Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Nine : Me, Myself & My Microphone (from Whutcha Want 12")

Nine : Me, Myself & My Microphone (Profile, 1994)
Run DMC & Living Color : Me, Myself & My Microphone(Immortal, 1993)
Jesse West, Top Quality, Nine, Lord Finesse & Zone 7 : Troopers Represent (Sure Shot, 1998)
24/7: 24/7 (Franchise, 1998)

Bronx native Nine Double M made his first appearance in 1993 on Funkmaster's first single for Nervous "Six Million Ways To Die", back when Flex was an up-and-coming DJ. Soon after he was signed to Priority and released the underground favourite "Whutcha Want" with the horrorcore inspired "Redrum" on the flipside. Two songs you can find on the Nine Livez album, but the 12" also contained a little known track called "Me, Myself & My Microphone" which borrowed a line from "Sucker MC's", by labelmate Run DMC (who also used that name for a song on the horrendous Judgement Night soundtrack). The funny thing is that Nine went on to throw subliminal diss at them on his second album, with the cut Lying King. At least that's what I understood, but may be he was talking about another Born Again christian group who called themselves kings.

When Profile went out of business, he went back to his old friend Funkmaster Flex, who by then was larger than life. Nine hook up with the legendary Jesse West, aka ICU, aka Third Eye (the first rapper to have an album on Motown) to form the group 24/7. Together they released a couple of records on Franchise, (Flex-owned label) including the eponymous track. They even had a song placed on The Final Chapter of the 60 Minutes Of Funk mix series, but the pair wasn't successful. After the new millenium no one really heard of Nine, nor Jesse West.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Encore : Defined By The Dollar (The Essence 12")

Encore : Defined By The Dollar (Stones Throw, 1997)
Encore : Think Twice (Southpaw, 1995)

It may be hard to believe it, but a few years ago Stones Throw was a good label, before they decide to rely 100% on a weed addicted producer. A long time ago, mind you.

For the first two years their catalog was flawless, it was at the end of the glorious indie takeover and they were releasing the cream of the north californian scene. The first wave of twelve inches was mindblowing but after STH 2013 they started focusing on Madlib and his kin, and they never looked back. I mean, I won't front, I kept buying all their records religiously until that terrible Jaylib album, but it was only out of respect for Jeff Jank, but now even that powerful esthetic is lost. Not only they stopped doing the 45, but their 12" are in semi-generic sleeves.

For some reason (contractual, I guess ?) they don't repress the best part of the back catalog. Rasco reissued his first records on his Pocket Linted label, and Rob Swift's Soulful Fruit has just been repressed by Fat Beats, but this gem by Encore is desesperately out of print.

Shaya Bekele was friend with Charizma and Peanut Butter Wolf, his first appearance was on Wolf's Step On Our Egos EP with the incredibly beautiful "Think Twice". This song is one of my all time favourites, that's one of the 5 or ten records I will keep when I sell my whole record collection. Besides I had a radio show named after this track (even though I think that Bachir found the name). With "Think Twice" Encore was showing his story telling skills, describing a tragic high school graduation party that end up with the death of Demond Striplan (a friend of him and Charizma).

That's around the same time that Encore and Grand (Homeliss Derilex) went and recorded demos at the Glue Factory in San Francisco. The owner and engineer, Dan, liked his style so much that he asked him to rhyme on his beats. Encore thought the beats were weak and declined. Instead, it's Kool Keith who went on to record with that Automator guy the "Dr Octagon" album.

But that's another story. So later Encore with his partner G-Luv (also from Homeliss Derilex) released this incredible 12" on Stones Throw. The main song, "The Essence" is a strong but unexceptionnal battle oriented track, but as often B side wins again ! The track which stands out is the concept song about the root of all evils, "Defined By The Dollar". The beat is a pretty straight forward piano and upright bass loop, without too much variation, except for the weird panning during the last bars, but Encore vocal presence is what makes it compelling.

After these great songs, to which I could add "The Undercover", the expectation was high for the album. I mean at least for me. But when his album dropped in 2000, I was not impressed. It was OK to be, but quite disappointing compared to the excellence of his previous output. I know that some people consider themselves fans of Encore, but don't know these songs. I guess it means that I'm a bit too harsh with rappers I like.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Jungle Brothers & Q-Tip : Promo N°2 (Mind Review '89) (from Beyond This World 12")

Jungle Brothers & Q-Tip : Promo N°2 (Mind Review '89) (Warner, 1989)
Heavy D, Kool G Rap, Grand Puba, CL Smooth, Big Daddy Kane, Pete Rock & Q Tip :
Don't Curse (Uptown, 1992)
Cold Chillin Juice Crew :
Cold Chillin Christmas (Warner, 1988)
Mix-Her-Hug (homemade edit)

Sorry for the lack of post lately, my internet conncetion was down. I won't be home for the next two weeks so don't expect too many updates this month.

Anyhow I finally managed to find my copy of Beyond This World. It was misplaced in my Expedit, as always. I was talking about this track in my post about If The Papes Come, when I was discussing the different songs Q-Tip did with The Jungle Brother. But honestly Promo N°2 (Mind Review '89) deserved it's own post, just so I can disgress and talk about anything but this song.

This record was probably the first song where I heard Q-Tip, or at least it was the first where I really noticed him. I remember hearing that for the first time on a tape of the Dee Nasty show, it was the week when they had my cousin's friend who rhymed in "chinese" (i guess it was in mandarin, but they simply said Chinese). Dee Nasty opened the show with this record and that's when my obsession with Q-Tip started.

Between the first Promo (see below) and the second one Hip Hop had went through a lot of changes as stated in Tip's rhyme : "Promo No. 1, Q-Tip had a fade, Promo No. 2, Q-Tip rocks braids". yeah back in those days MCs where really innovative in their haircuts. Nowadays it seems everybody is bald, but in 89 between the jheri curl, the afro, the dreadlocks, the cornrow... Hip hop hair were so versatile in those days, I really miss that.

The JB's and Q-Tip were rhyming over a famous Booker T loop, and Tip rhymed over it again a few years later on the Pete Rock-produced posse cut Don't Curse along side Heavy D, Kool G Rap, Puba, CL Smooth and Big Daddy Kane. A few years ago I wrote that bitter-sweet article on Kane for my Strictly Hatred column in Real, where I considered that he jump the shark when he did the video for this song, with the infamous purple silk shirt. It's a shame because his verses where still nice then.

Coincidentially Big Daddy Kane as well had rhymed on a song with the same sample before, the little known Cold Chillin Christmas with MC Shan and Roxanne Shante, from the Winter Warnerland compilation. Now that I think of it, I really should have make fun of this one too. As if having a christmas song wasn't corny enough, someone thought it would be a good idea to have Cold Chillin CEO Fly Ty to drop a verse. Bad executive decision ! Well once you agreed to do a christmas song on a compilation, between Pee Wee Herman and Los Lobos, you can't really expect people to take it seriously, so it's all good I guess.

