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24-7 Spyz

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In the wake of Living Colour's success with 1988's Vivid, several other all-black hard rock outfits soon appeared -- including 24-7 Spyz. Like Living Colour, 24-7 specialized in a merger of funk and heavy metal, with often message-filled lyrics. The group's leaders from their formation in 1986 to the present day have been guitarist Jimi Hazel (a gentleman who took his first and last names from two of his favorite guitarists -- Jimi Hendrix and Funkadelic's Eddie Hazel) and bassist Rick Skatore. Hailing from New York City (the Bronx, to be exact), the group issued its debut full-length, Harder Than You, in 1988 on the In-Effect label. The album -- which included vocal contributions from singer P. Fluid -- received some MTV attention with a cover of Kool & the Gang's "Jungle Boogie." Released in 1990, Gumbo Millennium saw the group perfect its multi-genre-encompassing sound even further, as an opening slot on Jane's Addiction's tour in support of Ritual de lo Habitual saw the group expand its following. However, Fluid exited the band at the end of the tour (along with drummer Anthony Johnson), but Hazel and Skatore regrouped with new singer Jeff Brodnax and drummer Joel Maitoza, resulting in two more successful releases, the 1991 EP This Is...24-7 Spyz! and the 1992 full-length Strength in Numbers -- both of which were issued on major label East West. In 1995 the Harder Than You era lineup reunited for a new album, Temporarily Disconnected, before further lineup hiccups occurred. Eventually, Hazel decided to do double duty -- providing lead vocals in addition to guitar -- while drummers came and went. One more album was issued, 1996's Heavy Metal Soul by the Pound (titled simply 6 in Europe), before 24-7 Spyz went into hibernation mode between 1998 and 2003. Hazel and Skatore eventually resuscitated the group, issuing their first-ever live album (recorded in 1998), Can You Hear the Sound?, as well as an all-new studio set, Face the Day, in 2006. In addition to his 24-7 Spyz duties, Hazel is also a solo artist, having released 21stCenturySouthBronxRockStar in 2002 via his own label, The Gumbo Recording Company. ~ Greg Prato

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