Thursday, August 31, 2006

Red Foo & Dre Kroon "Life is a Game of Chess" (1996)'ve got to be four moves ahead - no more, no less.

This cut was just f*cking cool. Who calls themself "Redfoo"? Or "Dre Kroon"? And if you're going to put out an underground hip-hop single, you sure as hell can't have some guy singing all over the second verse...right? This was some shit you just couldn't categorize too easily:

There's two versions of "Life is a Game of Chess", both of which are extremely dope. The original is bouncy as hell, and features extended, uh, "Krooning". The remix is a different song in every way except the concept; the rhyming is a bit more intricate, but it's still got the extended singing, which usually is a bad thing...but here, it's ill. Anyone know what happened to this crew? I know they had at least one more 12" ("The Freshest", with Evidence), but beyond that, never heard from 'em again. This upload includes both versions of "Life is a Game of Chess", as well as the instrumentals.

UPDATE: Hit Redfoo on his Myspace page or his website

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Royal Flush "Worldwide" (1996)

Blunt Recordings seemed like it was poised to make an impact in the mid-90's...first, there was Mic Geronimo's "Masta I.C." which was second only to "Shook Ones" in terms influential NYC street-bangers. Then Royal Flush's "Movin On Ya Weak Production" and "Rotten Apple" dropped. It was Royal Flush's third twelve (three in one year) that blew the top off, though:

Royal Flush "Worldwide" (with instrumental)

This one dropped at the height of the whole NYC-Cali beef, and while "Worldwide" mentions the beef in passing (specifically in the intro), the focus is on how Royal Flush (and Queens) rips it. LES's beat shines here; the only thing that kept me from playing it more at the time was the low BPM that made it difficult to blend. Flush's delivery has a casualness about it that works well at this BPM, and it ends up being one of his best joints, period. Includes instrumental.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Natural Resource "I Love This World" (1997)

To follow up on the Natural Resource's "Negro League" last week, here's their follow-up twelve:

My joint on this record has always been the "Bum Deal" remix. I was never too interested in the original, but the beat on the remix gave it new life, and NR did come through with lyrics and a solid concept. The remix here is another study in simplicity, just an ill piano loop complimented by a kick and a snare.

Also includes "I Love This World", "They Lied (remix)", and the instrumentals for all three.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Company Flow "Info Kill" (1996)

Ah, the era of Big Juss and El-P, those were the days. Independent as Fuck. "Eight Steps to Perfection" twelve, then the "Funcrusher EP" (had to love those two slabs of clear vinyl), then this record, on clear green vinyl:

I always had trouble deciding on a favorite between "Info Kill" and "Population Control" (probably "Population", shit was just vicious), but I was disappointed when Rawkus released "Funcrusher" with a new beat for "Info Kill". The original, as featured on this twelve, had that whiney sample that inevitably managed to attach itself inside your skull. This one's for those that missed the original twelve, and need to supplement their "Funcrusher" album; includes the instrumental (I left "Population Control" off this download, as the identical version appeared on the album).

Friday, August 25, 2006

Godfather Don "Piece of the Action" (1997)

Godfather Don has always been in the same category with Percee-P for me...hella underground, style-obsessed NYC mc's who have a hardcore, devoted following despite releasing very limited material. The highest-profile Godfather Don record in my estimation was The Cenobites album on Fondle'Em (with Kool Keith); this twelve on Hydra that followed later is nice though:

Godfather Don "Piece of the Action" 12"

My preference here is "Seeds of Hate", the's hard to find a consistently darker beat than this, and Godfather Don keeps it grimy; in this case, the title says it all. The A-side has grown on me over the years, though. Guess which Guru sample it rocks? Finish this sentence: "cause I get a piece of the action from..." (think Dwyck). Includes Vocal and Instrumental for both.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Ill Bill "Gangsta Rap" (1999)

First thing I have to admit is that I am NOT a big fan of Ill Bill in general; yeah, I bought the Non-Phixion records, but I just can't see them as the best (or better than most) indie hip-hop at the time. This twelve on Psycho-logical, laced with Necro beats, made me believer, though:

