evident as soon as you hit play. The keys on “Don’t Take The Streets Lightly” are slicker than Eazy-E’s Jheri curl and the instrumental for “Is It Like That?” sounds good no matter who’s rapping on it. Samples from The Isley Brothers, Afrika Bambaataa and Too $hort prove K.T has excellent taste and the album is populated with classic R&B to add further flava. He raps on the album as part of the Kapitol Click alongside Big Daddy-O and Shoddy Shod, but K.T’s best work is as the groove constructor behind the boards.
Moe, not to be confused with Houston’s Big Moe, rhymes quickly and confidently. He can’t be faded, talks shit and lays game down like Nino Brown. His style and delivery is a paradigm of West Coast rap in the 90s. Moe sticks to classic rap tropes for the majority of the album and it sounds great. His wordplay is simple and lacks the charisma N.W.A packed during the same era, but it works. Moe-Man speaks on the struggles of poverty on “Young Bro,” while his producer switches style to something more akin to a Native Tongues record. Only during “40 Oz. Kid” does he sound completely out of place, attempting to emulate Slick Rick’s smooth paced delivery without the necessary creative wordplay.
Where are K.T The Orchestrata and Moe-Man now? If Google’s crack surveillance team only has four relevant links about your output, you’ve either stopped making music or avoided the internet. In the age where even struggle rappers and local stars have some mention online, it seems sadly inconceivable that either has established prolific careers. K.T’s vanished despite his tunes having more bounce than a fatty on an inflatable castle. Whilst Moe-Man has supposedly performed in Vegas under the name Moetrouble and this YouTube account which sporadically posts videos just might be him. Maybe our Bay Area readers/local rap detectives can help uncover the mystery? Any information will be rewarded with one low quality pirated copy of Straight Real, a picture of E-40 holding his glasses between his thumb and forefinger and a Walkman with foam headphones.