|Preconceived Notions: This was my selection. Surprised? So was I back in 1994, when I 1st heard this. Let’s just say at the time I wasn’t listening to a lot of rap. Somehow though this album earned itself repeated play at parties in between Pantera, Sepultra, and a ton of other heavy stuff. I guess when you think about it, it’s not so odd the Diggaz were perhaps rap’s soul; brother to metal.
After Listening: The Gravediggaz are an acquired taste to be sure. They suffer at times from many of the same clichés that most rap suffers from….but one huge distinction they make off the bat is with the subject matter. Sure death and murder are well covered topics in the genre, but Gravediggaz puts a spin on it that is decidedly theirs. I don’t get caught up in that whole horrorcore label nonsense, I just enjoy the atmosphere they create. The great thing is that you can tell they never take themselves too seriously on the lyrical side. The music and production on this thing though is serious, and amazing. Live instruments, solid beats, and incredible mixing. Yep it’s all there. The truly abrasive parts of the album are delivered with purpose, stay just long enough to make you uncomfortable and then they lapse into a smoother style that temporarily makes you lose sight of the subject matter, before it then rises up and slaps you again.
Favorite Tracks: “Diary of a Madman” – sure the courtroom setting is a little played out and hokey, but when the verses start flowing D-amn. (I been examined ever since I was semen, they took a sonogram and saw the image of a demon). Each delivery is unique and yet they don’t clash, they meld – probably due to the testimony template – so in that sense perhaps the courtroom hokey can be forgiven. In any case, there’s some serious lyrical talent on display here.
Least Favorite Track: “6 feet Deep” – This is the one track where I just can’t get into the delivery – I should love the backing, and I do…it’s a disjointed rambly hook recorded live….but, the repeated spelling out is something I just can’t tolerate. They did too good a job making this one unlistenable.
Overall: 4.8 The point of the album is an absurd reality. Very serious subject matters dealt with in very non serious ways…it’s crafted as a beautiful counterpoint to most mainstream rap, and yet somehow it achieves this condemnation of clichés by not avoiding them…but by embracing a few and cranking them up to “11”. The deliveries are staggered, the subject matter abrasive, the song constructions dense…and you stir all that sh*t together and you come out with one moody, clever, monster of an album.
I guess the bonus recommendation would be their 3rd album which I am gonna try to hunt down for myself…I didn’t know it existed but….
 Nightmare in A-Minor, the third official album for Gravediggaz, was released independently in 2001; it featured two of the original members, Poetic and Frukwan. This album was their darkest work yet. It includes many references to Poetic’s struggle with colon cancer, as well as a focus on the more apocalyptic themes of the teachings of the Five Percent Nation. Although RZA did not take part in the making of the album, some Wu-Tang Clan affiliates such as 4th Disciple, True Master and Beretta 9 were involved. The album was mostly produced by Poetic and Frukwan themselves. A different version of the album (minus the song “Better Wake Up”) was released to widespread critical acclaim in 2002. Some of the tracks previously created by Poetic were replaced, or altered.