Thursday, September 28, 2006

Jam D.O.T. "Soul Search'n" (1996)

Another random '96 indie record...I've always associated this with NYC, but I really can't say anything about Jam D.O.T. with certainty. Production on this record is solid, and Jam gets points for originality and concepts if not delivery:



The a-side, "Soul Search'n (Remix)" (never heard the original) is my joint on this record. A dark, grimy beat, with an ill spoken chorus ("I realize that it's all in the mind"). The b-side includes "Time" (the original, instrumental, and remix).

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Trip-hop Joints: Portishead "Glory Box"

I have to preface this post by admitting I never intended to up hip-hop exclusively, although the soul of it is obviously tight indie shit. I've upped a few downtempo records, and plan on dropping some more, but along with that, find genres like trip-hop, acid jazz, and R&B relevant, if the vibe is right. That being said, this Portishead record is definately worth tracking down:



Everyone should be familiar with "Glory Box", the bonuses here are the additional cuts "Scorn" and "Sheared Box". "Scorn" is effectively a dark, grimy remix of "Glory Box" (which is remarkably sunny for a Portishead song)...highly recommended. "Sheared Box" can fall under the category of Bonus Beats.

Includes the cuts pictured above; the b-side contained tracks that were identical to versions on the album ("Dummy"). If anyone else has Portishead remixes kicking around, I'd definately appreciate the ups...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

KRS-ONE "Strictly for da Breakdancers" (1995)

One more KRS post before moving on...'95 was a highlight year for KRS. In addition to the self-titled LP (and singles), there was the collaboration with Channel Live, and the releases on Front Page Records, KRS' fledgling label. "Strictly for da Breakdancers", KRS' self-produced instrumental album, was a coveted record at the time (although now I've looked at discogs.com, and supposedly it was released on CD a year later, so maybe it had a wider release than I thought):


***Just tried to open the ZIP on a PC, realized one of the MP3 files didn't follow Windows naming conventions; I'll re-up this file later today for those who have difficulty extracting it

The beats on here don't have the same polish as some of KRS' other work, but that's part of the appeal - the rawness of it. It's loop-based, and doesn't switch up a lot, but there is movement to the beats, making them listenable for more than a couple of minutes (that was my problem with a lot of the instrumental LPs released in the mid-late 90's). Oddly enough, just heard the first cut on the record, "Steady Bounce" (uses a Nine vocal sample) in a commercial the other day. Includes all cuts on the original vinyl.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Dark Skinned Assassin “Lock Shit Down” (1995)

Like many others, D.S.A. was part of the whole “Wu-Related” phenomenon that gave birth to a fair amount of records around the mid-nineties. Unlike other major singles produced by RNS, this 12” didn’t get as much attention as it deserved.

Lock Shit Down*”, featured on the A-side, has an Isaac Hayes sample that flows smoothly over the drums. The chorus consists of blazing horns and a Raekwon vocal sample from “7th Chamber” (if I’m not wrong). The lyrics are told in a way that makes you wanna hear them from beginning to end. “The Horror,” which is also on the A-Side, has a darker beat that goes along D.S.A.’s storytelling.

Gotta get the Crème*” (B-side) manages to develop a fine balance between D.S.A.’s raw voice and the rhythm that the horns and vocals create. The beat is by far the best of this 12”, but if someone disagrees with that, the comments section is always open to discussion.

After this record, you may want to check out his E.P. titled “
Down Low Wreckege” released in 96’ that has the 3 cuts above plus "Smoke in ya Face” , “Untitled Raw Shit” and “Life of Shorty all featuring Method Man & Raekwon. He also released another 12" called “Unholy” (2000) and did some collabos with GP-Wu (“GP Connection” & “Blow up”).

*Instrumentals Included

Sunday, September 24, 2006

KRS-ONE "Ah Yeah" (1995)

Been on a KRS kick recently, and wanted to share this bootleg twelve that dropped in '95. "Ah Yeah" was the kind of defiant pump-your-fist anthem that seemed so natural at the time, and never loses its relevance. This track was truly back-to-basics; you can't deny the effectiveness of the simple bassline and drum loop (classic, even)...Kris' lyrics are unabashedly revolutionary, and there's no compromise in the delivery. So why care about this track, any more than you (presumably) already have? Well, as it was never "officially" released as a single, you may need to grab the instrumental (and acapella)...but the gems were the extra tracks this bootleg contained.



The "extras" are pictured above; I'll start with "The Question" remix. As far as I know, this track never saw a commercial release either, and it's another essential KRS track. The beat is surprisingly jazzy, and Kris drops some gems:

Question: What's the solution?
Answer: Organized revolution
Question: Revolution implies killing?
Answer: Whether you fight or die, the blood is still spilling
and we're chilling, thinking of our history as Elmer Fudd
everything Black people got in this country, they got through shedding their blood


"Stop the Break" was ripped from a Ron G (or Doowoop) mixtape, and does contain a KRS verse, but Biggie's verse is vicious ("Hail Mary, fuck her/I never knew her/I'd probably screw her/and dump her body in the sewer"). There's also another version of "Ah Yeah", which contains an extra (dope) verse, not heard on the album version:

Ugliness continues, summer after summer
'cause the older generation teaches it to the younger
The point is to outlive the older generation
let old ideas die with old education
Do not accept the ugliness your elders give
This is why its so very important that you live


I've also thrown in the "Ah Yeah (Mellow Vibe remix)", which appeared on the UK pressing of "Rapperz R N Dainja", as well as the original, instrumental, and acapella.

