Friday, June 30, 2006

Don Scavone "Willie On Glock" (2000)

Not going back too far (or rare) with this one, but just finished a roadtrip, and this track was getting a lot of love. This Landspeed Records 12" initially appeared as a throwaway to me...between the artist name (another gangster?), song title (another gangster?), and cover art (ah, so it's a thumbprint, left by...another gangster?), I wasn't too optimistic. Lyrically, Scavone is average NYC underground fare, which wouldn't justify a post...which leads me to the production. The track is produced by Mista Sinista, and he digs up an ill bassline and pairs it with a downtempo break; shit is rugged. It goes from rugged to fire in the remix by DJ Sae-one with Sinista, featured here:

DJ Sae-one's remix preserves all the strong elements of Mista Sinista's original track, but transforms it into a drum-n-bass mash at various points in the track (the transitions are fluid), making it a perfect track for anyone mixing the genres. The remix starts out essentially as Sinista's beat, then transforms by degrees into double time. It drops back down to the original hip hop break for the duration of the chorus, before taking off as a drum-n-bass joint during the ensuing verses. Don't sleep on this joint, there's not too many hip hop (or drum-n-bass) records that make the transition between the genres so seamlessly - literally, within the song itself. Includes vocal and instrumental for the Sae-one/Sinista remix.

[UPDATE, 7/1: Updated MP3 link to include original vocal and instrumental]
[UPDATE, 7/14, 1am: Re-archived, re-upped file]

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Yaggfu Front "Left Field" (1994)

Mercury Records put out a number of dope artists (Diamond D, Jemini, Blahzay Blahzay, etc) that never really blew up; Yaggfu (You Are Gonna Get F*cked Up if you...) Front's "Action Packed Adventure," an album quietly dropped in '93, was one of those. The single "Left Field" is essentially the poor man's version of Pharcyde's "Passin' Me By".

All Music Guide tries to describe Yaggfu Front as somewhere between Pharcyde and Das Efx, and it's not a bad effort. The production (the remix wins, naturally) is simultaneously jazzy and spacey, while the lyrics are irreverent and honest:

When will she stop this brother stuff?
Hookin me up with girls that look busted, and rough
that run with the crew thinkin that I wanna screw
Why in the hell would I want her unless she looked as good as you?

Like "Passin' Me By", each verse is delivered by a group member detailing their failure with women. Hardly inspiring, but you can't help but nod your head (uh, maybe "shake" would be the better verb), and finish feeling sympathetic - or better about yourself. If you haven't heard this, do yourself a favor and grab it...missed the 12" back in '94, and finally ran across it in a random bin in Tokyo last year. Includes the original, remix, and instrumental.

[UPDATE (6/30): MP3 ID Tags fixed]

Sunday, June 25, 2006

...keep it movin'...

Going to be doing some traveling the next 5 days, don't know how internet access is going to go, so here's a few tracks to tide you over.

BTW, if anyone has any requests, feel free to drop them in the comments on this post, and I'll try to dig up what I can next week.

Tony Da Skitzo "Who U Talkin' 2" (1996)

West-coaster Tony Da Skitzo is f*cking insane. Not in the theatrical Gravediggaz/horrorcore sense; nor in the celebratory Cypress Hill sense; more like the Kool Keith "there are no boundaries/f*ck traditional logic" sense. If that makes sense. I tend to not be a fan of music that leans on shock value, but this is one record that has consistently grown on me since I first heard it.

The production on this 12" is an acquired taste, but if you acquire it, this record is like gold. It perfectly compliments Tony Da Skitzo's style, which can predictably enough be labeled schizophrenic. Unlike other "psychotic rap" offerings, there's nothing disingenuous about Tony's insanity. His delivery wanders, changes pace, seems to change who he's addressing (the listener or himself?). My early favorite was "Molassis"; the beat is both smooth and oddly discomforting. "Man On" sets it off with a deep plodding bassline and ill guitar loop, and when Tony rhymes...

