Who?: Sporty Thievz X Major Coinz
The name Sporty Thievz may elicit a blank stare from naïve, or indifferent, Hip-Hop fans, but this other Yonkers, NY trio (King Kirk, Big Dubez and Marlon Brando) had some late 90’s heat. While their lyrics were certainly capable, the biggest thing they had going was beats courtesy of Ski.
With Original Flavor getting smaller in his rearview, Ski was killing the beats with joints for Jay-Z (“Politics As Usual,” “Dead Presidents”) and Camp Lo (basically all of Uptown Saturday Night). Sporty Thievz were part of a deal the producer had negotiated for his Roc-a-Bloc imprint that was housed at Ruffhouse Records (The Fugees, Cypress Hill) via Columbia Records.
While Sporty’s debut album, Street Cinema, got some notable propers, it was their re-working of TLC’s “No Scrubs” into an anthem decrying the proliferation of chicken heads in the hood, “No Pigeons,” that garnered these brothers the most acclaim.
But one of my favorite Sporty Thievz tunes was “Even Cheaper (Cheapskate Remix)” (video below, which I never even knew existed ‘til like, yesterday). I remember first noticing this cut when it was just labelled “Cheapskate (Remix)” on the b-side to a promo only vinyl of their “Cheapskate” single. [more after vid]
The sparse but exotic groove (not much like the Soul loops Ski was winning with at the time) let the MC’s get loose on the remix. Mocha Latte (the chocolate complexioned sista with the slick bars) used to run with Timbaland and Missy Elliot (try to remember Nicole Wray’s “Make It Hot.”) for a quick minute, but lately has been hawking books. Liz Leite (the light-skinned female MC with the last verse) was the part of that fabled* group called Major Coinz with Amil [hence the “featuring Amil (of Major Coinz)” when describing her turn on Jay-Z’s “Can I Get A…”].
Since then, circa ’98 – ’99, no one is sure where Liz went after she signed to Chris Schwartz’s RuffNation in ‘05, while Amil, due to an un-ceremonial Timberland to the rear courtesy of Roc-a-fella, has gone on to become a rap punchline. For example, “I’m like Jay, I’m tryna drop me a mil,” says Redman on “Hey Zulu” on the recently released, no pun intended, Blackout! 2.
*have you ever heard them on a track together? I can’t even confirm if its “Coins” with an “s” or “z,” or if the group was a duo or trio.