Whatever you think of Necro as an MC, you can't front on his beats. "Underground" is still one of my favorites. "Gangsta Rap" is crucial...great piano loops; a perfectly placed horn; a bassline that drops in at the right moments. Ill Bill rips the beat in what is basically a celebration of thug sh*t:

Ay-yo, I smoke dust and shoot cops, sold guns to Tupac
Smoked blunts with Biggie Smalls, and sold drugs on new lots

The b-side flips the classic Mary Jane Girls sample as Ill Bill drops more incendiary lyrics, breaking down "How to Kill a Cop" into steps and stages. Really, he just wants to help:

Check out this new Ill Bill gimmick that's splendid
Since you're down with other shit let's see if you're down wit this
It's about strictly tryin to kill a cop
Once you get the hang of it, after you blast one you steal his glock
First of all, you need...

Includes vocal and instrumental for both cuts.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Cisco/The Frisco Mack "Audi 5000" (1992)

Comedy. I'll start by admitting I never heard of Cisco ("The Frisco Mack") in the early 90's, so I have no idea how (and if) this record was received. A year ago, came across it randomly in some crates. First of all, there's the title, that screams "early 90's"; then there's the artist's name, which is cartoonish (but you don't doubt was serious at the time). Bottom line, "Audi 5000" will make you smile:

Musically, it seems inspired by early Cypress Hill, which isn't a bad thing. I find myself constantly swinging back and forth between "this is corny shit" and "uh, that was actually kind of dope"; the ultimate effect is entertainment. Admittedly, there's nothing innovative about the production or rhyming, but it's the average-early-90's-ness of it all (down to the "yes, yes, y'all - and ya don't stop"-sample in the chorus) that gives it its appeal. Kick your knees up, thrust your arms out, and pretend you've never heard lyrics like "more flavor than 31" and "more skins than potato" before. Who knows? Maybe for a second, you can relive that shit. Just don't look in the mirror in the middle of it all...

Bonus points if you memorize the lyrics, then hype the shit out of it to your man who has never heard of it, and bounce around as you rhyme along to this "classic gem". The reward is the look on your friend's face.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Natural Resource "Negro League Baseball" (1996)

OK, we're going to go all-out, definitive indie classic on this one. This record and Company Flow's "Eight Steps to Perfection" twelve were the records that put me on the road that ended at "fuck the majors!"(in one of my rare interview opportunities - with E-Swift and Tash of the Alkaholiks - my enthusiasm for indies made E-Swift defensively assert that he would never give props to someone "just cause they were indie"...yeah, I was far gone).

Back to Natural Resource, and the crew that gave the world Jean Grae. This first twelve features three cuts, "Negro League Baseball", "They Lied", and "Bum Deal" (I won't count the interlude "Say What"). I've always thought the consensus has been "Negro League" is the classic here, so I'll state it like it's fact. Each member of the crew drops a verse (that's What? What?, Jean Grae...sandwiched in the middle), before the metaphor is spelled out. Eventually.

Baseball was never for blacks. (What?)
It used to be a pasttime for whites. (That's true.)
Now it has mad Puerto Ricans. (Uh oh)
But that's not the point of the song. (A-ight)
The point of this song, and I make it mad simple, when I be flippin' this script:
Is that the industry is all over the mound, pitchin', but nobody's makin' any hits.
Baseball is not just a sport
It's the verbal/mental/physical/spiritual/emotional level that we are on
It's about time that all you devils was gone...

There's a casual sense of humor in this song that was almost revolutionary to me. Pair that with the marketing that accompanied it (including the 12" label, as seen above), and it gave you the sense that this crew might be living next door...this really is our music, not some executive's. Yeah, KRS-1 had been making that argument for years, but this was something palpable. Feel free to call this out as an overrated piece of shit if you disagree...

Oh, "Bum Deal" and "They Lied" are cool, too. Also includes instrumentals for "Negro League" and "They Lied".

