Few people from the New Jersey or the tri-state have represented the elements of hip-hop as well as Tame One . Known for both his vocal presence on the mic and his trademark graffiti, Tame One brings a classical element of style and grace to the rap music scene, and the hip-hop culture in general, that few artists can rival.
In his hometown of Newark, New Jersey (better known to the underground as "Brick City"),Tame One grew up in the rich but illicit culture of the taggers and bombers who would frequently grace the city and surrounding property with colorful, but illegal, artwork. Like many other kids from around the area, a love for hip-hop naturally grew and Tame One was there at the beginning of the expansion that would take root in the early '90s and turn many of New Jersey's street poets into the next generation of hip-hop superstars. Tame One and cohort El Da Sensai formed Artifacts , and quickly rose to the top of battlerhymers in the area. Catching the eye of Big Beats Records , they were invited to do a guest appearance with two of New York City's better DJ's, Nubian Crackers , and recorded the underground anthem "Do You Wanna Hear It?" . Quickly becoming a hot track in the clubs and on the local college radio stations, they caught the attention of not only their fans, but with executives at Atlantic Records . A deal was inked, and with the addition of DJ Kaos , the group was on its way to fame and fortune.
In 1994 Artifacts released their first single, "Wrong Side of Da Tracks" . An instant hit on the underground scene, the song is an anthem to graffiti art that has stood the test of time and is now considered a bonefide underground classic. The group's release of their first full album, Between a Rock and a Hard Place , would produce other classics including the singles "C'mon Wit Da Git Down" (which features established hip-hop artist Busta Rhymes in an artistic fit of hyperness) and "Dynamite Soul" (featuring up-and-coming freestyle terrorist Skillz ). Also counted as classics are the Redman -produced "Cummin' Thru Ya Fuckin' Block" , on which he also makes a guest appearance. Overall, most critics feel that Between a Rock and a Hard Place was one of the most underappreciated albums to come out of the early '90s, with track-after-track of hard-hitting songs.
In early 1996, fans would be blessed with a new promotional 12" single, "Art of Facts" , featuring a mesmerizing and haunting beat backed by the production skills of Shawn J. Period . But it would be nearly a year later before their second album, That's Them , would drop. Not only did "Art of Facts" lead of the album, but it would spawn hot singles including "It's Gettin' Hot" , "Collaboration of Mics" (featuring Lord Finesse and Lord Jamar ), as well as "The Ultimate" , which would go on to be featured on the High School High soundtrack and would later bring the group a gold record. Famed producer Showbiz would go on to provide a dark and mysterious remix for "The Ultimate" that would serve as a re-release of the single in late 1997. Critics again praised their sophomore effort, and proclaimed That's Them to possibly be better than their debut album.
At this point, most groups would be counted as superstars, but this was not the case for Tame One and company. For whatever reasons, Big Beat Records nor parent company Atlantic Records didn't promote them as hard as they did other groups, even though they had just came back from successful tours of Europe and Japan. Despite their critical acclaim and world-wide popularity based on their "back to basics" approach to hip-hop, as well as their love for graffiti, the financial reward was just not as large as it should have been. Further, internal stress was starting to eat away at the relationship between Tame One and El Da Sensai , which started to affect their performances. In a last-ditch effort, Tame One sought a new manager to re-negotiate his contract with Atlantic Records. The end result was disasterous - not only would the group not be picked up for a third album, but the label refused to release the group to work on other labels voluntairly. In order to be released for future consideration by other labels, the group had to abandon the Artifacts franchise as well as give up the right to all lyrics, compositions and future royalties. They would regroup under the pseudonym Brick City Kids and release a 12" promotional self-titled single on Rawkus Records in 1998. Despite a hard-hitting effort with excellent use of jazz loops and solid lyrics, the album was not enough to keep the duo together. The group fell apart and had split by the end of the year.
Tame One now found himself a solo artist with no label, and he set out to make the best use of his time. In March 1998 he teamed up with Outlawz artist Fatal to record the single "Ghetto Star" , and would also do guest appearances with Govna Mattic and several artists for Rawkus Records tribute fundraiser album for the family of murdered Hatian immigrant Amadou Diallo, Hip Hop for Respect . During the summer he would put out a promotional cassette with demo singles "In The Area" and "Motion Sickness" , which featured a guest appearance from Gravediggaz members Bukue and Omen . The promotional cassette also featured a solid promo from Ambush . 1999 would bring about the release of a new single from Tame One , "Trife Type Times" , this time on Fat Beats Studios . Many expected this to be just the tip of Tame's first full solo album, to be titled One Flew Over the Coocooz Nest , which Tame paid for out-of-his own pocket. Unfortunately a problem developed with the studio and the masters for the album came up missing. Hopefully one day they will be found again for the world to hear.
As his many fans have known, you can't count the "Nottyheaded Terror" out, in spite of all the glamour, glitz and thugism which has flooded the rap world since Tame One went solo in the late 1990's. With a new gusto, Tame would set to work on his re-introduction to the underground, now four years removed from the days of the Artifacts. At the end of 2000 he would release Crazee on his own Boom Skwad Recordings label. The lead single "Crazee" features a slow, haunting and off-kilter beat that Tame would methodically rhyme his way through in trademark style. The b-side would feature a song which would gather even more popularity, "Doin' Me" , showing that Tame One had fully returned to his bragidocious style of battlerhyming.
In November 2001 Tame One signed a two-album deal with Eastern Conference Records , a fast-rising yet established underground label formed by former Rawkus Records stars DJ Mighty Mi and Mr. Eon (better known as The High & Mighty ). That same month the label would release Eastern Conference All-Stars II , a star-studded whos-who of the East Coast underground scene. Side-by-side with proverbial heavyweights Big Daddy Kane , Skillz and Copywrite , the first single from the album, "Eastern Conference All-Stars" was a collage of various styles that worked well together, with Tame One leading off all comers. Many well-liked hits came from this album, but perhaps none were hotter than Tame One's tribute to Slick Rick with his rendition of the hip-hop classic "The Moment I Feared" . Later in the fall of 2002, Tame One teamed up with fellow Eastern Conference All-Stars , Cage , Camu Tau , and Copywrite (collectively the Weathermen ) to put together two more hit songs for the currently charted underground compilation, Eastern Conference All-Stars III . The new compilation also featured two strong solo songs from Tame One , "Tame As It Ever Was" and "Dreamz" - both critically acclaimed and has fans clammoring for more.
Tame One's first solo LP, When Rapper's Attack , hit record store shelves in March 2003 and created a buzz in the underground community, distributed by High Times Records and Caroline Distribution. Fans were pleased to find that not only had Tame One not lost touch with his Boom Skwad or graffit roots, but he had stepped up his game. Critics heralded Tame's solo LP has his true coming-of-age release showing that his skills have not diminished or been held back.
Throughout 2003 and 2004, Tame One rolled singles and guest appearances on fellow Eastern Conference stablemate's albums, including the Cage/Camu Tao Nighthawks project, taking the early 1980s cop flick and re-enacting the scenes through music and lyrics. Summer 2004 saw more Weathermen joints drop, as well as Tame's second album for Eastern Conference, joining with Cage under the name Leak Bros. , with their Waterworld project, again collecting nothing but praise from the critics. The project was heavily dedicated to hardcore pharmacutical topics, and despite the rather narrow focus of the songs the album was considered a success.
Tame One is set to release his second solo LP, Spazmatic , through Xing n' Fox's Ahead Recordings in late 2005. The debut single "Da MuziK" was released earlier in the summer and has been slowly climbing the independent hip-hop charts around the country.