Friday, September 22, 2006

B.D.P. "We In There" (1992)

I'll argue that this is one of KRS' more underrated singles. It's got the two key elements you want from a single; a dope remix and a vital unreleased cut. In this case, the remix happens to be from Ali Shaheed Mohammed, and one of the hardest beats he'd ever make. The unreleased cut is "Feel the Vibe, Feel the Beat", an underground, anti-commercial manifesto before anti-commercial manifestos became the standard. Oh, yeah, and it was pressed on translucent orange vinyl.



The original "We In There" is a tight cut, but Ali Shaheed's remix takes it to another level. Whereas in the original, the energy builds before exploding in the "Yeah, we in there!" chorus, the remix wastes no time by starting in with the screaming mob from the beginning. With sirens going off. If it sounds obnoxious, it's not; it quickly drops into the verse, where Ali Shaheed pairs a busy break with an ill bassline. Shit is so hectic it seems like it drives KRS into a frenzy. Love how he manages to pause towards the end of the cut, and declare...

This is the part where the ladies get ill (yeah, yeah)
This is the part where the fellas get ill (yeah, yeah)
This is the part where East Coast gets ill (yeah, yeah)
This is the part where the West Coast gets ill (yeah, yeah)


...before running through the chorus one more time. At his best, KRS is impassioned, but this shit is simply bananas.

Not to be outdone, "Feel the Vibe, Feel the Beat" finds KRS just as intense, albeit over a sparse, hard-ass beat. If "We In There" was made for a hectic show, "Feel the Vibe" was made to be an underground anthem, and showcases what Kris is all about. If you're a KRS fan, and don't have this in your collection, you've been sleeping...if you're not a KRS fan, the fuck is wrong with you? Also includes the remix instrumental and LP version of "We In There".

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Swann's Canadian Hip-hop Post

[NOTE: Swann is currently living/working/DJ'ing in Seoul, Korea, and is a certified Canadian citizen. Which basically means he's an American, without any of the benefits (like being oblivious to - or deeply paranoid about - the rest of the world). Cymbal clash.]

The strongest man in Canada has verified this collection as Grade-A material.

Swann's Canadian Hip-hop
Includes the following (descriptions follow):

Choclair "All I Need in the World is You", "Flagrant"; Swollen Members "Full Contact"; Moka Only & Abstract Rude "Keep it Rollin"; Brass Munk "BIG"; Infinite "Take a Look Through My Eyes"; Maestro "Supreme Authenticity"; Saukrates "Hate Runs Deep"; Ghetto Concept "E-Z on tha Motion"; Solitair "Easy to Slip"; Dream Warriors "California Dreamin'"; Rascalz "Dreaded Fist"

First I'd like to start with the Rascalz as they were really the first group to get their beats over the airwaves. I remember hearing "Dreaded Fist" on CJSW late late one night followed up with a Swollen Members track. I was ferociously nodding my head and the following Summer it seemed like everybody had this track in their playlist. Shit got bumped heavy by Canadians.

The second track I'd like to mention is the Solitair joint "Easy to Slip". I recall first hearing this track at a listening station in HMV and I was feeling it. The rest of the CD was hot garbage though and I didn't cop it. The track fell deeply out of my memory and I heard it again the next year on a bunch of Much Vibe commercials and knocked my head over that beat for weeks! I finally tracked down the name listening to a radio station in Vancouver. It's such a slick beat. Solitair spits a tale from his youth that is obviously very personal to him. His storytelling skills are evident and the track somehow reminds me of Second Childhood by Nas.

Next joint I'd like to speak on is Infinite "Take a Look". First saw this on Rap City and it stuck with me because the video was all CG. At the time it was really fresh even if the animation wasn't top notch. I've been checkin for this video on youtube for a minute now and it hasn't popped up. Really suprising since you can find pretty much ANYTHING else on there. If anyones got it...hoook a brotha up. Infinite rides the beat real nice and speaks on reality in the darker streets of T-dot. If I had to compare it to something I'd say it flows like "When the fat lady sing" by the jigga jigga Genius.

Up next we have Brassmunk and their classic track "BIG." Its a real bouncy track laced with horn stabs. I was late on this track and came across it on a message board I frequent. Check this video too, it's worth a laugh.