Oh yeah, and since I had too much time on my hands I just did a little mix with the three tracks.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Extra Prolific : Give It Up (from First Sermon 12")

Extra Prolific : Give It Up (Jive, 1994)
Souls Of Mischief : That's When You Lost (I Ain't Trippin Remix) (Jive, 1993)

Even if they actually had an album out in 1994, Extra Prolific is the group that no one seem to remember when talking about the Hieroglyphics. And when they mention them, a lot of people don’t realize that Extra Prolific was a group. Since Snupe was the only MC of the duo and he also produce a lot of tracks, it’s easy to forget that some producer named Mike G was also in the group, but left shortly after the first album was released, probably to form a supergroup with Jarobi...

Extra Prolific didn’t left an unforgettable mark in the history of the crew. Their track record, besides the four-mics album “Like It Should Be” consist of a remix of That’s When You Lost, two guest spots on Casual’s album, one song on the Low Down Dirty Shame soundtrack and the beat of You’re In Shamble.

Snupe was suddenly kicked out of the crew, the Hiero issued a press release on christmas eve 1996 at 9:40PM (who has time to send a press release on december 24th ?) to officially annouce his departure “due to musical differences” What does that mean ? Did it take two years for them to actually listen to his album ? His music was obviously very different from the rest of them since the beggining. This texas transplant had a west coast feel that made him different from the Oakland natives, as you can hear on the B side of his first single, Give It Up.

But the persistent rumour was that he was fired because he had an affair with Casual’s sister ! He thought the Hieroglyphics was like a big family ! It’s probably not true, but at least it’s funny, like that other rumour about Del shopping his demo around LA claiming to be Ice Cube cousin’s, even thought they didn’t know each other ! From what I heard, Cube had to ask his mom if that kid was really his cousin. Hey, I don’t know if it’s totally bogus or if it actually happened, so don’t be dumb like me and don’t repeate anything you’re told.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Del, Q Tip & Pep Love : The Undisputed Champs (from Wrong Place Wrong Time 12")

Del, Pep Love & Q-Tip : The Undisputed Champs (Elektra, 1994)
Pep Love & Jay Biz : Days Of Blueness (demo, 1992~3)
Lucien : From A Town Called Paris (Virgin, 1993)(fixed)

Here is another nice Q-Tip guest verse that only appeared on a B side. Hearing Tip sharing the mic with the Hiero is only logical since they share the same love for battle rhymes and soul-jazz infused beats . People don't sweat this song too much, probably because it was on the b side of Wrong Place Wrong Time, which is not really Del's strongest cut, but in my opinon, every song out of "No Need For Alarm" was good enough to be a single.

Also on the song is Pep Love of Pep Love & Jay-Biz also known as The Shamen, also known as The Prose, the only group out of the Hieroglyphics who didn't have the oportunity to release an album. Well they did, but way too late, not when people cared. I mean, I know they have a huge cult following, but seriously who was still checking for their records in 2001 ? Well, too bad for you if you didn't, because the compilation of their demos circa 1992-1993 is mindblowing. Some songs from this album can still be heard from the lost Hiero Sound Vault page : http://www.hieroglyphics.com/sounds/the_prose

Oh ! and the song that flip the sample used later by Del on "No Need For Alarm" is by Q-Tip's old friend Lucien, and to the best of my knowledge it's the only full length song he ever released on his own.

Del, Pep Love & Q-Tip : The Undisputed Champs (Elektra, 1994)
Pep Love & Jay Biz : Days Of Blueness (demo, 1992~3)
Lucien : From A Town Called Paris (Virgin, 1993) (réparé)

Encore un couplet de Q-Tip qui n'est apparu que sur face B. Ce n'est pas très etonnant de retrouver Tip aux cotés des Hieroglyphics puisqu'ils partage la même passion pour les battle rhymes et les samples soul jazz. Bizarrement ce morceau n'est pas très connu, contrairement aux autres faces B de Del (Burnt, Eye Examination). Certes Wrong Place Wrong Time n'est pas son morceau le plus populaire, mais si vous voulez mon avis n'importe quel morceau de "No Need For Alarm" méritait de sortir en single.

Sur le morceau on entend également Pep Love de Pep Love & Jay-Biz alias The Shamen, alias The Prose, le seul groupe du crew qui n'a pas eu la chance de sortir un album. Plus précisément qui a sorti un album bien après la bataille. Les Hieroglyphics sont cultes, ils ont des petits groupes de fans dans le monde entier, mais qui s'intéressait encore à eux en 2001 ? Pas vous ? Eh bien vous auriez du car la compil de leur démos enregistrées vers 1992-93 est fabuleuse. Quand on pense à toutes les perles qui sont passées entre les oreilles des directeurs artistiques de l'époque, on se dit que les places en maisons de disque sont parfois attribuées n'importe comment. Quelques morceaux de l'album ainsi que d'autres vieux titres de Pep Love & Jay Biz sont toujours en écoute sur le site des Hiero : http://www.hieroglyphics.com/sounds/the_prose

Enfin le dernier morceau avec le même sample que Del utilisait sur No Need For Alarm est From A Town Called Paris de Lucien, vieil ami de Q-Tip.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

A Tribe Called Quest feat Baby Bam : If The Pape Comes (from Can I Kick It 12")

A Tribe Called Quest feat Baby Bam : If The Papes Come (Jive, 1989)
Jungle Brothers feat Q-Tip :
The Promo (Warlock, 1988)
Jungle Brothers feat Q-Tip :
On The Road Again (Warner Bros, 1996)
Lou Donaldson :
Pot Belly (Blue Note, 1970)

Not much to say, but a lot of music to share this time.

If The Papes Come” is a well known track, but for some reason everytime I hear it in a mix or on a compilation it’s always the “remix” version, without Afrika Baby Bam. It’s kind of disrespectfull if you ask me, since the Jungle Brothers were the ones who put Tribe on the map, found them a manager etc... And I could write all day long about how important and innovative the Jungle Brothers were, but I won’t, I’m pissed off because I don’t find my “Beyond This World” 12” right now.

So here is the full version of “If The Papes Come” with a few bonus. First you have the first song Tip appeared on with The Jungle Brothers, called “The Promo” as well as a pop-ish remix of “My Jimmy Weighs A Ton” rechristened "On The Road Again" by Q-Tip. It does not have the ruggedness of the original, but I’m sure it will please more than one Q-Tip fan. And finally there is the Lou Donaldson classic “Pot Belly” which is the main sample in “If The Papes Come”. That tune has been sampled to death, but to this day the Tribe track is still the best use of those drums.

A Tribe Called Quest feat Baby Bam : If The Papes Come (Jive, 1989)
Jungle Brothers feat Q-Tip :
The Promo (Warlock, 1988)
Jungle Brothers feat Q-Tip :
On The Road Again (Warner Bros, 1996)
Lou Donaldson :
Pot Belly (Blue Note, 1970)

Pas grand chose à raconter pour une fois, mais beaucoup de musique.

If The Papes Come” est relativement connu mais bizarrement chaque fois que j’entends le morceau dans un mix ou sur une compilation c’est toujours le remix sans Baby Bam. C’est navrant car sans les Jungle Brothers je ne suis pas sur qu’il y aurait eu de Tribe Called Quest. Je pourrais passer des heurs à faire l’éloge des JB’s mais ce sera pour une autre fois.

