It was Tuesday, July 30th, 1996. I was beginning my senior year in high school. I remember it like it was yesterday. My patna D. Rog & I had just left the WhereHouse Music store on Berry St. in Fort Worth. The new UGK album had just dropped. I was never a real big fan of southern music… I had older parents who raised me on classic soul so when I picked up rap I gravitated to more of the popular West Coast music that thrived on remakes of old school hits. Now don’t get me wrong… I was a fan of Geto Boys, Ball & G and played my share of Tell Me Something Good and Pocket Full of Stones but it was the UGK “Ridin Dirty” album that would change my perception of southern culture forever!
As D. Rog peeled back the plastic from the jewel case, I recall my expectations being a little less than favorable. My teenaged mind was too young and under-developed to interpret “One Day”, the current radio single, as an indication of just how soulfully innovative this album was about to be. I gazed out of the passenger side window. The first three tracks came and went. My mind was elsewhere. I didn’t even hear them. We pulled into a Chevron gas station. I was snapped out of my daze when D. Rog asked me if I needed anything out of the store. The “MURDER” outro played out and then came to an abrupt end as it was cut short by a funky up-tempo Curtis Mayfield remake entitled “Pinky Ring”. The kicks and snares were super crisp. I didn’t want to admit it but this was probably the dopest beat I’d heard all summer… possibly all year. By the time D. Rog made it back to the car, I’d listened to the track two more times. Now they had my attention. As much as I dug “Pinky Ring”, I figured they might’ve gotten lucky with that track. They couldn’t possibly be sitting on an album full of material like that…? So I thought… “Pinky Ring” faded with Pimp C kicking his shoutouts and the prison skit began. We’d just pulled through the intersection when “Diamonds and Wood” dropped. Well I’ll be damned. Pinky Ring was hot but I’d never heard rap this soulful before. I couldn’t think of anything that sounded like this record. The tempo, the sample, the way Pimp & Bun rode the track…? This wasn’t just a hot record, this was history.
I knew this record would change the way southern rappers and producers approached their music from that point on. It did… “Diamonds and Wood” became the “Just Be Thankful” of our generation. It was the anthem for hustla’s, wanna-be hustla’s and kids like us that just wanted something to ride to. D. Rog could hardly hide his grin. We’d often compete over who had the best new music and he’d clearly gained the upper hand with this album. “Ridin Dirty” would go down in history as UGK’s best selling effort and in my opinion, it’s timeless sound hoists it into my list of classic rap albums. The logo stamped on the front cover would become the long standing symbol U.G.K. for years to come. Ridin Dirty’s influence can still be heard, seen and felt not just in Texas rap music, but Hip Hop worldwide.
Mid 2011, I was leaving a Big K.R.I.T. concert. I thought to myself, “Wow… Look how far we’ve come without straying from where we came from…” All we want is a few diamonds and some good ol’ fashioned woodgrain in the slab… #CLASSIC – @stackmoses