I don't know how many of ya'll remember the Dream Warriors but they carved a significant niche in Canada's early hip-hop history that often gets overlooked. Cats like Maestro, Frankenstein, and Main Source are often first mentioned when influential Canadian Hip-Hop conversations are started, but the Warriors are most times hung out to dry. "My Definition" needs no mention as it speaks for itself, but they released quite a few dope 12's as well. "California Dreamin'" is probably my favorite cut done by them. It's so smooth you feel like you're being rubbed down with cocoa butter by a fat Samoan on a hammock.

Ghetto Concept used to get mad play on Rap City. They brought the rough style early in their careers and later flopped trying to cross over into the mainstream. I used to love watching this video ("E-Z on tha Motion") because it was so low budget (like an early Wu-Tang video). The beat is really jazzy and the MC's flip it really sick. This is definately one of the few Ghetto Concept tracks worth checkin' for.

Saukrates is probably the one MC out of Canada that has been the most well recieved south of the border. He has the deliver/voice/lyrics and talent to carry a whole albumn like not many can. I first noticed him on Rap City in the video "Hate Runs Deep". He serves up beefy lyrics and you just know he's not playing when he speaks.

Bleedin' buckets of red from your head over duckets, fuck it
I'm living for next year, my dear
I say cheers and guzzle eleven beers to celebrate

This is easily my most favorite Saukrates track. He is so raw during this era and specifically on this track. It is kind of similar to Xzibit when he dropped "At the speed of life". After that album there was something lacking in his voice/flow, the same is true with Saukrates.

I first heard of Choclair at a Calgary DMC competition in 99. I was given a beat tape with the original and a remix of "Flagrant" on it. I was really feeling both versions and had high hopes for the dude. That year he dropped the albumn "Ice Cold", which is always slept on. He had a bit of commercial success and dropped the album "Flagrant" in '03. The track "All I need..." is a dope cut off that one which features some solid storytelling by Choc and a banger produced by Solitair.

I think there are a couple more tracks in the zip but I forget what they are and I'm not at home to check it so fuck it...enjoy the beats

-Swann

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Royal Flush "Movin' On Ya Weak Production" (1996)

The first of three strong Royal Flush twelves on Blunt Recordings ("Rotten Apple" and "Worldwide" followed), I initially was underwhelmed by "Movin' On Ya Weak Production". Point blank, I was bored by the Beatminerz beat. With the benefit of hindsight, this cut holds up lyrically, and benefits from well-placed vocal samples:



Ten years on, I still don't think that this is one of the stronger samples the Beatminerz have rocked, but the vocal samples (KRS-1's "woop! woop!" and Nas "movin' on ya weak production") work well together, creating an unlikely anthem, considering how chill the production is. Royal Flush comes through with solid, assured lyrics as well. Includes the instrumental and acapella.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Downtempo Joints - RJD2 "Here's What's Left"

While some heads might nominate "June" or "Rain", I'm going to go with this twelve as the best thing that RJD2 has done to date. I don't think RJ should take any offence at the "new Shadow" label; hell, mid-90's Shadow was genre-defining, dope-as-hell instrumentals...thank God that someone picked up where he left off, 'cause he hasn't been there in years.



Even if you haven't heard this twelve, most of y'all will recognize "2 More Dead", which was one of "Deadringer"'s stronger cuts. The remix treatment it gets here turns it into a certified banger; play this at a club or party where people are feeling hip-hop, and everyone's happy.

"Here's What's Left" is another thoughtful/jazzy/chill/slightly melancholy RJ production; the vocal features (sampled) soulful crooning, while the instrumental version (predictably) drops the vocals. Definately a worthy addition to your A-list downtempo/trip-hop collection.

You even get a couple of beat fragments, one of which will be familiar to RJ fans, while the other is novel. Another extremely well-rounded record, between the certified, exclusive banger; chill, jazzy slice of soul; and fragments of two novel (OK, one novel) beat.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

KRS-ONE feat. Apocalypse "Gunplay" (1998)

I ran across this 12" on the same day as "Knowledge Reigns Supreme" b/w "French Connection". This was the era when you would automatically snatch up anything with KRS's name on it, his records were so consistent and vital.



The record bills this as a KRS-ONE song; I'd describe it as an Apocalpse joint featuring KRS, but you'd obviously get less sales that way, as I never heard Apocalypse before (or after) this joint. It's gritty, in the "ripped from a cassette mixtape" way. If you can get beyond the dirty mix, the mindless chanted chorus, and the average-at-best MC's rhyming with KRS, then you might really dig this, as KRS comes through with solid lyrics:

That's why they say KRS contradictin'
Cause they don't think philosophers hand out ass whippin'
No need for trippin, still lyric-lickin' and admittin
I'm not down with the Bulls like Scottie Pippen


That Bulls line came out of nowhere, but I'm not picky about my Chicago sports references. In the end, though, I can't see it being much more than a novelty cut, particularly relevant to people really feeling Kris' shit from the mid-90's...it's one of those cuts that got completely buried, though, so this one's for the curious. No instrumental or B-side; the identical cut appeared on both sides of the twelve.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Akhenaton “La Face B” (1996)

It's been 2 years since I started living in Montreal, and it’s impossible to just focus on American records when you have a vast selection of dope French material waiting to be heard. My cousin introduced me to this 12” and since that day, it has remain one my favorite French singles. Since Akhenaton and his IAM click are already well known rappers, I’ll skip their bio and go straight to the 12”.

