Tha Alkaholiks, also known as Tha Liks, was an American
hip hop group from Los Angeles, California. Since the early 1990s they
have produced funky, upbeat, hedonism-themed party music with a hardcore
hip hop edge, powered by the beats of DJ and producer E-Swift (born
Eric Brooks in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA) and the lively, comedic rhymes
of J-Ro (born James Robinson in Los Angeles) and Tash (born Rico Smith
in Cincinnati). Though commercial crossover success largely eluded
the group, they maintained a dedicated following on their native West
Coast, throughout the United States and worldwide.
J-Ro had been rapping since the age of 13, and E-Swift and Tash
(short for "Ca-TAS[H]-trophe) already had an established partnership
(E-Swift the DJ, Tash the rapper) for local gigs and house parties;
after E-Swift and Tash moved to Los Angeles, they met LA native J-Ro
and formed a group. The three friends took the name Alkaholiks on
the suggestion of West Coast veteran King Tee, who for some time
had been looking for a back-up band to mentor. Tha Alkaholiks first
achieved recognition after appearing on Tee's Tha Triflin Album,
and most importantly its successful single "I Got It Bad Y'All".
Support slots on tour with KRS-One, Ice Cube, and Too Short followed,
which helped them develop their skills as well as a fanbase. Their
debut album 21 & Over released in 1993 (see 1993 in music) was
a lean 10-track set that spawned the singles "Make Room", "Only
When I'm Drunk" and "Likwit", as well as establishing
them as one of the most distinctive artists on the West Coast at
a time when the vast majority of Californian artists were subscribing
to the G-funk gangsta rap sound popularized by Dr. Dre. 21 And Over
remains highly regarded by critics such as Allmusic's Nathan Rabin,
who calls it "perhaps the quintessential West Coast party album".
The group's follow-up album Coast II Coast in 1995 (see 1995 in
music) saw them attempting to develop their sound further while staying
to their fun-loving roots, working with A Tribe Called Quest's Q-Tip
and expanding their lyrical outlook with tracks such as "21
And Under" which warned of the dangers of underage and irresponsible
drinking. Likwidation followed in 1997 (see 1997 in music), and Tash's
debut solo album Rap Life was released in 1999 (see 1999 in music),
both to mixed reviews. During this time they also formed the Likwit
Crew, a close association of artists including Xzibit, Defari, King
Tee and Lootpack.
The early 21st century saw a slight increase in Tha Alkaholiks'
profile due to the sudden Dr. Dre-powered rise to fame of the Likwit
Crew's Xzibit (whose platinum album Restless they appeared on in
2001), and they sought to take advantage of this with 2001's X.O.
Experience which saw them working with hit-making producers of the
time like The Neptunes and Rockwilder. They also changed their official
name from Tha Alkaholiks to the shortened Tha Liks, the reason being
that many mainstream radio stations refused to play tracks by a group
called Tha Alkaholiks. A DVD XO - The Movie Experience was also released
just after the album. Though the album sold reasonably well, it was
not as much as expected.
The group took a break of three years, during which time they feuded
with Xzibit, who they felt had abandoned them and the rest of the
Likwit Crew in his rise to superstardom and forgotten the support
King Tee and the Alkaholiks had given to him in the early stages
of his career. Then, it was announced in August 2004 that their final
album Firewater, due to be released in 2006 on Waxploitation Records,
would be their last. A farewell live tour was also announced. The
split was amicable, and the group will continue to work with one
another on their forthcoming solo projects (J-Ro has released his
debut solo album and a follow up ("818 Antics" and "Rare
Earth B-Boy Funk Vol.II"), Tash released his second ("Control
Freek"), and E-Swift is due to release a collaborative album
with Lootpack producer Madlib). Tash stated it was time to "bow
out gracefully and exit on top" while J-Ro claimed "it
only makes sense for us to move forward and find new challenges.
It's an exciting time for all three of us."
However, in a recent interview, Tash said that the group may record
a new album after all because all three members are on good terms
and are willing to record again. Though it is not an unbeatable obstacle,
the fact that J-Ro now lives in Sweden does complicate matters.
21 & Over
* Released: August 24, 1993
* Billboard 200 chart position: #124
* R&B/Hip-Hop chart position: #23
* Singles: "Make Room"/"Last Call", "Likwit"/"Only
When I'm Drunk", "Mary Jane"
Coast II Coast
* Released: February 28, 1995
* Billboard 200 chart position: #50
* R&B/Hip-Hop chart position: #12
* Singles: "Daaam!", "The Next Level"
* Released: August 12, 1997
* Billboard 200 chart position: #57
* R&B/Hip-Hop chart position: #15
* Singles: "Hip Hop Drunkies", "All Night", "Likwidation"
* Released: July 3, 2001
* Billboard 200 chart position: #47
* R&B/Hip-Hop chart position: #14
* Singles: "Best U Can", "Run Wild"/"Anotha Round"
* Released: January 24, 2006
* Billboard 200 chart position: -
* R&B/Hip-Hop chart position: -
* Top 100 Independent Albums: #38
* Singles: "The Flute Song (LaLaLa)"/"Party Ya Ass Off"
Year Song U.S. Hot 100 U.S. R&B U.S. Rap UK Singles Album
1993 "Make Room" - 85 8 - 21 & Over
1994 "Likwit" - 97 31 - 21 & Over
1995 "Daam" - 85 20 - Coast II Coast
1995 "The Next Level" - - 43 - Coast II Coast
1997 "Hip-Hop Drunkies" 66 37 6 - Likwidation
1997 "Likwidation" - 89 8 - Likwidation
2001 "Best U Can" - 64 14 - X.O. Experience