The History Of Sacramento Rap (Part Two, The Rise)
Written by First Degree The D.E. and Jimmy Blog For Fahrenheit Insight
Note: Sacramento rap history. Before writing part two of this series, The Fahrenheit Insight sat down with Black Market Records’ owner Cedric Singleton after his appearance on Fahrenheit Radio’s Fahrenheit Hour Urban Talk Show. This was to discover the truth about the peak of the Sacramento Rap Game.
Sacramento Rap History, Part Five
Picture it, its 1992, and Northern California rap music was on the rise. Sacramento had it’s underground hip-hop king, DC Ray, but who would be prince?
Cedric Singleton, a young producer from Ohio, had come to Sacramento State University to play basketball. He ended up staying in Sac and setting up shop as a music manager and producer. He was hungry for the rap game, and had help. He started Black Market Records, put out Oak Park’s Homicide, and his vision was official. Through parties and the music scene, he met a young Brotha Lynch Hung and X-Raided. He heard their talent and decided to go all in. Little did he know the crazy stories he’d be a part of. Little did he know the impact he and his Black Market Records crew would have on our region, and the world.
Homicide’s “Knockin’ Off All Weak MCs” was Black Market’s first album
By this time, Sactown rap crews, with their own sound and serious heat, carved up rap battles all throughout the region. Bloods and Crip gangs were infiltrating Sacramento streets as well. Northern California rap had become the hottest underground rap hub in the world. Northern rap pioneers E-40 and The Click, produced by Mike Mosely and Sam Bostic, had the nation appreciating the unique, Northern California hip hop culture. Street crews like The Garden Blocc’s Brotha Lynch Hung and C-Bo, Meadowview’s Be Gee, Rup Dog, and AK47, Greenhaven’s First Degree The D.E., Crucial Point and DJ Urban Thesis (MC King at the time), and Freeport’s Ace Mak (Ace Of Spades at the time) and Ms. Marvaless ran the underground through the battle rap circuit.
Sacramento’s rap sound was hard, dark, and reality based. Music producers like Phonk Beta, Mike Mosely, Sam Bostic, Ace Mak, Brotha Lynch, and First Degree The D.E. created the musical sound. It was a quality, rich sound that many had a part of. It was a sound that made Sacramento stand out.
Black Market Records owner Cedric Singleton explains on a recent episode of The Fahrenheit Hour that although everyone ended up in different crews, on different labels, everyone felt connected. In the beginning, all of the pioneers participating in the Sacramento music game were a family, working together.
Sacramento Rap History, Part Six
After meeting X-Raided at a DJ party and hearing his “Psycho Active”, Cedric knew he had a hit on his hands. On Fahrenheit Radio’s Fahrenheit Hour, “Ced Sing” as Cedric Singleton is called, remembers just finishing the X-Raided when, “I had heard about something that happened about a mile and a half away form my house.” It was the murder of Patricia Harris.
Ced then states that X-Raided came to his house and said, “Im gunna have to get outta town, something happened.” They officially signed contracts, then he was gone.
A few days later on the news, Ced heard that police in Arizona had caught someone wanted for murder in Sacramento. That’s where X-Raided had told him he was going. When Ced Sing put two and two together, he was shocked. The artist he had just signed was arrested for murder. It wasn’t the last time Ced Sing would be shocked by one of his artists.
“The media took off with it, connecting some of X’s lyrics to the killing,” summons Mr. Singleton. Although Ced owned the album, he still had reservations about putting it out. “I was conflicted about it, so I went to the house were she (Patricia Harris) got killed and I went to see Mr. Harris (husband of Patricia Harris). He told me to put out the record, siting that freedom of speech was more important than anything I can tell you.” Strong words, from a strong man, at a trying time.
X-Raided’s “Psycho Active” was a controversial album due to the artist’s alleged participation of Meadowview’s Patricia Harris
“After that, there was nuthin’ anyone could say to me about puttin’ the record out!” exclaimed Cedric Singleton on Fahrenheit Hour. The sound of his voice had stress and experience in it. It was obvious that there was a lot of controversy he experienced with putting out the X-Raided albums. However, getting the blessing from the victim’s husband put his mind somewhat at peace.
Black Market continued to drop X-Raided albums from prison. X-Raided would get a recording device smuggled inside prison, the inmates would keep voices down, and they made hits.