Akhenaton “La Face B”

The A-Side features the first remix of the post; produced by the Soul Brotha #1. The beat uses a section of the zillion-times-sampled-break “Nautilus” which comes and goes along fat drums & kicks. This side also include another remix done by French producer Cut Killer. This version is simpler than the Pete Rock mix; it works with small piano samples and better scratches in the chorus.

The flip side has the last remix of the 12’’, production is provided by Akhenaton himself. Basically, the beat is a variation of the
LP Version. This mix maintains the jazzy saxophone but replaces the heavy drums with lighter ones which makes this remix my favorite. You also will find a non-album joint called “Complexe” that contains a Rakim vocal sample saying “complicatem’” over parts of the track.

« Je suis passé sur la face A, j’ai eu la renommée Mais putain ce que j’aime déchirer sur la face B »

Friday, September 15, 2006

The J-Live Post

I've been meaning to do this post for a while, and the jukebox over at The T Organization triggered my memory. For me, J-Live is deeply imbedded in that grip of records that induced a lifestyle change in the way i approach/listen to hip-hop, evolving from going down to the record/CD store to pre-order the latest album release, to digging for some obscure crew I'd previously never heard of. For me, it was Co-Flow's "Funcrusher" EP, the Saukrates 12", Natural Resources, and J-Live.

J-Live "Longevity" 12" (1995)



Includes:
A1 Longevity (Radio) <- omitted from upload

A2 Longevity (Street)
B1 Braggin' Writes
B2 Longevity (Instrumental)

J-Live's "Longevity" was probably the first no-question/essential indie twelve. The title cut was solid, and a great introduction to J-Live's flow. The instrumental was instant credibility (which a Sister Nancy sample will tend to provide), and fit in with a lot of music (mixing-wise) from the era. What DIDN'T fit in with anything, however, was "Braggin' Writes". "Braggin' Writes" was defiantly original, and what served to establish J-Live as a legend and dark-horse nominee to several people's "Top 5 MC" lists.

Taken as an accapella, "Braggin' Writes" stood above 95% of the material out there; J-Live's flow was so fluid, yet so grounded in the aesthetics that defined the New School MC...he represented the future, but one that was firmly connected to the past. When you add the fact that he self-produced "Braggin' Writes" by repetitively scratching in a sample, there was no argument; this was one of the definitive records of the year.

Shortly after this record broke out, I started doing radio, and a friend and I (who was even more geeked on J-Live than I was) had a chance to interview him over the phone. He had just finished classes for the day, and was tired as hell...but seemed resigned to the fact that an interview was a good idea. He downplayed the importance of "Braggin' Writes", admitting that it was simply a group of battle rhymes that he had strung together; he talked briefly about finishing up his English degree, which seemed like an annoyance to him more than anything. My friend and I were looking for some insight into what we thought was genius, but he was unapologetically down-to-earth (and quite frankly, tired as hell). We let him go after about 25 minutes, and realized we didn't get any of it on tape, before exclaiming: "Holy shit, we just wasted 30 minutes of J-Live's life!"

J-Live "Can I Get It" 12" (1996)

Includes:
A1 Can I Get It? (Radio Mix)
A2 Can I Get It? (Instrumental)
A3 Can I Get It? (Accapella)
B1 Hush the Crowd
B2 Hush the Crowd (Instrumental)
B3 Braggin' Writes (Dome Cracker Remix)



Less than a year later, and highly anticipated, the follow-up single dropped. After the almost-revolutionary tone of "Braggin' Writes", the immediate reaction to this single was slight disappointment, but it's so solid, it didn't take long to warm up to it. Both of the new cuts on here address the nature of performing; "Can I Get It?" functions as a story rhyme (think of it as the lyrical version of Xzibit's "What U See Is What U Get" video), whereas "Hush the Crowd" is actually advice to the performer, based on fan-in-the-audience-perspective.

Both cuts were well-produced, and topically innovative at the time. Sure, everyone had a party cut, but "Can I Get It?" illustrated how a seemingly normal guy could get out of bed, brush his teeth, and end up rocking a show. "Hush the Crowd" was something anyone who's been to a show can relate to, but also has the insight and sympathy of a b-list performer. He makes it clear that, yeah, a lot of heads are resistent to music they don't know - especially at a show ("when you wonderin' why it's so quiet you hearin' crickets/I'm saving my energy for the names on the ticket"). But it's the reality you have to understand as an up-and-coming performer and overcome. Again, extremely well-grounded.

Also includes the Dome Cracker (i.e. DJ Spinna) remix of "Braggin' Writes", which is something I wasn't feeling at the time, but now is unquestionably dope.