But still, the Skitzo flips ho's on a different tip
Though I like to sip hips with my lips
And trip the lights fantastic, plus I go through drastic measures
For the treasures of a ho's pleasures
Forever another plan of attack
To flip it up, rub it down, then give it a smack from the back
So that she'll remember
The schizophrenic MC's member don't doubt his sincerity at all. "Who U Talkin' 2" features a Richard Pryor vocal sample and a creaking, layered beat that only seems to fuel Tony's wandering style. Included are the three tracks mentioned, and instrumentals to "Who U Talkin' 2" and "Man On".

[UPDATE, 7/9, 10AM: Files fixed, re-upped]

Downtempo Joints - The Automater remixes Air

Ever think an Air cut could sound rugged? Automater gives "Le Soleil Est Pres De Moi" the treatment on the first single for "Premieres Symptoms" (their second full-length).

The Automater's remix preserves most of the musical elements of Air's original, but adds some essential touches; a vocal sample, deep bassline, lovely horn sample, and most importantly, a vicious drum loop. The Automater takes a cue from Air and patiently builds layers until the track is as full as it needs to be...shit is fuckin' immaculate.

Diamond D "With the Dope Sound" (1994/8)

This track showed up in record bins in '98, after Diamond's disappointing album "Hatred, Passions, and Infidelity". The label claims it was made in '94, and it seems possible, although the production feels more '98-Diamond than '94-Diamond. Lyrically, though, it showcases his frustrations with trying to drop his second LP, and is as good as (if not better than) anything on the LP that would drop in '97. Still with me?

The track is pretty simple, but most of Diamond's bangers relied on simple loops. He samples himself for the chorus ("'s Diamond D with the dope sound"), and the track would fall flat if it wasn't actually dope. And it is, on the head-nod tip, with a nice snare. The lyrics are vintage Diamond:

Like Jesse Owens, you know I got it goin'
showin' and provin', you know I got you movin' to the
boom-boom-bap, boom-ba-boom bap
my new rap, I'm hangin' n*ggas with a shoe-strap

With a shoe strap? Werd...

[UPDATE, 7/12, 10pm: Re-archived, re-upped file]

Tung Twista "Suicide" (1995)

Tung Twista's "Runnin' Off At Da Mouth" (1992) was my introduction to Chicago hip hop; I'll never forget Chicago radio banging the shit out of Twista's "Rattatatat" and EMPD's "Crossover". Twista could literally rhyme his ass off like no other MC, and when the industry moved away from "speed-rhyming", Twista tried to move with it. Before he ended up rhyming double-time with Bone Thugs n Harmony, and doing tracks with Kanye, he got dissed on wax by Naughty by Nature ("you can tongue-twist your ass back to Chicago"). The response was this '95 diss record that attempts to expand the beef beyond Naughty and Twista, to Naughty and the Beatnuts vs. the entire city of Chicago.

Tung Twista always had amazing breath control, and a uniquely sharp voice. The chorus on this joint becomes the centerpiece, and if you're from Chicago (or associate yourself with the city), raise your fist and chant along:

Suicide, if you're fucking with the Chi (boo-ya!)
I wonder...I wonder why motherfuckers wanna die?

This is one of the better diss records out there, as Tung Twista never strays from the attack on Naughty and the Beatnuts to speak in generalities. Here's a taste of what he's got for Naughty:

Go at it with whoever, crew never cracks (pack gats)
Fuck your chains and locks, chainsaws, hachets, butter cutters and bats
Braids and blades and machetes, petty shit you carry
Can't scare me, fairy - burn your obituary at the cemetary
Two to a casket, heads in breadbaskets, dead when lead blasted
Burn 'em like acid - fuck a "Ghetto Bastard"
Come with that "Hey-Ho", better stay low - end up with a halo
Spread blood like mayo - looks like a T.K.O.
Say Treachery, bet you be thinkin' you gankin'
I do the shankin', Naughty kids always get a spankin'

Damn. Tung Twista saves most of the venom for Treach, but the Beatnuts and Del get some too:

And if I find ya dreamin' of dissin' and schemin'
You'll find Intoxicated Demons suckin' semen, here what I'm screamin'?
Huh...another pussy wants to break me an' a Homosapien
Beat 'em down and won't give a fuck what type of shape he in
Yellow's the color of the cape he in...
...What's up, n*gga? Come on, step - unless you just a sucker
Fuckin' with Chi? Suicide mission, motherfucker

This battle is obviously lost to time, but fuck if Tung Twista didn't drop a textbook example on how to make a diss track. Damn. Includes original, remix, and acapella.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Mop Top "I'm Alright" (1996)

I think back to when I used to have to fight for the right
To bless the mic and rock shit all night, but now it's all right
Because my fate is predestined, so when I'm in the session
Do I tear the frame out the mic? ...No question.

Completely random, this Mop Top B-side is a good find. NYC-based (Nine appears in a forgettable posse cut on the A-side), Mop Top self-produces this bouncy, straight hip hop joint.

A simple bassline keeps things bouncing, while the chanted chorus gets embellished by music-boxy chimes. The MC that rocks the first and third verse had me thinking of El Da Sensei (of Artifacts) for some reason, which is a good thing. Shit will have you nodding your head immediately, and by the second listen, you'll be chanting along with the chorus...crazy addictive.

They say I'm out my mind, so I must be out of sight
'Cause when I start to rhyme, you know my styles gotta be tight
But n*ggas wasn't always checking for me on the mic
But don't you worry, son (I'm alright)

Includes instrumental.

Friday, June 23, 2006

...on the occasion of South Korea's exit from World Cup play...

Having lived in South Korea, I heard some dope Korean hip hop, and wanted to drop a quick post in an attempt to pass some on. If I had to recommend anything as an intro, I'd start with MC Sniper's "한국인" (literally, "Korean people"), the video for which follows:

Don't worry about digesting lyrics; this video showcases the best Korean hip-hop has to offer. MC Sniper samples/uses native instruments - the MC Serch sample notwithstanding - the main sample is from a "gayageum", a stringed instrument you play on the floor. Sniper takes you on a virtual tour through South Korea, hitting the major cities, palaces, markets and most definately the temples. The shit makes me proud, and I'm not even Korean.

If you dig this shit at all, grab the following collection of MP3's, 8 of the best of what I've collected from Korea:
(link dead)
* MC Sniper "한국인" ("han-guk een": Korean people)
* Leesang "Spain", "Fly High", "출사표"("chul-sa-pyo": literally 'career-ticket' but i'll ask a Korean friend for a better translation)
* 가리온(aka Garion) "옛이야기" ("yeh-shi-ya-gi": legend)
* CB Mass "동네한바퀴"("dong-nay-han-ba-kwee": around my way)
* Dynamic Duo "이력서" ("ee-yuck-suh": personal history)
* Keepin Roots "Sugar & Prim"

Back with another 12" tomorrow.

[UPDATE (6/23, 7pm): Added some translations]

Voodu "One Life to Live" (1996)

Everyone was talking about Rass Kass in '96. Forget about vinyl; dubs of dubs of "Remain Anonymous" and "Jack Frost" were being passed around (and sold) by anyone who could get their hands on them. Western Hemisfear, consisting of Rass Kass, Voodu, and Meen Green (correct me if I'm missing someone) was the dopest crew nobody had the Midwest, at least, their shit was crazy hard to find. Around this time, Rass Kass got signed to Priority, and a lethal rift opened between Rass Kass and Western Hemisfear (again, anyone who knows the details feel free to share)...the Voodu 12" "One Life to Live" showed up in the midst of this, demonstrating what Voodu and Meen Green were capable of.

This 12" is all about the B-side, "2 Deadly Sins" featuring Meen Green. This joint is just hard as hell; the dark, haunting sample is perfectly offset by the sparse kick and snare. A Mobb Deep sample serves as the hook ("your crew is featherweight/my gunshots'll make you levitate")...damn, people LOVED "Shook Ones".