Monday, August 21, 2006

Get Off My Productions "Straight From The Go" (1995)

I did my undergrad at the University of Illinois, which basically was populated by kids from Chicago (and more often than not, the suburbs). During my second year, I started doing radio, and learning a lot more about the Chicago scene. At this point, Juice was already a legend in freestyle circles. For the most part, though, the only material of his that existed was dubs from freestyle (battles) on radio shows; this was the first twelve I ran across with Juice verses, and I snatched it up:

Get Off My Productions "Straight From The Go"

This is an uptempo, party jam, and distinctive mid-90's Chicago hip-hop. Juice sounds comfortable and confident flowing over the production (like the flute sample), and while it doesn't speak to his reputation as a battle MC, I think the cut straight works. Keep in mind what it is, though (a word of warning to the all-about-the-battle hard-rocks). A sample of the lyrics:

Now, in my life I've had some gunfights, but see, me - I'm the fun type
I wanna dance for one night, and party 'til the sunlight
with the cliches, catchy words and innuendos -
we kick the type of shit to blow the glass right out your windows
We all got problems, but I can't let 'em stress me
I like the way you move it when you moving so impress me
This is the one jam that people got to get with
People clear the dance floor, 'cause I'm about to rip shit

No instrumental or b-side here, just the MP3 for "Straight From The Go".

Sunday, August 20, 2006 updates...

What's up y'all...trying to update a few areas of the site, which will probably take a few days as my html knowledge derives from trial and error. Going to be changing the header (again), the organization of archives, etc...any suggestions would be appreciated.

Also, it's clear that there's a number of people out there that are on the same vibe; 90's hip-hop, with a heavy concentration of mid- to late-90's indie records. I definately want to keep that focus, as it's far from being exhausted, but I'd also like to try to expand it beyond my collection; if anyone else is feeling the format/focus and would like to contribute, get at me, and we could broaden this a bit.

Going to catch up with emails over the next few days and resume daily postings tomorrow..drop your thoughts if you have the time, and thanks to everyone that's been supporting the blog...

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Meaner "It's Been A Long Time" (1996)

It's been a long time, maybe too long
Since your audio produced a real rap song

I like just about everything about this Meaner twelve, marketing-wise. It's not hard to figure out that "Meaner" is a battle MC; it's on "Loose Cannon"; the title itself promises a "real rap song". Oh, and it was produced by some guy named "Peter Panic". So basically, this record is positioned as a sure-shot before you've even dropped the needle:

Does it hold up? "It's Been A Long Time" is pretty dope. The beat sounds worthy of "Peter Panic", with the Mission-Impossible sounding intro, and the simple keyboard stabs that punctuate it. As an MC, Meaner is definately capable, better-than-average:

I swear - I host this Rap City like Joe Clair
I split yo' crews up like siblings in foster care
Now, who the gunslinga? Bring drama to a rapper
Run through 'em like static through copper, see I be not the
n*gga to f*ck with...

Delivery, lyrics, voice, all ill...but not completely overwhelming. I've never figured out why this cut didn't blow up more than it did, as it's done well just about every time I've played it out in the last 10 years. Share your theories if you've got 'em...includes "Peter Panic Mix", original, and instrumental.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Natural Elements "Bust Mine" (1997)

It's been long overdue, many years we been reppin' on the underground?

With the possible exception of Company Flow, Natural Elements have to be considered the quintessential NYC underground crew. Between the group projects as NE, and L-Swift and Mr. Voodoo's solo work, everyone's got their own favorite NE cut. This twelve on Dolo records in '97 is one of my favorites:

As usual, Charlemagne handles the production. "Bust Mine" is cool, but I prefer "Paper Chase". There's a lot of cuts about currency; the majority are celebratory (and mindless bullshit), while some are frustrated and resentful. "Paper Chase" manages to take a relatively mature, realistic approach. The beat itself is dark and determined, much like the tone:

It goes: money and moves, moves and money
Gotta make money, cause being broke ain't funny
On a paperchase (why?) cause ain't nothin' for free
Everybody got a price, everybody got a fee

Includes the Vocal and Instrumental versions for both cuts.