J-Live "Shiesty" 12" (1997)




A1 Shiesty
B1 Shiesty (instrumental)



After the relative success of "Can I Get It?", we were all waiting for a J-Live album. For some heads, he was firmly entrenched in "Top 5 MC"-territory, after only two 12". Word got out that he had signed to Payday (who had put out Jeru tha Damaja and O.C.), so anticipation rose to a fever pitch. In the midst of the waiting, this promo arrived in the mail. I didn't immediately translate "The Live One" to J-Live, but once the needle dropped, it was obvious that I'd been in the right place at the right time (or on the right mailing list at the right time). A phone call a few days later revealed that this was just an unofficial J-Live goodie to let people know there was more shit to come (people still thought the Payday LP was only months away).

Needless to say, the Payday album never dropped, and the rarity of this record added to J-Lives mythology. If this were a cut on an album, not sure if it would be my favorite; the concept here just isn't as innovative as what he'd done previously. Although, to his credit, it's much more vicious than his previous work, and you can quite clearly hear that in his voice.

POSTSCRIPT:
By the time "Live '99" dropped in 1999, J-Live had almost faded from memory...he'd shown up as a guest MC on a few projects (most interestingly, some drum and bass - Roni Size, Peshay), but other MC's had risen to capture the imagination (via the flood of indies in '96 and '97). I've always maintained an interest in his shit, and his albums remain highly recommended, but damn if the Payday business didn't completely disrupt his work. Regardless, here are his first three (and some may argue, best) releases in one place...enjoy!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

King Tee "I Got It Bad Y'all" (1992)

Ah, back to a golden-era classic. This record was my introduction to the Alkaholiks; although it says it's a King Tee single, this shit is all about tha Liks. The don't-give-a-fuck creativity that made "21 & Over" shines on "I Got It Bad Y'all":



The credits for the production read "The Alkaholiks and DJ Pooh", but these beats have early E-Swift's fingerprints all over 'em. Beats this funky and playful were made for J-Ro and Tash to rip, and the twelve provides three variations on the theme: the album version, the (Calypso) Remix, and the Video Mix. The Video Mix ends up being the most distinct, in that it actually slides another cut into the mix ("On the Rox"). I've always had trouble picking a favorite mix here, but usually go with the remix, as the delivery comes off live-r ("you gotta rip it, man, you gotta rip it!").

You gotta love the Alkaholiks, though...in the same breath, they can clown and reminisce:

(What's your favorite brew?) O...E
(And what's it make you do?) Go...pee
It used to be about rhymes, all about rhymes
Now rappers rearranging, and changing like times


Includes the Remix, Video Mix, Album version, and instrumental (album). Also includes a Funky Piano mix, which is essentially the instrumental with a (yep) funky piano solo throughout. Well-f*cking-rounded twelve.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

K.G.B. “Bless ya Life” (1995)

Coming from Brooklyn and Coney Island, K.G.B. (which stands for Klik Ga Bow) consists of Asiatic (aka Adriatic), DJ Kin (aka Kinny Kin), Ill Knob (aka Knowledge), and Raheem (aka Red), who later replaced Asiatic after the release of this single. Although the group had released some other nice 12”s during the 90’s, there’s no doubt (in my opinion) that this was their best effort.

K.G.B. “Bless ya Life”

Released under Mascot Records and produced entirely by the 4th Disciple, this 12” features two versions. The “Original” mix (B-Side) has a grimy horn that adds an obscure feel to the mix. The rhymes flow nicely over the beat, each MC delivers their own thoughts/histories about death and peeps who got murdered.

Even though this version is dope, the “Grim” mix (A-Side) adds a whole different feel to it. Sampled from Al Green’s “Strong as Death (Sweet as Love)”, the guitar (in addition to the rest of the instrumentation) induces a rawer mood that allows the listener a different approach to the perspective inherent in the lyrics.

If I had to decide which version was my favorite, the “Grim Mix” would be my choice; however, the “O.G. Mix” is dope and it shouldn’t be ignored.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Saukrates "Father Time"/ Choclair "Twenty One Years" (1995)

Nowadays, the term classic is thrown around pretty loosely. With that said, I am fairly confident in declaring that this 12” is just that. Like most people in the NY/NJ area in the 90's, I was introduced to this 12” by the Stretch and Bobbito radio show. It remains one of my favorite 12” to this day.

Father Time b/w Twenty One Years + (Instrumentals)

Producer Day provides both Saukrates and Choclair with simple beats with equally simple yet effective samples. Saukrates straight kills "Father Time". The remix utilizes the help of DJ Grouch who adds a familiar Steve Miller Band sample.

"Twenty One Years" has Choclair sharing some of the hardships he's faced growing up:

All my life I kept my eyes on the prize
But every time I reached for the prize it demised
I wonder what's going on, but I got's to move
I gotta keep my head and I gotta stay strong


This release remains both artists’ greatest works to date.

Monday, September 11, 2006

...new contributers and filled requests...