Voodu and Mean Green bring lyrics; they play off each other so well that you don't even notice that the mic has been passed sometimes. It's straight battle rap, but the lyrics are wicked:

When we begin - welcome to oblivion
I control Earth, Water, Fire, and Wind
Evil evangelist, I represent Hell
A cross-breed between god and guillotine
My vocal chords is samurai swords
Can't blaspheme against the god of war
My mental capacity causes catastrophe
Breaking you down to your cytoplasm and atoms
You can't fathom...

Like the great MC's, Voodu's lyrics on a page don't do his aggression and crucial delivery justice. Enjoy this cut with some good headphones or a nice system. Includes the A-side "One Life to Live" and the instrumental and acapella for "2 Deadly Sins".

BTW: If anyone has any links to other Vooodu joints, let me know...

[UPDATE, 7/10, 10pm: Re-upped, re-archived file. Western Hemisfear also included Bird on production...see Ras Kass' "Won't Catch Me Runnin"]

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Rhymefest "How We Chill" (1996)

The Chicago underground hip-hop scene has essentially been defined by the prolific output of the Molemen. This dope Rhymefest 12" was one of their earlier releases, and the record that established their rep to a lot of people:

This record remains my nomination for the definitive Chicago anthem (although my qualifications to annoint it may be dubious). The title track is introduced by J.P. Chill, legendary WHPK DJ, and Rhymefest proceeds to document the Chicago scene as it existed in '96, a Who's Who of the underground: Dirty MF, Steady Serv, Rubberoom, Ill State, Stony Island, Judgmental, DJ Ran, Tone B. Nimble, Ang-13, Verbal Disease. The spoken chorus spells it out: "This is how we chill with the boys/"C-h" is for Chicago, "i-l" is Illinois." If you're from (or give a f*ck about) Chicago, this shit is straight-up essential.

"How We Chill Pt. 2" is probably the most well-known track on this record, as it features Juice, in what is still one of his stronger tracks. Rhymefest and Juice rhyme well together, and the Molemen lace them with a lovely track (they were sampling a lot of old mood music at the time). "Much of Nothing" is ill as well, more of a story rhyme; altogether, this is still one of the best records the Molemen have put out...don't hesitate to snatch it if you see it. Included are the three tracks mentioned, as well as "No Matta'Hu U.R." (which is the "How We Chill Pt. 2" instrumental). If you're interested in more Molemen-related production, Leave Your Nine at Home has had some good Molemen-related posts recently you should check out.

[UPDATE, 7/13, 5pm: Re-archived, re-upped file]

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Original Flavor "When I Make It" (1992)

Original Flavor was essentially about producer Ski (who went on to produce a grip of tracks for Jay-Z, and remixes for a variety of others). As an MC, Ski is average; it's all about the production. "When I Make It" is one of those tracks that could have only been a single in the early 90's, during the explosion of creativity that marked the Golden era, before the industry figured out the formula for a hit record. Sound bitter? This record isn't.

Not a particularly rare 12", but it features two tracks not available on the LP ("This Is How It Is"), which are two of Original Flavor's best. Clark Kent put together the "When I Make It (Supa Remake)", which gets the nod over the original, and is the joint that got mixshow play back in the day. On the flip-side is "Grip the Mic Tight", which is a happy uptempo cut a la the UMC's "Blue Cheese". If you can rock to lyrics like "diffy-diffy damn/giffy gonna slippy-slippy slam/don't you know who I am?", then this shit just might be your new running-man anthem. Also includes the instrumental for "When I Make It (Supa Remake)".

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sic Sense "Positional Bypass" (1995)

This Canadian hip hop record is more NYC than most shit I heard out New York in '95. Showing up randomly in my "local" record store (props to Grammaphone in Chicago), it was another record on the mid-90's wave that convinced me that Canada was developing into some kind of wonderland for underground hip hop.

