Harsh Game (for the people) (Jus' Family Records)
By: David Patsko
When I first heard of Cool Nutz, I had no idea what to expect. Judging from his name, I thought he may be more along the lines of a comedic rapper--maybe a solo version of the Insane Clown Possee. However, upon listening to Harsh Game, I quickly changed my thinking. The fact is, Cool Nutz is one of the hardest rappers I have heard in a long time. Did I mention that he's from Portland, Oregon--one of the most quiet and unheard of regions of the country as far as hip-hop goes?
Cool Nutz is one of the most influential, hard-working and dedicated individuals in the northwest. He helped program "The Ledge"--a hip-hop video show--and spin records on his radio show on KBOO 90.7 FM. His first release, Dis Niggaz Nutz sold 500 units independently. In 1994, he released a cassette single called "Playervision", which sold 1300 units. Harsh Game is his third effort and it is his time to shine.
The CD starts off with "Deez Nutz", a track with mixes and breaks of other songs that tell what Cool Nutz and Jus' Family is all about. Next is the first song "Punk Ass Niggaz", a funk induced anthem of who Cool Nutz's number one enemy is. His deep voice and dope delivery combine with an incredible beat to let all punks, bustas and haters know that Cool Nutz is gunning for them. Then, Yukmouth (from the Luniz), Poppa LQ and Jiboh join Cool Nutz for "Behind The Scenes"--a collaboration to provide all gold-diggers and wannabe instant millionaires with some food for thought about wealth and fame; and more importantly, the sacrifices and struggles that lie behind it all. Skipping forward slightly, "Final Countdown" is a warning to all sucker MC's that they need not even attempt to test Cool Nutz talent and ability. Using a sample of Craig Mack's "Flava In Your Ear" revelation--"you won't be around next year"--Cool Nutz handily slays all lesser and fake MC's without breaking a sweat. Other dope tracks that I'm especially feeling are "Sick Wit", a self-satisfying collaboration with Monkey Mike and Dubb Flexx; "76 Nova", an ode to Cool Nutz's car and the capers he endures while inside it--which incorporates a sample from the "I Got Five On It" beat by the Luniz; "Portland Type Shit", an insiders view of what Portland is all about collaboration with labelmate Ray Ray of G-Ism; "Hate Mail", which features Bleek and Cool Nutz providing tales of insanely jealous opposition and how they get dealt with and "All Real", a hard-hitting reminder about the authenticity and originality of Jus' Family Records, featuring G-Ism, Kenny Mack and Maniac Lok.
Negative aspects of Harsh Game are few and hardly notable--other than the compulsory party song "Party Don't Start" and a few intros and interludes, listening to Harsh Game is nothing short of an auditory delight that all should experience. In summary, Harsh Game is a self-explanatory title. Although the northwest is not that well known in the area of hip-hop, Cool Nutz is doing his best to change all that. To me, Cool Nutz is northwestern hip-hop, but also he exemplifies what hip-hop and the underground is all about; a young, talented MC with a lot of knowledge and wisdom to share, helping an independent Portland label blow up nationally. Harsh Game comes with a high level of recommendation. If you're interested in Cool Nutz, where to get a copy of Harsh Game, or want more information on Jus' Family Records, you can obtain said information here:
Jus Family Records
2718 SW Kelly Suite 316
Portland, OR 97201