T.D.S. Mob :: Treacherous, Devastating, Supreme :: Race Records/Diggers With Gratitude
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[Treacherous, Devastating, Supreme] There must be something about the earlier days of Boston hip-hop that inspires not just crate-digging and high-bidding but the curation of entire collections of out-of-print and unreleased music. Last year, Guru fans were able to obtain a limited edition replica of his very first demo tape from 1986 recorded under the moniker MC Keithy E. In 2008 Edo.G's "Life of a Kid in the Ghetto" was completed with "Demos and Rarities" while the Top Choice Clique was commemorated with "Reel Chemistry - The Anthology," and in 2010 UK-based platform for wax archeologists, Diggers With Gratitude, put out the collected works of T.D.S. Mob on CD and DVD (following the reissue of the songs on vinyl).

T.D.S. Mob was one of Boston's premier rap groups in the later '80s. The origin of the name might have something to do with T.D.S. Mob having been formed between members of different crews, as the adjectives Treacherous, Devastating and Supreme also seem to have been applied as individual names and the 'Mob' part additionally served as an acronym for Musically Organized Brothers. Be that as it may, the lineup during "Treacherous, Devastating, Supreme" remains the same. MC Kool Gee is the only rapper, but he is backed by two DJ's, Devastator (aka Devastation or DBC) and Michael K (aka Treacherous). They released two 12-inches, "Dope For the Folks/Crushin 'Em" in 1988 and "What's This World Coming To/T.D.S. Scratch Reaction" in 1989.

As is typical for the dawn of the sampling era, the drums dominate the sound while non-drum samples still only play a supporting role. In fact this may really be one for drum fanatics who love to trace the many bits and pieces that found their way into late '80s/early '90s hip-hop and often spread from there even further. "Crushin 'Em" samples a grainy rhythm from a Grandmaster Flash live bootleg ("Flash it to the Beat") that DJ Premier would later use for Gang Starr's "You Know My Steez," either lifting it directly from the Flash record or from "Crushin 'Em," as that's what Edan seems to have done on "One Man Arsenal," which contains further references to the T.D.S. track.

The trio themselves didn't leave it at that, they cue in - properly introduced by James Brown with a "1-2-3-4, hit it!" - "Funky Drummer" for some extra bump. According to Michael K, for "Head of the Dope Committee" they initially wanted to use one of the songs from the "Ultimate Breaks & Beats" series but due to pacing issues decided to recreate the breakbeat from individually sampled segments, a procedure Kool Gee even mentions in his rap ("We had to put it on vinyl, change the whole origin"), referred to by Michael K in his interview with DWG as 'the Marley Marl method'. They do employ breaks, famous ones even. "The Rhyme You're About to Hear Is True" marks one of the earlier appearances of "Nautilus," "Funk to the Folks" by The Soul Searchers inspires "Dope For the Folks," and "Bounce" banks on Vaughan Mason and Crew to get things moving.

One thing that distinguishes T.D.S. Mob from their peers are the two DJ's. In those days it was customary to talk extensively about yourself the MC and your DJ, but there's some indication that T.D.S. would actually back all that up at their live shows. The guys you hear on "Treacherous, Devastating, Supreme" know what they are doing, probably even basing some of the cuts on existing live routines. Kool Gee himself substantiates his experience with a finely tuned flow. "Bounce" has the simple lyrics to go along with the disco-influenced dance track, but "Dope For the Folks" or "Crushin 'Em" pack a lot more punch as far as flow, lyrics and attitude go. The newly released "The Rhyme You're About to Hear Is True" paints a pretty bad ass portrait of Kool Gee:

"The posse and the crew cold chill at the realm
I wake the snake and the girls are overwhelmed
I started doin' this at a very young age
With a baag of sinsemilla and a Heineken beverage
Brew in left and mic in my right hand
Rhymin' to make history, a rap historian
Not just any battle, I pick up and accomodate
Kool Gee's out to kill while Dev's out to devastate
Cuts so tactical, rhymes too fractional
We only came here for one thing, and that's to rock for y'all
Kool Gee is Gangsta, I just abbreviated
Rhymes got tougher while the posse got accumulated
Non-stop the hip-hop is what I will pursue
Crushin' counterfeit suckers who cross the crew
That's right, homie, I'm talkin' to you
And (the rhyme you're about to hear is true)"

Kool Gee doesn't stray too far from the mold of local late '80s rappers. Like other MC's of his era he plans on surviving on smarts ("Some go on instinct but I use wit") and can get to the point surprisingly quickly ("T.D.S. is athletic, the other group pathetic"). The lyrical potential he displays when he opens "Crushin 'Em" with "To make a short story long," or when he quips, "Oh yes we'll be explicit, we don't give a fuck," can't quite develop with all the talk about the DJ's.

But this is what T.D.S. Mob were about between '87 and '88, and their local popularity certainly proved them right. And to this day "T.D.S. Scratch Reaction" is nothing short of amazing, a collage of raps interspersed with cuts that really highlights the 1 MC/2 DJ's potential. "T.D.S. Scratch Reaction"'s A side, "What's This World Coming To," announced a new direction as Kool Gee delivers a focused political rap dealing with the discrimination of blacks by the legal system (going as far as calling the penal system "legal slavery"). It's a somber track not quite in the line of Public Enemy/N.W.A but with its own qualities:

"Even as I recite this song
Outside the studio crazy stuff's goin' on
I won't talk about drugs or gangs so
you can say, 'Tell us somethin' we don't know'
But here's what you don't know - cause if some did
They wouldn't be in jail servin' a bid
This is the '90s in full form
And as you swarm you get warned
The gangster is the guy in the blue uniform
And he has the right to break your arm
A homeboy was on the corner just chillin', not botherin' no one
Till his beeper start throbbin' some
He pulled out to answer, and guess what happened
Here comes the man, riffin', snappin'
Snatched him by his neck, put a badge in his face
Said he had no right to be in this place
And come to find out jake made a mistake
You know why? Homeboy was chillin' on his lunch break
and his beeper call happened to be his job
And they say we can't call ourselves a Mob?"

T.D.S. were working on an album that unfortunately never came to fruition. Kool Gee's further career included appearances on The Almighty RSO's "Revenge of Da Badd Boyz" and "Doomsday: Forever RSO" (as Kool Gsus) before he formed Made Men with members of RSO in the late '90s. It was another time, but for those more inclined to reminisce on 1989 than 1999, Diggers With Gratitude has preserved the T.D.S. glory for later generations and those old enough to remember. To bring it full circle, catch Kool Gee in 'Rap Intervention', a priceless parody of an aging rapper Edo.G and Masta Ace came up with on the occasion of their "Arts & Entertainment" album:

Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7 of 10

Originally posted: January 22nd, 2013
source: www.RapReviews.com