Tired & Broke, Paul, and 6MW have all agreed to begin dropping some posts (in fact, T&B dropped his first yesterday if you missed it). If you've been checking this blog for any length of time, you know that it is about the music; but the posts are also an attempt to connect the music to a perspective. Up until now, that perspective has been a bit narrow (mine), but the experience of music is ultimately a very personal thing; most of you are chasing down new music because of the relationship you have with a good song; sharing good shit is an affirmation and its own form of communication. Right.

So the goal is not just throwing links up, but wrapping some context around them as well. That could be the poster's reaction to the music, some historical context, etc. I'm glad to have some more perspectives thrown into this project...one thing that's true about this music is that people are doing it everywhere - for the love - and that means everyone has a different story to tell, and some different shit to put you on to.

In addition to the posts (which admittedly are much less in-depth than some other blogs, many of which are linked to the right), thanks to everyone who's been filling requests. Here's what's been dropped since the last update post:

[broken links removed]

"f*ck your remix!" #3 (The Roots "Proceed II")

The Roots were overflowing with creative material in the "Do You Want More?!"-era, as evidenced in the singles they put out for that album. These singles ("Distortion to Static", "Proceed", "Silent Treatment") always had bonus material and remixes; in fact, Roots remixes could probably take up a number of "f*ck your remix" segments. For this one, however, I'm going to focus on the Roots 12" released from the "Red Hot + Cool" album, "Proceed II".

Now, technically, the two songs I'm going to contrast here are completely different; the only thing that unites them is the fact that are remixes, and that they appeared on the same record. But getting beyond that, er, technicality, which one is simply better?



The remixes of interest here are "Proceed V (Beatminerz remix)" and "Proceed IV (AJ Shine's Proceed w/o a Pause)". Both cuts are dope. But ultimately, you've got to play one more than the other; that's just the world we live in. And I'm going to argue that the one you should play is the one that is simply more effective.

"Proceed IV" is hype; you have to love the way it drops ("Here we go!") with so much energy, and maintains/builds the energy long enough for Malik B to proclaim: "I can make ya dance/I can make ya shout..." If it doesn't turn the party out, the party is f*cking wack (uh, or maybe you dropped it at the wrong time?). Anyways, shit is dope, hype, all those good adjectives...on through to the chorus, with the blazing horns through the chorus. Then - surprisingly, almost shockingly - it starts to drag...just a bit. The beat so overwhelmed Malik B's lyrics, that you start to lose interest, even though Black Thought's verse is even stronger. All in all, a dope cut, though...what about "Proceed V"?

From the get-go, this is a different cut entirely. The Beatminerz beat you over the head with a hard-ass snare so many times, that by the time the intro has dropped you're deeper underground than a Roots cut has ever taken you. Black Thought talks you through this snare assault, until the dark-as-hell piano sample drops and Black Thought drops the lyrics to match:

Yo, I never sweat it, it's all copasetic
In this lyrical profession, rappers I discredit


Black Thought proceeds to rip one of his most accomplished, well-crafted "fuck these candy-ass rappers" verses. As dark and vicious as the Beatminerz track is, it only serves to envelope Black Thought's flow, creating the perfect atmospherics, without overwhelming it. I've always thought Black Thought is at his best over lower-tempo tracks, where he has more room to play with the timing of his flow. Ultimately, I think it's the hardest shit the Roots have ever done, and probably will ever do.

Now, I'm not necessarily going to take "hard" shit over "hype" shit every time, but my argument is that the "Proceed V" cut is just simply better at what it's trying to do. It's definitive. "Proceed IV", the hype joint, is dope, but the Roots have a lot of cuts in this category. I can almost hear Black Thought rhyming "We can get fly, we can get fly" in several other cuts.

I've always disagreed with my man over this cut, and I don't fault him necessarily; he's much more about the dance floor. Here's his (pithier) argument:

Both mixes are excellent, and i think it comes down to what mood you generally like your music in - in this case i think (Proceed IV) is more hype, but without getting into a "party track" kind of hype. The orchestration with the horns is just dope, and Blackthought's "we can get fly" verse just rips it - it's just such a rare example of how versatile hiphop can get and still be raw.

If you look at these remixes in terms of what they were trying to accomplish, and what they did, it's clear to me..."Proceed V", the Beatminerz remix, is f*ckin' impeccable for its ruggedness. To my friend Alex, it was "Proceed IV"; drop your vote, and your opinion if you've got words...

[click here for the poll]

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Schoolz Of Thought - Rationalize/Human Condition 12" (1999)

No, Your eyes don't decieve you....
Yes, Your's truly has joined 12-Inchers in the crusade to bring dope, forgotten 12-inch singles to your ears....

The single I've chosen to shed light on as my introductory entry is for a request, but nonetheless dopeness. I present to you Rationalize b/w Human Condition by Schoolz Of Thought. This 5-man group consists of 3 emcees: Intense, Syntax, & Speaque-Ezie (Speak Easy) and 2 DJs: Bronze-F.M. & Skratch (of the Roots).




