July 12, 2016

Koopsta Knicca - Da Devil's Playground (1999)


Da Devil's Playground is one of the most well known and respected Memphis rap releases. When most people talk about Da Devil's Playground, they are usually referring to the 1999 re-release of the Koopsta Knicca's underground solo tape. Without a doubt the re-release is the version to hear. The original solo tape is oddly missing a couple of classic Koops tracks; Stash Pot and Anna Got Me Clickin', so you'll want those as well as the double-length Purple Thang and completely whacked-out verse on Torture Chamber. Ready 2 Ride is a dope song with a crunk-ass Crunchy Black verse and hook, but it's a strange inclusion on the re-release; I don't know where else this song appears off the top of my head, but it hardly sounds like it was recorded in 1994 like the rest of these tracks (more like 1995 or 1996). Great song, but don't let that crunk juice early on in the tracklisting fool you. Starting with track four, Robbers, the tape unleashes its true identity--a slower, burnt up, purrped-out style that allows for the Koopsta Knicca to slink the through the instrumentals with his ghoulish singing flow.

I don't think that I can come up with a single rapper to better attack these beats, but even with that said, Da Devil's Playground is 100% a producer's album. DJ Paul absolutely murders it here. His sampling methods and choices are at a career-high in terms of creativity. Between the way he makes the vocal chops interact with each other and the little splices of strange sampled sounds he spams, this is his greatest achievement. I still prefer several other Triple 6 Mafia releases to this album, but the general absence of Juicy J as co-producer and lack of rappers really allows for Paul to straight up wreck shit with nothing barred. Koopsta's weird microphone presence is also probably a key contributor in pushing Paul to this other level. When most people look into Memphis rap, it's usually because they are searching for some dark, depressing, and sinister shit that still maintains an element of coolness. Da Devil's Playground has more of that than you can even imagine. Let me just end with this: there are few moments in music--in any genre--that flood my brain with as much endorphins, dopamine, or whatever the fuck, than 5 minutes into Bustaz Betta Make Way, when Paul switches up the whole sample sequence to say "DJ Paaaul, rat-tat-tata, rat-tat-tata, DJ Paaaul". Nuff Said.

Sample

Both Versions