Voici déjà la version longue de “If The Papes Come” avec quelques bonus. Tout d’abord le premier morceau de Jungle Brothers sur lequel est apparu Q-Tip, "The Promo". Ensuite un remix d’un titre des JB’s réalisé par Q-Tip, avec un couplet de Tip, “On The Road Again”, qui est en fait le remix soft de "My Jimmy Weighs A Ton". C’est pas le meilleur titre des Jungle Brothers, loin de là, mais je pense aussi aux fans de Tip. Enfin je termine avec le classique de Lou Donaldson qui sert de base au morceau de Tribe : “Pot Belly”. Cette batterie a été samplée mille fois, mais le morceau est définitivement lié à "If The Papes Come" pour moi.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Grand Puba : Mind Your Business (from Ya Know How It Goes 12")

Grand Puba : Mind Your Business (Elektra, 1993)
KRS One : Outta Here (Jive, 1993)

Following the Phife song I post last week here is another B side exclusive song about a rapper taking us back down memory lane, and a bonus song on the same topic which was on the A side.

I'm a sucker for this type of nostalgic storyprobably because I'm old and it also remind me about thos proverbial good ol'days. First song is a SD 50's production for Grand Puba which appeared on Ya Know How It Goes 12" which was I think the 3rd single off his Reel 2 Reel album. I guess that judging from the lukewarm response tha album got he was like "I paid my dues way before I met Sadat and Jamar, and now they have more success than me" so it was probably his way of reminding people that he was far from being a new jack.

I also included Outta Here for a few reasons. First it's obviously on the same subject. It's a dope track. I'm a fan of KRS One. But contrary to Puba or Phife, this wasn't his swan lake. Actually he had some of his biggest hits after that, which gave him the opportunity to stay in the business and to go through enough stuff to address the same subject again on the terrible Hiphop Knowledge (no to mention that the lyrics contained mistakes on his own career !).

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Phife : Thought U Wuz Nice (from Bend Ova 12")

Phife Dawg : Thought U Wuz Nice (Groove Attack, 1999)
Phife Dawg : If Men Are Dogs
Phife Dawg & Chip Fu : Rumours

How comes I don't have a retail copy of this single ? I really should, not only because I like this record, but because I actually was doing the promotion for Phife's album in France ! But I was green back then. That was before I understand the importance of keeping 10 copies of every record I promote. I was so young and naive that I really thought it was useful to send out promos to all those mainstream DJs who don't give a fuck about a records unless its distributed by Sony, BMG, Universal, EMI or Warner.

The original artwork has one of those classic Rock Steady Crew pictures circa 1982, I think it's Kuriaki but I wouldn't bet my copy of "Hey You The Rock Steady Crew" on it. "Bend Ova" was Pife's official first solo single, "If Men Are Dogs" had leaked years before, but was never released properly. This 12" was released way before the Ventilation LP, and for some reason they forgot to include "Thought U Wuz Nice" on it. It would have been the best track of the album, despite the fact that it's produced by Jay Dee. Not that I don't like Jay Dee, but I'm still mad at him for destroying A Tribe Called Quest. I mean it's not a coincidence if their career started to go down when they hired him.

Everybody dissed the album at the time, trying to compare it to Tribe's best material. Of course it wasn't as good as Tribe ! But then again who was ? Slum Village ? Please... At least it was better than Q-Tip's first solo.

"Thought U Was Nice" was one of those tracks were the MC takes a look back at his life, which very often means that the best part of his career is behind him ! Phife disappeared from the music scene not long after his album, occasionnally dropping a verse here and a single there, but no one really cares anymore. Most recently I heard him on a very nice track with Chip Fu, courtesy of the "Rappers I Know" website.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Self promotion

Et pourquoi j'utiliserai pas mon blog pour ma promo ?

Je mixe demain, jeudi 22 septembre, au Boxers, un pub parisien situé 120 rue Montmartre, métro Bourse. L'entrée est gratuite, je serais aux platines entre 20h et minuit.

Je jouerai du rap vieux, récent, "underground", "commercial", de la soul, du funk et de l'electronica.

Désolé pour ceux qui n'habitent pas à Paris ! Allez, pour pas que vous soyiez venus ici pour rien, un lien vers un de mes mixes en ligne avec en vrac du KRS One, Shirley Bassey, Cut Chemist, Chris De Luca, Stezo etc...


A télécharger en zip avec la pochette et tout ! Merci au webzine www.hiphopcore.net

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Pete Rock & CL Smooth : It's Not A Game (from Lots Of Lovin 12")

Pete Rock & CL Smooth : It's Not A Game (Elektra, 1993)
Pete Rock & CL Smooth : One In A Million (Epic, 1993)

I have to admit that Pete Rock is not my favourite producer ever. I know that in some countries you could go to jail for saying that, but sometime a man has to stand for what he believes in. I mean, I like some of his music, but I really don't understand why so many people consider him a demi-god. He has a blind cult-following among beat-makers and wannabe producers. The funny thing is a lot of producers are fans of Pete Rock, while DJ Premier appeals more to MCs (and DJs judging by how many best-of Premo mixtapes are around).

It's almost cliché to try to compare them, but they have a similar career. Both were in a group with an average MC, and surrounded themselves with a crew of terrible MCs. When they had the oportunity to work with great MCs, DJ Premier is the one who pulled the best beats in my humble opinion. Take Rakim, listen to "Remember That" and then listen to "Been a Long Time", or say KRS One : "MC Act Like They Don't Know" compared to "Get Yoursel Up remix" ? "The World Is Yours" vs. "Represent" ? "Juicy remix" vs. "Kick In The Door" ? (by the way I don't consider Biggie to approach anywhere near Nas, KRS or Rakim, it's just to prove my point).

To me, Pete Rock reached his climax with They Reminisce Over You, and he somehow manage to make his entire career out this extraordinary song. Very early he understood the importance of having a signature sound. At first it was the echoing horns, the adlibs, and on The Main Ingredient it was the Biz Markie/Big Daddy Kane scratches (as heard on "I Get Physical", "I Got A Love", "Main Ingredient", "Places I Been", "Check It Out" "In The Flesh" and "Get On The Mic"). "It's Not A Game" was made between their albums, so it still has the adlibs and the horn sounds. The other cut is from the same time period, the horns are still there, but in a jazz style, with a scratch chorus, courtesy of MC Ricky D.

It beats anything on the Main Ingredient album. But that's just my opinion...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Aceyalone : Feet Upon The Table (from Mic Check 12")

Aceyalone : Feet Upon The Table (Capitol, 1995) (fixed)
Aceyalone : Project Blowed (Ground Control, 2000)

Remember back in the early 90's when the Good Life Cafe was the bomb shit as far as Los Angeles underground goes ? Well, a lot of people (read : nerds) seem to consider the groups that were playing at the "Please Pass The Mic" show as hip hop best kept secret. But actually the Freestyle Fellowship and all their mates had their fair share of exposure in the media. While it's a shame that most of them never got big, they definitely had the opportunity to make their names shine.