"Positional Bypass" opens with a deep bassline that drives the track, and then drops the hook; a Guru sample ("From the get-go, I let go/shit to make you petro") paired with a Pharoah Monche sample ("yo, it's the verbal assault/weapon with words uncanny"). If you haven't heard these joints, I want to avoid shaping your view of Sic Sense as an MC before you hear 'em, but anyone else think Rakim is his favorite MC? The second MC to rhyme (uh, the one that doesn't sound as much like Rakim) rips it:

My mind snaps, resulting in psycho-psychotic raps
Heads take flight, like it was aviated wax
Nobody is safe, don't relax
I'm crippling tracks like shots straight to your backs

"Onementality" is just as dope, lyrically and musically. The beat features a niiice vibes sample paired with a simple bassline; the definition of ill. Included are both beats and instrumentals.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Percee-P "Nowhere Near Simple" (1996)

NYC rapper Percee-P achieved legendary status in the underground throughout the 90's, as he never put out an album, but dropped a few 12", recorded unreleased cuts with Lord Finesse, and made numerous guest appearances. All of this material wasn't widely available, adding to his underground status. My introduction to him was in 1996 via this 12" on Vmax:

The B-side "Don't Cum Strapped" wins here, featuring a dope rolling bassline and a classic Jeru sample ("Leave your nine's at home, and bring your skills to the battle"). Percee-P rips this track; he doesn't have the signature punchlines of a Chino XL, but not too many MC's can match his flow. Included (for the completists) is the A-side "Nowhere Near Simple", and the instrumental to "Don't Cum Strapped".

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Saukrates "Action" (1999)

Towards the end of the 90's, I became convinced that Toronto was the spot for hip hop; it was like Toronto MC's and producers picked up where New York left off. For me it started with Saukrates' "Father Time" (and Choclair's "21 Years"), and continued with Frankenstein, Kardinal Offishal, and Mathematik. "Father Time" featured one of the illest beats of '95, and became Saukrates' signature record to a lot of heads. The following "Brick House" EP's were tight, but nothing could equal the rawness of "Father Time." Enter the "Action" 12".

The straight-up ill guitar loop gets pounded by the plodding yet hypnotic kick and snare. It's one of those beats that's ultimately pretty simple, but raw as hell. Saukrates obviously feels the same way (hell, it's his beat), and attacks it:

I have battled men who sculptured knowledge and culture
But poisonous dialect sent their cadavers to vultures
Excuse me for being blunt while y'all get blunted
But in the words of Biggie, "hunt me, or be hunted"

The remix (pictured) is essentially a different cut entirely; the beat is darker, using synthesized strings, all-new lyrics, and a variation on the "Action" chorus. Dope, but doesn't match the original's intensity. Included are both versions, with instrumentals.

[UPDATE, 7/12, 10pm: Re-archived, re-upped file]

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Royal Fam "I Declare War" (1995)

The rap game is filled with injustices, and the fact that Royal Fam's career has been basically non-existent is one of them. Like the Pyro post a few days ago, "I Declare War" addresses dissatisfactions with the music industry, but through the eyes of a battle MC whose punchlines make the entire record quotable.

Whereas Pyro focuses on the morality of MC's and the industry, Royal Fam calls out the wackness. While this is obviously a common theme (especially in the mid-90's),
Royal Fam's voice and punchlines make this one of the best of the genre. The A-side of this record is actually "Summin' Gotz to Give", and details just how Royal Fam will remove your ass from the business of rapping:

burning your disc and your reels
selling your DAT tape at crack rates, label it "no frill"...
...'cause I'm a smash that, bash that
fuck ASCAP - you catch a cap in your ass, black
you not an artist, mics you can't damage it
give up your publishing, motherFUCK your management
you not rugged, we housing your recording budget
jack your tour, we taking all your fucking luggage

The beat is rugged, on some hard-rock head nod shit, and Royal Fam literally takes you through every aspect of being a signed artist in the process of dismantling one. The Radio version of "Summin'" has its own charm, as cursing is overdubbed with sound effects. The chorus finds Royal Fam declaring "Summin' gotz to give in this biz/I don't give a FUCK who you are or who you is!" for the hook. The radio version replaces "fuck" with a sharp snapping sound, which ends up emphasizing it even more.

