Six Great '90s NYC Rap Demos

3. Simply 2 Positive (a.k.a. Organized Konfusion)

More power to the hiss! Cut under the Simply 2 Positive moniker and laid down under the tutelage of sadly deceased enigmatic engineer Paul C, Pharoahe Monch and Prince Po's demos showcase lyrics that stay enlightened and a delivery that's searingly on point. Sequence next to O.C.'s demo nuggets for maximum synergy.

2. Mobb Deep

Before Prodigy and Havoc staked their place in the great thug rap pantheon as Mobb Deep, the duo attempted a rap career as the Poetical Prophets. Demos from their juvenile incarnation can be found online, but the collection of recordings that became the Mobb's adored album The Infamous is one of the great rap sneak peaks. A fascinating mix of original sketches of songs like "Survival Of The Fittest," "Give Up The Goods," and "[Q.U.] Hectic" married to tracks like "If It's Alright" and "Light 'Em Up" that failed to make the cut, it's an insightful companion piece to the actual album. A deluxe edition with ALL-CAPS liner notes from Prodigy would be essential.

1. Wu-Tang Clan

The Wu might have staked their first claim to greatness with a bunch of tracks that traded in raw, lo-fi production values and amped raps, but the Clan's demo tape makes the recording quality of Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) sound like an audiophile's adventures in the grand pursuit of perfection. Of the eight tracks that are often collated together, you can peep a take of "Bring Da Ruckus" that fuses different samples with alt lyric takes ("Yo, something new from a real live rapper so catch this!" begins Raekwon, before also characterizing himself as a "drunk monk"), the bass-swamped "The Wu Is Comin' Thru," and "It's All About Me," an almost happy-go-lucky Wu outing that nods to the Clan's Staten Island compadres The UMCs and references De La Soul. The true start of the Wu-Tang saga.

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