Outside of Sacramento’s borders, X-Raided is a jailed hero. “Free X-Raided”, fans say. However often, the public only hears one side of a story. Within Sacramento’s borders, it is much different story. X-Raided is a controversial figure. Some love him because of his flow, Sacramento rap pioneering, and hard core reputation. Some hate him because of the woman he and his friends were convicted of killing. The woman killed in the home invasion was Patricia Harris, a kind, innocent, Meadowview grandmother.
With Black Market’s push, and a cutting edge flow, Brotha Lynch Hung’s “24 Deep” shocked the country
Sacramento Rap History, Part Seven
“He came to me with 24 Deep before we even had a contract,” Cedric Singleton reflects on Brotha Lynch on Fahrenheit Radio’s Fahrenheit Hour.
By this time, it was 1993. Black Market was a well oiled machine. Ced remembers the promotion trail, hitting 22 cities, promoting the Black Market/Sacramento rap movement. “It wasn’t work, it was fun,” describes Ced. Ced Sing and the Black Market crew were traveling the country, getting people on what was going on in Sacramento. Black Market had a serious presence on the road because of the road work they did. First Degree recalls Andre Nickatina once saying, “It was like 94, I was in Pennsylvania. I went to the record store and there was a giant display of Brotha Lynch right in the front!”
“I can remember being at Dr.Dre’s ‘Up In Smoke Tour’ in San Jose. While promoting, I noticed Black Market had 30 people in the front, picketing Brotha Lynch!” reflects First Degree The D.E. on Fahrenheit Radio’s Fahrenheit Hour. Ced then goes on to say they hit the whole tour, all 44 dates across the country. Wow.
All of the grass roots leg work paid off. Black Market dropped Brotha Lynch’s “24 Deep”. It was the first Sacramento rap album to hit the Billboard charts. It debuted at #87. This was a big deal. The combination of Brotha Lynch’s raw talent, sampled beats, and an album cover with him in a casket, made it easy for Ced Sing to promote. “Its all about the artists’ talent, a label can only lead you to the water,” Ced clarifies.
“I can remember going into Black Market back in the day, and everybody was working!” exclaims First Degree The D.E. on Fahrenheit Hour.
The success of Black Market inspired others. It let them know they could do it, too. Black Market’s success lead to the creation of other Sacramento rap labels. The main two labels spawned by Black Market’s success were AWOL Records and Death Trap Records.
C-Bo’s “Gas Chamber” was AWOL’s first big release
Sacramento Rap History, Part Eight
AWOL Records was owned by Freddie T Smith. Freddy and Cedric Singleton were friends. “To this day, Freddie is like a little brother,” reveals Ced Sing. Their artists included C-Bo, Ms. Marvaless, Pizzo, and Lunisicc. Freddie and AWOL Records followed the same blue print as Black Market; grass roots, taking it to the people in their city. Bobby Grey was also a big part of AWOL’s success. He died at a young age from a heart attack. Despite the loss, AWOL was a very successful record label.
“AWOL was able to put out three, four, five C-Bo albums, it was a consistent machinery that was building both the artist and the label.” Ced explains. When speaking on Freddy Smith, Mr. Singleton elaborates, “There was never any animosity, jealously or anything like that. A couple times Freddy went to jail he would call me, and I would do what I could to help him in whatever the situation that he needed.” Black Market and AWOL weren’t competitors, they were an alliance. An alliance with the purpose to nationally represent the Northern California region, and make money doing it. C-Bo’s peak was an appearance on 2Pac’s “All Eyes On Me”, released by Death Row Records. AWOL’s baby brother in the Sactown music game was Death Trap Records.
Death Trap Records’ Be Gee, First Degree The D.E., and owner Dalvin Pipkins at #Be40
Death Trap Records was owned by youngster Dalvin Pipkins. During Be Gee’s recent “Be40” event, Dalvin explained to Fahrenheit Insight that City Hall Records’ Walter Zelnick once called Dalvin, “the youngest in the game.” Dalvin started Death Trap Records at age 22. The Death Trap stable included Be Gee, First Degree The D.E., Phonk Beta, Young Joker, and many more. “Being part of the Death Trap crew, making hits in Davlin’s garage, was a good, pivotal period in time,” comments First Degree The D.E.
“I remember Dalvin and Death Trap. Dalvin was just a cool guy. I never looked at him as competition.” analyzes Ced Sing. This goes back to the mood that all the labels were working together for the sake of their own label, and the city. “My thinking was more like that, if we are able to elevate this region, its better for everybody,” wisely explained Ced Sing. “We were doing interviews with The Source, why?! Because people were curious on what was going on in Sacramento.”
