Onyx Reminisce About The Tunnel: "Blood and Moet on the Floor!"

Da Mad Face Invasion via Onyx HQ

[Editor's note: In "Tweets Is Watching," Phillip Mlynar asks local artists questions based solely on the contents of their Twitter timeline.]

Back in 1993, Onyx helped hip-hop take a turn to the grimy side with the then-quartet's Bacdafucup album. Just over 20 years later, the original mad faces are back with Wakedafucup, a new project out today (3/18) that they maintain channels the same rugged spirit of their debut. In honor of its release we tapped Sticky Fingaz and Fredro Starr to take a tweet-prompted trip back to their days running rampant through the fabled New York City nightclub The Tunnel. Stories about oral favors in the bathroom, stick-up kids posing as security, and poppin' bottles with 2Pac ensued.

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When did the idea to record Wakedafucup come about?

Fredro Starr: Wakedafucup is just time for hip-hop, you know? New York hip-hop was sleeping and if New York hip-hop is sleeping it means all of hip-hop is sleeping 'cause that's the nucleus and heart of it. We was actually doing another album called Cut Throat. It was in the middle of that and we got the epiphany to put out a whole other album called Wakedafucup and we put Cut Throat to the side and just totally put all of our energy and thought patterns into it. We went back to the mindstate of the way we used to rap in '93.

Sticky Fingaz: The verses, the flows, the concepts.

FS: Everything about this album reminds me of the first album. We were taking it back to the essence.

SF: It's volatile like that.

How did you hook up with the producers the Snowgoons?
We was on tour in Europe a lot -- like actually our biggest market is in Russia -- and we'd always see these dudes and they'd be rocking the crowd. We was like, "Who the fuck is these dudes?" Through touring we met them back stage and it sounded like 1993 New York City.

SF: We needed someone to handle the production on the whole level, so like not just beats from here and beats from there. We wanted it to sound like one complete thought, you know what I'm saying? It's going to sound like a rude awakening to a lot of people.

The album has a song paying tribute to the nightclub The Tunnel, right?
Yeah, that's one of the major records on the album. Onyx don't really do a lot of features but we have Cormega and Papoose on the record. Also, we brought such a visual song with it. If you just close your eyes and you've never been to the Tunnel, you're there.

Can you remember the very first time you went to the Tunnel?

SF: We used to go all the time! It was a regular occurrence!

FS: First time though, it was crazy 'cause it wasn't a hip-hop club when we went there -- it was house music. New York in '89 had Jungle Brothers come out with "I'll House You" and the shift of hip-hop changed -- hip-hop became hip-house, that's what the fuck they was calling it!

SF: Right!

FS: So the first time we went to the Tunnel it wasn't even hip-hop, it was house music.

Were you fans of house music?
We was forced to be. We was into the deep house like the Larry Levan, we was up in Mars club, but we was always the hip-hop kids in those clubs. That's where it was poppin' at. And this kid named Jamal who worked in this barbershop in Brooklyn, he was into the house scene and was showing us the city. This was how we got hip to New York City. Coming from Queens, nobody went out from Queens.

SF: Nobody went to Manhattan.

FS: Jamal would put us in Manhattan in like '89 and it was house music.

Did you enjoy those nights?
Yeah, we enjoyed them, there was a lot of drugs in those nights.

SF: A lot of long nights!

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