Das EFX – “They Want EFX”

For a Das EFX post, I briefly considered working in an “-iggedy” into every line but I can’t be arsed to do so and you should be happy about that.

Das EFX is the duo of Dray and Skoob (AKA Books) who originally met as undergrads at school in Virginia. Joining together as Das (Dray and Skoob) EFX (Effects, originally due to the duo’s proclivity towards reverb and other audio effects in their demos), the duo operated in relative isolation, away from the New York rap scene. Over time the emcees crafted their own style of rhyme, a hyper-lyrical, pop culture-laden stream of consciousness that was strikingly unlike any other rap act of the era. If I had to wager, one of the closest inspirations for the group was probably Ultramagnetic MCs, but even Kool Keith wasn’t this spastic.

The duo’s energy and irreverence brought them the attention of the legends EPMD, who liked their style, took them under their wing, and higgedy hooked (…sorry) them up with a deal. In early 1992 Dray and Skoob released Dead Serious, a rather fitting title for their debut.

Front and center, Dead Serious is a smorgasbord of loopy rhymes over phat beats. Dray and Skoob go all the way out, with surreal, “-iggedy”-suffixed lines that reference everything from Keebler cookies to A Streetcar Named Desire. Their delivery is so ridiculously weird, wild, and nigh-on indecipherable, while nailing a fun and wild vibe. In one moment the EFX are standing tall over whack emcees, and in another (in fact, a whole damn song!), they’re bringing up the embarrassing moments where diarrhea got them. It’s all over the place.

“They Want EFX” was a massive hit in early ’92 and for good reason: It fucking knocks. I legit forgot just how infectious and fun this track is, feeling like a breath of fresh air while most other acts of the day were concerned about being “rough and rugged.” Dray and Skoob fly off the handle, with rapid, utterly deranged gems. I love the their interplay and audaciousness. The beat too is sublime, rocking the famous guitar lick from James Brown‘s “Blind Man Can See It” and a vocal snippet from Malcolm McLaren‘s “Buffalo Gals,” making for an outright strange listen. It’s a real treat!

While Das EFX is viewed as a novelty today, the duo’s influence on hip-hop of the era was massive. In their wake a whole new wave of rappers came out the woodwork employing screwball rhymes and spazzed out performances but very few matched their charm. “-Iggedy” (can’t believe this is the third time I’ve said that) entered the pop culture lexicon. Hell, the duo even got referenced on 90210! Their style was so fresh and striking the group became pigeonholed as those guys, and for their subsequent albums, Das EFX veered into more conventional rhymes and eventually faded into obscurity. But this one right here is a moment.