Choice – the big payback CD


Amongst the ferocious masculinity of early Houston Rap, one young girl held her own & went toe to toe with the male rap community. This was Choice, a rapper of extraordinary power & class that anybody even remotely serious about Rap & it’s history needs to know & respect.

Choice sounds very young on this album (I reckon she’s in her very early 20’s), but raps with an authority & confidence that befits a veteran Southern Madame operating with effortless efficiency, she’s brilliant & breath-taking in her command of the craft with massive character & presence all utterly assured with typical shit-kicking Southern gall. Don’t ignore how immaculate this era of Houston Rap (& Rap in general) was. In 1990 G-Funk did not exist & so many of the tired formalities, slogans, catch-phrases & conventional lingo had not been established & homogenised. Rappers had to innovate or reflect their locality with it’s unique, non-nationalized idiolect. This meant not just a quality in passion/authenticity & vocal versatility amongst many MC’s, but also an incredible wealth of slang & personalized/regional lexicography. Houston was even more isolated & individual & came with some of the most fantastical Rappers, styles & verbiage with, to me, a pretty much incomparably hardcore/aggressive assertion/theme & manner that makes the early South stuff second to none. Choice was just one of the superbly impressionable Rappers from the region spear-heading the Southern cataclysm but I think that amongst such a community of incredible artist she deserves special distinction as she was such an amazing MC.

The album kicks-off with a massive castration session (The Big Payback) where Choice wages war on NWA, The Geto Boys & reserves especially excruciating castigation for Too $hort. Shit is totally out of control! The disses & degradation are so well landed, so humorous & inventive & yes, very fucking offensive with choice fired-up on pure rampageous tumult. It’s a carousel of calumny as she just cracks the lash hard over the lot of em’ with Eazy-E & especially Too $hort taking the majority of the blast.

Next is I Got My Own which you can take as yet another hardcore classic or as the epitome of female independence delivered with savage-grace & knock-out aggressive adroitness, this dame is completely on fire!

The next three tracks are much less profuse on the expletives, clearly with radio ambitions (but not commercial) going through the typical female rapper scenarios but with Choice’s originality & quality distinguishing them significantly. Minute Man sounds like it’s only just on the end of the 80’s (in a very cool fashion) with fast sixteen beat 808 cowbells whilst the heavy duty layered snares of Back Seat Betty, stippled with class Curtis Mayfield samples bring uncompromising & austere funk to dat ass. It’s around this time (if not earlier) & certainly by the next track that you should recognize just how extraordinarily good the production/beats are on this album. The powerful & cambered rhythms with excellent recording clarity must have been sourced from some of Houston’s finest (it does not say who generated them in the extremely terse album credits but my suspicions are on Crazy C, Bido 1 & The Terrorists). Some of the samples are familiar, but plenty have (for my ears) unidentifiable origins with some meticulous compositions, breakdowns, accentuations & excellent drum programming.

Bad Ass Bitch, which is cued by Scar Face (Willie D, Bushwick & I think Big Mike can also be heard in brief skits on the album) has Choice resume the classic early 90’s mantel & effectively just clean house. This shit is magnificent! The next lubricious number is Mr Big Stuff, a truly hilarious romp on priapic potency (or indeed impotency) with Choice basically tearing into insufficient men with such masterly hilarity & verve of truly epic scale. Following the superb Nothing But Sex we reach the notorious, slaveringly sordid & uber explicit Pipe Dreams. Choice ameliorates her devastatingly aggressive persona for a more coy, sexually frustrated sex-maniac pining for a good fuck from some imaginary super-satyr. I am sure it was the labels decision for her to assume this depiction of a hyper wanton pliant nymphomaniac. It seems almost sacrilegious to have such a harridan/arch ball-breaker in a more compromised roll, but I suppose it needs to be taken in isolation as this is the only track on the album in this style. It’s also really quite an extraordinary track, phenomenally explicit, complete with vocal climaxes & torrid details of amorous debauchery. The whole style is clearly supposed to titillate & arouse. The fucking production as well, who is this? The Terrorists? It’s got an ultra pitched-down, sombre & edgy synth & monstrous bass! some kind of early house sample with snares so layered they sound like iron doors slamming through 8bit compressors. It’s completely cult, singular & obviously classic.

We finally arrive at Cat Got Your Tongue, the compulsory cunnilingus cut that any um, “self respecting” female MC had to bust in retaliation for a million duck sick trax from the boys! The track/production is immaculate & Choice glides over it perfectly dispensing gender-justice with her astute awesomeness.

This is a Cult Cunnilingus Classic! I consider HWA’s livin’ in a hoe house & BWP’s-the bytches cult classics too, BWP being the most obscene & abrasive & Baby-Girl (HWA) just coming with her own jeering alpha-bitchiness, but in terms of rapping I think Choice definitely takes it. I would actually go as far as to say she is one of the greatest rappers ever! Yep! & I know others that agree with this analysis. Her fantabulous follow up, 1992’s Stick-N-Moov was another bulls eye (but considerably nastier/more explicit), but the balance, quality & fully formed finality on this unforgettable album really needs to be unequivocally stated. Let’s not forget that this is 1990 for shits-sake! Despite her phenomenal achievements/capability Choice remains super obscure. In an overwhelmingly dire act of appalling judgement & insouciance to black history/culture/art, Rap-A-Lot have never even reissued/repressed this CD! Even if it’s purely for historical purposes, this shit needs to be available. It’s also another example of how promotion & distribution are allowed to determine far too much in getting good shit to the enthusiasts. Like so much of the incredible early 90’s “Vagrant” obscure Rap, individuals/audiences fall head-over-arse for The Big Payback/Choice once witnessed. Epidemics of Choice mania have raged in many circles I have introduced them to, instigating months of fervour over the revelation of such a brilliant rapper/album. It’s not that people don’t want it, it’s that they don’t know about it & that it’s very badly represented. I am sure one day, once the early Rap gets the kind of dedicated attention, scrutiny & decent reissue treatment, The Big Payback will be appreciated as the blatant classic it is.

Label: Rap-A-Lot

Rekd: 1990