A type of gemstone often used in jewelry; it's a member of the chalcedony family of quartz. Most commonly natural onyx is found in black and white stripes; some of what's sold as onyx is actually chemically treated agate or some other stone that can be dyed black.

MOVE BACK, MOTHERFUCKERS! THA ONYX WRITE-UP IS HERE! BACK THA FUCK UP! BACK THA FUCK UP! BACK THA FUCK UP! YOU BETTA BACK THA FUCK UP!

Onyx is a three-man rap group (Sticky Fingaz, Sonee(aka Suncee), Fredro) that was founded in 1990. Their extremely violent, intimidating, gun-toting, bal-hed-ed image, combined with undeniable mic skillz and mosh-friendly musical hooks gave them both street cred and crossover (i.e. white) appeal. After shows and battles at various NYC clubs, they got noticed by Jam Master Jay, who signed them to his label and produced their first album.

In 1992, their debut album "bacdafucup" sold over two million copies and spawned* a number-three hit single entitled Slam!. They beat out Dr. Dre's classic The Chronic for the top honors at that year's Soul Train awards for Rap album.

During the music censorship battles of the early nineties, Onyx was one of the prime examples being cited of rap's inherent depravity, and their lyrics were often quoted as examples of the need for censorship of popular music.

Onyx toured for nearly two years on the success of "bacdafucup", when it came time to record a follow up, they found it necessary to take time off and reflect. As Sonee explains: "The fast pace of the rap game had us all wild and not really thinking. Right off the tour we came back and that's when you saw the realness around you again. We all had to sit back and think and get things clear."

They have had three subsequent group (All We Got Iz Us (1995), Shut 'Em Down (1998) bacdafucup II(2002) and solo (Sticky and Fredo, both in 1998) albums, none doing as well as Onyx's debut. Various members (Sticky foremost) have had guest spots on other artist's albums (e.g. Sticky's contribution to a track on Eminem's second album.) IMO, their later work is superior, Sticky Fingaz in particular showing maturing skill, if not actual maturation.

Sticky and Fredro have gone on to act in various films and television shows (e.g. "Strapped" and (snicker)"Moesha", respectively).

On a personal level, Onyx was the group that "broke" rap for me. I was 12 when bacdafucup came out. A particularly charismatic mini-thug convinced a substitute teacher to play bacdafucup on the field-trip bus's speakers. I recall being impressed by the verbal deftness and the rhythms within the flows, as well as digging the beats. Of course, as soon as "Tha Nex Niggas" came on, she turned it off. But the hook was there for my interest in hip-hop to grow, years later. (sample lyric: "She wuz suckin' tha nex niggas dick! Oh shit! She wuz suckin' tha nex niggas dick! Oh shit!")

SOURCES:
http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/Onyx-Biography/D452ECD61B1F312B48256A33000BBDD6
http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/bio.asp?oid=1070&cf=1070
http://www.theiceberg.com/artist/8293/onyx.html

*ever notice how albums always spawn hits?

O"nyx (?), n. [L., fr. Gr. a claw, finger nail, a veined gem. See Nail, and cf. Onycha.] Min.

Chalcedony in parallel layers of different shades of color. It is used for making cameos, the figure being cut in one layer with the next as a ground.

Onyx marble, a banded variety of marble or calcium carbonate resembling onyx. It is obtained from Mexico.

 

© Webster 1913.

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