Today's entry comes in two parts - (1) the music itself and (2) a little attempt to figure out exactly who was behind the music.
As for the music itself, today's upload is 4/29's 1992 single "I Got My Mind Made Up." 4/29 is best known for being Busdriver's high school group. The trio was put together and produced by Busdriver's uncle, Kurt Farquhar (a pretty successful television composer whose most recent work includes the score for CW's "Black Lightning,") and was meant to be a response to the LA Riots (hence the group name) and the tensions that existed at the time between Blacks and Koreans. This single, which was released on cassette and vinyl (Dimxsk ripped the cassette version,) is the only thing, to the best of my knowledge, that the group ever officially released.
The single's A-Side is a very on the nose conscious track that calls for a complete halt to Black/Korean violence in hopes of global unity! The production, which re-does The Beatles for the hook, is very 90's clanky. The rappers, who were 9th graders at the time, combine De La Soul-lite and Public Enemy-lite approaches to song writing with Das EFX approaches to rapping. There's lots to warrant an eye-roll here, such as the point in the song where one of the rappers notes that one should refrain from burning down Asian businesses because....it causes pollution? I mean yeah, I suppose setting fire to a downtown business, on racial grounds, isn't ideal for the atmosphere, but surely there are more apparent reasons for why you shouldn't do such a thing, right? Maybe 4/29 was just really ahead of its time insofar as caring for the environment goes. Despite the cheese, when you consider that these were 3 upperclass L.A. kids in 1992 (pre-Innercity Griots!) rapping for the first time - the song isn't horrible. There are some nice flows involved and you can even catch a multi every now and then!
And if the audio isn't enough for you, a video to the single was also shot and is currently available on YouTube! [Directed by Busdriver's father, writer of Krush Groove, Ralph Farquhar.] Peep it and witness the glory of the early 90's - baggy clothes, bad green screen, rapping in a classroom, rapping in front of police sirens, and, of course, choreographed dancing. Seeing a young Busdriver is worth the view on its own!
The B-Side, "Git In Motion," is an attempt at both a more party oriented track and a more lyrical braggadocio flexing track. Strangely enough though, the A-Side is much more danceable and provides a much better display of the kids' writing and rapping abilities. The single also includes the instrumental to "I Got My Mind Made Up" and a "Club Mix" (lol) of "Git In Motion." As entertaining as this little release is in 2019, I can't say I'm too surprised that 4/29 had a short lifespan.
For those who just want to hear the damn music, feel free to hit up the bottom of the page in a sec for the cassette rip! For those seeking yet a bit more background info on the group, feel free to read on (though also feel free to be disappointed.) Either way, take this opportunity to watch the music video for "I Got My Mind Made Up."
Note that, aside from Busdriver, I haven't mentioned any of the 4/29 members by name. This is due to the fact that the physical cassette, despite listing Kurt Farquhar's name multiple times, says nothing of the group members specifically. A simple Google search won't turn up anything either. I, for one, however, wasn't content on a simple Google search, so I decided to dig a bit deeper...
Here's what we know for sure: Busdriver was in 4/29. Busdriver has also stated that 4/29 consisted of himself and two kids from his high school, and has further said here and here that one of those kids was Korean and that the other two, himself included, were black. None of this is contradicted by the "I Got My Mind Made Up" music video or the single's cassette/vinyl cover. I can't find any place, however, where Busdriver mentions the other two members by name.
Luckily, on "Git In Motion," the track's hypeman shouts out the MCs' names. Unfortunately, neither I nor Dimxsk could really make said names out clearly. To the best of my knowledge, the Asian kid (I say Asian instead of Korean - more on that in a sec) went by something like "Say Fusion," Busdriver went by something like "Roll," and the other Black kid went by something like "Nonsense."
So perhaps this is all to be publicly known about 4/29. It was Busdriver and his two high school buddies whose rap names can only be found by listening to the B-Side of their only release. Nope. A bit of digging led me to something pretty strange. According to an old Angelfire (yes, Angelfire) profile page, Roscoe Umali was part of the group! For those not familiar, Roscoe Umali is a Cali rapper who used to be associated with the rap crew Drunken Tiger and whose solo rap career includes collaborations with Akon, Black Eyed Peas, Strong Arm Steady, E-40, Talib Kweli, Raekwon, and others. This is strange not just because Roscoe Umali may have been in a group with Busdriver but also because Roscoe has been very vocal about being Filipino (as opposed to Korean.) He also does not really look like the kid in the "I Got My Mind Made Up" music video at all.
There's various explanations for this Roscoe Umali piece of info. One is that whoever made the Angelfire page, or Roscoe Umali himself, just lied about the "factoid." That'd be a very strange and obscure thing to lie about though (and the Angelfire page actually looks legit) - so I sort of rule that out. Another possibility is that Roscoe Umali is actually part Korean and is the kid who Busdriver references multiple times. I can't find anything, however, that suggests that Roscoe Umali is any part Korean, which is even more significant when you consider that he was affiliated with Drunken Tiger - a Korean group. Also, as noted, even considering the decades of growth, Roscoe doesn't really look like the kid in the music video. Another possibility is that Roscoe was in the group either before or after the single was released. All accounts of 4/29, however, tell of just 3 members. Also, based on the short lifespan of 4/29, it's hard to imagine lineup changes! Even so, this is still one of the most realistic explanations.
We then also have some crazier, conspiracy theory worthy, explanations. One is that Roscoe is indeed the Asian kid in the music video but was labeled as a Korean in order to better fit the group's narrative. Another is that Roscoe wrote, and maybe even recorded, the verses on the 4/29 songs, but was replaced by a Korean in the music video in order to better fit the narrative. The only problem with these explanations is, of course, we have no evidence at all to back them up hehe!
Yet another theory I had was that Roscoe was the hypeman, who went by "Havoc," on "Git In Motion." This would explain how he was "in the group" without being one of the three MCs and if you listen to the track, it sounds like the hypeman describes something as "Sumo" at one point - and Roscoe Umali once ran "Sumo Records"! Dimxsk was quick to remind me, however, that the back of the cassette lists the name of the hypeman - "Henry Lee Haraway aka Havoc" (we get the name of the hypeman but not the names of the actual members of the group!?!) There's no evidence of Roscoe Umali ever going by "Henry Lee Haraway" (or "Havoc") and it would have been weird for him, as a kid, to get a name credit when the other kids didn't. Another dead end.
As such, we may never know the "true identities" of the non-Busdriver members of 4/29 or understand how Roscoe Umali fits into all of this. Now obviously I might be able to get some easy answers by just tweeting Kurt Farquhar, Busdriver, or Roscoe and asking them directly. But where's the fun in that? Also, I doubt that Kurt Farquhar remembers such things and Busdriver doesn't seem too keen on responding to fans post his sexual assault allegations. As for Roscoe Umali, the man doesn't seem to be on Twitter or social media at all. This is likely due to the fact that the man is currently serving 18+ years in prison for fraud! Wow. Maybe he was lying after all.
While we may not know a lot about 4/29, we do gotta give them props. According to Busdriver, it was one of his fellow 4/29 members who first brought him to the Good Life Cafe, which of course set him down the Project Blowed path, which, in turn, helped create the left-field rapper we know today. Without further ado, 4/29's "I Got My Mind Made Up":