Rationalize b/w Human Condition + (Instrumentals)



The A-side, Rationalize has a jazzy feel with a bass heavy background with constant static popping to add to the vibe of the track. This banger has steady lyricism, where each emcee adjusts their flow to ride the beat exceptionally. The real gem of this 12-Inch (in my opinion) is the flipside, Human Condition. I mean the title says it all, emcees Syntax & Speaque-Ezie talk about the current state of people and how shit is fucked up in general. Syntax rips the hell outta the track, and Speaque-Ezie kills the rhyme scheme nearly rhyming every bar with the syllable 'shun'. But the cherry on top for this track is the hook, it complements the dope verses very well...

It's the Human Condition
Science To Religion
The After-Life Of Life We Livin'
Split Decision, Another Division
Sectioned off in Mental Prision
Heat up like Nuclear Fission
Relate and Listen


.......

Enjoy the sounds and peace to DJ Espionage for asking me to join this superb blog.....

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Cassidy "Decisions" (1999)

This is NOT "that" Cassidy...I've been so out of touch with mainstream hip-hop in the the last few years that when I heard Cassidy being dissed, I just assumed people were talking about this cat. Which didn't make sense to me, this is some straight hip-hop shit (although it may be a little too happy for the hard rocks):



This is another record I've always liked, primarily for the vibe (although I can understand some people seeing this as straight corny). The beat works the bassline off of the horn samples; I love how they play off each other, it just works. Drum programming is almost primitive, but I think it adds to the playful nature of the track. As an MC, Cassidy "sounds white" in a way that MC's like Apathy and Copywrite don't...but he's not as far gone as Buck65 or the Anticon kids. His self-assuredness sells the track, though, and it's essentially a battle-rhyme told as a story; entertainment. Includes the instrumental.

As a postscript to this track, check out the 2006 incarnation of this MC at his Myspace page; he's now going by the name "Young Church", and on some straight thug/baller shit. I'd definately advise checking this out AFTER you hear "Decisions", 'cause most of y'all probably aren't going to want to even check it after hearing "Young Church"'s music. If anything, it's a case study in exactly where the hip-hop music industry has gone.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Wascals "The Dips" (1994)

GrantP had this record up on his site, but it's been a while, so as requested, here's "The Dips":



I don't have much of a memory of the Wascals in the mid-90's; they got nowhere near the push from Delicious Vinyl that the Pharcyde got. They do have a lot of the same things going for them that the Pharcyde did, though...eccentric MC's/rhyming, good chemistry, J-Sw!ft. Includes "On My Jammies" mix, the "OG" version, and instrumentals for both.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

King Just "No Flow on the Rodeo" (1995)

Not to be confused with King Sun, King Just broke out in the mid-90's with "Warrior's Drum" ("hey-ya, hey-ya, hey-ya, ho!"). Dude sounded kinda like ODB, and fit in with the groups that weren't an official part of Wu-Tang, but seemed somehow related:



"No Flow on the Rodeo" benefits greatly from an Easy Mo Bee beat, and this post is probably more about Easy Mo Bee than King Just. It has the signature Easy Mo sound of the era; hard, clanging, and slightly metallic drums...I always felt like most of Easy Mo's production made the lyricist sound harder and just straight more significant. As far as "the Rodeo", I've always been confused by the Western fascination that jumped off around that time (i.e. Sadat X's "Hang 'em High" and "Wild Cowboys"; the Fugees' "Cowboys", etc), and chalked the content up to that trend.

Also includes "Escape from the Zoo", and an E-Swift remix of "Warrior's Drum".

If anyone has the original "Warrior's Drum", could you post a link?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Marley Marl & Craig G "Dropping Science" 12" (1990)

The "Dropping Science" remix remains one of my favorite early 90's jams; it's a permanent fixture in my favorite classic hip-hop set. "Yeah, I have 'In Control'...that joint is cool, but it'll always be in the shadow of 'The Symphony'," you might argue. Which may be true, overall, but 9 times out of 10 I'd rather show up to a party armed with this record than 'The Symphony':



Doing a "Hip-Hop Version" of "Dropping Science" may seem redundant; the work went into the beat, not the naming of it. It's not a complete reworking, just fine-tunes the original so it thumps a bit more. The samples drop in and out (as do the drums) more than the original...although, to be honest, I've been focused on the remix so long I've almost forgotten about the original. Enjoy Craig G in one of his finest joints; includes the Hip-hop Version and bonus beats.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

...requests and a rant...

More requests have been popping up in the C-box, and I'll fill what I can, but there's a lot I simply don't have...as always, any contributions would be greatly appreciated; I'd personally like to hear most of the stuff requested, and obviously the requester (and a grip of others) would grab it as well. There's always a small group of people that have the idea that music is some exclusive club, and they won't part with their rarities unless you give them something they value as much. This is not aimed at a particular person, but that group of people can suck a nut; elitism based on taste I'm cool with, but elitism based on possessions is another thing. I understand a lot of people (including myself) enjoy hunting down and finding obscure things, and that the process itself can make the find more rewarding. But what's your motivation? Share it with the world! That way these underground artists condemned to obscurity at least won't be there because of the marketing and distribution machine. Besides, everyone will still be impressed by your original copy.

