Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Tribe freestyle

A Tribe Called Quest feat Black Thought, Pete Rock, Consequence

Sorry, but my place is such a mess right now, I can't even find the records I want to talk about. I spent more than a week looking for that Tribe Called Quest freestyle in Future Flavas radio show, I wanted to use it to prove how weak Consequence is compared to Phife. For some reason I couldn't find it, so I was like, fuck it, let's do the post on The Chase anyway. But this morning the record just resurfaced miraculously, so here it is.

I don't know if I'll do another post until I buy another Expedit, because I always seems to miss the record I want to write about.

Also, yousendit was very helpful, but it's time to step my game up. The mp3 are now online for real ! Thanks Erwin ! Peep his website :


Thursday, April 21, 2005

A Tribe Called Quest : The Chase Part 2 (from Award tour 12")

Consequence : The Chase Part II (Jive, 1993)
Know Naim : Oh My God (Jive, 1994)

The song I mp3 tonight might be available nowadays, since it's Consequence first effort on wax. With the surprising popularity he seems to have lately I'm sure the song has popped up on one of his mixtape or something. Anyway, this exclusive version of The Chase Part II dropped, a month or two before Midnight Marauder, and ten years later I still havent figure out what was the part one ! This song was like a job interview, or a sort of casting to see if Q-Tip talentless cousin was ready to become A Tribe Called Quest fifth member. Obviously he was not, and if you ask me, he still wasn't when Tip virtually gave him the job two years later. To me, Consequence is one of the main reason why A Tribe Called Quest splitted. The inclusion of Consequence during the Beats, Rhymes And Life era ruined the friendship between Phife and Tip, and quite honnestly, none of his rhyme were really memorable. Even if he was rapping, he was more useless than Jarobi. Jay Dee's poor production was the number one cause though. The more he got involved in the production, the more Tribe fell off.

A few months after The Chase Part II, not convinced by the skills of Consequence, they had a second job interview, or if you will they used the same idea of showcasing a bunch of no name rappers on one of their beats, on the B side to Oh My God, except that Snag, Lo and Bay, collectively known as Know Naim, rhymed on the remix of the song, and not the classic OG version. This was probably a way to help some of their young friends to make it big in the rap game, but it failed miserably.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Positive K : A Good Combination

Positive K : A Good Combination (First Priority, 1989)
MC Lyte : Rhyme Hangover (First Priority, 1988)
Positive K : One To The Head (Island, 1992)

OK, so today's b-side is not a b-side. But I guess you all understand that my main concern is to highlight stuff that you don't find on albums.

"A Good Combination" was released as the main track of a sort of split 12", that also included an MC Lyte song from First Priority's compilation. As far as I know the song was never on any album, and as strange at it seems (to me anyway) Positive K never had any album during his days at First Priority. He got credit for writting lyrics for Alliance, MC Lyte and Audio II, shined as the only guest rapper on Brand Nubian's classic first album, but Nat Robinson never cared to give him a chance to make an album on his own. His first (and i think only) album was released on Island in 1992, and of course "The Skills Dat Pay Da Bills" did not include any of the First Priority material. I love that album, I used to listen to it all the time. The record had nice production by both LG's (Easy LG & LG Experience), Silver D etc, but I can't help to dream about how dope his album could have been with circa 1988 productions.

I first heard "A Good Combination" on Babu's mixtape "Comprehension", where Kan Kick did a remix. His version was aight, but it only made me want to find the original 12". The bare drum beat and the low b-boy chant in the background make you think about "Top Billin", But that song is a classic as well, the title has been re-used many times, it's now part of the hip hop lingo. DJ Eli had a song by that name a year ago.

Soon after his first album, Positive K kinda disappeared. It seems that he was supposed to work with Puffy, but things turned bad. Never heard of him since. I guess he's ghostwriting for some bad rapper nowadays.

Positive K : A Good Combination (First Priority, 1989)
MC Lyte :
Rhyme Hangover (First Priority, 1988)
Positive K :
One To The Head (Island, 1992)

OK, ce n'est pas une face B dont je parle ce soir. Peu importe, je crois que tout le monde a compris que le but du site est juste de faire redécouvrir des morceaux qui ne sont pas disponibles en album.

"A Good Combination" était sur la face A d'un split single, sur lequel figurait aussi le titre de MC Lyte qui était sur la compilation de First Priority "Basement Flavor". Autant que je sache, ce titre n'était sur aucun album, et aussi bizarre que ça puisse sembler (à mes yeux du moins), Positive K n'a jamais sorti d'album durant toute la période où il collaborait avec First Priority. Il a écrit des textes pour Alliance, MC Lyte et Audio II, il s'est fait remarquer en étant le seul invité sur le premier album de Brand Nubian, et pourtant Nat Robinson n'a jamais daigné lui donner sa chance de faire un album. Son premier album (et seul à ce jour) est sorti chez Island en 1992, "The Skills Dat Pay Da Bills", mais il ne contenait bien sur aucun des titres enregistrés à l'époque First Priority. J'adorais ce disque, je l'ai joué des dizaines de fois à la radio, pourtant je ne peux m'empecher de fantasmer sur ce qu'aurait donné un album de Positive K avec des productions aux standard de 1988.