Be Gee’s “Ya Gotta Be Gee”, released by Death Trap Records in 1993, is arguably the best rap album to drop out of Sacramento
However, “Of the labels, Black Market was the most organized. top to bottom,” Ced Sing admits.
Ced sites that the unity was one of the main reasons it was all working. “Following the same stream, you know who your fans are. Theres a familiarity with that old school machinery.”
Sacramento Rap History, Part Nine
Eventually, all of the street buzz Black Market created got the attention of major labels, including Priority Records. Other Sacramento artists, like R&B artists D.R.S. (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) and hip hop’s Funky Socialistics had made a name for themselves as well. Black Market had been distributing many successful albums, including Master P’s first group album, “TRU”. “Master P wouldn’t sleep for three, four, five days,” remembers Ced Sing, siting Master P’s motor and mind.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars were flying around by this time. The majors, particularly Priority Records, desperately wanted in.
Once the Northern California rap game blew up, the majors wanted a piece of the action. Priority had a strategy, sign all of these Northern California labels to label deals, taking over the competitors. Current Strange Music Vice President David Weiner was working at Priority Records at the time. He is the one responsible for bringing Black Market to Priority Records. It was a game changing event. Sacramento music had hit the national scale. Their first album together was Brotha Lynch Hung’s “Season Of The Siccness”, a raw, horrorcore, gang-banging tour through the streets of South Sacramento. It had a mild sales start, however, it was extremely consistent, selling 5,000 copies a week for several years! Once again, the combination of Lynch’s shocking, real life, meticulous, sick flow, combined with Black Market’s work, was making history. This time on a national level. “Season” hit #26 on the Billboard charts. Season Of The Siccness has since gone platinum, one million units sold.
David Weiner and Priority Records then went to sign J.T. The Bigga Figga of Get Low Records, and Master P of No Limit Records to lucrative label deals, ranging from (tune in to Fahrenheit Hour for numbers!). These deals paved the way by Black Market’s more humble deal.
Brotha Lynch Hung’s “Season Of The Siccness” has gone platinum
During this time, C-Bo and AWOL Records had also reached a national audience. The AWOL sound was hard core , produced by E-40 producer, Mike Mosely. C-Bo, Ms. Marvaless, and Lunisicc were doing the rap game big, 100%. It was fun to watch both Black Market and AWOL Records try to out do each other. It was more like brotherly encouragement, then competition.
First Degree The D.E.’s “Southbound” (cassette version) continued the Death Trap history of hits
Death Trap Records was in full swing as well. Although Death Trap didn’t have the notoriety on Black Market and AWOL, they were gaining ground in the West coast underground. The first Death Trap release was Be Gee’s “Ya Gotta Be Gee (1993)”. Be Gee was one of the champion of the Kennedy rap battle circuit. With Phonk Beta playing live keys, the sound was classic, and the album was a serious hit. It was arguably the best album to come out of Sacramento. The next album was Young Joker “Who’s Laughin At Cha (1994)”, and next was First Degree The D.E.’s “Southbound (1995)”. The combination of live keys, live bass, and a hard-core edge made Death Trap unique, but still Sacramento. A Latin rap pioneer named M Sane was also hitting the scene. It was the best of times.
It is important to mention that there were other labels and artists putting in work in Sacramento at this time. Marv Mitch and Lemay and Out Tha Drout Recordz were putting’ it down. Big Rock and T Nutty were getting themselves situated for their campaign, and from the north side of Sacramento, Hollow Tip, Dangerous Dame and High Side Records were also gaining attention. Gangsta Dre and Big Hollis were making Sacramento rap history as well. There are other house hold rap names that got their start in Sacramento as well.
Sacramento Rap History, Part Ten
Mac Dre, once released from prison, started Thizz Entertainment in Sacramento
Although Mac Dre is from Vallejo, once he got out of prison for bank robbery, he started Thizz Entertainment in Sacramento. “Mac Dre is not from Sacramento, but he was based here in Sacramento. Got got started about the same time we got started. He was in Vallejo when all that stuff happens, but when he was Thizz Entertainment, all that stuff was Sacramento based.” Ced informs. As mentioned, Master P had Sacramento roots as well.
“I remember seeing Mac Dre at my local liquor store, and him tellin’ me I was in his movie (Treal TV)!” First Degree proudly reflects.
Big Lurch, was another Black Market artists that sold a lot of units. He is serving a life sentence for murdering 21-year-old female roommate Tynisha Ysais and eating parts of her body while under the influence of PCP in April 2002. Many Black Market artists have crazy stories. Amazingly, Brotha Lynch Hung would end up being one of Black Market’s most normal stories. Which leads us to Mr. Doctor from the Garden Blocc.
