Tha Alkaholiks, also known as Tha Liks, is 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 and the lively, comedic rhymes of J-Ro and Tash. 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 already had an established partnership 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 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 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 and Tash's debut solo album Rap Life was released in 1999 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 . They also changed their official name from Tha Alkaholiks to the shortened Tha Liks.
Jon Owens (born December 19, 1975), known by his stage name Casual, is an American rapper from Oakland, California and one of the founding members of the alternative hip hop collective Hieroglyphics. After his debut album Fear Itself garnered both critical and commercial success, Casual went on to become one of the most prominent and recognizable faces on the Hieroglyphics roster, releasing five full-length LPs over the span of his twelve year career. Owens has garnered a following amongst devoted hip hop fans, particularly in the Bay Area hip hop scene, largely due to his specialization in hardcore battle rhymes. After high-profile appearances on Del tha Funky Homosapien and Souls of Mischief albums, Casual followed suit in 1994 with Fear Itself. The album was the second-highest charting album in Hieroglyphics' history. Casual followed a typical verse-chorus-verse structure but stood out with his ferocious but playful battle lyrics. Casual has been acclaimed for "wielding his metaphors and sinewy delivery with lethal grace" After the release of Fear Itself, Casual (as well as fellow Hieroglyphics members Souls of Mischief) was dropped from Jive Records. Casaul documents the experience in the book, Hip Hop in America: A Regional Guide: Volume 1: East Coast and West Coast:" It came about from us getting dropped from major labels, and instead of folding and succumbing to defeat, we hit the ground running. We took what we had and ran with it, we landscaped and we built something. We had to be resourceful, creative, and clever to gain our niche but now...it's been 10 years since we've busted out independent." In 1994, Casual was involved in a high profile battle with rapper Saafir. The beef originally started when Saafir appeared on Casual's debut album, and Casual did not appear on Saafir's. This ignited the infamous "Hiero vs Hobo Junction" battle, which involved some controversy when rumors surfaced that Saafir was using pre-written raps as opposed to Casual and Hieroglyphics expected freestyling. Despite this, it is regarded as an influential battle in underground hip-hop's history. Casual has expressed, much like the rest of the Hieroglyphics crew the importance of competition in hip hop, stating "I think that MCing should be a competitive thing, almost like a sport. The only way an MC can keep polishing and sharpening his skills is to test them against the competition and the up and coming young bloods." Casual contributed considerably to both Hieroglyphics albums 3rd Eye Vision (1998) and Full Circle (2003), and is typically found rapping on as well as producing tracks on almost all Hieroglyphics-related releases. While staying mostly on the underground scene and not achieving significant commercial success aside from his debut, Casual is widely respected as an MC, even appearing on the artwork for A Tribe Called Quest's album Midnight Marauders.
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