Friday, March 02, 2007

Songs You Should Know: Dwyck

Dwyck - Gang Starr ft. Nice & Smooth

Dwyck is a classic from the hip hop “Golden Era.” It's a track that can separate the real hardcore NYC hip hop fan, from the also-rans. If you don't know at least 60% of the lyrics, then sorry, you're gonna have to move out to the other room. It’s all good. We all try and mingle. But some conversations you can’t participate in. 60% is very generous number with this one.

"Dwyck" was a pop smash for early 90s NYC hip hop. Gang Starr and Nice & Smooth doing a collabo in '92 might be the equivalent of Mos Def and Justin Timberlake doing a record now. (how hasn't that happened by the way? That's a naturally beautiful combination. An Atom Bomb of Assimilated Hotness! If we got Mos, Justin, Timbo and Dre, with the usual assortment of guests that would be a commercial and creative nuclear explosion.) This was a confluence of greatness underrated at the time, even as we celebrated it. "Dwyck" doesn't have a wiki. That's ridiculous. The explicit reason why we call that time a "golden era" is because joints like "Dwyck" were expected and ultimately taken for granted. It's a song you should know.

Four main artists: Primo, Guru, Greg Nice, Smooth B.

Primo – The thing with Premier is his STYLE. Quintessentially distinctive, Primo has always been one of the easiest beatmakers to recognize in the first couple bars. But with "Dwyck," he diversified his portfolio. Throttling back on his patented "Mass Appeal" digital-street ethos, he let the bassline play the lead on this one. I'd submit he was influenced by some of his bottom-heavy contemporaries of the time (Pete Rock, Tribe). Throw in his genius capacity for the perfect cut on full display, and you have a classic hip hop beat despite the low-fi mix leaving the drums a little lacking.

Greg Nice - Greg N-I-C-E drops possibly his best verse. At the least, it's everything you want from him: Energy, echo quotables, some nonsensical whimsy, and hopefully one questionable pronunciation or obviously false statement. No one can f with this sequence:

Oooh la la / Ah oui oui / I say Muhammad Ali / you say Classius clay / I say butter / You say parkay

Hold your head.

Guru - Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal also drops a strong verse. Guru always got into trouble when he stressed letting us know how smart he is instead of just flowing, and in this song, too, he declares his "genius." Nevertheless he basically zones out from "the brother who will make you change opinions" through the end of the song. Classic Guru. Worth noting that Guru would end up with a number of songs about gun control in his catalog, and in live performances he'd show contrition over his final couplet, "clips are inserted into my gun, so I could take the money, never have to run." Funny, cause it's a hot line. In this live performance on In Living Color he goes with, "rhymes I inject straight from my mouth, so I could take the loot, and then I'm out." Not the same.

Smooth B.
- The smooth one is in rare form here. He has the vintage Smooth B. flow going, but totally in a zone to talk about weed throughout his verse. And he does come off like a guy who might be a little too lit while he was writing. But the fact of the matter is if he does a show with Primo, and receives a bag of weed when he says - "yo premiere, please pass me that buddha sack" - the show is over at that point. Nothing better will happen for the rest of the evening. That said, despite the showstopping line, if every posse cut is a battle, on this one Smooth comes in third.

Word. Here's the video. Guaranteed to enhance the entertainment value for any early 90s hip hop song.

UPDATE: Forgot to add most important part:

What the F does "Dwyck" mean?

The answer from Guru himself:

GURU: “It was just a slang that we used to use back then. It was like a slang thing we used to do. Greg Nice used to do it to everybody. Biz Markie started it actually. You used be in a crowd and say someone’s name and go ‘Yo! Son!’ The person would turn around and go ‘What? What?’ and you would say: ‘Dwyck!’. It’s like ‘My dick!’. It means the male genitalia. We switched it up to ‘Dwyck’. It was just some sh*t to psyche each other out.”

Huh. Read that and more in this hip hop elements interview.


  1. That was awesome. Keep these coming. Did I miss the breakdown of Sometimes I Rhyme Slow?

  2. eauhellzgnaw3/02/2007

    I won't front, "DWYCK" is my least favorite classic era Gangsarrr cut, mostly because of Greg Nice.

    This is a great public service, though.

  3. Anonymous3/02/2007

    Okay, DWYCK is not now and never was, Pop.

    Just because assimilated ears may enjoy it does not mean it was targeted at suburbia. I don't mean that in any way harshly, but that tune was intended to be just as street-credible as anything Nice-n-Smooth ever did. Hip-Hop Junkies for example.

  4. TAN's Intern3/02/2007

    I think the idea is it was Hip-Hop Pop. It obviously wasn't Pop like Christina Aguilera, or at the time, Madonna or Michael Jackson. But this was representative of mainstream, popular hip hop in the early 90's.

  5. Memories...these were my house party days.

  6. Anonymous3/03/2007

    I use the lemonade line every summer and no one ever nods. I need more brown friends.

    Also: I know people like GURU's monotone, but it always left me cold. Goes to show that lyrics are only half the battle. If that.

  7. I think I saw Gang Starr open a show for Rage Against the Machine one time. I don't remember much about the music, but I do remember that the reacion of the 17 - 22 year-old, suburban, male, Long Island crowd was pretty much...

    "....? "

    dr. dave

  8. I always thought Dwyck meant "Duck While You Can, Kid". That's funny.

    I love that song. It's still one of my favorite Gangstarr songs. I am so glad they put it on Hard to Earn. The video is the hard but fun hip-hop that I miss.

  9. Wow. I haven't thought of that song in such a long time. One of the best. I listened to that non-stop. iTunes here I come.

  10. To commensurate Dwyck's being my ringtone, I decided to finally find out what it meant. Thanks for the info. Dwick will always be a early nities summer jam, inseperable from the parties and clubs of the day.

    Maybe I'm remembering it wrong, but when it was just a simgle [b-side?] wasn't it D.W.I.C.K.?

  11. Thank you for keeping this one alive!

  12. God damn....

    In living color video aced from youtube!

    Can anyone up this on the quick? I gotta scope!


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