Sparks 950 & Timbo King
United We Slam
Street Life Records/ Scotti Brothers Records/ All American Communications/ SME
1. Intro (performed by Kay Zee) // 2. Nuff Ruffness // 3. Definition of a Nigga [Skit] (performed by Crew) // 4. Nigga Be Nasty // 5. Mc’s Are Fallin Off [Skit] // 6. Hood Times // 7. WEFM [Skit] (performed by Darkman the Mad African & Crew) // 8. Ice Cream Flavour // 9. Bust the Party [Skit] (performed by Darkman the Mad African, Crew & Kay Zee) // 10. Bust the Style // 11. United We Slam
The Wu-Tang Clan has many core members for a hip-hop group, nine to be exact. That number however pales in comparison to its number of its army of affiliates. The number of Wu associated albums, compilations and EPs on my to do-list is 214 and counting.
Timbo King probably wasn’t technically a Wu-affiliate yet when he dropped the United We Slam EP with producer Sparks 950, but in 1995 a Wu-Tang off-shoot group called Royal Fam dropped a 12″ single with two songs; Summin’ Gotz Ta Give and I Declare War that made some noise. That group allegedly counted such anonymous Wu friends as Dreddy Krueger, Stoneface, Q-Base, Mighty Jarrett, and Dark Denim and producer Y-Kim (yeah, me neither), as well as Timbo King amongst its ranks. The single got some critical acclaim from the Source magazine, which had a lot of credibility pre-Benzinogate and the crew got scooped up by Capitol Records, the one time home of such illustrious names as Nat King Cole, Dean Martin en Frank Sinatra.
Unfortunately that’s all we would ever hear from them. Their debut album Black Castle, which was slated for a 1995 release-date, got shelved for reasons unknown. And besides a couple of leaked songs nobody really knew what it sounded like. Apparently everyone was destined to remain curious what the album sounded like, because in 2005 the album was announced to be released by indie label Nature Sounds, but got put back on the shelve again, for reasons unknown again, although a couple of promotional copies had been sent to magazines. (You can now buy one of these promos for much dinero on the internet
or illegally snatch one from a file-sharing site, it’s not difficult to find or anything. I don’t think Timbo King would get upset with you either since he never saw, nor will he see a dime from the work he put into recording Black Castle.)
That’s Timbo’s life story in a nutshell. I’d tell you about Sparks 950 if I could find anything about the man. But unfortunately the internet doesn’t provide any clues that the man did anything beyond produce this release. Maybe he changed his nome de guerre and continued to work in music, maybe he started a promising career in retail after United We Slam dropped. Anyone who knows anything about Sparks 950 can leave a comment. And Timbo King, if you’re reading this, that includes you too, and Sparks, if you’re reading and have put in more work than this please have someone update your discogs entry.
Back to ’94. United We Slam dropped on Street Life Records, Scotti Brothers Records urban sublabel and sold 75,000 copies, which is nothing to write home about, making this EP a Wu-fanboy cult favourite at best. And even amongst harcore Wu-stans there’s bound to be a lot of folks who don’t know anything about this beyond its existence, which is a shame because to fans of the 36 Chambers-sound this has plenty to offer. That’s not to say that this is a slept on 36 Chambers, Timbo isn’t a Rae or Ghost-caliber MC, let alone comparing Sparks’ creations to mid-1990s RZA beats. But like AKA the Rugged Child United We Slam lies comfortably above industry average, it probably even did in 1994 back when the industry average was actually quite good because not every wannabe rapper and his grandmother had a medium to release music to the masses. But I digress.
Nuff Ruffness adapts Above the Law’s Murder Rap instrumental for the East Coast for Tim to go rampant over. Spittin entertainingly violent nonsense and boasting.
Nigga Be Nasty has a smokey jazz lounge-hop instrumental. Hood Times brings to mind Dr. Dre’s Stranded on Death Row, but manages to be something fresh because it sounds both dustier and dirtier.
Ice Cream Flavour is either the silliest song on here or a song about drug dealing with metaphores I couldn’t decode.
Bust the Style is the funkiest thing on here and is fast-paced enough to dance to.
The title track marries an eerie, plodding beat with Timbo’s urgent flow and street metaphores, as well as a chanting hook, and is hands down the best song on the EP.
Those are all the songs on here which goes to show United We Slam‘s biggest problem. There’s five corny-ass skits on here, which means that just over half of the tracks are actual music. It’s not a huge part of the EP’s running time, but it does mess up the flow of the album somewhat and is completely unnecessary. Some restraint would’ve benefitted matters very much.
Still United We Slam has some vintage banging beats for the streets and hard-hitting gangsta raps that are both more than competent (if a bit unimaginative). And clocking around thirty minutes it won’t take away much of your precious time from bumping old albums by actual Wu-members.
Nigga Be Nasty
United We Slam
Pick this one up. But only if you find it for a reasonable fee. After all it’s got approximately twentyfive minutes of music on it.