With Lil Wayne’s legal affairs being a heavy topic of discussion yesterday, it got me to thinking: Where’s a reliable fall guy when you need one? I mean, doesn’t every rapper’s entourage have a dude designated to do a bid on call. Sometimes, “that guy” and the weed carrier are one and the same. How did the NYPD get away with running the old DNA trick on Weezy? I just don’t get it, but I digress.
As I started to do the research for a blog on the Wayne fiasco, I typed “illegal rap” into the magical Google search engine and out came a Wikipedia page for Illegal, the rap group. Y’all remember them, right? Lil Malik and Mally G?
The year was 1993 and the boys on the West Coast had the game on lock. The resurgence of New York was just starting to take off as Wu-Tang, Nas, Notorious B.I.G and Bad Boy Records started to mount an attack. Meanwhile down in Atlanta, Jermaine Dupri had those “young, loveable, huggable type of guys” (their words not mine) Kris Kross wiggle and shake their rumps to No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 200 charts with their radio-friendly 1992 debut, Totally Krossed Out. The following year, JD tried to toughen Mack Daddy and Daddy Mack (I’ll be damned if I know which was which) with their sophomore disc, Da Bomb. It’s hard to argue that the plan didn’t work—commercially at least—as the album went platinum, but it’s safe to say not everyone was buying it.
Over at Dallas Austin’s Rowdy Records, though, two pint-sized roughnecks were pining at the opportunity to prove they were the realest hardcore teensters in the game. They called themselves Illegal for good measure. In the summer of ’93 Jamal “Mally G” Phillips and Malik “Lil Malik” Edwards released their debut album, The Untold Truth, featuring the dis record, “Head or Gut,” which was aimed squarely at the backwards Jerseys of Kris Kross.
“Head Or Gut”
Kris Kross wasn’t the only teen crew Illegal took issue with. They fired off another scathing dis record, “We Getz Busy,” that mentioned Philly rap crew Da Youngstas, and Motown Rap/R&B group Another Bad Creation. The record was a no holds barred rap that proved the little guys had the skills to back up their tough act.
“We Getz Busy”
As 1995 rolled in Illegal’s short-lived run came to an end, as hip-hop heads turned their attention to the big boys of rap, B.I.G, Tupac, Snoop Dogg, Nas, et al. The duo split and Mally G linked up with EPMD’s Erick Sermon and dished out his solo debut, Last Chance, No Breaks, under his government name Jamal. The album didn’t sell, but it produced one of my favorite records of that period, “Fade ’Em All.”
“Fade ’Em All”
Malik’s solo set on Rowdy Records was shelved, but given that he was Snoop Dogg’s little cousin (for real, not for play-play) he went over to the West Coast to get busy with them. In 2004, he finally released his solo debut, The Game Needs Me, under the name Malik AKA Hershey Hefner. (Worst name ever, perhaps?)
Clearly, the story didn’t end well for the duo, but there ain’t nothing sweet about what Illegal brought to the game. Well, back in the day at least. —Rondell Conway