The B-side "I Declare War" is more of the same, but I slightly prefer it (primarily due to the James-bondish sample he rips over). It lacks the focus of "Summin'", but Royal Fam's flow is solid:

I'm runnin' this like a marathon
my raps' beyond Babylon when the DAT is on
I take a rhyme then mold it like pottery
it's about time that we rule economically

Royal Fam ended up with guest spots on a few other records over the years, but none of his material ever matched the focus and intensity that's obvious on this one. Includes explicit, radio, instrumental and acapella for "Summin' Gotz to Give"; explicit, instrumental and acapella for "I Declare War."

[UPDATE, 7/12, 10pm: Re-archived, re-upped file]

Friday, June 16, 2006

L'Roneous da Versifier "L'chemy" (1997)

" your the Next School." I was introduced to L'Roneous in Boulder, Colorado; it seems like the farther West you go, the bigger his rep. "L'chemy" is the first single off his first album (he now has several), and is firmly rooted in Golden-age asthetics.

The piano loop rolls for a few bars as L'Roneous introduces his subject matter: "A course in lyrical stylings...known as L'chemy." L drops lyrics worthy of dissection, but creative/abstract enough to conform to his shifting delivery:

Now class I pass the vapors, along with the syllabus
And the context of my course - next to the next - is wordsound language
Verbatim simulations crazy trace the field notions
Concocting elemental variums of dopeness

The track is a bit uptempo; L's delivery isn't exactly rushed, but the combination of the content and his delivery overwhelm you by the end of each verse. Like a good teacher, he pauses for a bar after each verse, before giving a brief summary:

"An instruction in rhyme...known as L'chemy."

The track clocks in at two verses, but it's a good decision, considering their density. It leans on a niice piano loop and midtempo break through the verses, but drops a strong horn over the choruses; the lack of a third verse allows an extended instrumental outro, featuring another ill horn loop. Enjoy this one over and over again; includes instrumental.

[UPDATE, 7/12, 10pm: Re-archived, re-upped files]

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Brotherhood Creed "Helluva" (1992)

Did you say "summertime jam"? At the risk of losing hard rock status, I'm going to take it there; R&B hook, mid-tempo break and all. You're not going to top Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince's "Summertime" for early 90's summer jams, but "Helluva" is definately a top-five candidate.

The hard rocks might dismiss this sh*t immediately, but summer jams are all about this vibe. Forget that you're a thug for a few minutes; if you have to, rock this sh*t in your ride so you can sing along with the hook without it damaging your rep. Includes extended and regular versions of both the original and Mo'Betta remix.

[UPDATE, 7/12, 10pm: Re-archived, re-upped file]

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Pyro "Propaganda" (1999)

Goodvibe Records is responsible for at least one certified classic (Mystic's "The Life"), but this Pyro 12" never got the play it deserved. Political/cultural criticism isn't anything new in a hip hop record, but former Kraken-member Pyro's "Propaganda" is a meticulously-crafted thesis attacking the hip hop music industry, while promoting his own vision of the world.

Pyro's opening line is the foundation from which he builds: "If I ruled the world, and everything in it/It would not be a twenty-year-old's dick trip, laced with with misogynist bullsh*t".
The only argument I can see being made against Pyro as an MC is that he's not willing to sacrifice vocabulary if it gets in the way of flow, but dude drops some gems:

We've gone from share-cropping on borrowed land
To running around Hollywood with hat-in-hand
Without so much as a muthaf*cking plan
As to what we gonna do when they digitize distribution
In organized pushers of conglomerized content
The fact that I see this, and most of y'all don't
Exemplifies our absolute ignorance of a fundamental shift
In the entertainment industry's paradigm
But we won't see a muthaf*cking dime
Because we've allowed Masta to master the art of owning the masters to our rhymes
Let me bring that back one more time
We've allowed Masta to master the art of owning the masters to our rhymes

The chorus features a well-chosen Mobb Deep sample ("Your simple words just don't move me..."), and the track itself (care of DJ Khalil, who's done some bangers for Self-Scientific) is dark and sinister but not overpowering; Pyro's commanding voice and lyrics remain the centerpiece. Includes the instrumental.

