Got to Be Tough

by: MC Shy D

Most of the rappers who recorded for Luther Campbell's Luke Skyywalker Records (which later became Luke Records) in the late '80s fell into the Miami bass category. But Peter Jones, aka MC Shy D, was an exception. Originally from the Bronx, Shy D moved to the Atlanta area but never forgot his New York roots. Although the MC's debut album, Got to Be Tough, was recorded in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and lists Campbell as its executive producer, none of the material is Florida-sounding. In fact, this 1987 LP is consistently New York-minded. Shy D's rapping style is right out of the Run-D.M.C./LL Cool J school of 1980s New York hip-hop, and his raw, hard-edged producing (which consists mainly of a drum machine, scratching, and samples) leaves no doubt that he was a major admirer of New York turntable wizards like Jam Master Jay and Cut Creator. When this LP came out, other Atlanta-based MCs were opting to project overtly Southern identities. Some were into the sort of fast, hyper bass music and X-rated booty rhymes that Campbell and his Florida colleagues were putting on the map --others favored a sound that was slower than bass but still very Southern-sounding. Shy D, however, was never a Southern-style rapper. He was a native New Yorker who made Atlanta his adopted home, and Got to Be Tough sounds like it could have been recorded in Queens, Brooklyn, or the Bronx instead of the South. Occasionally, Shy D gets into social issues; "Paula's on Crack" is a blunt, hard-hitting tune about a young woman who has turned to prostitution to support her crack cocaine addiction. But most of the time, Shy D sticks to boasting lyrics on this LP, which falls short of remarkable but is still an enjoyable and decent slice of 1980s B-boy rhyming. ~ Alex Henderson, Rovi

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