Cru' s dark and explosive debut album in 1997, Da Dirty 30, was embraced by the hardcore set. The entirely in-house-produced album named after an investigation into New York City's corrupt 30th police precinct, is fiercely stark and eclectic, lifting samples from Portishead, Sade and Stevie Wonder. Cru's lyrical content deals with the perils of life in the South Bronx and the hip-hop game. While much of their storytelling gratuitously glorifies the hip-hop gangsta lifestyle, their music is not without morals and messages as well. The various rhyme styles range from Onyx-like howling to b-boy notepad recitations. ~ Michael Di Bella

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