#CottonRemembers: DRS (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) – “Gangsta Lean” (1993)


“I tip my fouuuuuuuuuurty to your memoryyyyyyyyyyyyyy”

It is impossible to listen to this song and not sing along with watered eyes.  We used to sing this on the playground in grammar school.  Hard to believe that this song is now 20 years old.  DRS (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) was a gangsta R&B group signed to Capitol Records through MC Hammer’s talent company, Roll Wit It.  The group’s members were from Sacramento & Compton. In fact, they were signed to Eazy E’s Ruthless Records in 1990, but never released anything while there.  This song has sold over 2.5 million copies and reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100.  They played this on The Box religiously and it dropped when gang violence was at a high and movies like Menace II Society & Boyz N Da Hood brought the images to movie screens around the world.

The thing that makes this song special is that the organ automatically gives this a church feel.  Add that with the fact that these boys can absolutely SANG!  You can actually empathize with their pain because of the emotion that they put into each word.  It’s all natural talent with no studio enhancements needed.  I always loved the “Gangstapella” version of the song with only them and the drum beat.  The harmonies are flawless.  See kiddos, in the 90’s every group had to be able to actually sing live.  Matter of fact, their second single, “Skoundrels Get Lonely,” was absolute fie!  It’s a Midnight Soul slow jam classic. Shame it didn’t chart higher than #87 on the Billboard R&B charts.

Now be clear, DRS wasn’t the first hardcore gangsta/thug R&B group (Jodeci and Highland Place Mobsters for example), but they definitely were one of, if not the, most explicit.  If you think the Weeknd & TheDream curse alot, you’d lose your mind at the majority of DRS’s songs. I mean the group members names were Blunt, Pic, Deuce Deuce, Jail Bait and Endo.  Pic, the co-founder and main writer for the group, had the nickname of Bitch Killer. They even had a song, “Strip,” that had some crazy lyrics basically condoning rape.

I dare you to listen to the song or read the lyrics and not be shocked that the only lyric that Capitol made them change was their mention of the name of the woman that Mike Tyson was convicted of raping, Desiree Washington.  Pic said in a 1993 interview with the LA Times: “At times we may sound like we condone rape, but we don’t.  We’re just trying to bring attention to a situation.”  Ooooookaaaaaay.

DRS’ album wasn’t good besides their two singles, but man, “Gangsta Lean” is still the ultimate hood memorial song. Even with the dated 40 ounce references, the sentiment is something we all can relate to in some way or another. I’m not even going to get into the horrible Juelz Santana song that sampled this or the fact that they are trying to reunite with new members now.

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