In early 1999, commercial Rap music was evolving. The Bounce music sound of No Limit and now Cash Money Records had greatly influenced what was being played on the coasts. Dr. Dre had yet to release 2001; Suge Knight was incarcerated. Meanwhile DMX, Jay Z, Rakim and Puff Daddy were all fast at work on late-year releases.
The space was relatively open. Eminem made his mainstream introduction care of The Slim Shady LP. The Roots released a master work in Things Fall Apart. Nas had tried to measure up to two beloved previous albums with I Am…. However, for the Bay Area, the region was still suffering greatly in the two-and-a-half years since Tupac Shakur was murdered on the Las Vegas strip.
Although ‘Pac claimed Los Angeles at the end of his life, the Thug Life MC had given huge opportunities to Northern California. Artists like Rappin’ 4-Tay, C-Bo, Spice 1, Richie Rich, E-40, Mac Mall, and Digital Underground had all been ushered into ‘Pac’s mid-1990s meteoric rise. While 40 Water and Spice were still able to “get their mail,” they were getting little to no recognition outside of their region. Sadly, not until the mid-2000s “Hyphy” era did the Bay stars get their deserved props.
In early ’99 though, the region came together brilliantly to buck the system. T.W.D.Y. (The Whole Damn Yay) was the brain-child of Ant Banks. Although he has since evaded the limelight, the producer/MC from Oakland, California was closely tied to the work of Too Short, Spice, Dru Down, and 4-Tay. A Jive Records solo artist, Banks had become a brand unto himself. He was creating the Mob music that was making artists rich, and differentiating it between his clients—not unlike a Beats By The Pound (No Limit) or Organized Noize (Dungeon Family). Cleverly, Banks grabbed two affiliates in 4-Tay and feature role-player Captain Save ‘Em and formed his T.W.D.Y. Originally based around the three personalities, the trio independently released Derty Werk. With artists like Keak Da Sneak (of 3x Krazy), Mac Mall, Pooh-Man and others, the LP celebrated all the things that the mainstream was overlooking.
“Players Holiday” was the perfect vehicle. The Bill Withers “Lovely Day” homage featured artists who had driven sales at the top of the decade. Instead of complaining, or getting angry at a fickle industry, Banks, 4-Tay, Save ‘Em, Short Dog, Mall, and Otis & Shug just partied—champagne glasses high, and culture on blast. The video, shot on a yacht was nothing but the good times—from MCs who weren’t aging, but only refining.
Video and radio markets pushed the song into the Top 100, and important voices were heard at a time when big labels, new faces, and keyboard sounds were pushing the market. T.W.D.Y. reminded the world that they had sprinkled game throughout the 1990s, and in the 2000s, they weren’t giving up any ground.
Notably, it’s been nearly 10 years since Ant Beezy has spearheaded a musical project or gathered a significant production credit.