Watch Yo Back is Massive's sophomore release, following the impossible-to-find, indepedently released Back to the Under Ground, from 1992. This album, which dropped ten years later, in 2002, and released through Massdog Music, is probably Massive's darkest album. He still provides his usual smooth vibes on the production, with a few exceptions, but lyrically, Watch Yo Back is a heavy dose of reality, seeing a very reflective Mass speaking on addiction, womanizing and violence. None of this is glamorized, however. The record serves as a glimpse into Mass' world, with him reflecting on his past, how his environment shaped his mentality, and how he used drugs and sex to cope: "I learned to hate/ a chemical escape/ 'cause it robbed and it raped/ nothing left in the wake."
While the production is heavily influenced by the G-Funk sound, Massive has carved out his own niche. Throughout his career, he has experimented with this sound, while it remains unmistakably his own. Aside from a few dark moments, the beats are laid back and smooth, soulful and funky. And Mass' powerful, distinct voice forces you to hang onto his every word, as he describes a harsh reality and the lessons he's learned. And while most of his descriptions of drug and alcohol use and womanizing are in the past tense, he makes it clear he is still a work in progress. The dark tone of the album, sometimes bordering on nihilism, is redeemed by his desire to change and leave his past mistakes and flaws behind him.
Aside from a few sung hooks, provided by Smoove J Bluitt Sr. and Cry on Cue, the only other contributor is Lil Juggsta, probably best known for the heavy "NigguzN Blak" track from the second pressing of the Project Blowed tape. He even contributes a solo track to close off the album, "Before I Play Myself", speaking on some of his own lessons learned and hard times. By this point, Mass had already worked with Volume 10, MC Eiht, AWOL One, Rappin' 4 Tay, Kid Frost and Latino Velvet, and this album sees him settling into a production style that would become his trademark, and which he would continue to develop on his next three albums. So until Back to the Under Ground surfaces, this can act as his debut, and it does not disappoint. It remains my favourite Massive album, and if you haven't heard it, I recommend you check it out. It can be purchased from any of the links below and the money will go directly to the artist.
Also, be sure to check out our new segment on Bring That Beat Back, Ask Mass, where Massdog invites questions from aspiring rappers, producers and listeners. If you have any questions you'd like to ask Massive, about his experiences with the music industry, production techniques, his history, or just general inquiries, leave them in the comments.