REQUEST: Anyone have the Natural Elements EP released in '94 on Fortress?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Pacewon "I Declare War" (1998)

Another Ski banger. Now that I'm taking another look at a lot of these 90's records after some distance, I'm realizing how consistent Ski was through the entire decade. This Pacewon record is just another example:

I wasn't really feeling Pacewon at the time, and listening to "I Declare War" now, I'm not sure what I was thinking back in '98. Oh, yeah, I remember; this cut was actually too "commercial" for me at the time. Funny how listening to it now, it just sounds dope as fuck. Anyways, yeah, Ski laces Pacewon with a beat that is essentially just a testament to his good taste in samples...and his ability to know when to keep a beat minimalistic. Pacewon shit-talks his way through the cut, and it's probably his best material:

Terrorist n*ggas want the bomb, I'm here
Quick to cop, pop me in they CD-rom, and stare
Even if our cliques don't get along, who care?
You still be glarin' at the clothes me and my crew wear
You need to lighten up - digest a few beers
Before you end up meeting a man you do fear
This year, I declare war on the mayor...

Includes b-side "Step Up", and instrumentals for both.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Sub-Conscious "Pushin' Orbitz" (2000)

I'm automatically going to pick up an MC's record if he goes by Sub-Conscious, and uses song titles like "Zeitgeist" and "Visions in the Mind"; fortunately, this twelve didn't disappoint:

There's three cuts on this record, but "Pushin Orbitz" is the winner here (to me, at least...looks like "Visions in the Mind" is favored by at least a few heads). "Pushin' Orbitz" starts out with an exquisite loop that provides the backdrop for the verses; feels like a darkened interlude in a late-night jazz club...delicate, but sinister. The drums snap in, and Sub-Con drops my second-favorite Isaac Newton reference:

I set the wax in backspins
Battlin' itself practice
in revolutions of thought, like Sir Isaac Newton

Sub-Con doesn't necessarily follow traditional rhyme structure, but unlike a lot of MC's who stray from tradition, his delivery is so dope you usually don't notice. Can't praise the beat enough, but Sub-Con's lyrics are abstract enough that repeated listenings are rewarded:

It's ministry for your mental - split - picture-perfect
Served with dope beats and rhymes under the surface
With the true verdict, like Ivan van Sertima's work:
Africans reached the Americas first
Reversing the effects of merciless
purchase of persons merged into corporate businesses
what Sub-Con is working that through Fat Caps and Eraser mates
With lyrics is the only way I paper-chase
It's groundbreaking, son

Challenging shit, and in the hands of a lessor MC, you might be tempted to initially dismiss it as nonsense, but Sub-Con clearly has flow. The chorus on "Pushin Orbitz" is cold; everything gets dropped as an ill keyboard line hops around up an octave, and the upright bass moves along with it. Again, the only adjective I have for this instrumental is "exquisite". A couple of more lines of lyrics: take Satan on, where serenity's gone
Like the dawn, with your sanity
For the minds of humanity:
tryin' to climb through the canopies and tree-tops,
puttin' they domes through sheet-rock and dry-wall,
thoughts bulgin' out they eye-balls
For all y'all...that's going straight psychotic:
Peace - Feel the melodics

Includes "Pushin' Orbitz", "Zeitgeist", "Visions in the Mind", and the instrumentals for all three.

Monday, August 14, 2006

O.C. "Born 2 Live - Eclipse Remix" (1994)

O.C.'s "Time's Up" was one of those cuts that you had to be able to recite the lyrics to if you really loved hip-hop, but a lot of heads slept on "Word...Life" in '94. I include myself in that group; the album just got lost in the shuffle that was the implosion of Wild Pitch records. Although heads have recognized "Word...Life" to be a classic since then, O.C. records still tend not to get the attention they deserve:

This remix of "Born 2 Live" was promo only, and much darker than the original. Lyrics are pretty much intact, but the dark vibe transforms it into a completely different song. The sung chorus gets heavily truncated as well, as the melody of the song has changed. Another thing I've always loved about this remix was the repetition that occurs right before the second chorus; makes it sound like the record is skipping. Small touches like that (that don't appear in the original) make this remix essential. Includes instrumental.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Mathematik "Better by the Letter" (1998)

I picked up a random LP back in '96 called "Beat Factory Essentials Volume 1", chock full of Canadian indies. Lot of solid cuts on it, but one abso-fuckin-lutely standout track: Down to Erf's "Learn to Earn". A few years later, this Mathematik twelve arrived (again on Beat Factory), and I was geeked, as I hadn't heard anything by Mathematik since...

