Onyx is a hardcore rap group from Queens, New York. Originally formed in 1989 by Fredro Starr, Sonee Seeza and the late Big DS, the group later added Sticky Fingaz, Starr's cousin, in 1991.
The group was born in 1989 and Onyx released its first 12" single, "Ah, and We Do it Like This", in 1990. The song sounded very jazz influenced, much unlike their later work. In 1991 Onyx was going to present a demo to Jam Master Jay at Def Jam, but Big DS and Sonee Seeza (then only known as Suave) were in Connecticut at the time, so Fredro Starr called up his cousin Sticky Fingaz (who was always rhyming while working in a barber shop). Once Sticky Fingaz joined the group, the group released the Throw Ya Gunz EP in 1992.
After the track Onyx inked a deal with Def Jam and were promised an album which became 1993's Bacdafucup LP. The album met with great commercial success, including heavy airplay on radio and MTV for the single "Slam". Onyx also performed with Biohazard on the tune "Judgement Night", taken from the soundtrack album of the same name. The track "Slam" was the #5 single on the Rap charts and the album went on to quickly sell 2 million copies. Onyx also received critical acclaim, winning Soul Train's rap album of the year. Despite the embrace of commercial outlets, the group maintained their hardcore image through raunchy live performances, Sticky's arrest for assault on a flight, and when the NAACP deemed them a disgrace to blacks, denying them access to perform a football game's half time show.
A lot changed with Onyx in the next two years. Big DS left the group during the recording of All We Got Iz Us because he felt he wasn't getting enough time on the microphone. Onyx began to fade into obscurity. In 1995 Onyx released their second album All We Got Iz Us. While the album was much less successful commercially, many of their fans call it their best work ever. The album did not have any radio friendly tracks and the album's lead single "Last Dayz" peaked at #89 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, selling 500,000 copies.
The release was followed by another gap in albums, but the members remained in the public eye by appearing in several movies, including Clockers, Sunset Park (1996), and Dead Presidents(1995). Both rappers continue to appear in movies and television, appearing on the FX Network on The Shield and on HBO's The Wire.
Onyx returned in 1998 with their third album Shut 'Em Down, which featured appearances from DMX, The Lost Boyz, Raekwon, Method Man, Big Pun, Noreaga and a then-unknown 50 Cent. This album found critical as well as commercial success. The underground scene loved the B-sides to the album and radio listeners liked songs such as "React" and the eponymous "Shut 'em Down", the latter featuring DMX. After Shut 'Em Down, Onyx left Def Jam and temporarily split up for solo releases. They reunited in 2002 with Bacdafucup Part II released on Koch Records, followed by the 2003 release Triggernometry on D3 Entertainment. Both albums met with mediocre reviews and sales, but in a refreshing change from typical musicians, Onyx themselves admit to not liking both albums compared to their earlier releases.
In other news, there has been a low-level argument between Onyx member Fredo Starr and 50 Cent. According to the Rap News Network, 50 Cent started a confrontation with Fredo Starr at the 2003 Vibe Awards. In a 2003 interview Fredo Starr explained, "50 Cent basically started shit with me me, started a scuffle, and a bodyguard broke us up. He's a punk. He's disrespectful to Jam Master Jay ever since he passed. Fuck him. I'm doin shit with some ex G-Unit members now. 50 ain’t shit." In an interview with the Source magazine, Fredo Starr said that 50 Cent had been disrespectful towards the Onyx rap group even though Onyx had given him his first breakthrough on a song called "React" from the 1998 album, Shut 'Em Down.
In the summer of 2006 Fredro released a project known as Yung Onyx.
A new Onyx album, titled The Black Rock, was rumored for a 2006/2007 release but did not surface. Black Rock will finally be coming out at the end of 2008. Also up for Onyx in 2008 is their debut DVD: "15 Years of Videos, History and Violence" with unreleased footage and all their videos.