All that to say, please post a link if you can fill a request...it's incredibly easy to do, and a lot of people would appreciate it!

Hi-Tech "24/7" (1997)

Mass Vinyl put out a string of NYC indie records in the mid/late-90's, primarily centered around Hi-Tech (the MC, not the producer Hi-Tek). The first joint they dropped was "Book of Life", which developed a small following, but definately did not overwhelm anyone. I always liked the follow-up twelve to "Book of Life", "24/7", mostly for the B-side:



"Book of Life Page 2" is the best thing Hi-Tech had to offer...his voice and flow shine with this beat, whose sample you should immediately recognize, unless you've been living in a cave and have never heard of Portishead. I don't know if it's better than the Portishead cut it samples ("Roads"), but the concept, lyrics and flow work well with the sample despite its familiarity. The chorus itself can function as a mantra, and the verses Hi-Tech builds around it are his vision for his life. This is one of those cuts that you gotta give someone props for making, regardless of how it's received, because they're putting their vision of themselves and their future out there, and shit is well-crafted. Includes vocal and instrumental for both.

[UPDATE, 12:30 PM: Check the comments for a Hi-Tech comp - thorough - care of 6MW]

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Strugglin' Souls "Manic Depression" (1992)

OK, so this one breaks the rules; it's neither vinyl nor a single. But as I've seen a number of requests for this around, and I've had the cassette lying around forever, thought I'd make an exception:



"Manic Depression" was one of those albums I always assumed I was the only person had ever heard of (or liked). Dropping (extremely quietly) on Ichiban in '92, it never made a dent in a year dominated by bangers like "Mecca and the Soul Brother", EMPD's "Business Never Personal" and Gangstarr's "Daily Operation". The album is quirky and is darker than a lot of stuff from the period. I think they released a single from it, "Nappy Head N' Saggy Jeans". Again, as far as I know, this was all done on cassette. I've kept it around because I always loved the chill production and thoughtful lyrics of "Betta Dayz", but there's some other dope shit on here as well. Without further explication:




"Manic Depression" Tracklisting (encoded at 192):

01 Phunky Behavior
02 Nappy Head N Saggy Jeans
03 Ain't Phunky No' Moe
04 Who Dat Man
05 Hey Boy
06 Manic Depression
07 Grind
08 Rough Neck Anthem
09 Betta Dayz
10 Ghetto than a Mutha Fucka
11 Can't Find My Tribe
12 Who's the One U Love
13 I Got Tossed
14 Seen Cha Black

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Apani "Spot Me" (2000)

In the debates over the best female MC, you'll run across names like Lauryn, Bahamadia, MC Lyte, Jean Grae...but rarely will someone mention Apani. As much work as she's done (with the Polyrhythm Addicts, guest verses, etc), and as consistently dope as she is, I've always wondered why she hasn't developed more of a following. This record should wake up those that slept:


Apani "Spot Me" 12"


I originally sought this twelve out after hearing the B-side, "A Million Eyes". The beat, crafted by Celph Titled, features a guitar sample that never stops bouncing, strings, and a dope female vocal sample. There's some complimentary singing going on, and Apani rips it:

I'd run fast and far if I could escape this cage
Can't contain my rage
Guess that's why they keep me locked,
keep me livin' hand to mouth, hustlin' for what i got
If I drop a crumb, here come the vultures
All I got that's mine - is my pride and culture
Whatcha'll what that too?
Wouldn't you hate me if I was you?
Wouldn't you want me dead?
Take a minute, let that sink into ya head


"Spot Me" finds Apani ripping the shit out over another dope beat, matching sprinkled piano loops with muted horn blasts. If there's any flaw with this cut, I think it might be with the spoken chorus, which falls a little flat.

If you've been sleeping on Apani, no more excuses after these joints. Includes instrumentals for both.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Krumb Snatcha "Gettin Closer to God" (1997)

I know I've been hitting '96-'97 indies hard lately, but this is definately one of the stronger singles from the era. This record was an automatic buy, in no small part due to the beat by DJ Premier:



If you haven't heard this joint, Premier definately laces Krumb Snatcha with the beat; signature Premier drum programming. Krumb Snatcha comes through with an engaging story rhyme a la Nas' "NY State of Mind", but from the perspective of a kid who's on the losing end of a gunfight. It's intense, and Krumb's picture is thoughtful and vivid:

Don't remember the good Krumb, only the bad one
And now I can tell the depths of hell for evils I've done
Can't run, facin' my worst of fears
Leavin' my physical as my spiritual descends stairs
But wait, this can't be real, I feel the agents are real
Askin' my name, overlookin' my bloodstained gold chain
Easin' my pain from where we came I don't know
But he's tellin' me it's not the right time to go


Krumb followed this with a few more records, but this is his definitive record, as he's talented enough lyrically to put you in the middle of a life or death struggle. Oh, yeah, and Premier's contribution can't be overrated. Includes the instrumental.