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Date of Birth

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Album Review

On the sophomore release from this Brooklyn underground trio (surfacing here as Jise, Q-Unique, and Swel 79), the Arsonists continue to swim away from the mainstream, not in a calculated manner as some backpackers do to try to make a name, but because for these self-proclaimed hip-hop pyromaniacs, this is the only way to make their music. As a result, many hip-hop luminaries have taken notice, including the legendary Chuck D, who at one time quipped: "When you see a group like the Arsonists out there, they're better than what any major label has got." Living by KRS-One's immortal credo — "Rap is something you do, hip-hop is something you live" — the Arsonists set fire to many a microphone and drum machine on Date of Birth. Again sticking to their largely in-house production protocol (though the Beatnuts' Psycho Les drops a burner on "Self Righteous Spics"), flaming arrows are fired on the rollicking "Space Junk" and the classical piano-infused "Alive." But these are mere warm-up acts for two of the more memorable underground tracks in recent memory: the hilariously sharp "Millionaire," a slick, hip-hop parody of Regis Philbin's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire game show, and "Language Arts," a blazing combination of kabuki theater strings and Akira Kurosawa film aesthetic. While the album lapses occasionally with a couple of patches of redundant production, Date of Birth is a strong follow-up from a crew who keep it real by nature. ~ M.F. DiBella, Rovi

Customer Reviews


Buy it!!


Classic album by the Arsonists. Too bad it was the last one they produced as an ensemble.


Formed: 1993 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Originally going under the name Bushwick Bomb Squad since their formation in 1993, members Q-Unique, D-stroy, Freestyle, Swel Boogie, and Jise One played around in the underground hip-hop field for a short duration before signing to the independent Fondle 'Em Records and changing their moniker to the Arsonists. With three 12" singles that followed -- one of which released on a division of Geffen Records...
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Date of Birth, Arsonists
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