I first heard the Freestyle Fellowship in 1993, I was doing my radio show, We Love on Radio Pomme, and some guy who was into pop-rock gave me a sampler tape he had with NME. In between a U2 song, a live version of some Disposable Heroes' track and Ice Cube's U Ain't Gonna Take My Life, I heard Inner City Boundaries. Of course, silly me, I immediatly thought they were some Stetsasonic friends, since the only info I had was the credits on the tape. But soon I learned a lot from them through The Source who between 1993 and 1995 used every opportunity to namecheck them, run review of their records, plug their open mic etc. That's were I first became aware of Volume 10, Nga Fish and Pigeon John.

The b side to Aceyalone's first single (second pressing of his first single to be exact...) is like a Heavyweight 2.1 with a plethora of lyricist. In order of appearance Vic Hop (who also produced the track), Riddler, Acey, Ellay Khule, NGA Fish, Mark The Murderer and Abstract Rude.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Black Sheep : Still In The Ghetto (from Similak Child 12")

Black Sheep : Still In The Ghetto (Mercury, 1992)
Black Sheep : On The Wall (Sire, 1992) (fixed)

La pochette de Kid Rock que j'ai posté la semaine dernière m'a fait penser à ce maxi de Black Sheep. Certes la personnification du cunnilingus est un peu moins classe que le visuel de Similak Child.

Esthétiquement j'avoue préférer de loin cette dernière pochette, mais je doute que beaucoup de disquaires américains aient osé l'exposer en magasin. J'étais à Oakland quand est sorti ce disque mais je ne l'ai vu dans aucune boutique à l'époque, alors même que le groupe était au sommet de sa popularité puisque The Choice Is Yours était encore sur la playlist de beaucoup de radios.

Autant le maxi de Strobelite Honey avec son remix atroce est trouvable partout, autant ce petit bijou semble beaucoup plus dur à trouver, à croire qu'aucun magazin américain n'a voulu le vendre. Dommage car l'inédit en face B, Still In The Ghetto est du niveau de n'importe quel morceau de "Wolf In Sheep's Clothing". En bonus, un autre inédit de la même époque, présent sur la BO de Trespass ("Les Pilleurs " en Français) intitulé Off the Wall. Typiquement le genre de morceau qui laissait présager un second album exceptionnel. Sauf qu'en l'occurence ça n'a pas vraiment été le cas. Non Fiction a mis très longtemps à suivre et malgré quelques très bons morceaux n'était pas au niveau.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Kid Rock : Wax The Booty (from Yodelin In The Valley 12")

Kid Rock : Wax The Booty (Jive, 1990)

Wax The Booty appeared on the B Side of Kid Rock's micro-hit single Yo Da Lin In The Valley, but also on his first album. But then again, who bought his first album ? I highlight this song mainly because I was in Switzerland last week-end and this is the only 12" I could find whose artwork reminds me of my week end ! (Well, and I really didn't feel like posting some Silent Majority crap).

This raunchy yet metaphorical artwork is much more subtle that the song it illustrates. At least the FCC thought so when WSUC, a college radio station in New York, was fined $ 23 000 for playing the song. The single contains a censored version of the song where instead of bleeping or using clever sound effect to hide the obscenities, they replaced the sexual references with an annoying voice saying "This is a radio edit".

On Wax The Booty he teamed up with his biggest inspiration at that time, Too $hort. I don't say that because he produced the song, but damn, even on the rest of the record he blatantly bite his style. The similarities are so obvious it's almost embarassing for Kid Rock. From his subject matter, to his delivery, to his use of background voices and so on. Short Dog does not rhyme on this song, he only produced it (with a little help from Al Eaton and Keenan Foster) but he's credited on a sticker on the front cover, even if he didn't produce the main song ! Of course there is also a lot of beastie-boyism thrown in the middle, starting with the Todd James artwork, the same artist who designed the Brooklyn Dust logo, among MANY other things.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Too Short : What Rap ? (from The Ghetto 12")

Too Short : What Rap ? (Jive, 1990)
Too Short : In The Trunk (Jive, 1992)

First : no, the song What Rap is not on the 12" pictured above. The cover is the european pressing. What Rap was only on the domestic pressing of The Ghetto, which I have but in an ugly Jive promo jacket. I don’t know why but us europeans didn’t have the remix, nor the exclusive B side, as if they wanted to make us focus on one song only.

Anyway, The Ghetto is the track that got me hooked up to Too Short music. I bought the album, his back catalogue and all his next albums, at leats all those before his retirement. I know, it's weird, isn't it ? It's like buying "Bigger And Deffer" because you liked I Need Love and end up loving I Need A Beat. I first heard The Ghetto on the radio, which was highly unusual at the time. No radio played rap in 1990. And it was not on an underground radio station, it was not even on a music station, but on a late night talk show on mainstream radio. I guess they had more freedom in that show to play what they loved, and Too Short was on rotation in this show for a while.

I remember back then I used listen to the radio a lot and to cross my finger, whishing that one day they would play some hip hop. Now that hip hop is all over the airwaves my dream is to stop them from playing rap.

Just like The Ghetto, What Rap is one of the few moments when Too Short doesn’t rap only about women. Actually What Rap was the first of a series of songs where Too Short talks about hip hop. But in this song he’s like “I’m proud to be a rapper”, while he later adopted a different attitude. On songs like In The Trunk ou Paystyle his attitude is more like “I don’t care what the rest of the rap world thinks about me”.

There is a rare remix of In The Trunk by DJ Premier, that everybody jocks (you can hear it on this dope tape) but quite honestly I love the OG better. Can't nobody in New-York top that Oakland beat.

Too Short : What Rap ? (Jive, 1990)
Too Short : In The Trunk (Jive, 1992)

Tout d'abord : non, le morceau What Rap ne figure pas sur le maxi dont vous voyez la pochette ci dessus. Ce visuel est celui du pressage européen de The Ghetto. What Rap n'était que sur le pressage original, que j'ai mais dans sa version promo, dans une hideuse pochette Jive bleue. Je ne sais pas pourquoi mais nous autres européens n'avons pas eu droit à la face B, ni aux versions longues du morceau.

The Ghetto est le premier morceau que j'ai entendu de Too Short et c'est grace à lui que je suis devenu fan. A l'époque certains de ses fans de longue date lui ont reproché (à raison) d'avoir une démarche commerciale en sortant The Ghetto. Too Short racontait des histoires de bitches depuis 5 ans et il a du faire du rap conscient pour rencontrer le succès. Incroyable comme les temps changent, non ?

What Rap, comme The Ghetto est un de ces rares titres où Todd Shaw ne parle pas seulement de filles. En fait What Rap est le premier d'une série de morceaux où il parle du hip hop. Dans What Rap il semble être fier d'être un rappeur, tandis que plus tard dans des titres tels que In The Trunk ou Paystyle son attitude est plutôt une attitude de défiance par rapport aux autres rappeurs.

Il existe une version remix de In The Trunk par DJ Premier, qui est recherché par beaucoup (présent sur cette tape fortement recommandée ) mais la version originale garde ma préférence.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Low Profile : Playing For Keeps (from Funky Song 12")

Low Profile : Playing For Keeps (Priority, 1989)

Back in the days, before there was such a thing as G Funk, Los Angeles was producing some of the best hip hop music ever made, but no one cared. The revolution that happened in New-York in 1988 reflects clearly in california's hip hop from 1989 to 1992. Before that, west coast hip hop was strongly influenced by electro funk but after 1988 everybody bought samplers and started to loop as many funky breakbeats as possible in every song.

