January 22, 2016

I.F.A. - International Family Affair (1997)


I.F.A. is a rap group from Stockton, California that falls in line with the sound of underground Los Angeles groups moreso than the Northern Cali mobb, even though that influence is there as well. The production is top notch--the beats sound more stock-y than the Battlecat production that was taking over the mainstream West coast at this point, but the group maximizes its efficiency over a simple g-funk bassline and some reverbed up percussion and bells for some amazing funky stuff. The hooks are really what makes the album better than many other great underground records of the 90s West coast. If you're familiar with Jodeci's final album of the 90s, that kind of singing style is what you can expect. The rappers are very solid as well; one of them sounds closer to E-40 than Action Bronson does to Ghostface. I didn't know an E-40 imitation was possible, but I gotta give my props to whoever this guy is because he actually holds his shit down well. Maybe not the ideal rapping style for an album this fucking laid back, but I think it's fun to listen to in the long run. The other rapper isn't too unique, but his relaxed skill on the mic is undeniable and he proves to be better than a big number of both popular and obscure West coast MCs. I think calling this album an underground gem is an understatement.

Sample

International Family Affair