After conquering Hollywood, hip-hop’s original rebels, ONYX – Fredro Starr, Sonny Seeza, and Sticky Fingaz – return to the scene.
Emerging from their musical vaults with a new album, Cold Case Files, a 16-track collection of previously unreleased songs executive produced by the members of Onyx and Omar “Iceman” Sharif for Iceman Music Group (IMMG).
“It’s a culmination of all the years,” explains Fredro. “A cold case is a murder that gets cold and people forget about it. Years later, with new evidence they bring it back out. This is us coming back after all the years with murderous tracks. It’s a throwback for hard-core Onyx fans across the world!”
The collection features underground singles, lost studio recordings from the group’s first three albums, and features appearances from Method Man, deceased Onyx affiliate X1, and Gangreen. According to the group, revisiting these sessions also serves as a tribute to fallen soldiers Jam Master Jay, X1 (Sticky Fingaz’s brother) Big DS, and all Onyx affiliates who have passed away in the last five years; some of which are still unsolved murders. “I remember when we filmed the video with those guys in the Isuzu Rodeo jeep,” recalls Fredro of “I’ll Murda U,” one of the songs included on Cold Case Files. “Listening puts me right back there.” Sticky Fingaz adds, “I listen to Cold Case Files and think, ‘Damn, why didn’t we put that out before?'”
Fredro’s younger brother and frequent guest artist, Whosane, archived much of the unreleased tracks. Sonny, who served as album supervisor shares, “Some of these songs are so raw that you’re hearing the original mix. We kept it authentic to the period when they were recorded. Whosane who was usually in the studio with us, kept kept all our classics recordings that never made it onto albums in the Onyx Music vault; so when the time came to select tracks for Cold Case Files, he had tracks that we didn’t even know existed on everything from cassettes, DATS, CDs to 2-inch reels.”
Fredro adds, “It’s kinda bugged out to deal with this new technology too, ’cause back in the days, we was puttin’ shit on DATs, cassettes, and it still sounds good. This is classic vintage Onyx. When you listen to this album you gonna feel like you’re in the ’90’s.”Despite going back as much as 15 years, the songs from Cold Case Files are still very resonant today. “Mad World” for instance, features socio-political verses in the classic uncontainable Onyx delivery, with a chorus stating that the “streets are worse than jail.” Although recorded in 1997, the lyrics remain relevant to our times. Fredro deduces, “War has not stopped. America has been in war for 20 years. When we recorded our first album, my friends were just coming from Desert Storm. Today we’re still at war, so the lyrics are still current. Sean Bell getting shot in the streets is the same injustice as Yusef Hawkins. Ain’t nothing changed.”
Touching upon issues like these might seem controversial to the Hollywood careers of Fredro Starr (Clockers, Sunset Park, The Wire) and Sticky Fingaz (In Too Deep, Next Friday, Blade: The Series), but both MCs feel bound to fulfill their duties to listeners and fans. “We always got flack for what we said on records, for being too thugged out. I went to one network meeting and there were concerns about our lyrics. It was crazy. It’s just self-expression,” defends Fredro, whose career has thrived in both music and film. With songs on Cold Case Files like “Wilin’, Wilin’,” “I’ll Murder U” and “See U In Hell Pt. 2,” Onyx remain loyal to the themes and raw energy that made them stars in the first place. “You can’t stop the voice of the ghetto,” stamps Fredro.
The voice of Onyx has no plans of stopping. Cold Case Files sets the stage for the group’s next studio album, Black Rock, planned for 2009 and a series called 100 Mad featuring new members of the Onyx Music family. “Black Rock is a hybrid album – Rock influenced with Hip Hop underneath it. It’s us repping for the rebels of the world, the rebels of the street who Onyx represents. It’s a where hip-hop meets the mosh pit,” denotes Fredro Starr. “Slam was the song that crossed us over, it was like a rock n’ roll record and we never really went down the rock & roll/hip-hop lane before. We always kinda steered away from it and now we’re gonna do a whole album inspired by that sound,” adds Sticky Fingaz.
Mentored by Jam Master Jay, championed by a cult of hardcore Hip Hop fans, and embraced by Hollywood, on Cold Case Files, Sticky Fingaz, Fredro Starr and Sonny Seeza remain true to their original mantra of hard beats, hard rhymes, and a pioneering street demeanor fused together in classic music.
After five charting albums: Bacdafucup (Def Jam 1993), All We Got Iz Us (Def Jam, 1995), Shut ‘Em Down (Def Jam, 1998), Bacdafucup Pt. II (Onyx Records/Koch International), Triggernometry (Onyx Records – D3/Rivera 2003) and classic singles “Slam,” “Bacdafucup,” “Last Dayz” between 1993 and 2003, amidst solo careers, Onyx breaks the seat on Cold Case Files August 19, 2008 released on Iceman Music Group/Koch Records.
Omar “Ice Man” Sharif, founder and CEO of Iceman Music Group (IMMG) who has executive produced five Onyx albums and three of their solo albums adds, “Onyx like Iceman Music Group is a multi-media comglomerate. Our hands are in everything from music, to film, television, and even fashion. Fredro, Sticky, and Sonny, have over 5 million fans world-wide awaiting their return. We just got back from Bulgaria, Russia, South America, and China and no matter where we go across the world, it’s a mosh pit once Onyx hits the mic. I have never seen hip-hop group rock arenas with the raw energy and magnetism of Onyx. They’re more than just a hip-hop group. They’re stars, they’re originators. They are icons!” He adds, “IMMG is about capturing the rawness of the early 90’s by closing deals with such artists like AZ and ONYX who aren’t gimmicky. Pure, uncut, raw hip-hop is what you should expect to hear from Iceman Music Group and you can’t get any rawer than Onyx.”