Penicillin on Wax was the debut album from Tim Dog. It contains the infamous underground hit “Fuck Compton,” which spawned a long rivalry between the East and West Coast hip hop scene. During the early 1990s, seminal rap group N.W.A and several other West Coast rap artists were becoming popular within the hip hop community and magazines such as Word Up and The Source provided significant coverage to artists from Los Angeles. The success of N.W.A and their focus on the South Central L.A. suburb of Compton via their platinum album Straight Outta Compton had spawned a number of imitators and other groups who also claimed to represent the suburb. The success of artists such as DJ Quik and MC Eiht of Comptons Most Wanted led to a period in hip hop where so-called “gangsta rap” and its trademark dress of black Los Angeles Raiders and Los Angeles Kings gear were de rigueur.
Some New York hip hop artists resented the exposure and success of their West Coast counterparts, an animosity which Tim Dog would tap into via the release of his groundbreaking first single “Fuck Compton”. Frustrated by the lack of interest in East Coast artists from record companies, the scathing diss track from his debut album Penicillin on Wax, attacked the city’s style of dress and musical output and made threatening gestures to several Compton rappers including Eazy-E, MC Ren, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Michel’le. Tim Dog would later exclude Ice Cube on “Step To Me”, another diss track attacking N.W.A.
The lyrics also made reference to an infamous incident involving N.W.A’s Dr. Dre and Pump It Up host Dee Barnes. Barnes had accused Dre of assaulting her after Pump It Up had edited an N.W.A interview to include disparaging comments made by Ice Cube, who was embroiled in a feud with Dre at the time. The single was released by Ruffhouse Records, home to other artists such as Cypress Hill and Kris Kross, and became a worldwide underground hit in the clubs and hip hop circles. Two versions of a music video were released — the original version and a censored edition.
Penicillin on Wax includes several additional “disses” aimed at both Compton artists and commercially successful artists such as Kid ‘n Play and Kwamé. The intro used the same beat as N.W.A’s Efil4zaggin album intro. Tim taunted, “I stole your beat and made it better, to show the whole world that you ain’t nothing but a bunch of pussies,” before a number of disparaging answering machine messages supported Tim’s position as he rapped, “Wearing all that black, driving them cars, but you still look wack!” In another skit, “DJ Quik Beat Down,” Tim Dog “physically assaulted” DJ Quik and it would be Quik who would take the brunt of the albums insults with infamous line “DJ Quik he can suck my dick”. The “Michel’le Conversation” was a skit where a Michel’le soundalike called up Tim Dog to complain about Tim’s Compton diss, but then ended up admitting she was tired of Dre beating down on her and for Tim to “Call me when you’re in town”. The track “Goin Wild in the Penile” included an intro whereby Tim had recently been released from prison for shooting a “Compton kid”. After it’s release, incoming responses came the following years from west coast artists Snoop Dogg, DJ Quik, Compton’s Most Wanted and Penthouse Players Clique to name a few.
The lyrical insults were arguably the opening salvo in the East Coast versus West Coast hip hop conflict which would ultimately lead to the “beef” between Bad Boy Records and Death Row Records.
Has The Album Stood The Test Of Time?
Yes and no. I bumped this album a lot back in the day. As a teenager I was fascinated by all the hip hop beefs so this was classic entertainment for me. The beats still bang but the lyrics and flows haven’t aged so well and sound a bit tired and dated. Even sloppy if I’m honest. I still listen to the album occasionally but mainly just for nostalgia reasons. A classic piece of hip hop history….. yes. A classic hip hop album….. no.