I have already reviewed Smif-N-Wessun's Dah Shinin', Heltah Skeltah's Nocturnal, and Originoo Gunn Clappaz's Da Storm, so I might as well review the album that got the entire catalog of Boot Camp Clik albums started: Black Moon's Enta Da Stage.
Black Moon consists of two rappers, the now well-known Buckshot and the lesser-known (but not bad by any means) 5 ft, and one producer, DJ Evil Dee of Da Beatminerz (although Enta Da Stage was not produced exclusively by him). The trio instantly gained recognition in the industry when it released the hit single "Who Got Da Props?" at the tail-end of 1992. Then, 10 months later, it released Enta Da Stage, a project that would become widely regarded as a hip-hop classic, generally placing somewhere on every top 100 hip-hop-albums-of-all-time list you can find.
The production on Enta Da Stage is more hard-hitting than on the other three Boot Camp Clik debut albums, as the record contains much more ominous-sounding instrumentals and more threatening subject matter overall. Most people credit the Wu-Tang Clan's Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, Nas' Illmatic, and The Notorious B.I.G.'s Ready To Die for the east coast's revival, but one can easily argue that it was Black Moon's debut that got it all started, as it was released before all of the aforementioned albums.
Enta Da Stage (although not to the extent of The Infamous) is one of my favorite releases of all-time, so prepare yourself for a fairly nauseating review.
1. Powaful Impak!
Black Moon completely forgoes any kind of album intro and jumps right into things, as DJ Evil Dee drops an extremely bass-heavy beat (and get used to that) for Buckshot, who is alone on this cut (get used to that, too, as 5 ft only makes three appearances on this entire album; weird, right?). I'm not even kidding when I say you will probably need to reduce this song's bass to actually be able to discern Buckshot's lyrics in your ride. There is also the chance that it will completely shatter your windows if you don't, either.
2. Niguz Talk Shit
The same thing I said about the bass on "Powaful Impak!" applies here. DJ Evil Dee's instrumental here, though, is much more menacing overall, as it contains some eerie (but very effective) horns. Yes, Buckshot is alone once again (how about this; I'll tell you when 5 ft is actually present, okay?), and he spits his typical tough-guy rhymes that he was (and still is) so damn good at.
3. Who Got Da Props?
The funny thing is, this was always one of my least favorite songs on Enta Da Stage. I dig the dusty snares, but other than that, I have always thought of the album's lead single as being fairly meh.
4. Ack Like U Want It
And to think I was criticizing some of the titles on The Infamous. I will never understand why some rappers go out of their way to intentionally misspell song titles, but whatever; this track is damn good. That beat is just crazy. It also represents a shift (if you can call it that) on the album, as a co-producer is now featured for the first time: Mr. Walt of Da Beatminerz. Plus, 5 ft (who I've always felt is very underappreciated) is on this!
5. Buck Em Down
So much for a shift, as "Buck Em Down" resumes the DJ Evil Dee/Buckshot collaboration portion of Enta Da Stage (which is basically the whole thing). I love the hook on this, even if it is just someone shouting "buck 'em down!" repeatedly. The beat is fantastic, too.
6. Black Smif-N-Wessun
I don't really think I need to tell you what group is featured here, but for those of you who might be a little slow, it's Smif-N-Wessun. This is a damn fine collaboration, containing a sick beat from DJ Evil Dee and great contributions from both Smif-N-Wessun members, Tek and Steele. The drums on this are especially dusty.
7. Son Get Wrec
Believe it or not, Buckshot is not present on this track. Instead, 5 ft gets his time to shine, and he comes through with one of the best cuts on Enta Da Stage. I really, really dig his voice. The hook on this, although simple, is sick.
8. Make Munne
Mr. Walt is the lone producer on this record, and he does a heck of a job. Those drums are just incredible. Buckshot puts forth a nice effort, as usual.
"Slave" contains one of the simplest beats on the album, but the DJ Evil Dee production is still fire. Interestingly, there is no hook on this track. The beat just plays by itself where the hook would be.
10. I Got Cha Opin
Another Mr. Walt beat. His use of the horns on the hook is ill, making "I Got Cha Opin," without a doubt, one of the strongest records on the project. By this point, Buckshot's raps are becoming very predictable, but there's nothing wrong with that, as it fits the theme of the album perfectly.
11. Shit Iz Real
DJ Evil Dee's drums are fantastic, but I wasn't really feeling the horns. I don't really have much else to say about this one, as I think the song's title is pretty self-explanatory in terms of describing the track itself.
12. Enta Da Stage
This is a flat-out banger. Buckshot sounds outstanding on it, and the single piano hits that litter the track just sound great. This is also another one of those cuts on Enta Da Stage that needs a bass reduction before you decide to blast it in your ride. Nevertheless, Mr. Walt's drums knock.
13. How Many MC's...
This was the album's second single, and it was a pretty good choice. DJ Evil Dee's kicks are crazy good, and Buckshot's flow, much like the beat, is very relaxed, which is in great contrast to the rest of Enta Da Stage. We as the listeners certainly needed that "break," even if it was toward the very end of the project.
14. U Da Man
Smif-N-Wessun, Havoc of Mobb Deep (and this was before Mobb Deep hit it big), and Dru Ha (the record label executive) all make guest appearances on this track. 5 ft also gets a verse here, and he rips it. The result? A head-nodder that absolutely bangs in the whip. Also, the hook, while being as simplistic as a hook could possibly be (and that's saying quite a lot), is addicting as hell.
Although Enta Da Stage doesn't contain much variation, it is still an outstanding album overall, and due to the impact it had on the hip-hop landscape, it certainly deserves the ample amount of praise it gets. The production on it is strikingly consistent, as is Buckshot's rapping.
One criticism I have about Enta Da Stage is the lack of 5 ft on the album. I mean, he is a part of Black Moon, yet he only appears on three of the 14 cuts. I don't know how he stood for that, because if I were him, I would have been pissed. The dude clearly has talent, and I actually enjoy his voice, which reminds me a bit of Canibus' (especially right now; listen to Black Moon's past couple of projects and you'll see what I mean), more than Buckshot's.
That quibble aside, this is one of those albums that you just can't get enough of. The beats are too simple to get tired of, and Buckshot has a way of keeping you interested even if he is talking about the same exact thing for all 13 tracks he appears on.
Although Black Moon is not all that relevant in the hip-hop game anymore, it never really "fell off," as the three albums (four if you count Diggin' In Dah Vaults, which was essentially a remixed version of Enta Da Stage with a few new tracks) the group released succeeding Enta Da Stage were all solid (even though 5 ft still got shafted on each and every one of them).
Enta Da Stage is not my favorite Boot Camp Clik album; Nocturnal is, as I feel Ruck and Rock are, clearly, the two best rappers in the collective and that the production on it displays much more versatility than any of the other releases from the B.C.C. groups. However, Enta Da Stage is, and always will be, one of my top hip-hop albums ever.
TOP FIVE TRACKS
1. Ack Like You Want It
2. Enta Da Stage
3. U Da Man
4. Black Smif-N-Wessun
5. I Got Cha Opin