Onyx Take Hardcore Sound To 'Next Level'

Trio that broke it big with platinum-selling debut mesh styles of first two albums to get another.

Sticky Fingaz doesn't like to pick favorites, at least not when it comes to his music.

"I like everything on it, I love all that shit, if I say one's the favorite, the other one's going to get mad," said Fingaz, speaking of his crew Onyx's upcoming, third full-length album, Shut 'Em Down.

Six years after he and his band first slammed their way out of a Queens, N.Y., barber shop and onto a tour with hip-hop gurus KRS-One and Run-D.M.C. on the strength of their first record, Bacdafucup, Onyx are set to release their next effort on April 17.

Reached by phone in New York, the trio of hardcore rappers, who met at a barber shop hangout in Queens and first struck platinum in 1992 with the release of Bacdafucup, spoke excitedly and often simultaneously about their upcoming release.

"It's like a combination of both of the (first two) albums taken to the next level. All We Got Iz Us was more narcissistic, it was a dark album. This one has elements of both, style flipping. We got appearances by Nas and Wu-Tang," said Fingaz, whose voice hit as hard over the phone lines as it does on Onyx's albums.

Bandmate Fredro Starr listed some of the cuts on the album as "Conspiracy," "Black Dust" and "Shut 'Em Down."

The threesome, who focus their music on telling the stories of the inner city, would not pick a favorite song off of their latest album, which was put together during recording sessions in New York and Los Angeles with DJ Scratch and Dr. Dre contributing production work.

" 'Raise It Up' is about representing wherever you at, representing this real hip-hop shit, so wherever you are on the other end, you can hear it and know we know what's going on," Starr shouted.

Offering some insight into the overall theme of the album, Fingaz said that while it is not going to be as political as the last one, he'll be going into the studio in the next couple weeks to crank out a more pointed album tentatively titled I'll See You In Hell. [Tues., Feb. 17, 1998, 9 a.m. PST]