9 Songs, 30 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Though The Pack’s irresistible underground hit “Vans,” which celebrates the wondrous versatility of the titular skating shoe, bears all of the earmarks of a faddish novelty tune, their debut EP on Zomba records, Skateboards 2 Scrapers, showcases enough raw talent and youthful vitality to belie the flavor of the month hype that has dogged them since “Vans” first hit the airwaves. Skateboards 2 Scrapers features eight solid slabs of jerry-rigged hyphy, all unearthly percussion and buzzing one finger synth lines that balance amateurish enthusiasm against otherworldly grit. Though the beats here don’t knock with the force of Rick Rock’s near avant-garde hyphy freakouts, they remain lean and fierce in all the right places, and provide the perfect sonic backdrop for The Pack’s studied ensemble rapping. The Pack’s four young MC’s spit lyrics that demonstrate both a reverence for the Bay-Area’s rich musical history and an irrepressible urge to innovate redolent of early Hot Boy$ releases. Kris Kross these kids are not.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Though The Pack’s irresistible underground hit “Vans,” which celebrates the wondrous versatility of the titular skating shoe, bears all of the earmarks of a faddish novelty tune, their debut EP on Zomba records, Skateboards 2 Scrapers, showcases enough raw talent and youthful vitality to belie the flavor of the month hype that has dogged them since “Vans” first hit the airwaves. Skateboards 2 Scrapers features eight solid slabs of jerry-rigged hyphy, all unearthly percussion and buzzing one finger synth lines that balance amateurish enthusiasm against otherworldly grit. Though the beats here don’t knock with the force of Rick Rock’s near avant-garde hyphy freakouts, they remain lean and fierce in all the right places, and provide the perfect sonic backdrop for The Pack’s studied ensemble rapping. The Pack’s four young MC’s spit lyrics that demonstrate both a reverence for the Bay-Area’s rich musical history and an irrepressible urge to innovate redolent of early Hot Boy$ releases. Kris Kross these kids are not.

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About The Pack

On the street and on mixtapes, they often use their alternate name, the Wolfpack, but the Bay Area crew that exploded onto the scene with its ode to slip-on sneakers is officially known as the Pack. Members Lloyd "Young L" Omadhebo, Keith "Stunna" Jenkins, DaMonte "Uno" Johnson, and Brandon "Lil B" McCartney were skateboarding and hip-hop fiends who all attended the same high school when they first came together in 2005. As the hyphy movement started emerging as the Bay Area's answer to crunk, the teen group staked its hyphy claim in 2005 with the street-level release Wolfpack Muzik, Vol. 1. The release made some local noise, but it was 2006's Wolfpack Muzik, Vol. 2 that really set things in motion. Young L's minimal production was a fascinating mix of slowed-down hyphy with a bit of Atlanta's "snap" music -- replacing the usual snare drum with a finger snap -- thrown in, best illustrated by the leadoff track, "Vans." Declaring their favorite brand a better and cheaper alternative to the more expensive Nike, "Vans" dominated West Coast radio thanks to its hook, an incredibly infectious one that was delivered by a strange robot voice. When the legendary Too Short caught the single on the radio, he immediately searched out the Pack and signed them to the Jive-distributed label Up All Nite. Before they could get their major-label debut on the racks, rapper Drino Man responded to their hit with "F' Vans," an answer song that proved the Pack's big track was not just a single but a phenomenon. It wasn't until December that their seven-song EP, Skateboards 2 Scrapers, finally came out, and not until October of the following year that their full-length debut, Based Boys, hit shelves. In 2009 the Pack found themselves in a feud with New Boyz, with Stunna accusing the So-Cal group of copying their musical and fashion style. The following year the group released its second official full-length, Wolfpack Party. ~ David Jeffries

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