In the late eighties hip-hop crates was filled with cheesy dance influenced singles coming from new-yorkers trying to jump on the Rob Base bandwagon. Actually I really feel sorry for those young people who are fooled by that random rap fade, 'cause when you think of it, the average 1989 rap 12" from the east coast sound closer to Twin Hype than Big Daddy Kane. I'm not saying that every LA record at that time was dope, but there are a lot of underestimated records from that time and place.

Since the most visible angelinos were Ice T and NWA, everybody dismissed LA rap as gangsta rap, which not only is not not true but is also dumb. Why do people judge a work of art only for its topic ? You don't see movie critics disrespecting Al Pacino for doing mafia related movies ? OK, gangsta rappers have limited subjects such as dope dealing and drive-by shooting, while New Yorkers were so versatile, talking about partying, crushing other MCs and... well nothing else really.

The most embarassing is that a lot of so-called gangsta rappers were not doing gangsta rap. People were quick to classified gangsta rappers by the clothes that they were wearing or other superficial reasons. If you listen to the debut albums by DOC, King T or Low Profile you would be surprised by how many reference to gangs banging they made : not more that one on each album. Actually the Uzi Bros were way more conscious that Tribe Called Quest.

WC was quite upset to see his record labelled as a gangsta rapper album back then, that's why they made this answer record :"Some idiot tried to claim I was doing some dirt 'cause I wore corduroy's and a sweatshirt / but if you took time to listen to the album / you'd see the W was representing peace". Of course after he went on to do a super group with Ice Cube and Mack 10, where they didn't exactly represent peace, but that's another story.

Low Profile : Playing For Keeps (Priority, 1989)

Il y a longtemps avant l'invention du G Funk, Los Angeles produisait le meilleur hip hop jamais enregistré, mais tout le monde s'en foutait. La révolution qui a secoué New York en 1988 a mis un an pour transformer le son californien. Jusque là le rap west coast était profondément marqué par l'electro funk. C'ets après 1988 que tout le monde a acheté des sampleurs et a commencé à échantillonner les breaks les plus funky possible.

A la fin des années 80 les bacs hip-hop étaient envahis de disques à moitié dance fait par des new-yorkais traumatisés par les disques de Rob Base. Si on achète au hasard n'importe quels maxis east coast de 1989, on tombe plus souvent sur des Twin Hype que sur des Big Daddy Kane. Pour autant tous les disques de LA de l'époque ne sont pas exceptionnels, mais il reste beaucoup de disques mésestimés de cette période .

Les angelinos les plus connus à l'époque étant Ice T et NWA, beaucoup ont voulu croire que tout le rap de Los Angeles était gangsta. Beaucoup de groupes qu'on qualifiait de gangsta rap à l'époque ne parlait que très peu de gangs dans leurs paroles. Les premiers albums de DOC, King T ou Low Profile évoque à peine les gangs. DOC ne parle pas du tout de gang, seul Eazy E évoque un drivez by à pied (un "walk-by") dans The Grand Finale, King T parle vite fait de porter des couleurs neutres pour aller en soirée, et WC dénonce les ravages du crack dans How Ya Livin et condamne l'argent facile dans That's Y They Do It. En fait même un groupe comme Uzi Bros avait plus de lyrics conscients que Tribe Called Quest.

WC était vénère que son disque soit considéré comme un album de gangsta rap, c'est pour celà qu'ils ont rectifié le tir avec cette face B, Playing For Keeps : "Some idiot tried to claim I was doing some dirt 'cause I wore corduroy's and a sweatshirt / but if you took time to listen to the album / you'd see the W was representing peace". Par la suite WC a fait équipe avec Ice Cube et Mack 10, et la bien sur les paroles sont devenues de moins en moins pacifistes, mais c'est une autre histoire.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Redman : I Get Down Like That (from Dat Underground Shit !!!! 12")

Redman & Roz : I Get Down Like That
Redman :
Def Squad Japan Tour

Let's finish this Hit Squad month with this bootleg looking b side by Redman. I have no idea how legit that record was, I doubt that Def Jam released this as a promo. This 12" mysteriously appeared after Dare Iz A Darkside and before Muddy Waters and has an odd tracklisting with a couple of remixes of Can't Wait, a track called Montage which is an edit of various verses from different songs and this incredible track.

Red is freely flowing over an incredible production, with a little guest spot from an MC named Roz, who later rhymed with the funk doctor on Bricks 2 and Close Ya Doorz. If anyone had any doubt that Redman was the best rapper alive, just listen to this long track.

As I said the other track on the 12" is not anything new to any Redman fan, but it reminded me of a mix of some of Redman best cameos that was put together on a Def Squad under the title Def Squad Japan Tour (with the same kind of thing on the other side with Erick Sermon and Keith Murray). It's a 20 minutes mix with a lot of verses that you probably didn't remember.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

K Solo : System (from Excalibur 12")

K-Solo : System (Funkology, 1998)

Kevin Madison also know as K-Solo was an original member of the Squad. Even before there was EPMD Parrish invited him to join his Rock-Squad crew in the early 80's. The professional trained boxer and aspirant MC then got involved in an ugly fight with a couple of motorcyclists and K Solo was sentenced to jail. He got released in time to appear on "Unfinished Business" and Parrish soon signed him on his management company and he fully produced his debut album "Tell The World My Name".

His friendship with Parrish Smith didn't last too long since he was the first to leave the Hit Squad and to sever his ties with Shuma Management. Apparently he was pissed off that Parrish did not took time to produce his second album, and he had very harsh words about his business practices. After EPMD's break-up he started working with Dr Dre, but you how it is when Dre works with a talented rapper (Last Emperor, Rakim, King T)...

Around 1997 he briefly reappeared on the scene, trying to diss DMX who supposedly bit his new style exposed in Redman's "It's Like That". There's nothing more pathetic than an underground MC dissing a mainstream rapper who don't even care to answer.

Last time we heard of K Solo, he was throwing chairs at Keith Murray in a club somewhere in NY.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Hurricane G : Wuteva (from Coast To Coast 12")

Hurricane G : Wuteva (Hola, 1997)
Hurricane G & Das Efx : Coast To Coast (Hola, 1997)

Hurricane G was a key member of the Hit Squad who unfortunately never blew up. Erick Sermon’s baby mama was Redman’s hype (wo)man during his first tour and expectations were high in 1993, but besides guest verses on We Run NY and Bom Bom Zee, she never released anything notable while she was rolling with the Hit Squad/Def Squad.

Her decision to stay under Parrish Smith management after the Hit Squad demised proved to be a bad one. She had the Funk Doctor Spot himself shopping her demo around in 1993, where she had a song called Milky with Erick Sermon and Redman, and The Bitch produced by Reggie. She was rumored to sign to Capitol in 1994, but nothing made it to retail. She disappeared for a moment, and was spotted kicking a verse every other year, with people from various crews (with Xzibit in 1996, with Organized Konfusion in 1997 or on Cocoa Brovaz’s LP in 1998...)

