Conspiracy by Junior M.A.F.I.A. (1995)

03Mar11

1995 was a good year for “the guy behind the guy”. Much like Tha Dogg Pound (who emerged from the shadow of Snoop), Junior M.A.F.I.A. burst onto the scene from behind the iconic Notorious B.I.G. Well, “burst onto the scene” may be giving this record too much credit…it’s not like this group really mattered for more than a summer, but rap junkies were paying attention. Let me dive right in by telling you what I hate about Conspiracy: it takes 8+ minutes to hear anything that you can actually get into. 8 minutes! The first few tracks are a complete waste of space, unless you’re a fan of those rap album interludes where you hear people arguing about who keeps it realer*, and in the distance there are police sirens or rain or whatever. Yawn. Finally on track #4 ‘Realms of Junior M.A.F.I.A.’, we get a beat and verses worth worrying about…this song should have been bumped up to the pole position. Keep it moving right into the classic ‘Player’s Anthem’, which has become Conspiracy’s legacy. Grab your d***s if you love hip hop! You’ve heard it before, but probably edited to the point where it’s unrecognizable.

You can’t have a mid-90s rap album without the song where they get an R&B chick to sing the hook, and ‘I Need You Tonight’ fills that role admirably. This track was our major introduction to Lil Kim as a serious player…instead of the mop-up verses we heard from her before, she bats second here and lets you know all the expensive shit you need to buy to get her to do all kinds of sexual things that Vanessa del Rio would be ashamed to do. Do your homework on that verse and you’ll appreciate Kim a little more. Rest in peace Aaliyah. Next up is ‘Get Money’…if you don’t know this song (and you like rap) you need to stop reading right now, download it, and never tell anyone we had this little talk. Rest in peace Big. You get a few more quality moments on this record (‘Lyrical Wizardry’ and maybe ‘Murder Onze’) but overall it’s a pretty boring collection of songs to be honest.

On a positive note, I will say that this project had a vision that was carried out well. As a white kid from the suburbs who was in Boy Scouts, I realize that I wasn’t the intended audience for the drug/sex/crime-related messages on Conspiracy. And remember the culture in America at the time when this record was released…Congress and activists were still blaming “gangster (with an R) rap” for everything wrong in America, and the East vs. West rap nonsense was still in full swing. Junior M.A.F.I.A. was east coast to the socks, but I don’t really recall them publicly engaging much of that chatter beyond Kim’s support of Biggie. I don’t know…maybe there is deeper stuff at play on Conspiracy that some rap fans will appreciate more than I did. But if you’re looking for party tracks that you’ll come back to, stick to the highlights.

* – Yes, realer.

music turtle recommends: GET TRACKS 5, 7 & 12!

What do you think about this album? Comment below

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