Mr. Doctor was a half Black, half White, young OG from South Sacramento’s Crip lead Garden Blocc. “When we were making the album, Mr. Doctor got shot,” Ed Sing recalls. “We were in the middle of finishing that album up, he ended up surviving, and we went on to finish the album, and that album was an incredible album.” Ced reflects on Mr. Doc. on The Fahrenheit Hour. First Degree The D.E. proclaims that Mr. Doctor’s first solo, released in 1995, was his favorite Black Market album. He asks Ced to give more details.
Garden Blocc’s Mr. Doctor was all about that gangsta life
“What happened with Mr. Doctor, after ‘Setrippin Bloccstyle’ came out, Mr. Doctor was one of those cats that was in these streets bout it bout it, there was no playin’, no fakin’ with that cat.” Ced reflects. “Someone shot his house up. Some guys came out from his neighborhood and shot those guys up, and somebody ended up getting killed. Everybody went to jail, Mr. Doctor was the last one to get arrested,” Ced offers. “People sayin’ that he was a snitch and all that, I don’t know the true about that.” Mr. Doctor ended up spending two years in jail while Black Market Records took care of his family. Once out, Mr. Doctor continued to release albums, “but had lost that edge because he matured in jail,” Cedric Singleton rationalized. Also Brotha Lynch had stopped making his beats. “I think he was scared,” offers Ced Sing.
By this time, deals were being made for hundreds of thousands of dollars. To hear actual amounts, listen to The Fahrenheit Hour #26, coming in August on YouTube.
Ms Marvaless’ first solo “Ghetto Blues”, released by AWOL Records, established her as the Queen of Sacramento rap
Brotha Lynch Hung’s “Loaded” turned the rap game upside down
Sacramento Rap History, Part Eleven
In 1996, the Sacramento sound was played and admired in every ‘hood in America, from L.A. to New York. It was time for a new Brotha Lynch album. Things were on the up, and Brotha Lynch and Black Market signed a lucrative contract for five years. Want to know for how much? Tune into Fahrenheit Hour’s Ced Sing appearances.
By this time, Brotha Lynch had reconnected with producer genius, Phonk Beta. In turn, Phonk Beta brought his long time Death Trap running mate, First Degree The D.E. into the picture. The scene was set for excellence, and excellence happened. With a professional, dark, cutting edge, lyrical, live keyboard, rubber bass sound, Loaded was enjoyed by underground rap lovers world-wide. Some were expecting the more street gang-banging style Lynch displayed in Season, but most were ready for the maturation of their favorite underground artist. Loaded was Sacramento’s rap momentum peak. Many argue it is the greatest piece of art the region has ever produced.
C-Bo’s “The Autopsy” kept the AWOL hits coming
First Degree The D.E.’s “Planet Zero” was Fahrenheit Records’ first official release
After Loaded, it was time for First Degree The D.E. to release an album, “Planet Zero”, which is his most popular to date. Once completed, with help from Phonk Beta and Brotha Lynch, First Degree The D.E. went to long time label partner, Dalvin Pipkins to put the album out. Once Dalvin met with City Hall Records’ Walter Zelnick, it was on, and Planet Zero hit the shelves. However, as soon as Planet Zero was released, Dalvin allegedly got high on drugs and rammed a cop car. Once released, he did it again a few weeks later! He was destined to be locked up a long time after that.
Davlin’s mishaps prompted the birth of Fahrenheit Records. First Degree visited the Sacramento jail of several occasions dealing with contract issues, but eventually got full rights to Planet Zero and has gone on to release over 40 more albums, including D.E.’s next album “Damn That D.E.” and “FU1”. Mr. Pipkins remembers, “Walter said Planet Zero had the most buzz of anything he had at the time!” The Fahrenheit crew included First Degree The D.E., Soupbone, an OG rilla from Freeport rap circles, and M Sane, a terror smashing pimp from the streets of L.A. Like Black Market, Death Trap, and AWOL, Fahrenheit Records had its own, world-wide, cult-like following.
“Does Brotha Lynch real eat scabs” First Degree recalls The Click’s B-Legit once asking him. “And yes, he was serious.” At this time, stars and the streets alike were fascinated with Sacramento music. This was also the time Siccness.net, an underground community based around Sacramento rap started by Roloc, was born.
With all of the success, wonderful music, money, fame, and unity in the Sacramento rap game, what could possibly go wrong? Find out! The History Of Sacramento Rap Part Three, The FALL coming soon to Fahrenheit Insight!
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