Her first and only album “All Woman” came out in 1997 on Jellybean’s label Hola, the Home Of Latino Arists. Older B Boys may remember Jellybean’s name from his cover of The Mexican that was a minor electro hit in 84, or for his production credits for Madonna. Anyway, he founded a label in 1995 which signed artists based on their ethnicity rather than their skills. Needless to say that Jellybean had absolutely no idea on how to promote a hip hop record. Unfortunately the album didn’t have any beat by Redman, nor Erick Sermon. The production was handled by another latino artist, Domingo. The album was not available on vinyl, it had very little promotion and bad distribution.

While a lot of people heard Hurricane G on Puff Daddy’s PE 2000 (if you don’t remember that was a Public Enemy cover that Sean Combs did thinking it would stop Chuck D from suing him for not clearing his sample in 10 Crack Commandements) the biggest accomplishment of her career is probably her short appearance in Redman’s Tonight’s Da Night. She will always be remember as the girl who said “Yo yo Redman, what the fuck ! Get with that ruff shit.”

Yeah, I know Wuteva was on "All Woman", but nobody bought that album anyway, so who cares ? Oh, and I also put Coast To Coast, so that I don’t have to waste a post talking about those gimmicky Das Efx...

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Redman : How To Roll A Blunt (from Blow Your Mind 12")

Redman : How To Roll A Blunt (Rush Associated Label, 1991)
Redman :
Funkorama (Funk Doctor Mix) (Bandit Record, 1996)
Redman :
Tony Touch Freestyle
Redman : Bad Boy Freestyle

The version of How To Roll A Blunt I MP3 today is the original one, found on the B side of Redman's first 12", not to be confused with the album version, co produced by Pete Rock. It's easy to confuse them since there is absolutely no difference between them except for the short intro on the original where producer Reggie Noble directs Redman, the MC, about how he should shout.

This "very interesting" 15 seconds dialog was edited from the LP, which makes you wonder why did Pete Rock get credit on the LP, and not on the 12" ? Do you become a co-producer by suggesting a rapper that his intro is not funny ? Damn, sound like an easy job !

While on the subject of 12" with a slightly different version I also include the Funk Doctor mix of Funkorama, one of my all-time favourite Redman track. This mix is very similar to the one on the Insomnia compilation but Reggie Noble got rid of the useless crooning vocals on the hook. There is also a Double Green Mix of this track with a verse by Erick Sermon, but that's for later...

I know that by now you probably expect more than just alternative mixes of songs you already know, so about a couple of freestyles ? Here's one from the famous Tony Touch tape # 55, and a nice one from the long forgotten Bad Boy mixtape put together by Puff Daddy around 1996. Enjoy

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Knucklehedz : 5 Hoods In A 4 Door (from Savages 12")

Knucklehedz : 5 Hoods In A 4 Door (Eastwest, 1993)
Knucklehedz :
All She Wanted (Eastwest, 1993)

The Knucklehedz are the group which was the most affected by the split of EPMD. Tom J & Steve Austin were supposed to be the next offspring of the Hit Squad after K Solo, Das Efx and Redman.

You may not remember them, but the very first time I heard the name Hit Squad was on EPMD's "Hit Squad Heist", which had Tom J saying a couple of words on it. Tom J also had a short apperance on K Solo's first LP. Under Shuma Management (Parrish's company that handled the business of all the Hit Squad) they signed a deal with East West just when Erick & Parrish called it quit, they had two singles out in 1993, with production from Erick Sermon, Parrish Smith, Charlie Marotta and Solid Scheme (Das Efx producers) but the Strickly Savage album was never properly released.

It was the first in a long tradition of dope album not released by East West (Juggaknots, Supernatural, Omniscence...).

Knucklehedz : 5 Hoods In A 4 Door (Eastwest, 1993)
Knucklehedz : All She Wanted (Eastwest, 1993)

The Knucklehedz est le groupe qui a le plus perdu avec la séparation de EPMD. Tom J & Steve Austin devaient être les nouvelles stars de la galaxie Hit Squad à exploser après K Solo, Das Efx et Redman.

Peu de gens se souviennent d'eux, mais la première fois que j'ai entendu le nom Hit Squad c'était sur Hit Squad Heist, un titre d'EPMD sur lequel Tom J posait quelques mots. Un peu avant Tom J avait fait une brève particiaption à l'album de K-Solo. Via Shuma Management (la boite de Parrish qui managait les carrières des membres du Squad) ils ont signé un contrat avec East West juste au moment où Erick & Parrish se sont séparés. Ils ont sorti deux singles en 1993, production par Erick Sermon, Parrish Smith, Charlie Marotta et Solid Scheme (les producteurs de Das Efx) mais l'album Strickly Savage n'a jamais été officiellement distribué.

C'est d'ailleurs le premier d'une longue lignés d'albums mis au placard par East West (Juggaknots, Supernatural, Omniscence...).

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Erick Sermon : Rock Da House (from Stay Real 12")

Erick Sermon : Rock Da House (Def Jam, 1993)

"Stay Real" was the second solo single Erick Sermon put out after EPMD's breakup, and that's when people start to realize how much imput the Green Eyed Bandit had on their final album. When they were doing music together Erick and Parrish simply gave credit to EPMD, so even though you could guess that their engineers DJ Doc and Charlie Marotta were involved in the creative process, people didn't really know who did what. Judging from their post-EPMD career you would bet that Erick was doing most of the production, but actually Parrish was the one bringing most of the samples, at least on the first album (by the way, go buy and read "Rakim Told Me").

I always thought that there was a major change in their sound on "Business Never Personnal". Erick Sermon got more and more into producing by 1992, he produced most of Redman's first album which sound funkier than K Solo's "Tell The World My Name" (an album almost entirely credited to Parrish). On "Rock Da House" you had the same loud crisp drums, almost saturated that EPMD had on "Scratch Bring It Back", "Cumin At Cha" or "Boon Dox". The only problem was that Erick wasn't really able to write three decent verses, the good thing is that "Rock Da House" only had two !

Erick Sermon : Rock Da House (Def Jam, 1993)

"Stay Real" est le second maxi de Erick Sermon en solo après "Hittin Switches", et c'est à partir de ce moment que les gens ont commencé à se rendre compte combien le role du Green Eyed Bandit était crucial sur leur ultime album. Tant qu'ils faisaient de la musique ensemble Erick et Parrish créditaient simplement EPMD, et bien qu'on se doute un peu que leurs ingénieurs Ivan "Doc" Rodriguez et Charlie Marotta devaient être très impliqués, on ne savait pas réellement qui faisait quoi. En écoutant leurs oeuvres post-EPMD respectives on s'imagine que Erick Sermon devait faire l'essentiel de la production, pourtant dans les faits c'est Parrish qui amenait la plupart des samples, au moins sur le premier album (pour en savoir plus allez acheter le livre de Brian Coleman "Rakim Told Me").

