EWA100 - #100. U.G.K. - Front, Back, Side To Side

100. U.G.K. - Front, Back, Side To Side (Jive. 1994. From the LP Super Tight)

Mike Dikk:
It’s just my luck that the first song (well really, the hundredth song) on this list is a song I conceivably heard for the first time a few minutes ago. You see, the first time I consciously heard U.G.K was on Three 6 Mafia’s "Sippin on Some Syrup". There’s always a chance I heard them before that, but I don’t remember it. I do remember that U.G.K. has been a staple in The Source’s “Fat Tape” section since the beginning of time. Even before Southern Rap was regularly talked about in daily life. The Source would always have some token popular regional group in their Fat Tape section to appeal to a demographic they may not be covering all that much. It’s the same reason they’d give up some space to Midwestern horrorcore every other year before Eminem hit the scene.
I never got around to checking out U.G.K. because I only had so much money back in those days to check out under-advertised and poorly-distributed hip hop (To be fair, I just did a fact check and it turns out this was on Jive, so they weren’t really poorly distributed. Whoda thunk?). It’s safe to say a lot of people never got around to checking out until the early 00’s when they began making guest appearances on other rappers songs. Specifically, Jay Z’s "Big Pimpin’". Oddly enough, they still owe most of their fame to Pimp C getting locked up, thus turning Bun B’s “Free Pimp C” slogan into the hip hop world’s version of “Where’s The Beef?” for a good year or so.
What I’m getting at is that you shouldn’t hold it against me if I’ve never heard this song prior to today. I still won’t fully admit that I’ve never heard it though, because it sounds like something I should have heard at some point in my life, but I have no concrete proof of that.
It could just be that this was released (1994) well before the Southern Rap sound that we all know and love today wasn’t fully developed yet. 1994 was a banner year in west coast gangsta rap, and that’s what this really sounds like. Even going as far as using the “plink-plink” noise Dre used in Eazy-E’s “Boyz N Tha Hood”. If you told me this was an Above The Law or a Compton’s Most Wanted song, I’d have no reason not to believe you.
Unfortunately, I will never know what it was like to be a hostile youth in the big ol’ state of Texas in the early to mid 90’s, so I couldn’t tell you if this song holds any cultural or historical significance to someone who WAS actually a hostile youth from Texas. I’d imagine it was pretty popular for the time, or at least I’d hope it was, because I wouldn’t want this list to lose all of it’s credibility before you get to the end and find out no Jay-Z songs made the final cut. Oops!

Raven Mack:
I've listened to a lot of DJ Screw in recent years, so I know of this U.G.K. Plus, when gangsta movies were in vogue, and that Menace II Society movie came out, I got the soundtrack on poly-cassette like we used to do back then before robots ruled the roost, and the best song on that tape was "Pocket Full of Stones" by this here U.G.K. They had a slow, drawled out rhyme style and laid back bass-happy beat, and it was something that sounded way better to me than other stuff on that tape, like Guru on some cut with some group called The Cutthroats doing Onyx's aneurysm-style. I was growing into adulthood, and this was a key point, this tape, even though I didn't know it at the time, but looking back I can see... I was ready to be laid back, and Onyx was far from laid back, and Onyx was a shining jewel in NYC's hip hop crown at that point. And here's this weird U.G.K. with the drawl and perfect riding-in-your-car bass, and it made sense to me.
"Front, Back, Side to Side" is a fine song, but it is nothing, for me, compared to "Pocket Full of Stones". Also, now that Pimp C is free, he seems to get far less coverage in the regular white people media. If I was him, I would make about seven albums as fast as possible, then violate my parole in headline-setting fashion.

Download: U.G.K - Front, Back, Side To Side

Youtube video for the crappy T.I. Remake of the same song.