Official release date: 12/2/2014.
In 2004, the hip hop subgenre known as g-funk was fading into obscurity. A turn of the century revival of the style, largely brought on by the release of Dr. Dre’s 2001 album, was running its course, and hip hop was giving way to lighter, more dance-friendly fare. Not content with this shift in the wind, XL Middleton’s Crown City Ent. was founded, largely based on keeping the west coast tradition of heavy synth funk alive and well.
One of his signees was a fellow Pasadena resident named Rev, who brought an intricate, rapid-fire style to the label. The idea behind Insufficient Funds, and all of Crown City’s music at large, was relatively simple – gangster beats mixed with a higher pedigree of lyricism than what the genre had been known for in the 90’s. This, to Middleton and his cohorts, was progress for the music.
Rev’s flow was perfect for the vision – a dizzying array of multi-syllabic rhyme patterns that could have easily destroyed many MC’s in the cipher. Often likened to Crooked I or the late Big Pun, Rev chose not to go the traditional route of braggadocio and microphone destruction, instead opting for a conceptual, albeit tongue-in-cheek project which detailed the struggles of the “everyman,” striving to make money and one day find the ultimate “come up.” The ups and downs of the perpetual money quest are spelled out in a more personal way than most of Rev’s fellow west coast paper chasers. On “Let’s Get Rich,” generally heralded as his signature cut, he spits lyrics which detail this to perfection: “I’m talking bout the type of money that could sniper presidents/Wipe the evidence, despite the allegation’s relevance.”
Insufficient Funds was Crown City’s biggest release aside from XL Middleton’s albums, and the original is a rare and highly sought after CD in the European and Japanese g-funk scenes. Now, ten years after the release (almost to the day), it is being reissued with four bonus tracks, all of which were recorded at the same time that the original album was.