J'ai toujours trouvé qu'il y avait une grosse difference entre le son de "Business Never Personnal" et les trois premiers albums d'EPMD. En 1992 Erick Sermon s'était plongé de plus en plus dans la production, réalisant l'essentiel du premier album de Redman, un album carrément plus funky que celui de K Solo (celui là entièrement crédité à Parrish). Sur Rock Da House on retrouve le même type de batterie lourde à la limite de la saturation qu'on avait entendu sur certain titres du dernier EPMD comme "Scratch Bring It Back", "Cumin At Cha" ou "Boon Dox". La grosse différence entre EPMD et Erick Sermon tout seul est qu'Erick a du mal à écrire troiv couplets décents. Ca tombe bien il n'y en a que deux sur Rock Da House !

Sunday, June 19, 2005

EPMD : Brothers From Brentwood, L.I. (from Crossover 12")

EPMD : Brothers From Brentwood, LI (Def Jam, 1992)
Crossover (Trunk Remix) (Def Jam, 1992)

Despite what their recent first album may lead to believe, the Hit Squad was one of the strongest crew ever. Who could think of a harder posse cut than "Headbangers" ?

All week long I'll share some underappreciated Hit Squad members B sides. But let's start with a pretty well known gem. "Brothers From Brentwood, LI" is the epitome of hardcore hip hop, but the funny thing is that it was the B side to EPMD's well titled "Crossover". Being their first track with a sung chorus this single was supposed to attract a new audience (and it did), not familiar with underground hip hop who would buy the 12" for the soft slice of funk on side A, and still expose them to one of the hardest rap song you can think of. The beauty of this tactic is that it works both ways.

When you have songs titled "Underground" and "Hardcore" on your album you would expect that some of your die hard fans will have something to say when you come back with a cross over track titled, ahem... "Cross Over". But fans had to buy that single, or else they whould have miss EPMD best track ever. "Brothers From Brentwood, LI" had everything you love in an Erick Sermon production : an overused sample, loud drum, layers and layers of sounds, and dope vocal hook. The kind of vocal sample that would leave you out of breath if you try to sing along with it.

As I said this single was huge in 1992, it was EPMD's first gold single, and it was released as a CD single with a remix of "Crossover (Trunk Remix)" which was also available as a separate promo 12", very poor quality pressing but I include it for those who didn't buy the CD single.

EPMD : Brothers From Brentwood, LI (Def Jam, 1992)
Crossover (Trunk Remix) (Def Jam, 1992)

Malgré ce que leur récent premier album laisserait penser, le Hit Squad était un des crews les plus forts à son époque. A ce jour personne n'a fait de posse cut plus hard que "Headbangers".

Toutes la semaine je partagerais des faces B peu connues des membres du hit squad, mais pour commencer un morceau incontournable. "Brothers From Brentwood, LI" est le metre étalon du rap hardcore, mais ce qui est drole c'est que ce morceau se trouvait sur la face B du maxi de EPMD "Crossover". Ce titre, leur premier morceau avec un refrain chanté, était censé attirer un public pas vraiment incliner à écouter des groupes underground (et ça a marché), qui acheterai le maxi pour le coté funky innocent de la face A, et ainsi leur faire découvrir grace à la face B ce que le rap a de plus hardcore. La beauté de cette stratégie est quelle marche dans les deux sens.

Quand un groupe fait des morceaux intitulés "Underground" et "Hardcore" sur son album, on peut s'attendre à ce que les fans de longue date soient surpris quand le groupe revient avec un single cross over, justement nommé "Crossover". Pourtant les fans ont bien du acheter le single pour ne pas rater l'inédit en face B, probablement le meilleur morceau de toute la carrière d'EPMD. "Brothers From Brentwood, LI" a tout ce qu'on aime dans une production de Erick Sermon : un sample grillé, une batterie bien lourde, des couches et des couches de sons et une voix samplée. Le genre de voix en boucle qui vous laisse essouflé à la fin du refrain.

"Crossover" a été le premier et je crois le seul disque d'or décroché par EPMD pour un single. Il est également sorti en CD single avec en bonus un remix de "Crossover (Trunk Remix)", disponible en vinyle sur un autre maxi promo, très mal pressé mais le voici pour ceux qui n'ont pas acheté le CD à l'époque.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Boogie Down Production : Live Medley (from Ya Know The Rules 12")

Boogie Down Productions : Live Medley (Jive, 1990)

Busy B : Live At The Harlem World, 1981

The embodiement of hiphop played in Paris with Busy Bee as his hype man last thursday. Best damn rap show ever, period.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Diamond, Sadat X & Lord Finesse : You Can't Front (...It Is Real) from Fuck What U Heard 12"

Diamond, Sadat x & Lord Finesse : Shit Is Real (Mercury, 1992)
Dana Barros & Ced Ceballos feat AG, Sadat X, Grand Puba : Ya Don't Stop (Immortal, 1994)

There is something with the Diggin In The Crates albums. I mean those guys became the most solid crew of the 90's mostly on the strength of their dope name, and they motivate thousands of people who didn't care about the northern soul scene or rare groove movement to go and look for old records wherever possible. So one would think that when they had the opportunity to sign a record deal they would make sure that a clause mention that their work would be available on vinyl. But no.

Their vinyl catalogue is one big joke, Diamond's first album was promo only, Showbiz & AG's "Runaway Slaves" skipped, Lord Finesse's "Funky Technician" is virtually non-existent and "Return Of The Funky Man" never made it to retail. I mean they probably lost sales by not releasing they albums on wax, most of these guys had songs about breaks, diggin, and buyin old records, but the people who would have feel close to them were more likely to buy vinyl. At least I know I didn't buy their CDs ! The younger generation of DITC did the same mistake. Well, Fat Joe's "Represent" was available on vinyl, and it was awarded the world lowest album pressing ever. He held this title only a couple of month, until the release of Big L's first album. I don't even know if OC's "Word... Life" was pressed on vinyl when it was first released, I just never saw an original copy. His second LP "Jewels" was widely available, but the vinyl had the strange property of deleted itself after a couple scratches.

Now that I think of it I think they could have just find it funny to make their own vinyls hard to get.

Anyway, you would think that the 12 inches would be the medium of choice for their fans, but some of them were still very hard to get, especially Diamond D's 12". The fact is that he was on a label that wanted to make it clear that his album was nothing more than a tax write off. The type of label who would print on your album cover a bio with wrong dates (Diamond started as a DJ for Jazzy Jay in 1979 ? Ahahah !), or would shoot a video without him.

Fuck What You Heard was the last single from "Stunts Blunts & Hip Hop", so by that time he had to deliver new material, which he did on Shit Is Real with a little help from Sadat X and Lord Finesse. The combination of Sadat X and Diamond gave birth to so many dope songs that you would wish that they didn't ruin it with that Omen shit. One of the lousiest project the collaborated on was the infamous B-Ball Best Kept Secret, and they manage to pull out a decent song together. Lord Finesse's been down with the self proclaimed best producer on the mic (to be fair, he said that before Finesse start producing, and after Showbiz stopped outshining AG) since day one, but of all the project they did together this is my favourite one.

