By Noah Hubbell
By Kiernan Maletsky
By Tom Murphy
By Noah Hubbell
By Alex Distefano
By Darryl Smyers
By Jon Solomon
By Britt Chester
"Yeah, they're shipping cars over from here," elaborates Pauli's partner, Fabian Garcia (stage moniker: DJ Fame). "They've got, like, $80,000 Impalas there, and all the guys who are into being lowriders dress just like us--oversized T-shirts, khakis."
"During the Michael Jackson era, they probably looked like Michael Jackson," Pauli speculates, laughing. "But now, it's the lowrider era. And that's good news for us."
Pauli's and Fame's knowledge of this particular cultural anomaly isn't as unexpected as it initially seems. You see, they've been doing research. Thump Records out of Walnut, California, has just released Going Solo, Deuce Mob's debut CD, and as part of their campaign to promote the album, the duo will perform at sixteen car shows on thus-far-unspecified dates throughout 1996. Fifteen of these events, sponsored by Lowrider magazine, are set to take place in U.S. cities such as Denver, Chicago, Kansas City, Dallas, Houston, Honolulu and Los Angeles (the L.A. gig, at the Coliseum, is expected to draw 70,000 people). But the tour also stops in Tokyo, and it's there that the Mobsters think they'll learn how readily their music translates.
"We'll have to see how we come across there," Fame says.
"If they're buying the songs by the time we get there, they might even be able to sing along," Pauli continues. "That way, if we give the city some love, the city'll give us some back."
Deuce Mob also wants to give something back to Denver--a place that, to say the least, is not known for its famous rappers. The closest thing to a homegrown hip-hop smash that Colorado has produced is Tag Team, the combo that rode the charts for the better part of a year with 1993's "Whoomp! (There It Is)"; the group's core is based in Atlanta but hails from Denver. Pauli feels that the Tag Teamers aren't proud enough of their roots, however. "They don't let everyone know that this is where they're from. They don't represent Denver the way they should."
"But we're representing it," Fame interjects. "You look at the cover of the CD"--he points to a Going Solo photo in which Deuce Mob poses in front of the Denver skyline--"and there it is, right up front. We're hopefully going to put Denver on the map."
The pair have been involved in the hip-hop underground since the early Eighties, when both were members of breakdancing acts. They met in 1982, but for several years they knew each other mainly as competitors: In 1984, Fame's group, D&S Connection Dancers Unique, won a statewide contest, with Pauli's crew, Radio Active, placing second.
"We didn't get together on the music tip until '89," Pauli says. At the time, Fame was deejaying for a number of bands, including the Homeboys. But as time went on, Deuce Mob became his primary concern.
Finally, in 1991, Deuce Mob made its first recording, a twelve-inch single called "I Got the Boom" that the twosome released on their own Loced Out label. The platter turned heads at local clubs and earned the Mob an appearance at a lowrider show in Albuquerque. Kid Frost, among the country's most prominent Chicano rappers (he's signed to Ruthless Records), also performed at the New Mexico showcase, but he didn't take notice of Pauli and Fame until 1993, when he shared the stage with them at a Denver lowrider bash. "Back then we'd been working with this producer out of Hayward, California," Fame says. "He was going to fund all of an album, and we were going to put it out on our own."
"But when Frost got involved," Pauli goes on, "that took it to another level."
A few months later Frost took the Mob with him to L.A., where the collaborators cut five tracks that appear on Going Solo. In addition to help from Frost, they received assists from former Commodore Dave Cochrane--"He's done stuff with Lionel Richie and Paula Abdul, too," Fame boasts--and Foesum, an act from the Snoop Doggy Dogg/Tha Dogg Pound axis that subsequently signed its own recording contract with Atlantic Records. More recording was done in Denver with performers such as A.W.B. (the Average White Boy).
Once the Going Solo material was in the can, Fame and Pauli started shopping it around. Thump--co-owned by Alberto Lopez, the founder of Lowrider--was interested right away, but bargaining between lawyers representing both sides delayed a deal for well over a year. "That turned out to be the hardest part of everything," Fame says.
The wait was worth it: Going Solo may not be wholly original (parts of it recall Kid Frost's recordings), but it's a strong and stimulating piece of work. The sound that Frost and Fame achieve is rich and evocative, with an unmistakably Latin quality that helps differentiate it from the cliches that continue to threaten the rap genre. The beats on "Harder & Harder," "What Are You Going to Talk About," "Night Owl" and other standouts here are slow and deliberate--an ideal match with Pauli's deep, menacing and authentic vocals.