8Ball & MJG’s ‘Comin’ Out Hard’ Turns 20
On 'Acura Integurl,' Frank Ocean sings, "When you met me I was Three 6, Pimp C, Bun B, 8Ball and MJG." Even for an R&B artist as young as Frank, it was clear that 8Ball & MJG were music staples for a southern kid from New Orleans. The rap duo's official debut album, 'Comin' Out Hard,' came out 20 years ago on Aug. 1, 1993, and would make an incision on southern rap's trajectory, even if it was overshadowed by more popular debut releases from Wu-Tang Clan ('Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)') and Snoop Dogg ('Doggystyle') that year.
Before the release of 'Comin' Out Hard,' 8Ball & MJG had put out their independent project, 'Listen to the Lyrics,' which hailed enough attention for Suave Records to jump on board and press the rap duo's first LP.
A swift listen to 'Comin Out Hard', 20 years later, you realize so much of the pimp references in today's hip-hop landscape are pure rhetoric. The album opener "9 Little Millimeta Boys" is gut-wrenching in its storytelling. Drug dealing and pimping (literal pimping) take the forefront here and set the tone for the rest of this bookmark of an album.
At times, it's harrowing: "Don’t disrespect me, ‘cause, hoe, I’m the truth / Nine little millimeta n----s smoke bitches too." It's really a testament to how different things are in the hip-hop landscape. Political correctness has been in the headlines lately with J. Cole's retraction of lyrics that incorrectly correlated autism to retardation. It begs the question: how would an album like 'Comin' Out Hard' be received in today's landscape?
Musically, 'Comin' Out Hard' shows competence. The sample used on the track 'Pimps' demonstrates the conscious record-making that went into 'Comin' Out Hard.' 'T.K.O.' by Womack & Womack was interpolated through a song about the art of survival that comes from being a pimp: "You gotta have heart to meet a bitch, mack hard down, then rip her apart."
Another smart use of a sample is on the title track, ‘Comin’ Out Hard,’ with Chaka Khan’s featured vocals on Rufus’ ‘Stay.’ This shows a melodic sensibility atop of 8Ball's deep-toned cadence. Even on ‘Armed Robbery’ we get a glimpse of the duo’s sense of humor, hearing them describe a bank robbery with the theme of ‘Mission Impossible’ as the musical forefront. It all shows that these lyrical stories aren't so much firsthand accounts but cautionary tales.
'Comin' Out Hard' served as a precursor for two pivotal albums birthed in the ranks of southern rap: OutKast's 'Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik' (1994) and Goodie Mob's 'Soul Food' (1995). Then, five years later, rap fans were dancing and singing along to Juvenile, only to fast forward 10 years to Lil Jon’s presence on Top 40 radio. The richness in content from southern rap was clear-cut from the beginning and 8Ball & MJG's 'Comin' Out Hard' was part of the foundation for its success.
Listen to 8Ball & MJG's '9 Little Millimeta Boys'
Listen to 8Ball & MJG's 'Comin' Out Hard'