Diamond, Sadat x & Lord Finesse : Shit Is Real (Mercury, 1992)
Dana Barros & Ced Ceballos feat AG, Sadat X, Grand Puba Ya Don't Stop (Immortal, 1994)

Il y a un problème avec les albums de Diggin In The Crates. Je veux dire, ces gens là se sont imposé comme le crew le plus fort des années 90 grâce à ce nom magique. Il motivé des milliers des gens qui se foutaient du rare à groove et de la northern soul à aller fouiller les bacs de vieux disque juste pour pouvoir se dire crate digger. Logiquement on aurait pu penser que quand ils ont eu l’occasion de sortir des disques ils se seraient assuré que leurs contrats stipulent que les œuvres devaient sortir en vinyle. Mais non.

L’histoire de leur sorties vinyles est un long sketch, le premier album de Diamond n’existe qu’en promo, "Runaway Slaves" de Showbiz & AG saute, "Funky Technician" de Lord Finesse est pour ainsi dire inexistant et "Return Of The Funky Man" n’est jamais sorti commercialement. Ils ont du perdre un nombre considérable de ventes à cause de ça, étant donné qu’ils parlent dans leurs morceaux de leur dépendance aux vieux disques, de breaks, et du diggin, les gens comme eux n’allaient pas acheter leurs disques en CD ! La seconde génération du DITC a répété les mêmes erreurs. "Represent" de Fat Joe est sorti en vinyle, il a même reçu le prix du disque le plus mal pressé de tous les temps, un honneur qui lui a été repris quelques mois plus tard par le premier album de Big L. Quand au "Word... Life" je sais pas s’il est sorti en 33t à l’époque, je n’en ai jamais vu une copie. Heureusement son second album a été pressé en double vinyle, ou plus probablement en double styrène vu la propension qu’a le disque à s’autodétruire un peu plus à chaque scratch.

En y repensant je me dis qu’ils ont peut être fait exprès de rendre leurs disques introuvables.

Bref, avec un tel catalogue on aurait pu croire que leurs maxi allaient être largement disponibles pour satisfaire les fans, pourtant beaucoup sont maintenant assez durs à trouver, notamment ceux de Diamond D. Il faut dire qu’il était à l’époque sur un label qui n’a jamais fait semblant de s'interesser à lui.

"Fuck What You Heard" était le dernier single tiré de "Stunts Blunts & Hip Hop", Diamond devait donc amener quelquechose de neuf, et c'est ce qu'il a fait avec "Shit Is Real" aidé de Sadat X et Lord Finesse, et Buckwild à la prod.

La combinaison Sadat X / Diamond D a donné lieu à beaucoup de grands moments, presqu'un sans faute jusqu'à l'horrible maxi de leur groupe The Omen. Parmi les projet foireux sur lesquels on retrouve Diamond et Sadat on se souvient de la pitoyable compilation B-Ball Best Kept Secret, sur laquelle ils sont parvenu à réaliser un titre correct. Lord Finesse est pote avec le soit-disant meilleur producteur au micro (à sa décharge Diamond a proféré cette énormité avant que Finesse commence à produire et après que Showbiz ai arreté de rapper) depuis toujours, mais "Shit Is Real" reste pour moi un des meilleurs morceaux qu'ils aient fait ensemble.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Mad Skillz : Skillz in '95 (from The Nod Factor 12")

Mad Skillz : Skillz In '95 (Big Beat, 1995)
Mad Skillz : Live Freestyle from the Stretch Armstrong Show (Big Beat, 1995)
Mad Skillz : Freestyle (Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito show, 89.9 WKCR, 1994)
Bedroom Wizard featuring Mad Skillz : Skillz In '98 (Unsigned Wrecordings, 1998)

Most of us probably first heard of Mad Skillz first via his spotlight in the Unsigned Hype column of the late Source Magazine. While the column usually reviewed demo, Mad Skillz won his feature in the mag just on the strength of his freestyles in the Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito show. The story was that Q-Tip heard this guy from Virginia battling Supernatural at the New Music Seminar, and took him on a thursday night to the WKCR studio in october 1994. Soon after Stretch signed him to Big Beat, and they released his first single on the summer of 1995.

"Nod Factor" was an underground classic produced by the Beatnut Psycho Les (recently covered by Quasimoto), but the real gem was the B side. His Hip-Hop vs. Rap inspired freestyle was pressed on the dark side of this vynil but the real treat was Skillz In '95.
This song with the L.P. shitting on the SP (or if you prefer : Large Professor working the SP 12000) was excluded from the album because From Where ? was delayed and didn't hit the stores before 96 ! Extra P once said to Q-Tip "don't say the years, it's for eternity", but Skillz didn't listen to this advice, and made it his trademark, he made Skillz In '98, and for the past three years he just released one song a year : 2002 Year End Rap Up, 2003 Wrap Up, 2004 Rap Up, 2004 Rap Up etc.

Nowadays he spends his time writing and ghostwriting for less talented and talentless rappers (most recently for Will Smith's Lost And Found), and was recently seen touring with DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Roots. He was supposed to do an album on Decon/Okayplayer, but I doubt it will happen anytime soon.

Mad Skillz : Skillz In '95 (Big Beat, 1995)
Mad Skillz : Live Freestyle from the Stretch Armstrong Show (Big Beat, 1995)
Mad Skillz : Freestyle (Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito show, 89.9 WKCR, 1994)
Bedroom Wizard featuring Mad Skillz : Skillz In '98 (Unsigned Wrecordings, 1998)

Beaucoup d'entre nous ont probablement découvert Mad Skillz via la rubrique Unsigned Hype de feu The Source Magazine. D'habitude la colomne de Matty C était une chronique d'une démo, mais Mad Skillz s'est retrouvé là uniquement grace à ses passages en freestyle dans l'émission de Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito. L'histoire veut que Q-Tip ai entendu ce type débarqué de Virginie lors de la battle du New Music Seminar contre Supernatural, et qu'il l'ai emlmené avec lui un jeudi soir aux studios de WKCR en octobre 1994. Peu après Stretch le signait chez Big Beat, et son premier single sorti au début de l'été 1995.

"Nod Factor" était un classique underground produit par Psycho Les (et récemment repris par Quasimoto), mais trésor enfoui en face B était du même niveau. Son freestyle inspiré de Hip-Hop vs Rap est aussi sur la face B du maxi. Skillz In '95, produit par Large Professor n'a pas été retenu pour figurer sur l'album, pour la simple raison que la sortie de From Where ? avait été repoussée et que le disque n'est finalement sorti qu'en 1996 ! Extra P avait prévenu Q-Tip "don't say the years, it's for eternity", mais Skillz n'a pas suivit ce bon conseil, au contraire même citer l'année est devenu sa spécialité, il a enregistré un morceau intitulé Skillz In '98, et depuis trois ans il se contente même de sortir un morceau par an : 2002 Year End Rap Up, 2003 Wrap Up, 2004 Rap Up, 2004 Rap Up etc.

Le reste de son temps il le passe désormais à écrire des textes pour des rappeurs moins talentueux que lui (recemment on lui doit le texte de Lost And FOund de Will Smith), et on l'a aperçu en tourné avec DJ Jazzy Jeff et The Roots. Un album avait été annoncé il y a un an chez Decon/Okayplayer, mais depuis plus de nouvelles.

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.