By KC (Host of You Must Learn
First of all, let’s recognize that I am someone who is basically straight edge and loves a group called Tha Alkaholiks. Now that we’ve named that bit of irony, we can talk about this terrific debut LP from the West Coast collective.
Tha Alkaholiks came about as part of the extended crew of Los Angeles rapper King T which he called the Likwit Crew. They appeared on his 1993 record Tha Triflin’ Album on two different tracks, and by the end of that year Tha Liks (as they are often calling themselves) had their own debut, 21 & Over on shelves and a couple of singles making the rounds.
21 & Over is a model of efficiency – it contains ten tracks that clock in at about 35 minutes total. But don’t let that fool you, since you’re likely to hit the rewind button a couple of times and extend that musical experience. As a lead single, “Make Room” is quite the introduction to the group and instantly sets them apart from their mentor. Whereas King T had a distinct West Coast sound to him, producer E-Swift definitely leans more to the boom bap of the East. That’s not to say there isn’t some funk in the mix, but it’s a more universal hip hop sound. Those beats, however, are merely a bed for Tash and J-Ro to flex lyrically. Topically, the range on this album isn’t too vast; we have your standard braggadocio, rhymes about women that range from unflattering to a little cringey, and many, many, references to alcohol and partying. I mean, there are songs called “Only When I’m Drunk”, “Last Call”, and “Turn the Party Out” – not to mention one called “Mary Jane” in case you thought they just ignored the weed themes prevalent in the era.
But, there’s no denying that the number one goal for these gentlemen is to have a good time. Whether it’s rocking a mic or rocking a bottle, this is a tight journey into the mind of some young men with the world in front of them. Even on later albums when they try to balance out – at least a little bit – the party with a message, it’s not exactly an even split. But on 21 & Over, it’s press play, nod your head, catch a punch line or two, and enjoy the ride. Because you know they did.