Even before they made it to the record bins, three-man New York crew Fu-Schnickens created quite a buzz in the hip-hop community with the oddity of their group name. Once they dropped their debut album, F.U. Don't Take It Personal, their music turned out to be every bit as curious and intriguing. The music is inundated with kung fu movie dialogue snippets and all manner of lyrical references to pop culture, both obscure and otherwise; this provides the album with a joyous, tongue-in-cheek, almost cartoonish flair. That sense is countered by the machine-gun-rapid toasting and almost military-like shouts of the three MCs (Poc, Chip, and Moc Fu), who trade off rhymes so telepathically that they seem to finish each other's sentences half the time. In this regard, they fit in perfectly with peers such as Leaders of the New School and Brand Nubian, as part of the early-'90s new wave of rap crews that catapulted hip-hop into the future partially by playing up the camaraderie of old-school rap groups. All the peer crews, however, were so progressive because they grew up fully in a hip-hop culture and lifestyle, and knew where they wanted to take it, thereby developing unique styles and, occasionally, novelties to help them stand out. Fu-Schnickens were no different in this respect, and although their fashion sense (kung fu outfits on the cover) and taste in influences may have initially painted them as a novelty, their approach to music was straight serious on this debut album, and it shows. With production help from A Tribe Called Quest, they create spare, tension-filled, intense soundscapes, and twist reggae and vintage soul samples into unrecognizable, bass-heavy tracks. Even better is the trio's ear for vocal hooks, which stamp each song with an instant appeal.