La première fois que j'ai entendu "A Good Combination" c'était sur la mixtape de DJ Babu, "Comprehension", dans une version remixée par Kan Kick. Le beat était pas mal, mais ça m'a surtout donné envie d'acheter le maxi. L'instru réduit à l'essence d'un breakbeat fait forcément penser à "Top Billin", mais "A Good Combination" est un classique de la même trempe. Le titre a été ré-utilisé plein de fois, récemment par DJ Eli, c'est devenu une expression officiellement hip hop.

Peu après la sortie de son premier album, Positive K a disparu. Il semble qu'il ait travaillé avec Puffy, mais l'histoire a mal tourné. On n'a plus entendu parler de lui depuis. J'espère qu'au moins il ghostwrite pour des mauvais rappeurs aujourd'hui.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Artifacts & Mad Skillz : Dynamite Soul II (Lip Service remix) (from Dynamite Soul 12")

Artifacts & Mad Skillz : Dynamite Soul II (Big Beat, 1994)
Mad Skillz :
Freestyle (Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito show, 89.9 WKCR, 1994)
Artifacts : Who Am I ? (Big Beat, 1994)

Hard 2 Obtain, Artifacts & Raquel : A Lil Sumthing (Atlantic, 1994)

The collaboration between Artifacts and Mad Skillz on Dynamite Soul II didn't happen as a big surprise to anyone. The group from New Jeru and the MC from Virginia shared the same hip hop aesthetic and both had their first demo selected in The Source's Unsigned Hype column, back when that meant your music would also be played in the Wake Up Show and The Stretch Armstrong Show. Coincidencially they all got signed by the same Mr Armstrong who was then A&R at Big Beat. Also Artifacts were managed by Bobbito through Hit U Off, a short lived management company he co-owned with Pete Nice, who also handled Hard 2 Obtain ’s career.

Noz from Cocaine Blunts & Hip Hop Tapes has a theory that rap music at that period was specifically mastered to be listened to on tape. judging from the crappy vinyl pressing It's clear that labels didn't pay attention to DJs who had a late night hip hop radio show. We always had to turn up the gain to the max whenever we wanted to play any Black Moon, Common Sense, Beatnuts, Del or OC album track.

Being signed by a DJ had at least one good consequence : their albums were pressed on loud double LPs. But since DJs could play any song from "Between A Rock And A Hard Place", you know the 12" had to offer some exclusive material. They had Busta "Mr Cameo" Rhymes on "C'Mon Wit Da Get Down", and on this third 12" labelmate Mad Skillz came with his usual ton of punchlines. The beat was produced by EZ Elpee, with some nice cuts by Roc Raida.

The 12" includes another unreleased b side, Who Am I ?, which could have been a dope song without the chorus. They try to harmonize on the hook, but unfortunately they're no Nice & Smooth or anything.

Artifacts & Mad Skillz : Dynamite Soul II (Big Beat, 1994)
Mad Skillz :
Freestyle (Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito show, 89.9 WKCR, 1994)
Artifacts : Who Am I ? (Big Beat, 1994)

Hard 2 Obtain, Artifacts & Raquel : A Lil Sumthing (Atlantic, 1994)

La collaboration entre Artifacts et Mad Skillz sur Dynamite Soul II n'avait rien de surprenant. Le groupe de New Jeru et le MC de Virginie partagent la même vision du hip hop et ont tous deux vu leur première demo selectionnée par The Source dans la rubrique Unsigned Hype, à l'époque où les maquettes sélectionnées par Matt Life étaient diffusées dans le Wake Up Show et le Stretch Armstrong Show. A la suite de ça Artifacts et Skillz ont été signés par Monsieur Armstrong, alors directeur artistique pour Big Beat. Par ailleur Artifacts étaient managés par Bobbito via Hit U Off, une compagnie de management montée par l'animateur et Pete Nice, sur laquelle on trouvait aussi Hard 2 Obtain .

Noz de Cocaine Blunts & Hip Hop Tapes a une théorie comme quoi les disques de rap à cette période étaient spécifiquement masterisés pour être écoutés en cassette. C'est clair quand on écoute en vinyle les albums de Black Moon, Common Sense, Beatnuts, Del ou OC que les labels n'accordaient pas grande importance aux DJs qui jouaient leurs disques tard le soir en radio. Chaque fois qu'on voulait passer un titre pas sorti en maxi il fallait pousser le gain au maximum.

Le fait d'être signé par un DJ a au moins un bon coté : leurs albums ont été pressés en double vinyle bien fort. Mais comme les DJs pouvaient jouer n'importe quel titre de "Between A Rock And A Hard Place", il fallait que les maxis apportent à chaque fois quelquechose d'exclusif. Ils avaient Busta Rhymes sur "C'Mon Wit Da Get Down", et pour le troisième extrait de l'album c'est leur camarade de label Mad Skillz qui est venu les accompagner. Le beat était produit par EZ Elpee, avec des cuts de Roc Raida.

En plus du remix il y a une autre exclu sur ce maxi, Who Am I ?, qui aurait pu être un bon morceau, si seulement il n'y avait pas ce refrain. Tame One et El The Sensei essaient de faire des harmonies, mais n'est pas Nice & Smooth qui veut !