Wednesday, May 6, 2009
This week the Company Flow record “Fun Crusher Plus” is re released after being out of print for many years. Fun Crusher Plus originally came out 12 years ago on Rawkus and is now available again this time through Def Jux. This record was a groundbreaking recording for the “alternative” or “backpack” hip-hop scene.
Company Flow consisted of El-P, Big Jus and Mister Len. The group was signed to Rawkus based on the strength of their ep “Fun Crusher”. Rawkus at this time was home to such innovative artists as Mos Def, Common, and Blackstar. After a time the band split from Rawkus a period of time El-P has referenced in many of his songs since (“Signed to Rawkus… I’d rather be mouth fucked by Nazis unconscious”). Obviously a bad break up. The band eventually split up with no ill will. Mr. Len and El-P each started their own labels and Big Jus continued to record. In the fall of 2007 the group reunited for one show.
In the 1990’s hip-hop saw a break from the DJ/MC formula and drifted to more production heavy, hook friendly trends. Some may disagree but as hip-hop became more mainstream the talent pool became heavily diluted. Lyricism and flow took a back seat to “Who Let the Dogs Out”. There were exceptions – Amerkkkas Most Wanted, The Chronic, and 36 Chambers and of course Fun Crusher Plus. Not as well known as Dre’s “The Chronic” Fun Crusher Plus was just as influential in its genre. Company Flow had taken the full independent route and released a record dedicate to the craft of hip-hop.
Fun Crusher Plus really solidified the underground hip-hop scene. It is a very complex record both in lyricism and production. It is the kind of record you stop and rewind to make sure you heard something correctly. Filled with apocalyptic and dark lyrics, Company Flow was a defiant departure from the mainstream and opened the doors for other indie hip hop acts like Aesop Rock, Sage Francis, Atmosphere and many others. After Fun Crusher Plus was released the indie hip-hop scene had its Sgt. Pepper’s.
I only have 2 complaints about the re-release. First it’s the exact same cd. No bonus tracks or disc. I would have loved a bonus disc with live footage of the reunion or old shows. My second complaint is on the original disc under the tray was a picture of the group with “Independent As Fuck” underneath the group in bold type. I can only speculate why this is missing on the re release: maybe in the years since all three members have proven the statement and it no longer needs to be said.
My advice to hip hop heads who have not heard this record – you no longer have any excuse. It is back in print and ready to shake your faith in major label commercial garbage. EL-P and Company Flow are the NOFX of hip-hop; they never sold out and had no intention of doing so. They were true to their art and refused to compromise. Unlike most groundbreaking acts the break up before the any crap releases. They are remembered as the great group they were!
Posted by Zia Records Blogs at 10:46 AM