By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
Da Hol' 9, St. Louis' reigning lords of crunk, are about to drop their second CD, That Hella Thurl Shit!, on their own label, Hella Thurl Entertainment. After a disappointing stint on MCA, co-rappers Big Sexy Kool DJ Kaos and Kemo got sick of playing the major-label hurry-up-and-wait game. They not only managed to get out of their contract (five years, five albums, ten videos) but also got the masters back for their 2001 release Out Here, along with the video for "Urbody N Da Club Up."
Thanks to heavy airplay on 100.3 The Beat, where Kaos is a popular DJ, and lots of club action, Out Here spawned several massive dance hits -- "Lemmehollaatcha," "Urbody N Da Club Up" and "My Block 2 Yo Block -- and topped the sales charts of several local record stores for months on end ["Radar Station," May 29, 2002]. But when Da Hol' 9 signed to MCA, they had to pull all the copies of Out Here from record-store shelves. For the four months the duo were under contract, they were put on indefinite hold while the suits scrambled to hype new releases by established stars such as Erykah Badu, Common and Snoop Dogg. In the meantime, customers were frustrated, and Da Hol' 9 lost momentum; in an industry that values novelty above all else, a year's delay spells doom. Luckily, MCA released them from the contract, sparing them from the fate of countless fucked-over also-rans, and Da Hol' 9 decided to give up on pursuing an artist's contract, focusing instead on snagging a major-label distribution deal for Hella Thurl (for those of you who aren't fluent in Ebonics, the corporation's name means "very thorough"). "You don't have to go to a major label and let them take 80 percent of your profits," Kemo explained at a recent press conference. "You have to be ready to worry about something beyond being a star."
"We'll have record labels coming out of the woodwork," Kaos added. He and the 10-member staff of Hella Thurl predict That Hella Thurl Shit!, which contains all the hits from the debut CD plus some remixes and new tracks, will sell 30,000 units the first week after it's released (on March 18) and a total of 100,000 units by the end of the year. Yeah, talk is cheap, but Radar Station won't be shocked if they pull it off. We've been crazy about Da Hol' 9 from the get-go, of course, and, as the St. Louis American's Delores Shanté has politely submitted, we may be a tad optimistic in our predictions, too. But we'll put their hottest tracks up against anything by Lil' Jon and the East Side Boyz or Three Six Mafia, and life is indeed an empty lie if the world outside of St. Louis refuses to acknowledge Da Hol' 9's supreme crunkness.
Plus, in Kemo's opinion, they've got something for everyone -- the hustlers, the ballers and the ladies. Especially the ladies, because, as Kaos says, "Women buy records. Us guys, we burn 'em."
Our belated congrats to Nelly on his first two Grammy wins (for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration and Best Male Rap Solo Performance), neither of which the heartless bastards of CBS saw fit to broadcast. Evidently the programming honchos didn't deem our beloved cuddlethug's acceptance speeches quite as entertaining as the excruciating medley by James "Marked for Death" Taylor, Vanessa "I Deserve to Lose to Norah Jones" Carlton and John "I Have a Dave-Matthews-Sized Load of Crap in My Pretty Bum That I'm Straining to Dislodge" Mayer.
We did get to see Nelly perform a pyrotechnic-enhanced medley of his winning songs, featuring a gaggle of coochie queens shaking their bikini-clad asses and a dazed-looking Kelly Rowland caterwauling like a wounded sea lion. As much as it pains us to say, we have to agree with the legions of Q95.5 callers and pronounce the performance unredeemably wack, but, hey, he still deserved to win. Plus, the embarrassing spectacle seemed worthwhile when some genius/practical joker of a cameraman decided to zoom in on Yoko Ono's face during the applause afterwards. (Because when you think "hip-hop," you immediately think "Yoko," right?) Ono, predictably, was not amused -- in fact, she looked downright nauseated -- and Radar Station had our second-best laugh of the evening. (In case you're wondering, we directed our hardest guffaws at Fred "I Think We're All in Agreeance" Durst.)