“I can’t stand that ‘Baby, I love you’ crap they’re always singing about.” DRS’ Chris (Pic) Jackson isn’t a big fan of the R&B; genre, which he dismisses as staid and wholesome. “I wanted to do something different,” he says.
His solution? Introduce gangsta rap themes to R&B; music.
So on DRS’ first album, “Gangsta Lean,” featuring the long-running Top 10 title ballad, the Sacramento-based vocal quintet sings about what gangsta rappers rap about. Using hard-core lingo and lovely harmonies, they croon about the horrors of life in the ‘hood--a style they’ve dubbed gangsta swing. (See review, Page 56).
“Compared to rap, R&B; is so tame and needed to branch out,” explains Jackson, a 26-year-old Compton native who co-founded the group in 1988. The members of DRS, who prefer to be known by their street nicknames (Blunt, Deuce Deuce, Jail Bait and Endo), got a deal with Ruthless Records in 1990 but never recorded anything until signing with Capitol last year.
Jackson, the group’s main writer, got the inspiration for gangsta swing several years ago from Dr. Dre.
“He said don’t do what everybody else is doing, try to take gangsta rap somewhere else,” Jackson recalls. “I’m glad this record didn’t come out a few years ago. People wouldn’t have been ready for it. Dre and the others had to lay the foundation first.”
Though DRS (it stands for dirty rotten scoundrels) may get pats on the back for broadening R&B;'s turf, many would like to give them smacks in the face for some of their seemingly misogynistic views. Jackson says that’s a bum rap, though his nickname, Bitch Killer, doesn’t help his defense.
“At times we may sound like we condone rape, but we don’t,” he insists. “We’re just trying to bring attention to a situation.”
He’s alluding to the sinister song “Strip,” which supports Mike Tyson, the boxing champion who’s serving a prison sentence for rape.
In fact, Jackson is so firmly in Tyson’s corner that the name of the woman in “Strip” originally had the same first name as Tyson’s victim, Desiree Washington. But Capitol Records ordered the name changed to Debra Ray.
“But if you hear the song, everybody knows who we’re singing about,” Jackson says. “It’s an expression of our opinion. We’re entitled to that, aren’t we?”
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