There are three cuts on this twelve ("Better by the Letter", "Formation", "Rhyme Training"), all of which would later appear in one form or another on "Ecology", Mathematik's first album released in 2000. So why should you bother with the 12"?

Rhyme Training. The original version, here on the twelve, does not appear on the album (a remix does); love the original version, the sample is simultaneously jazzy and sunny as hell. There's an optimism about it that's infectious, and works perfectly with Mathematik's voice and flow. Also includes the instrumentals for "Formation" and "Rhyme Training".

More Mathematik:
* Mathematik's 2000 album "Ecology" is here.
* Apparently, there were a number of remixes of "Following Goals" with Bahamadia. One version is here, along with some other Canadian indie goodies.
* Mathematik's site

..."f*ck your remix!" #3 poll...

>>back to the Main page

"f*ck your remix!" #3 post

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Last Emperor "Echo Leader" (1999)

One more dose of The Last Emperor, before moving on. This twelve (my version is a white label, although I think it was released commercially) appeared after I heard LE had signed with Dre's Aftermath label; we all know that went nowhere, like this record. Admittedly, this record isn't as strong as the "Bums" 12", but I've always thought "Echo Leader" itself was kinda hype:

First of all, its got the balls to rock a thick electric guitar, an instrument that's usually considered poison to a hip-hop track (sorry, I ain't with that metal-rap shit). Although now that I've said that, Masta Ace's "Music Man" and D-Nice's "My Name Is D-Nice" immediately come to mind. Anyways, as usual, The Last Emperor's got lyrics, and he runs through a grip of sci-fi references on his way to the chorus:

Echo leader 1 to Echo leader 2:
We have an intruder, and he's right in front of you
Echo leader 2 to Echo leader 1:
I've got him in my sights, the meltdown has begun
Freedom fighters in the streets - rock, rock on
If you rockin' to this beat - rock, rock on
Bring the fire and the heat - rock, rock on
In the face of defeat - rock what? rock on

LE is essentially a pop culture nerd with a dope flow who doesn't give a fuck, and when he's supported by production, shit is gold. "Charlie", a b-side, has a solid, filtered beat, and is a cool (if tragic is cool) story-rhyme, although the chorus kind of kills it for me. "Rap Tyranny" goes back to the era of Brother J, which is never the worst idea. Also includes the instrumentals for "Echo Leader" and "Charlie".

More Last Emperor:
* Thanks to 6mw for uploading a Last Emperor comp
* The Last Emperor on MySpace

Friday, August 11, 2006

Feel-X & Channel Live feat. KRS-1 "X Marks Da Spot" (1997)

When a rapper/group blows up, or gains enough status, they inevitably try to share that shine with their peoples. As much as I love DJ Premier, his choice in MC's is dubious at best...Big Shug being Exhibit A. I'd rather talk about the rappers/groups with thorough taste, though. KRS-1 brought in some pretty solid crews (although wasn't really feeling Broadway); Channel Live is probably top of that list. This twelve by Feel-X (I don't know, either) capitalized on the charisma of KRS and the hunger of Channel Live in their prime:

The beat is cool, a nice guitar sample; solid, but not overwhelming. Feel-X is definately the handicap on this track, but Channel Live straight rips the track up. A lot of "name"-MC's that did guest spot on indie joints during the period put up mediocre material, but Channel Live proved to be consistent on just about everything they touched.

'cause I shine through the universe square
be gettin' higher than hats before my mind snaps like snares
and kicks because my shit be knockin'
rockin' like white people moshin'
my brain's cocked with clip of the truth, that's the bullet
power is the gun pointed at your dome piece - pull it

Before we pull the trigger, yo, we try to kick the knowledge
style is universal - not imminent from college
so "seek and ye shall find", in the mind is golden riches
that's why we dig in books like drug dealers dig ditches

Love that "gettin' higher than hats before my mind snaps like snares" line, Channel Live was on some shit. Don't expect much from KRS-1 on this joint, he drops a sing-songy line on the chorus, and basically acts as the overlord to the production (which works well). The spoken-word chorus/chant is surprisingly effective as well. Includes insrumental.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Last Emperor "Bums" (1997)