[UPDATE, 7/12, 10pm: Re-archived, re-upped file]

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

DMX "Born Loser" (1993)

A fun game I play is trying to figure out exactly what Fatlip was thinking when he made "What's Up, Fatlip?" You could argue that it was a joke, an exaggerated persona, borne out of his undeniable creativity. The flipside is that it's a sincere documentation of a rapper who has fallen off - and is aware of it - but nobly offers himself up for ridicule, because dope or not, he's a rapper. I want to give Fatlip more credit than that, so I look at DMX's "Born Loser" as the inspiration to "What's Up, Fatlip?"

"But I f*ckin' hate DMX!" you might say. There is nothing to hate about this track; you can hear the '93 in it. The heavy break fueled by a strong bassline is matched by DMX's flow:

B*tches don't like me, they don't kiss me or hug me
They call me "kill-pretty", because I'm mad ugly
I used to get p*ssy, but I busted off quick
Now I get stunts, so I gotta beat my dick

Imagine the confusion when he reemerged barking and yelling with the RuffRyders. Or better yet, just enjoy this entertaining track for what it is; the story of an unlucky (but not wack) muthaf*cka, that you can still slip into a set of classic hip-hop. Instrumental and Dr. Ceuss Mix are included.

[UPDATE, 7/12, 10pm: Re-archived, re-upped file]

Monday, June 12, 2006

Frankenstein "The Pain Remix" (1996)

Frankenstein records have been making the rounds on hip hop blogs, and for good reason. Lyrically, he's solid, while the production is consistently dope. Frankenstein didn't really make party records, but they fit so seamlessly into mixes. "The Rain is Gone" 12", "UV" EP, New York Remix EP, "The Pain" 12"; all solid. But the melanchony that permeates a lot of his production is perfectly encapsulated in "The Pain Remix." And I would argue that if any Frankenstein track is essential, it's this:

The first time I heard this track was on a DJ Bless (NYC) mixtape, and he cut the sh*t out of it with doubles. It hard to make a track simultaneously sinister and bouncy, the formula of the production here. Fortunately, Frankenstein manages to find the perfect tone and lyrics for the beat:

I do the walkin', but the brain does the travel
Find the unknown as my thoughts unravel
Now I feel the pain, homeboy, more than ever
No matter what I do, sh*t comes out clever
They call me "Frankenstein" for the way I combine
The ill-type production with the ill f*ckin' rhyme
I don't know a lot, but one thing's for sure
My body feels the pain, and my brain feels sore

The beat has a texture most don't; the sound effects distinctly create the atmosphere of a can't help but infer that Frankenstein is literally rhyming in his lab. On the flip side is "What Does It All Mean?", much more laid-back, but in some ways more thoughtful. Included are both tracks and instrumentals.

[UPDATE, 7/13, 6pm: Re-archived, re-upped file]

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Fierce "Crab" (1996)

Simply one of the best piano loops I've heard, especially when it rolls up the octave. Fierce's "Crab" 12" surfaced in '96, but I could never locate a copy; over the years it achieved holy grail status, as it seemed no one had ever even heard of this joint. Thank God for Ebay.

Fierce comes correct on the track; the piano loop builds to the first snare, and he starts ripping it right before the downbeat...the sh*t was made for doubles. A strong spoken-chorus, followed by a sampled hook (gotta be Wise Intelligent of P.R.T.?). It seems that acronyms were required in the early/mid-nineties, and in this case it's (C)owards (R)ealistically (A)cting as (B)ackstabbers.

Included is the instrumental and the B-side "Come Close", a solid (and funkier) track.

