JVC Force, Doin’ Damage

Hua Hsu

By Hua Hsu

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

To those who glamorize the grimier streets of New York City, the outer territories of Long Island represent little more than an opportunity for ridicule. But the cushy suburban isle has played a significant hand in the history of hip-hop, and I'm not just talking about Amityville's finest, De la Soul. The J.V.C. Force trio of DJ Curt Cazal and rappers AJ Rok and B-Luv cut one of the finer albums of hip-hop's finest year — 1988. (Though their name sounded like it was nicked from an overzealous electronics store, it was actually an acronym for "Justified by Virtue of Creativity for All Reasons Concerning Entertainment." Whatever.) JVC are best known for "Strong Island," a blaring hometown anthem that borrowed a hypnotic guitar and raucous drums from Freda Payne, but their album has plenty of other should-be classics. Cazal cuts up an Isaac Hayes sample for the great "Stylin 'Lyrics," while the cheeky "Force Field" (a CD-only bonus cut) finds the trio "tasty like a pastry fresh out the bakery." When B-Luv proudly brags, "I'm a rappin 'star," over his partner's patchwork funk, you get the feeling they had no idea how big hip-hop would one day become — this was just for the hometown.