South Jamaica, Queens, NY, United States
In 1993, years before anyone told ya’ to “get up off them goddamn diamonds”, South Jamaica, Queens, craziest Bal-Hed sons, ONYX, were already busy takin’ some of the Golden Era’s loot and running with it to new heights, stamping the term “hardcore” in its darkest terms upside hip hop’s head with their seminal, trailblazing platinum debut, Bacdafucup.
The iconic cover image of four bald, angry-lookin’ niggas, their legendary “MadFace” logo, a shoulder-strapped automatic and a menacing boot-tread took rap to a world that could “Slam” in an era where even looking at someone wrong at a rap show could get you gone. Fredro Starr, Sticky Fingaz, SonSee and the late brother Big DS didn’t break the rules: they scared them the fuck away.
Twenty years and several full-length underground classics later, there is still nothing so raw in live rap as getting tossed into the barrier by the smiling, sweating, maniacal fans swarming the pit, to find yourself face-to-face with the ever-Mad Faced, ever Bal-Heded ‘Dro and Sticky (and this summer, on the Rock the Bells tour, Sonsee).
Face to face with loud, abrasive greatness, you might just find yourself lucky enough to embrace a boot to the temple when Sticky stage-dives, or swimming with the sharks to make waves for the crowd surfers while you “Throw Ya Gunz”.
ONYX made boom bap gangsta, gave metal street cred, and exposed the kinship of hip hop and punk rock cultures to a wider global audience on the strength of their delivery and the look in their eye that said this was no gimmick, motherfucker – all under the guidance of their mentor and producer, the departed architect Jam Master Jay.
With the Snowgoons-produced Cuzo LP hot on the way and the custom-built hybrid project Black Rock in the aisles and their newly-minted international “100Mad” click growing stronger, 2013 sees ONYX bring it back-da-fuck up in your mad face. Watch out, ‘cuz they’re coming for head-blood.
Bio by Darcy MacDonald