Dru Down released his underground debut in 1993 under the title Fools from the Streets. The following year, the album was expanded and rereleased by the major label Relativity, which turned Dru into an instant star with “Pimp of the Year.” In a time when California rap was dominating the charts, the rapper arrived as a perfect hybrid of Northern California’s Too Short and Southern California’s Snoop Dogg. At the seasoned age of 26, Dru was old for a rookie rapper. His career as an East Oakland gangster delayed his rap dreams, but it also made him credible at a time when every rapper’s reputation was being judged on the basis of his criminal experiences. Songs like “Ice Cream Man,” “Rescue 911,” and “Ain’t No Stoppin’” sound nothing like the products of a mainstream music corporation. They're churning and intoxicating and effortlessly cool. Ensconced in echoes of '70s funk and backed by the young duo of Knumskull and Yukmouth (who would soon form The Luniz), Dru Down immediately came off like a guru of the ghetto. Even now it’s hard to believe this was only his first release.