Tim Dog – Penicillin On Wax (Throwback Thursday Review)

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Despite the nature of diss records today, few can be thought of as full diss albums, especially one’s just directly addressing skills rather than street beef. Tim Dog is the answer to that question, or maybe more the medicine, penicillin to be more specific. On this 1991 release, the Ultramagnetic MC’s affiliate performs a lyrical onslaught against NWA & various other wack MC’s. Using the classic productions provided by the Ultramagnetic MC’s producer Ced Gee, the album feels prototypical yet daring.

Being just on the brink of the new decade, the new rhyme schemes hadn’t full settled in yet so there’s a lot of the older 80s feeling flows. There isn’t to take away from his rhyming abilities though, as even though the flow is more simplistic, he packs it full of multisyllabic words that add an edge to them. No matter how complex the words are though, he’s got a true knack knowing when to flex that skill & using simple rawer lyrics.

Within his quintessential song “Fuck Compton,” he showcases how raw yet technical his rhymes can be. In the same song he delivers lyrics direct as:

Why you dissing Eazy? ‘Cause the boy ain’t shit
Chew him with tobacco, and spit him in shit

And later something complex as:

So whether you think that I’m just a myth
The riff, the lift, the gift, the if, the fifth
The shift, the spliff, that’s in control to hold
To fold, to bold and make an ache and take and fake
Woo, and I’m still too great

Tim Dog – Fuck Compton

He rides this line incredibly well throughout the album. Knowing when to just talk directly at his enemies, but deciding when to prove his lyrics to the hardcore hip hop purists. He takes hip hop seriously in every capacity, a form of purism that has only seen a resurgence in recent years.

This level of unrelenting industry standard attacks could be seen as influence on Kool Keith’s music as well. While the duo would address all these standards on their 1996 album together under the name of Ultra, this album predating it could be seen as where these anti-industry ideas stem from. Kool Keith’s experience with the industry would only sour greater as time went on, with the general misunderstanding of the Dr. Octagon record & its purpose. Ultramagnetic MC’s work was also not industry conforming, as they would sign single album deals, in comparison to the standard of signing years long contracts. Throughout both of their respective careers, they regret trends that have evidently aged poorly.

Tim Dog – Low Down N*gga

What’s interesting is how focused Tim Dog is on the Dee Barnes & Dr. Dre situation. Its a moment that seems to have mostly slipped from the public conscience, but Tim Dog makes that a primary focus all the way back in ’91. Its a moment that only seems to be brought up in small hip hop circles, but him putting it on wax solidified its place in history.

These crazy moments of dissing is interspersed with skits. They don’t take away from the experience, only to add to the drama. The intro sees him & the other members of the Ultramagnetic MC’s mocking NWA, while “DJ Quik Beat Down” features audio from a supposed attack on DJ Quik. The only skit that feels unnecessary to the whole experience is the “Michel’le Conversation,” where he seems to nearly backtrack & over explain the disses toward the R&B singer.

Tim Dog – Step to Me

Its a wild ride of diss tracks until the final track of “Sexual Fantasies,” which see both him & Kool Keith indulging in their sex life. Its an overly long song that does not fit at all, but thankfully is tacked on the end so that it doesn’t interrupt the rest. It feels like a song that would belong better on a Kool Keith album, but in this context it does not work to benefit the album.

Tim Dog’s unrelenting nature to conform to the industry is, along with the extreme level of aggression he delivers in his voice, make this an enticing listen. He’s so focused on taking down the wacker MC’s that he forebodes any consquences, as this album would later be cited by many as the firing shot in the West Coast vs. East Coast beef. Its an album that even warranted responses from the other side, as Dr. Dre does address it on “Fuck Wit Dre Day.” In many ways, this album unexpectedly changed the course of hip hop forever.

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