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Tha Alkaholiks, also known as Tha Liks, were 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 (born Eric Brooks in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA) and the lively, comedic rhymes of J-Ro (born James Robinson in Los Angeles) and Tash (born Rico Smith in Cincinnati). Though commercial crossover success largely eluded the group, they maintained a dedicated following on their native West Coast, throughout the United States and worldwide. In August 2004, the group announced their next album Firewater, released in early 2006, would be their final album.
J-Ro had been rapping since the age of 13, and E-Swift and Tash (short for "Ca-TAS[H]-trophe) already had an established partnership (E-Swift the DJ, Tash the rapper) 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 $hort followed, which helped them develop their skills as well as a fanbase. Their debut album 21 & Over released in 1993 (see 1993 in music) 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 All Music Guide's Nathan Rabin, who calls it "perhaps the quintessential West Coast party album".
The group's follow-up album Coast II Coast in 1995 (see 1995 in music) 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 (see 1997 in music), and Tash's debut solo album Rap Life was released in 1999 (see 1999 in music), 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 (whose platinum album Restless they appeared on in 2001), and they sought to take advantage of this with 2001's X.O. Experience which saw them working with hit-making producers of the time like The Neptunes and Rockwilder. They also changed their official name from Tha Alkaholiks to the shortened Tha Liks, the reason being that many mainstream radio stations refused to play tracks by a group called Tha Alkaholiks. A DVD XO - The Movie Experience was also released just after the album. Though the album sold reasonably well, it was not as much as expected.
The group took a break of three years, during which time they feuded with Xzibit, who they felt had abandoned them and the rest of the Likwit Crew in his rise to superstardom and forgotten the support King Tee and the Alkaholiks had given to him in the early stages of his career. Then, it was announced in August 2004 that their final album Firewater, due to be released in 2006 on Waxploitation Records, would be their last. A farewell live tour was also announced. The split was amicable, and the group will continue to work with one another on their forthcoming solo projects (J-Ro plans to release a debut solo album, Tash plans to release his second, and E-Swift is due to release a collaborative album with Lootpack producer Madlib). Tash stated it was time to "bow out gracefully and exit on top" while J-Ro claimed "it only makes sense for us to move forward and find new challenges. It's an exciting time for all three of us."
However, in a recent interview, Tash said that the group may record a new album after all because all three members are on good terms and are willing to record again. Though it is not an unbeatable obstacle, the fact that J-Ro now lives in Sweden complicates matters.