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Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz

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In EveryGhetto, USA, hip-hop is the soundtrack of young Black America. However, hip-hop's true birthplace, "Da Boogie Down Bronx," has been shortchanged for too long on the rap anthem tip. Getting ready to set the record right, enter hard-edged Codeine/Columbia Records rap duo Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz. Their certified smash hit single, "Deja Vu (Uptown Baby)" -- from MAKE IT REIGN, the pair's debut album has become a Bronx battle cry heard around the world and played around the clock. Indeed, on the landscape of famous urban turf defining phrases like "Brooklyn's in da house" and "Money-earnin' Mount Vernon," "Deja Vu (Uptown Baby)" is now the official Bronx street-speak contribution to urban America's large-and-in-charge lexicon.

It's also a springboard that has catapulted Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz to rap's forefront, while refocusing mass attention on the historic Uptown stomping grounds where hip-hop took its first steps. "We put out 'Deja Vu' because the Bronx and MCs from there, particularly KRS-One, deserve mad props and attention from the new hip-hop generation," says Lord Tariq, the first MC to rhyme on the lucrative mix-tape underground, where he's still considered a living legend.

Lord Tariq's mighty mix-tape adventures are just part of his and Peter Gunz's impressive hip-hop credentials. Tariq has appeared on records with the Notorious B.I.G., Jay Z, Nas, (Wu-Tang's) Ghostface Killah and Mobb Deep. Peter has lent solid rhyme support to Bobby Brown, KRS-One, B-Real, Ice Cube, DJ Quik, and Shaquille O'Neal, on whose label his solo CD (Othello Chapter 1), is coming, and with whom he and Tariq toured Europe and Japan last summer.

This year, of course, they're in the spotlight boasting a mega-hit single and an album they're proud of. In addition to the hit single, other prime cuts on MAKE IT REIGN Include: "We Will Ball," a hard-hitting, head bangin' jam, wherein Tariq and Gunz rap raw to the core; "Make It Reign," another fearless, funky verbal onslaught, produced by Bad Boy Hitman Ron Lawrence; "Don't Blame Me," a volatile sample free ride to hip-hop's real side, produced by Dave Atkinson; and "Cross Bronx Expressway," named after the long winding road that takes Peter and Tariq to the gritty Uptown hood they pride. The CD's guest artist roster features DJ Quik, Busta Rhymes, Wyclef Jean and more. "When they buy our album, we want people to listen from the first cut to last, and back again," says Tariq. "That's why there's so many different moods, flavors, and shades to our Joint. Boredom is not an option," says Peter, who plays drums, guitar and piano.

Despite their impressive debut, Tariq and Peter reveal their so-called "overnight success" was actually 10 years in the making. "We've been in the game a long time, so it kills me when people ask stuff like, 'Damn man, how did y'all blow up so fast?,'" explains Peter Gunz, whose last name now reflects his rapid fire rhyming ability, but years ago stood for his illegal selling of fire-arms. He spent eight months behind bars for it. "Although I only sold guns to people who needed protection," he confesses, "I'd never do again."

His gun-running past behind him, handsome Peter, an avowed ladies man (once known as "Pete Lover"), was, like Tariq, born, raised and still based in the Bronx, where, he advises, "Deja Vu was written three years ago. But nobody wanted to release it, so in '97 we put it out on our own label, Codeine records. We pressed up about 1,000 copies and gave them away," Tariq picks up the story. "After deejays started playing it a lot and (New York's) HOT '97 radio put it in heavy rotation, it kept getting bigger. Soon labels were coming at us with mad deals. And yo, it felt real good turning down some of the same record people who just ignored us before. Now they were throwing big money and bigger promises at us, and we were calling the shots." "We went with Columbia," Gunz interjects, "because they understood what we wanted to do, and let us do it."

Signing on the dotted line with Columbia proved a brilliant move. The deal included the major label distribution of Codeine records, and worldwide release of "Deja Vu (Uptown Baby)." There's more. In addition to Peter's before mentioned debut solo album, scheduled for mid-'98 release, Tariq's still-to-be-titled solo CD is another priority Codeine/Columbia project.

Professionally teamed since 1993, when they were in an East Coast N.W.A. type gangsta crew called the Gunrunners, Tariq's and Peter's styles totally compliment each other. The edgy, intense hard-core MC flavor Tariq brings to the Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz table is the stuff true hip-hop heads respond to. In complete sync with his partner-in-rhyme, Peter's colorful, distinctive rap style and hype skills approach is more commercial, he concedes, but genuinely as hard and effective as Tariq's. Individually they're awesome. Together they're unbeatable.

Tariq and Gunz met in the late 1980s, when they were each the top dog MC at their respective high schools. "It started out with rappers from both schools battling each other," Peter idly recalls. "When the smoke cleared, only Tariq and I were left standing. But instead of continuing to battle each other...," "... we knew that someday we'd join forces," Tariq smoothly finished Peter's sentence, almost as if the slick verbal move was one of their seamless rap routines that have rocked crowds on both sides of the Atlantic.

The relevance of rap and the preservation of its street roots and integrity are important to Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz. Their diverse, explicit, hard-core reality as well as party-up subject matter, amplified by lethal lyrical flows, is surrounded by bomb beats and power production. A sonic bridge between hip-hop's past, present and future, MAKE IT REIGN has all the makings of a truly classic album.

The title track is represented by an off-the-hook baseball concept video that slams a visual homerun out the box. Introduced by Wyclef Jean, who also produced a CD cut, it sets tip Tariq and Gunz as tough team players and long ball hitters. They step to the plate swinging their bats and slinging their rhymes in an Uptown field of inner-city dreams. Filmed in New York, the ballpark they play in symbolizes the famous home of the Bronx Bombers, Yankee Stadium. The baseball metaphor, as well as the smooth, intense track, illuminating lyrics -and off-the-hook performances work- Big Time!

Keeping the hard-core hip-hop flavor flowing, more future shocks to the entertainment system are ready to roll from this powerful pair of Boogie Down Bronx-inspired MCs. Imminent are more chart-topping hits, a possible feature film (they're writing a phat screenplay), major concert tours, separate solo albums, and the presentation of new artist signed to their Codeine/Columbia label.

In a classic case of "Deja Vu" all over again, Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz are takin' hip-hop back to where it all started--"Uptown, Baby."

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