Thursday, October 12, 2006

Sticky Fingaz

Rapper Sticky Fingaz was the frontman of hardcore rap goup ONYX and is best known for his husky voice and brash rapping style that dragged the hip-hop sound into the mosh pit. The Brooklyn-born Kirk Jones spent much of his early life as a member of a notorious New York street gang. Jones began performing with his cousin Fredro Starr, and the pair was soon discovered by hip-hop legend Jam Master Jay. Soon after, they formed ONYX. In 1993, ONYX released their first album, Bacdafucup, which became a crossover hit thanks in large part to Sticky Fingaz' gritty style and raspy voice. The group produced two more records before Fingaz left the group to pursue solo projects. Jones also pursued a side career as a film actor. His first solo album, Black Trash: The Autobiography of Kirk Jones, which was released in 2000, is a conceptual album that is cinematic in scope that tells the story of Kirk Jones, a down-on-his-luck ex-con who finds himself wrapped up in the street life. The record stands as an impressive debut that blends Sticky Fingaz' two loves: film and hip-hop. Decade, released on D3 Entertainment, followed in 2003. It didn't fare nearly as well as the debut, but it did crack the Billboard 200.

Sticky Fingaz - Black Trash: The Autobiography of Kirk Jones (Nov 21, 2000)
Sticky Fingaz' oft-delayed solo debut, Black Trash: The Autobiography of Kirk Jones, is a bold conceptual endeavor that loosely follows the same format Prince Paul implemented on his hip-hopera Prince Among Thieves. Scripted to fit the silver screen, Black Trash chronicles the trials and tribulations of Kirk Jones, a down-on-his-luck knucklehead who always manages to find trouble. Playing out like a lyrical collage, Black Trash is an emotional roller coaster that tackles the quintessential tale of good vs. evil. Though highly imaginative, like most Hollywood blockbusters, Black Trash fights bouts of long-windedness (this is particularly evident toward the LP's conclusion), yet there is still plenty to chew on in between. Displaying a lyrical diversity that his stint with ONYX rarely suggested, Sticky serves up a slew of profound moral messages on the thought-provoking "Why" and "Oh My God," where in a maniacal state Sticky questions God's existence. Yet, his lyrical transformation is best exemplified on "Money Talks" (featuring Raekwon), where Sticky speaks in third-person, as a dollar bill, and vividly depicts how the material possessions people strive to own eventually end up owning them. While the dramatic ebb and flow of Black Trash is the LP's saving grace, as the running dialogue (contributed by Omar Epps) and frequent skits ingeniously captures the many complex intricacies that make up Sticky/Jones' conflicting personas. However, it is hard to feel sympathetic for the character, as he is a man who, through the course of this LP, shows little regard for human life, kills his best friend, beats his wife, and deserts his child. Yet, similar to James Gandolfini's portrayal of Tony Soprano, Sticky convincingly brings Jones to life, and he is such an enigmatic character that you can't help but root for him, even though he doesn't deserve it.

Sticky Fingaz - Decade "...But Wait It Gets Worse" (Apr 29, 2003)
Not nearly as ambitious as Black Trash: The Autobiography of Kirk Jones , Sticky Fingaz' second album also isn't quite as compelling. Off Universal and now on D3 Entertainment — a graveyard of sorts for former major-label artists — the MC produces the bulk of the tracks along with DSP, though wiz Scott Storch takes over for a pair of tracks, both of which are unsurprising standouts. Despite a shortage of strong material and some uninspired production work, Sticky Fingaz remains a remarkable MC, and some might be pleased that he's relying less on gruff, in-your-face shouting and more on a menacing delivery that's kept to a relatively low-key and stern dynamic. Hopefully this will lead to better things.
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