Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Mike Zoot "Chessbumpin" (199x)

From my point of view, the difference between unremarkable Mike Zoot tracks and notable ones lies in the production, with the "High Drama" series of cuts ("High Drama", "High Drama Remix", "High Drama Pt. 3") serving as Exhibit A. They all feature Mos Def and rhyming around the same theme ("Pt. 3" throws Kweli & Consequence into the mix), but the only listenable cut is the original.

The 2x12" he followed up with suffered from the same problem. You essentially know what Mike Zoot brings to a track as an MC, and it's not going to vary immensely from track to track; thus, the track makes all the difference. With that in mind, check "Chessbumpin'":

"Chessbumpin'" is punctuated by string stabs but anchored by a lazily chill horn that gives the track a warm, confident counter-melody when it drops. It effectively captures the aesthetic Mike Zoot brings as an MC -- improbably confident in his role as the direction most of hip-hop could have taken into the late 90's, but obviously didn't.

'M' is for the money -- that I ain't yet got
The 'I' is to be the illest rap nigga in the spot
'K' is for the kicks to kick ya bloodclot
'E' stand for everything else, and what not

Having done his inventive version of the "Stakes is High" refrain in "High Drama", he rips a straightforward 'I'm just doing hip-hop' set of verses that you could essentially consider a lesson in what 'average hip-hop shit' should be. Not every cut can be "Step Into A World", this is on some everyday/walking-down-the-street/headnodder-type vibe. Which is to say -- average in THIS world is good.

Oh, yeah, and the flipside (actually the a-side) has this track "Yo, Yo" by Street Smartz and some guy called the Large Professor. Unfortunately, xtra P doesn't rhyme outside the chorus, but in anticipation of the inevitable claim that this track is actually better than the Zoot cut, I've included it here: contains Dirty, Clean, and Instrumental for both cuts.