Nutty Bling: Lawrence metal crew goes "Ballz Deep" with gangster rap project


Scott McClurg /

I'm lucky to be alive.

The first thing I saw when Ballz Deep pulled up was a black Jaguar with "Lecompton Luvv" emblazoned across the darkly-tinted windshield. The door opened, and as I got in, I felt a moist rag clamp down on my mouth and nose. The last thing I remember was three gold teeth gleaming at me as I fell into a deep sleep.

When I came to my senses, I saw a "Welcome to Lecompton Sign" flash by the streaking car. My head was pounding -- partly from what I presumed to be a crude combo of moth balls and ganja administered to my sinuses, but mostly from the ghetto-blasters next to my ear booming Ballz Deep's hit single "The Anthem": "We put our money where our mouth at / Ballz Deep fo' life are you wit' that? / Honeys lookin' yummy we about dat' / Suckas actin' dummy they can get the gat."

Since my first thought was of a split wig at the hands of Lecompton's most ruthless rap crew, imagine my surprise when M.C. Can O' Worms slipped a me a cold 40 oz. and a blunt the size of a lab rat. Over the next two hours -- deep in kind bud, free-flowing Cristal and bounteous lap dances -- I began to understand Ballz Deep.

"You wish you were in Ballz Deep," says Can O' Worms. "But you ain't."

And with those three words, I am once again only kneez deep. My heart fades as I am mercilessly shoved out onto the sidewalk, my fall cushioned only by a pocketful of used rubbers. With my research abruptly ended, I stumble back to Lawrence muttering obscenities, plotting my revenge...

Ballz Deep is a fraud.

The truth is that M.C. Can O' Worms, Don Treader, Gangland, 9bychoice and the Ballz Deep Booty Squad are not Lecompton's most successful gangster rap group, known best for their multi-platinum album "Straight Outta Lecompton." They're not even from Lecompton -- they're from Lawrence.

"It originally just started out as something we did when we were really drunk and bored at home," says Can O' Worms, who moonlights as Steve Cruz, the lead screamer for local hardcore math-rockers The Esoteric. "It's kind of a fine line we're treading with this thing. Everyone really wanted us to do it at Project Groove 'cause that's the hip-hop spot ... I was just scared that somebody would take it seriously."

Past Event

Ballz Deep / DJ Cruz / DJ J-Mo

  • Friday, May 28, 2004, 10 p.m.
  • Jackpot Music Hall, 943 Mass., Lawrence
  • 21+ / $3


It's hard to imagine anyone taking a Ballz Deep show seriously. While performing some of the most hilarious gangster-rap spoofs this side of CB4, the group places fake armed gunmen alongside the stage to "protect" them ("like Public Enemy," Cruz explains) and performs in ski-mask-clad alter-egos with nunchucks and jizz-shooting toy guns.

Despite the element of parody, Ballz Deep is sincere in its mission to be a bad-ass gangster rap group, says Cruz, who cites Eazy-E, South Central Cartel and 2 Live Crew among his favorite groups.

"Pretty much the night is a dedication to gangster rap and Miami-based booty music," says Cruz, who also spins 80s music every Thursday at The Bottleneck for Neon. "A lot of those gangster rappers ... they're just normal people making up these crazy characters to let off steam."

In addition to Cruz, the group features fellow Esoteric guitarist Cory White as "Don Treader," Kevin Siess as "9bychoice," a group of fly girls known as the "Ballz Deep Booty Crew" and "Gangland," a local hop-hop M.C. who asked that his true identity be withheld.

"I don't want people to take all my other shit for a joke," says Gangland, adding that he only joined the group on the condition that Don Treader make him some serious beats to use in the future. "The less people know who we really are, the better the show will be."

Treader functions as the producer for the group, crafting Ballz' beats at home with computer programs and synthesizers. To date, the Ballz Deep set list includes six songs, including "Fo' da Children" and "Angelboy," an ode to a fallen member slain in a crack deal gone bad.

"We rap about Uzis-blowing-motherfuckers-faces-off, slap-your-bitch-up, shoot-your-homeboy-in-the-face type shit," Cruz says.

"Obviously we're all sweet dudes in real life."


Scott McClurg /


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