In the early ’90s, few rap groups were more influential than Das EFX. The duo of Drayz and Skoob revolutionized the way artists rhymed by incorporating a stuttery delivery and adding “diggity” and “iggity” at the end of words. They also introduced a grimy, sewer-inspired look and feel to their music that was also appropriated by artists from coast to coast. Such singles as “They Want EFX” and “Mic Checka” helped push the group’s debut album, 1992’s “Dead Serious,” to platinum status.
The group’s affiliation with legendary EPMD and its 1993 collaboration with Ice Cube on "Check Yo Self” established Das EFX as bona fide rap superstars. Since then, Drayz and Skoob have released four albums. They regularly tour Europe and South America (including a recent jaunt to Chile with Pharoahe Monch) and are working on a number of projects.
Drayz has the new song “Remember My Name,” so as he makes his push as a solo artist, we sat down with Drayz to get his list of the Top 5 artists he never thought he’d listen to:
5. Katy Perry
Drayz: She came out of nowhere. Before I knew it, she had “California Gurls.” The girl just seems like she can do no wrong. I like her personality. She just seems to have the magic touch right now. Her songs are really catchy and she’s off the hook. Katy Perry is one of those artists where you’re like, ‘OK. She’s going to be here for a minute.’ She can sing her lungs out.
4. Nicki Minaj
Drayz: I’m digging Nicki Minaj for coming out of Queens and being the only female to come on the scene in I don’t know how many years. I call her a fusion between Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown, only because she’s doing the whole Barbie think like Kim. Then with Foxy -- Foxy’s always been on the Jamaican tip, trying to do the reggae thing. It just seems like she’s a combination of both of them.
I heard through the grapevine that when she was shopping Def Jam told her, “Listen, you can’t sing and rap. Who do you think you are, Lauryn Hill?” We know how that shit went down. I think the girl’s on her fifth single right now. For a female, we know the chips are stacked way against her. I was following her online when she was doing the Biggie Smalls covers and all that. I was like, “Who the hell is this girl? She’s pretty dangerous.” The girl is spitting. She can hold her own in any cipher, which I’ve seen her do online a couple times.”
Drayz: I like what he’s done because of the fact that nobody was checking for anybody coming out of Canada. So for him to make enough buzz up there for it to spill out into the United States and kudos to Lil Wayne for having his ears still to the street. I’m digging him for picking him up like that.
I think Drake is a problem in terms of being fearless, of saying, “I can sing. Why not? I’m going to try it. I can rap. I can put words together.” He doesn’t necessarily do what’s being done in terms of the Down South sound. He came in doing his own little mixtape. The shit caught buzz and one of the biggest songs off the mixtape was one of his singles, “Over.” I thought that that was a cool joint.
He’s not following the trend. I’m not sure who was emulating who first, whether Wayne was picking up on his style or vice versa, but they do a lot of similar things stylistically. I’m digging Drake for stepping out of the box, crossing over the border and being able to hold it down in the states. That’s a big task in itself.”
Drayz: What I like about Ke$ha is that it’s not just your regular pop music. She’s taking chances. That’s the thing about music right now. I’m digging artists that take chances. She’s halfway rhyming and it sounds like it’s a one-taker in the studio. It’s not perfect.
She had Puff on one of the songs, [“TiK ToK”]. I know she’s from Canada, so I don’t know how much work she’s done in Canada in terms of releasing albums, but for someone to first come on the scene like this and their album sounds so fearless, I can only imagine being in the studio with her and her just being like, “OK. I’m going for it.” It seems like she just went for it. She definitely doesn’t sound like somebody who just got in the booth and did their first album. It sounds like a seasoned person that was working.”
1. Bruno Mars
Drayz:I’m definitely digging him because the kid can sing and play like nobody I’ve seen come through in a minute. I’m loving the way he’s putting his music together. I’ve been checking him out since a couple of months before the B.o.B. [“Nothin’ On You”] song came out.
He had a whole bunch of other songs up. “Again” is a pretty cool song. The melodies and the words that he wrote, he was talking about how he was in bed all day. It’s an average love song, but he wrote it from like an MC’s type of perspective. I thought it was brilliant. I love to check out the arrangement artists use in their writing.
The kid just writes really well. It’s pretty slick. I’ve seen him perform. He’s the real deal. It’s the real-recognize-real type of thing. The kid is a problem. He can do no wrong for me right now. He’s a pretty talented kid.”
For more from Soren Baker follow him on Twitter: @SorenBaker.
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