The result is a disc that dabbles in a variety of styles and sounds, but thanks to appearances by Headkrack, Cold Cris, MYK, and Iphlomatix, as well as Furious (the unofficial third member of Hydroponic), it never loses its hip-hop sensibility. Does it think bigger than, say, the latest efforts by Mystikal or Nelly, who make discs that leave brains almost completely out of the equation? Yes; try finding a cover of Thelonious Monk's "Misterioso" on either of those records. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not.
Routine Insanity was a long time coming for Wade, who has been involved with hip-hop, in one way or another, since the late 1980s. His first taste of hip-hop came while he was in junior high and he picked up a copy of Run-D.M.C.'s first album. "I was just like any other white junior high kid," Wade remembers, laughing. "I bought bad heavy metal, too. I had AC/DC, Iron Maiden, and all that shit. And then about the time LL Cool and Eric B and Rakim and Public Enemy started coming out, as far as new music as I was getting into, it was all rap. And by the late '80s, it was all rap."
Soon after, Wade, who taught himself how to DJ ("It's pretty easy to pick up," he says), began hanging out with like-minded hip-hop fans in the area. They were people like him--many from the suburbs--who preferred the more dynamic East Coast style of the Ultramagnetic MCs and De La Soul and Boogie Down Productions over the more popular reality raps of N.W.A. and their followers. They'd get together at clubs like Tropical Exodus, where many of the more popular national acts would stop during swings through Texas. Everyone from Eric B & Rakim, the Geto Boys, A Tribe Called Quest, Gang Starr, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, and De La Soul appeared there in the early '90s, before the club suddenly closed in 1994.
Most of Wade's new friends performed there as well, and so did Wade, when he began serving as DJ for Sons of Soul. This, in a way, is where the roots of Hydroponic Sound System began to take hold, as Wade came in contact with more people and fully immersed himself in the local hip-hop community, both as a performer and as a journalist. Wade first met Cold Cris and Skwod X and many of the other performers on the record when he was covering the local hip-hop beat for a magazine called Vibe (no, not that one) a decade ago.
"That way, I met Baby G," Wade begins. "Baby G's in Austin now, but at the time, this was 1990, G had just won the DMC [DJ Championships], which was a really huge deal. The guys who'd always won that thing were from New York or L.A., and this guy from Irving, Texas, wins it. He was in IGP, which went on to become Mad Flava, and that totally reinvigorated the local scene here. I met him and just started meeting people through him." He pauses. "I never really thought I'd be in a group or anything. I just thought I'd make beats or whatever. I just went along for the ride, you know? It was a lot of fun. We toured Texas a couple of times with House of Pain and did some stuff with Naughty By Nature when they'd come through. Really, I was a fan, and so it was kind of a dream. Like, 'Wow, I can't believe I'm getting to do this.'
"At the time, because the style was more East Coast-influenced and Dallas didn't really have a whole lot of people into that, the people that did do it, everyone sort of bonded," he continues. "Shabazz 3 was around back then, but they were in Decadent Dub Team. The guys in Skwod X were in a group called New Brigade. Mad Flava wasn't even Mad Flava yet. There were about 20 or 30 guys that all knew each other that were into the same stuff, and we all still know each other."
Wade stayed in contact and still supported local hip-hop when he could, but he slowly started to become dissatisfied with hip-hop in general. He had recorded some with Ayala, who at one time was head engineer at Goodnight Audio and is a graduate of the University of North Texas' music program. Ayala began to involve him in more and more projects, and Wade found himself focusing more on making beats rather than mixing records. Pretty soon, he was a full-time producer, and Sons of Soul was a band he used to be a member of.