XXL celebrates 50 years of hip-hop with this moment:
Aug. 17, 1993: Hip-hop owes a lot to its past. Many pioneers put in the groundwork decades before the genre had yet to take over the world. Two of those pioneers are 8Ball & MJG, childhood friends from Memphis. Their first major move into the world of hip-hop was the release of their debut album, Comin’ Out Hard, which dropped on this day in 1993.
The duo met in middle school in the mid-1980s, but didn’t release an official debut album until Comin’ Out Hard dropped on the then-upstart local label, Suave House Records, in 1993. The project is nine tracks in length and a relatively quick listen, coming it at just under 42 minutes. Interestingly enough, 8Ball and MJG pulled double duty, handling all of the lyrics and the production. The gritty, low-quality sound of Comin’ Out Hard set the tone for southern rap. There is a underlying funk sound to the album, with their hometown’s brainchild blues also floating throughout. The two friends exchanged tales of the streets over loops and old-school drums, unknowingly paving their path to becoming southern hip-hop legends.
One of the most popular songs from the album is “Pimps,” a track that would go on to help define who 8Ball & MJG were as artists. The song is obviously about prostitution, with Ball & MJG breaking down the tricks of the trade. Over a loud bass loop, the two drop verses about how to survive the world of pimping without getting taken advantage of. During his last verse, MJG makes the case that the pimp game simply must exist, a clear example of supply and demand. “It wouldn’t be a h*e, if it wasn’t for the tricks/But I suggest we keep ’em, so a pimp can keep his b***h,” he rhymes, explaining the inner workings of the trade. “It needs to be understood, there wouldn’t be one without the other/So why the f**k these folks keep trying to sweat a muthaf**ka.”
The group released later albums like On The Outside Looking In and On Top of the World, but it all started with Comin’ Out Hard. Their debut also made XXL‘s list of the 20 Best Rap Projects From Memphis.