The distant sound of gangsta warfare can be heard in the sharp crack of Daniel Sofer’s drum machine and Dr. Dre’s tight, syncopated scratching. But there was no such thing as a “G” thang when Sofer bought Dre and the Unknown DJ one-way tickets aboard the Trans-American Express.
Daniel Sofer is literally the man who wrote the book on the DMX. He authored the machine’s manual and was responsible for programming its sounds, which is how the avant-garde electronic musician helped forge the underpinnings of West Coast electro rap. He brought Unknown in to record scratches for the Oberheim DMX. This led to his unique teaming up with the World Class Wreckin’ Cru’s DJ, Dr. Dre. The raw, binary output of this clash of the titans melts the wax the second the stylus hits the grooves.
The zeros and ones slice into your brain as the ones and twos scratch an itch you never knew you had. And just as the crux of the sound begins to reveal itself, you realize that there is no there there. The beat is a fever dream, sparse to say the least. It creates a taut neon landscape where electro slaps punish a staccato bass line that sounds like it would rather be sweet-talking your girl onto the dance floor than trolling dark alleys looking for the perfect beat. They are the hit men for the burgeoning godfathers from the coast of the setting sun.
Unknown makes his rapping debut on “Rhythm Rock Rapp.” He takes a first stab at the mic like a warrior on a mission. His flow is strong, if not deep. He does his part and lets his partner in crime close the deal. Dre’s cuts are the deathblows here. He attacks the turntables with ferocity and speed. Sparks fly as his fingers dance around the electric current. “Scratchin’ 100 Speakers,” the flip side, is where the boys let loose a barrage of pyrotechnics that would make John Woo’s doves cry. The scratching is so intense, it makes you feel like you’ve been on a steady diet of licking nine-volt batteries.