Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Lower Life Forms "Open Invitation" (1997)

I have to preface this by saying I know I've seen this around somewhere in the last few months, although I'm pretty sure the flipside "Independents Day" was featured (as opposed to "Open Invitiation", which is the cut to pay attention to on this twelve):

Lower Life Forms "Open Invitation" 12"
(Z-share link)

I'd describe "Open Invitation" as typical '97 NYC-centric indie shit, "typical" in this case being high praise. The track is tight, laced with some ill piano rolls and play-the-back percussion. This joint is mostly about lyrics, though, and indie-as-fuck lyrics at that..."indie-as-fuck" in this case meaning "show me your credentials":

Name three old-school DJ's that spun in the Bronx
Name New York night spots where hip-hop once rocked
Name the year of the first rap album you ever purchased
and the year you started rhyming (ay-yo son, they gettin' nervous)

This could come off as some pretentious "I'm NYC, you're not, so fuck off" bullshit, but the opening MC gets to the point pretty quickly:

No knowledge of history, or proper protocol
That motor stalls at the starting line from curvatures in the spine
The Lower Life Forms for years been chippin' a hole in the wall
Not so you rookies could desecrate it all

The chorus emphasizes the title of the song: "You can use my mic, the invitation is open." Another cut by a group prescient of the title wave of wack-ass crews gaining massive support, attempting to go down gotta respect the sentiment. Includes "Open Invitation" (vocal and instrumental) and "Independents Day" (vocal and instrumental).

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Primeridian "On Tha Spot" (1997)

At the University of Illinois in the mid-90's, Chicago's Primeridian were one of the local groups of choice. I thought this early release was dope; group member Simeon had a reputation among battle rappers, so they could talk shit, but there were more abstract joints like "Musical Mirages" as well. Simply put, tight mid-90's indie record, with surprising range as well. Some heads in the crew have always felt that this record was too soft (i.e. "get that 'dreams of poetical collages'-shit outta here"), but whatever...

My joint on this twelve has usually been "Musical Mirages", for the more abstract vibe. This cut in particular has been featured on a number of comps, so if any Primeridian track can be considered well-traveled, it's probably this one. "On tha Spot" rocks a nice KRS sample, tight beat and solid battle rap. "Invisibly Invincible" is a more forceful battle cut (although the title hints at the pretention some cats would dislike them for). "Primates" is a bit more difficult to defend, and since I've grown so used to defending this record to some heads that disliked Primeridian personally, I usually don't even bother. Listening to it now, I'm appreciating the beat a lot more, a sunny soul sample.

Primeridian's MC's (Tree and Simeon) typically trade rhymes, and the back-and-forth is usually effective. Definately recommended, as they manage to produce a unique sound while sounding oddly familiar. Includes "On Tha Spot" (vocal and instrumental), "Musical Mirages", "Invisibly Invincible", and "Primates" (vocal and instrumental).

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Apathy "Every Emcee" (2000)

Apathy is arguably one of the dopest MC's out there at the moment..."Ain't Nuthin' Nice" was my intro to him, and the b-side "Every Emcee" is still one of my favorite Apathy tracks (although the recent "Bobby Brown" with D-Tension is brilliant):

"Every Emcee" is close to a perfect track, as far as I'm concerned. It opens promisingly with a rising horn, then drops the kick and snare while the horn holds the top note. Apathy comes in with the beat and kills it effortlessly:

You can't swallow this, I'll never be eaten,
defeated or beaten - as long as I'm breathin', I'm never retreatin'

The chorus samples Black Thought, and Apathy appropriately rhymes along: "I'm every Emcee/It's all of me/That's the way it is/Way it gotta be". The horns come back blaring during the chorus, and the track really shines. Rise follows Apathy with a nice verse; their styles complement each other well. Thankfully, though, the beat has a nice long outro, with extended instrumentation; strong head-nod material. Includes "Ain't Nuthin' Nice" (Street, Radio, Instrumental) and "Every Emcee" (Street, Radio, Instrumental).

Friday, December 15, 2006

Urban Thermo Dynamics twelves (1994-5)

I actually know very little about UTD (beyond Google), as I didn't catch these records until the late 90's, after Mos Def had already blown up. If you're completely unaware, UTD consisted of Mos Def and his brother and sister. When Mos Def later blew up on Rawkus, Medina Green (i.e. the rest of UTD plus more family) also dropped a record on Rawkus, "Crosstown Beef", which was solid but unspectacular. Which is how I'd ultimately describe UTD. If anything, some of these beats are really tight. I mean, they managed to get material from Salaam Remi, J-Swift, and Diamond D...not bad at all for a group that never really came out. Diamond fans will definately notice his beat as the one used in the intro for "Stunts, Blunts and Hip-hop". I always felt like that beat deserved MC's; now you can decide that for yourself:

UTD "My Kung Fu" 12"

01 Radio Edit
02 Original Version
03 Original Instrumental
04 Salaam's Remix Clean
05 Salaam's Remix
06 Salaam's Remix Instrumental

UTD "Manifest Destiny" 12"

01 Diamond's Clean Edit
02 Diamond's Dirty Version
03 Diamond's Instrumental
04 J-Swift's Clean Edit
05 J-Swift's Dirty Version
06 J-Swift's Instrumental

Thursday, December 14, 2006

King Tee "Freestyle Ghetto" (1995)

Been heavy into the '95 crates the last few weeks. Here's a quick "remember this shit?" post...King Tee is simply the man for introducing the world to both the Alkaholiks and Xzibit. Both of them appear on this mid-90's cut, which was a single off of his '94 release "King Tee 4 Life". Admittedly, there's no obscure b-side cut on the twelve: it is what it is, the album version of "Freestyle Ghetto". I've always loved the instrumental, though, so here's the full twelve:

King Tee "Freestyle Ghetto" 12"
(Sharebee links)

This is one of those posse tracks where you can play "Who dropped the dopest verse?". Everyone's essentially in shit-talk mode, and you've got a grip of MC's to choose from: Xzibit, J-Ro, Tash, Breeze, and King Tee himself. Shit is wild, and everyone has lyrics. I love how J-Ro opens his verse:

Footballs, basketballs, microphones, gas and grass
...just some of the few things J-Ro likes to pass

Tash jumps in afterwards, though, and annihilates the track. Remember how MC Eiht was everywhere in '93-'94, always with the signature "gyyeah..."? In case you forgot, Tash drops this gem:

But...hold up, wait - I bust rhymes that circulate
that'll 'wake your punk ass up' - like MC Eiht

BTW, the producer here is Thayod Ausar, who would produce three of the dopest tracks on Xzibit's "At the Speed of Life" a year later ("Paparazzi", "Carry the Weight", the title cut). Includes "Freestyle Ghetto" (vocal and instrumental) as well as "Let's Get It On".

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

E.C Illa "Mating Ritual" (1995)

Don't know if anyone else made this mistake, but I often confused E.C with capital D (All Natural's MC) in the mid-90's. capital D ended up breaking out a lot more than E.C, but E.C definately made some noise in Chicago in '95-'96. Both MC's are a bit more soft-spoken with a smooth flow that shines when complimented with the right beat and/or concept. For capital D, one of those records was "Que Sera Sera"; for E.C Illa, the record was "Mating Ritual", the flip-side to the 1995 single "No More":

Picking up this twelve was an easy decision; white vinyl was still a fresh concept to me at the time. There's a grip of cuts on this twelve, all of which appeared on E.C's album release: "No More", "On Ill" (nice Chi anthem), "Mating Ritual", and the "Ill Breakers Anthem". Ultimately, though, this record is all about "Mating Ritual".

'94-'95 were the years when everyone was personifying hip-hop music: Common's "I Used to Love h.e.r." and the Boogiemonsters' "Music Appreciation" come quickly to mind. But "Mating Ritual" has always been one of the more definitive cuts of that 'genre' because of how far it goes. Take the intro:

You ever muh'fuckin' feel so geeked about hip-hop, joe, that you just wanna muh'fuckin'...fuck the shit outta that damn hip-hop, joe?
...real muh'fuckas be feelin' that, joe...

This may seem like comedy, but E.C is NOT playin'. The beat, which drops rugged-smooth, rocks a Meth sample: "Hit the girls from behind with my ill-type rhyme/Got the style, make you want it like mad combine". Female groaning in the background? Check, got that too. E.C doesn't waste any time getting to the topic:

Sometimes when I be makin' beats, yo, I make my dick hard
I discard any loop that doesn't seem to discharge
raw flavor...
...this shit is fat, but still I wonder is it sane
to have these thoughts of bonin' music in my brain?

Includes "No More" (Radio, LP), "On Ill", "Mating Ritual" (Radio, LP), and "Ill Breakers Anthem". FYI, just discovered that the entire album has recently been upped over at Biff Reagle's site.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Ol' Dirty Bastard "Don't U Know Part II" (1995)

You can't deny ODB's entertainment value, but he's never been one of my top MC's. I still remember some of those mid-90's-"Top-Five"-MC arguments, and the small grip of heads that would throw out Ol' Dirty's name in the middle of that conversation. Point blank, that shit has never made sense to me. Yeah, he's got a unique voice and flow, yeah, his shit is raw in the sense that it's honest and unfiltered and not quite sane...but Top-5? That being said, the kids that WERE all about ODB (and I'm sure some of y'all are) loved this non-album B-side that showed up on the "Raw Hide" promo 12":

"Don't U Know Part II" is classic ODB: wandering, stuttering, stream-of-consciousness meditations fused with vague but explicit stories about sexual adventures. The beat itself functions as the perfect background for this "tale", a simple but oddly off-balance track that is layered with a sluggish melody, a woman's background chanting, and ODB's rhyming. Ol' Dirty kicks off the track with a dose of empathy:

I know all the time, fellas, be hard to use a Trojan
'cause your shit can't breathe, and feel all closed-in
You wanna slip it off - ooh, baby, I like it raw
...why I wanna hurt myself for?

Ol' Dirty proceeds to describe some interactions with women as only he can, his voice rising to rant for completely unknown reasons. There was only one ODB...this track documents exactly why.

This track is also notable for the outro, in which someone threatens "all you motherfuckas that call yourself 'Brooklyn Zoo', represent your Zoo...understand what I'm sayin'? 'cause, yo...long as you don't fuck with this Brooklyn Zoo click...this click don't have to come and touch your click." Most of us know how that turned out...

Includes "Raw Hide" (Clean, Dirty, Instrumental) and "Don't U Know Part II" (Clean, Dirty, Instrumental).

Sunday, December 03, 2006

...filled requests...

Things have obviously slowed down a bit, as far as the frequency of posts...been really busy, but will probably continue to drop a couple of posts of week for the rest of the month, at which point I hope to pick up posting. Here's a few 12" that were requested, followed by some links that have been dropped in the C-box:

Rasco "The Unassisted" 12"
Run-DMC "Down with the King" 12"

...upped by Swann:

Old World Disorder "Rap Shit" 12"
Smut Peddlers "Bart Burnt Remix" 12"
Xperado feat. OC "Watch Ya Step" 12"