R.B.L. Posse :: A Lesson to Be Learned :: In-A-Minute Records
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

Bargain bins (and by extension the people who fill them) don't know shit. I picked up R.B.L. Posse's "A Lesson to Be Learned" out of one for $3 - so says the "clearance" price sticker still on the cover. These days the cheapest copy for sale on eBay is $10.99 and some resellers want as much as $75 for it. There are two good reasons this Ruthless By Law Posse debut album is in demand. The first is that the label In-A-Minute Records was run by Music People, a local distributor almost entirely in the state of California. The second reason is tied to the first - R.B.L. Posse is a seminal rap group from San Francisco that were on the cutting edge of the Bay Area revolution. Founding members Mr. Cee (not related to the one from New York) and Black C saw their group blow up almost entirely due to the influence of local radio station KMEL, home to DJ's like Davey D (sadly no longer there) and programs like Sway & King Tech's "Wake Up Show" which believed in promoting local artists along with national hip-hop acts. It was through KMEL tapes sent to me by my friend Seoul Sistah that I first discovered R.B.L. Posse and their local hit song "Don't Give Me No Bammer (Weed)":

Mr. Cee: "Once knew a girl named Brenda
Smokin that bammer was her everyday agenda
She used to laugh and giggle
Until Mr. Cee moved next to her building
I tried to get her but she acted kinda shob
So I shared my dank, I got her real high
She followed me up to her room
And for you bitches, honey boom, honey boom
We smoked mo' dank without a pause
And later that night I was in them drawers
See, Frisco niggaz ain't no punks
Puttin guts in our way and they're gonna get bucked
Oh and Brenda's now hoe'n in the Point
Couldn't handle the dank, the reason - bammer joints"

Black C: "Don't gimme no bammer joint
It's the Black C, nigga, gettin straight to the point
I was chillin outside on a hot day
It was me and my niggas, just check what I say
Let's fade, let's go see the dank man
They'll fade if they is my friends
A few niggas pitched in
(Let's go to the store so I can get some gin)
Oh no, straight Hen-dog on mine
With a little dab of Coke and a nigga doin fine
So now we got a nitro
We up, yeah, let's go hit the indo"

I rank this song right up there with "I Got 5 On It" as Cali smokeout anthems go. Although both members of R.B.L. hail from the Hunters Point district, Cee in particular reminds me of Oakland's own Too $hort in terms of his accent and delivery - and that's definitely a positive comparison. Despite their affection for getting smoked out, it's not all fun and games on "A Lesson to Be Learned." Songs such as "Sorta Like a Psycho" sadly foreshadowed what would become of the crew later on:

Black C: "Sorta like a psycho, a nigga just might go
Spray the whole town cause a nigga is a schitzo
Little freaky bitch try to say a nigga mean
But I'm sprayed her punk ass with my uzi machine
(What you gonna do that shit fo'?)
Lay your punk ass on the flo' since you wanna be Captain Save-A-Hoe
Rat-a-tat rat-a-rat rat-a-tat-tat
(Is that a cap gun?) No it was my motherfuckin mac
Or my deuce deuce, motherfucker call it what you want to
(Man I call my shit a gun) Well I call my shit the make-room
Motherfucker motherfucker motherfucker please
Since you're on my fuckin penis, why don't you drop to your fuckin knees
Bow wow wow yipee yo yipee yipee yeah
Bark like a dog and just make my motherfuckin day, nigga
Ya fuckin wit the wrong one
A psycho ass lunatic nigga that is on one
B-L-A-C-K C, my motherfuckin name
I put up the deuce deuce and pull out my 12 gauge
Boom boom boom I watch the nigga head falled off
Then I hit the guts with my motherfuckin sawed off
Duck while the body rot, nigga still on the plot
But next time, I use my motherfuckin glock"

First impression from the topic matter (graphical to the point of comedy) and the bassline (same as 3rd Bass' "Steppin to the A.M.") is that R.B.L. is probably exagerrating their penchant for violence to make an impression. Ironically Black C is the only member of the group still alive, as both Mr. Cee and later addition Hitman have been violently gunned down over the last 15 years. C is still releasing compilation albums here and there under the RBL Posse name but it would be hard to argue the group as such really exists any more. It's a shame Mr. Cee and Hitman aren't around to reap the benefits of being Bay Area pioneers and arguably legends, but it's also a shame that due to being locally owned and distributed R.B.L. Posse albums like "A Lesson to be Learned" are so hard to find. There's plenty to like on this debut album, from the P-Funk beats and Rakim samples of "Ain't No Joke" to the hilariously unapologetic "Bitches on the Ding Dong." Their love of hip-hop from coast to coast is confirmed by the title track of "A Lesson to Be Learned," which blatantly samples "Rappers Delight" and starts off the same way only to totally flip the rap Cali style. "A Lesson to be Learned" is without question three of the best dollars I've ever spent.

Music Vibes: 9 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8.5 of 10

Originally posted: February 12, 2008
source: www.RapReviews.com