[UPDATE, 7/14, 1am: Re-archived, re-upped file]

C.E.B. "Get the Point" (1992)

In the early 90's, my man used to come back with mixtapes from Philly radio; Philly hip-hop developed a mythic quality in my mind thanks in no small part to those tapes. One summer, he came back with a tape that featured C.E.B.'s "Get the Point". For those that don't know (I didn't), C.E.B. was the Philly supergroup consisting of Cool C, Ultimate Eaze, and Steady B; the album "Countin' Endless Bank" followed the single, in '93.

The LP is solid, but the key here is "Get the Point." If I had to put one record in a time capsule that was labeled "1992 hip hop", this would be it. The production exemplifies the early 90's: a classic break, lovely soul and funk samples, a "jump! jump!" breakdown. The lyrics are...well, damn, it's Cool C, Steady B and Eaze. They rhyme well together throughout the album, but they OWN this track. If this was the centerpiece to every party, life would be f*ckin' good.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Foot Soljaaz "If You Ain't Got Flowz" (1998)

As valuable as OIGA!!! and Biff's Hip-Hop Section have been for grabbing new and classic hip hop, Vinyl Addicts was dope in that it put you on to classic records that were only in the hands of a few, or that you never even heard of. This record is definately one of those.

The flip side simply reads "Foot Soljaaz," the name of the group. Consisting of two emcees trading rhymes, this track is vintage underground sh*t with an ill, dark piano loop and spoken hook:

...everybody knows, it's all irrelevant
if you ain't got flowz (if you ain't got flowz)
and you ain't got flowz (and it shows)...

There's no credit on the production, but the track is niiice..the drums are simple, just a hard-ass kick, snare and hi-hat. A bassline comes in to underscore the piano loop, while a haunting flute drops into the track every 8 bars or so. Classic battle rhymes, but it's the delivery (cadences and accents) paired with the production that makes this track a genuine f*ckin' banger. THIS is how two MC's should rock a track; everything is intertwined and related, there is no hype man. They sell the track for real, to the extent that they can drop sh*t like "you used to be a dope rhyma...but now you sellin' out, for the vagina." Werd.

[UPDATE, 7/12, 10pm: Re-archived, re-upped file]

Friday, June 09, 2006

twelve inchers: Philosophy

Living abroad (I'm from the States) for a few years, I relied on the internet and file-sharing to keep up with music. Being a DJ/vinyl collector, MP3's function as stand-in's for me; I'll download a track I already own, or if I don't own it, I'll go out and buy it if it stands the test of time (i.e. repeated listens). I love how the industry has evolved from "pay to play" to the state that it is; I think it's a revolution of sorts that has been due in part to the narrow-minded dominance of the majors and big radio. If anything, people are listening to more music (and a diverser collection of it) due to file-sharing, and if the cost of it is that the majors make less profit, I'm all for it. Of course, it's on you to support the artists that actually make the dope shit (by buying the music "legally"), regardless of what label (if any) they're on...that's how we can truly take the music industry back. [For the lawyers out there, and for the record, "I don't advocate illegal file-sharing in any way", and if you are a copyright holder and believe I'm exploiting your music illegally, contact me and I'll remove any links to your music that might be up.]

That being said, I have an obsession with Golden-age (early 90's) hip hop, as well as mid-90's indie records. I hosted a hip-hop radio show ("Mixed Flavor") at WEFT in Champaign, Illinois from '96-99, and got addicted to digging in the process. The concept of this blog is 12" singles, mostly hip-hop from the 90's (although related genres, i.e. downtempo and r&b may float in and out). You'll find some relatively obscure records here (a la the Vinyl Addicts blog), but I'll also hit some classic singles that you should definately know about if you don't. I'll be posting a new 12" every day, so be sure to check back frequently.

There are a sh*tload of people that know more about the music and era than I do; I'm a fan like everyone else, and am interested in sharing the singles I've come across, and attempt to provide a little context for them as well with each post. There are enough music blogs out there now, that you can be easily overwhelmed by the quantity of music. I know everyone is perfectly capable of figuring out what they do and don't like, but I think of the descriptive posts as a kind of filter, enabling you to make a more informed choice about what you choose to spend your time listening to and what you don't.

Naturally, comments and feedback are welcome and appreciated.