The glory days of the Golden Age of hip-hop are well-documented, and for good reason. When people argue about the "best year", it usually starts as early as '87 and ends as late as '94 (btw, '92 is the correct answer if you were wondering). But the flood of indies that began in '95-96 and peaked in '97-98 is its own story, and I think most people still haven't given that era (and movement) the props it deserved. Case in point is this early twelve from The Last Emperor:

The Last Emperor always comes with the lyrics and concepts, but probably never stronger than on the record. "Secret Wars Pt. 1" is the Rappers vs. Superheroes epic (that later appeared on The Last Emperor's mediocre album in '03), but "Bums" is f*ckin' ill...almost makes you want to burn all your possessions so you can join in with the anthem. Oh, and as a bonus, the best Isaac Newton reference ever made:

While other MC's rhyme about guns and shootin'
I drop science on your dome just like Sir Isaac Newton

Who else but The Last Emperor will rhyme "light your spliff" with "choosey mothers choose Jiff"? Enjoy these classics...includes the instrumentals for "Secret Wars" and "Bums", as well as "Monumental" (dope as well).

Finally, there's no date on the 12", and I couldn't track down a reference on-line...if someone can correct the "1998" designation, please do.
[UPDATES, 8/11, 8 AM:
* 1997 it is, thanks PY.
* Props to nawledge for upping another version of "Secret Wars", check his description and link in the comments]

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Natural Mystics "How It Go" (1996)

Another record lost in the wave of '96 indies. File it between Natural Elements and Natural Resources. Don't know how appropriate the "Mystics" part is, this is more NYC-indie than dreadlock-rasta:

"How It Go" rides on the vibes sample and the chorus ("you know how the shit go"). Solid rhyming throughout, but no obvious wordsmiths here. I include the "Censored" version of the mix as well, thanks to the use of creative overdubs that sound like porno rips. Also includes instrumental.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Krondon "The Rules" (1998)

West-coaster Krondon has appeared on a number of records since the mid-90's, most notably Self Scientific's "Three Kings" (also with Planet Asia), and the LJ's (Likwid Junkies). From what I know, he's mostly been associated with the production of DJ Khalil (Self Scientific) and DJ Muggs. This twelve from '98 was my introduction to him, and typifies his raw West-coast delivery:

Krondon "The Rules" 12"

Unlike a lot of West-coast underground, he definately sounds West-coast, which could be a positive or negative to some. The sampled hook should satisfy any East-coast-first heads (like myself), Biggie self-assuredly saying "y'all know the rules". Like the beat here, too, vintage underground shit from '98. Includes instrumental, as well as "Thin Minutes" vocal and instrumental.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Choclair "What It Takes (Remix)" (1997)

Everyone has their favorite Choclair joint; the most common argument is probably for "21 Years" (the flipside of my favorite Saukrates joint "Father Time"). "21 Years" is dope; the beat is vintage, and Choclair kills it. I'm going to flip it and go with the "What it Takes" remix, though.

I could talk about the beat on this joint, which is an ill vibes sample (and most of us can't get enough of those). But this is actually just a chance to highlight something a lot of MC's don't pay enough attention to, and something that's crucial to getting a DJ open: the first line.

In this case, it's "Now first of all, let's talk about precision." Nothing extremely clever, no wordplay...but there's an unusual formality, and it's so matter-of-fact that it can't help but command attention. Hell, I've listened to enough sloppy verses that I'm all about the precision discussion Choclair seems intent on having. Oh, did I mention the beat was dope too? Includes the instrumental, as well as the original "What It Takes", and the "Just a Second" remix and instrumental.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

LP "The Truth" (1999)

This was some random shit in '99...I ended up giving it a lot of play, but I know a number of heads found it too gimmicky. It basically sounds like a diss record made by a rap fan; the MC here isn't trying to jump-start a career by calling everyone out, there's none of the "fuck-you" battle shit involved here. He even manages to give some cats props. That's why I think this cut ultimately stands out from gimmicky diss records to represent something more unique:

It is a diss record, though, no doubt about that. Lots of quotable lines, and shit that's up for debate as well. From the get-go:

Most of you rap cats - don't appeal to me
A lot of y'all say you keep it real - but ya ain't real to me
Mac-10, Ice Cube, WC - ya n*ggas make me laugh, you below on WB
Coolio? You're so wack, you disgust me
Most rappers on the West coast don't even like you - trust me
And E-40? I gotta talk about you
You're style's so annoying, I wanna smack the shit out you

East Coast MC's get it too:

And I don't really mean to diss you (Noreaga) - 'cause you really seem cool
But most of your rhymes sound like you never finished school
DMX? No doubt, you got rap sewn
But the way you stress you're the best, your head's a little too blown
Cam'ron - your first joint was off the hook
And I liked a lot of the songs off your album - but look:
"Horse and Carriage" fucked me up, that shit was wack
And the remix had nothin' to do with that track

I remember that some heads were saying this cut fell flat due to the production (ahem, O-Dub), but I've always liked both the original and the remix. The original beat consists of a simple three-key piano sample that never really switches up, but it's solid; the remix rocks (different) piano samples as well, but is darker, and that drum loop is just ill.

Bottom line is the concept is dope...basically, a fan of the music calling out wack muthafuckas as he sees 'em. And he can rhyme, no doubt. Anyone else think this MC is really A.G. in disguise? Includes Original, Remix, Original instrumental and the acapella.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

"f*ck your (re)mix!" #2 [Jemini's "Brooklyn Kids"]

With "f*ck your (re)mix!" #1, Common's "Ressurection" remixes, I was again surprised by how many people went with the "Large Professor" remix; I've always felt like the "Extra P" remix was the certified version. I feel on this particular subject, a poll of readers of hip-hop blogs is appropriate, because most people visiting have developed taste in hip-hop...i.e., it's not a "casual" relationship with the music. I expect a consensus to emerge on every remix (naturally agreeing with me), but clearly it didn't happen with the "Ressurection" remixes; heads are divided. Anyways, on with the second edition:

Jemini the Gifted One "Brooklyn Kids/remix"

Jemini's been getting a lot of love on blogs the last few years, and it's good to see..."Funk Soul Sensation" got a lot of love when it dropped, and Jemini was clearly a dope, original MC. Everyone loved the A-side ("Funk Soul Sensation"), but the B-side ended up being cause for debate.

Jemini's "Brooklyn Kids" actually only had one remix, and the comparison here is between the Straight Mix (original) and the Remix. It's obvious to me what the correct answer is here, but let's go to the numbers once again. The link above contains both mixes, in case it's been awhile (or never) for you.

[UPDATE, 7/6]
OK, I'm going to do some truly hip-hop nerd shit and breakdown exactly why I think that the Straight Mix(Original) is much doper than the remix, in an obvious attempt to sway votes. If anything, this is proof I've thought waaay too much about this shit, but fuck it.
You could look at any aspect of the beats: the intro, the basslines, samples, or how the beat was contructed around the lyrics...the Original mix is superior. Bottom line, the Original mix is truer to the spirit of the song: A journey through Brooklyn's mentality, in the context of time ("Old School y'all...New School y'all").

Take the intro.
* In the Original, you have the opening (keyboard line/sample?) slowly swirling down, before hitting its bottom note and dissipating...taking you down into the mindstate Jemini focuses on. Then the beat drops, and you're there, with Jemini as your tour guide.
* In the Remix, you have a sample (a constant tone) fading in, then the bassline drops in. The effect is just straight sinister. But sinister is just one aspect of the mindstate. Other adjectives you could use might be ruthless, competitive, loyal, creative. I think it sells out the cut to start with a tone that simple.

Or the basslines & samples.
* The Original rocks a simple bassline in support of the melody line of the samples. Samples are basic, but work perfect with the drums. The drums casually (but purposefully) march ahead; the sample feels sluggishly attached to them. The effect is like walking through mud with a swagger.
* The Remix completely relies on the bassline and chimes; neither feels intertwined with the movement of the drums. The bassline creates its own counter-rhythm, which distracts from the cyclical march of the drums. Those chimes feel like an obvious attempt to stay sinister. "Ohhh, that minor bassline is ILL!" why? because it's minor? doesn't it just make you think of a guy sitting around with a keyboard?

And the way the beat is constructed around the lyrics.
* The Original pulls the track out in layers to emphasize lyrics; maybe the samples will go, maybe the drums will go, but the results is that it keeps you focused the lyrics. It also gives you the sense of broader movement, through the layers of the track.
* The Remix drops the drums out briefly at times, but not to the same effect. It sounds more like one chunk of sound, and less layered than the original as well. Too simple.

Hip-hop is the shit because it creates situations like this; I'm into a lot of other genres, but you can't discuss the music and ideas quite like you can with hip-hop (uh...if you're into that shit, nerd). PLEASE drop your own reactions to the music in the comments, if they inspire you...oh, yeah, and vote below so we can simplify all this shit to one word.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Blade "Rhyme Bomb" (1997)

It's notoriously difficult for non-American rappers to get any traction in the U.S.; the only exceptions I can think of are Canadians that basically relocated to the States, and everyone just assumes are Americans. Blade (UK) has had a number of records released here, with homegrown production (i.e. DJ Premier), but still never broke out of the underground.

Blade "Rhyme Bomb" 12"

The "Rhyme Bomb" 12" released on Bomb records ("Return of the DJ" series) was my intro to Blade, and has my favorite Blade joint on it, "The Way It Has To Be". This beat is classic hip-hop shit; ill bassline, break, dope vocal sample. I had some people at the time that were ALL about lyrics; it was Chino, Ras Kass, Redman, etc, all day every day. Blade ended up winning them over, ironically enough, primarily through this beat. Unfortunately, no instrumental on this record; but it also includes "Rhyme Bomb" (with instrumental) and "Born to Rule" (with instrumental).

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Rawcotiks "Nevertheless" (1997)

Rawcotiks records have aged well. Well, at least this one has. I was never really big on their music in the late 90's; it seemed like solid mix filler at the time. While estranged from my vinyl collection, I started fiending for an MP3 of "Nevertheless"; somehow I got reminded of the bassline it uses, and couldn't get it out of my head. Unfortunately, I could never track it down, to remedy that problem:

"Nevertheless" runs on an ill 4-bar bassline, shit is sinister; definately a gem in my '97 hip-hop crates, proving NYC still had an overabundance of talent in the late 90's. The flipside "Real Heads" is dope as well. Includes vocal and instrumental for both cuts; I had to cut part of the last verse of "Real Heads" due to scratches on the record, but it plays seamlessly.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

LMNO "Hit the Fence" (1996)

I'll be the first to admit that this one is not for everyone...LMNO took getting used to for a lot of heads; he rolled with the right crew (the Visionaries) out West, but his flow always seemed a little awkward. When he dropped "Grin and Bear It" (DOPE beat), I finally "got" his shit, which took me back to his first single in '96:

"Hit the Fence" is unlike any other cut I've heard; Key Kool put together a crazy low-BPM banger. An ill piano loop sets it off as LMNO drops the theme:

The government knows it can't control everyone's mind
In order to hold a hierarchy, you'll find
a street sign, always there to remind
there's a fine for "lawbreaker"
control is: money collector
Affect her and his nourishment
which furthers them from being content
Economic food chain: what's your role in the cycle?
I'll sustain and perfect my
form of survival

Public education is the target of criticism for much of the cut; not your typical theme. The knock on LMNO has always been his delivery, though, not necessarily his lyrics. Some people can get with it; others can't. I tend to be on the fence, but Key Kool's beat here pushes me over. The B-side "Courage" I personally find unlistenable, but I include it for the completists. Includes "Hit the Fence" vocal and instrumental, as well as b-side "Courage" - vocal and instrumental.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

capital D "Que Sera Sera" (1999)

I've always liked capital D's smooth, mellow shit; his delivery and voice shine on All Natural cuts like "It's OK" and "Thinkin' Cap". Even on a live joint like "Elements of Style", he brings the smooth flow. This first single off his solo album is case-in-point:

capital D "Que Sera Sera" (with instrumental)

The production here is some lay-in-the-cut, smooth-ass shit. The main sample sounds like a jazzy, pitched-down Spanish guitar, and the low-key drum loop rocks back and forth. A solid backdrop for capital D to drop a "day-in-the-life" rhyme about a girl he meets. This cut appeared on his album, but the twelve is worth it for the instrumental.