Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Bigg Jus - "Silver Back Mountain King"

Okay this song is clearly not from the Golden Age, given its references to 9/11 and other such things. But it is a sick, sick song and one of the coolest and most messed-up videos I have ever seen.

Anyone who always saw Bigg Jus as second fiddle to El-Producto when the two of them were in Company Flow together can just forget it. This song is as perfect a beat and lyric as El-P has ever come up with on his own. The video itself is like some kind of modern art, incredibly macabre, yet utterly compelling, with images of American history and the violence attached to it. It's one of the most breathtaking hip hop videos I've ever seen and I hope assholes like Hype Williams will watch it and feel stupid about that bullshit they have turned hip-hop videos into.

Your lust for legitimacy will put you in that chair
With real disabilities
Receive a useless martyr
Don't forsake a sacrificial starter
Repenting from deliverance
Coming with nothing but belligerence, hittin' irate
Tribulation'll be a wand to destroy this holiday
You obnoxious little fruitcake
I'm unequivocally meticulously vindictive with vengeance
Feel the ramification torturous imagination
Forever endless
I write raps, with a bloody axe
Read you the riot act
Dark days ahead, light a match.

Tommy Seebach - "Apache"

"Apache" is one of the hottest old school hip hop beats of all time, rocked by the likes of Sugar Hill Gang and the Incredible Bongo Band. It's a classic for all-time.

However, there is literally nothing -- NOTHING -- on planet Earth better than this video. The silliness quotient is off the f**king charts, with gay looking musicians, Indian dancers and lots of leaves. And the lead singer/keyboardist periodically yelling "APACHEEEEEE! AH-HA-HA-HA!" before having a dance-off with the three squaws in the video. And all set to a disco beat.

I don't think that anyone watching this will disagree with me that the highlight of the video is the 00:21 - 00:35 mark, where the keyboardist plays the ivories with the shit-eatingest grin I have ever witnessed.

(This is a serious stretch to include on this blog, but this video needs to be seen....by both my readers.)

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Alkaholiks - "The Next Level" featuring Diamond D

I included this video on here for a couple of reasons. First of all, this is a very good song off a very good album. I believe Diamond D produced it and is in the video (fat guy with funny hat and sunglasses). And that Coast II Coast album is no joke.

BUT ...

The real reason I included it is because it somehow has both the greatest and worst line in any rap song in the long and storied history of rap. First, the best line, and it's actually the first line of the song. And goes like this:

Who's the n***a everybody diss, cuz you can't bust this?
You got a bad name like Dick Butkus
But he says it like "Dick Butt-Kiss. It's so perfect. J-Ro was really something.

And then it has the worst line I think I've ever heard in a rap song, and I don't even need to give you the whole verse, just the one line, courtesy of Diamond D:

I put words together like Peter Jennings

Just humor me for a second here. First of all, why Peter Jennings? Is there no one else who puts together words? Does Peter Jennings have some sort of super word-structuring power that I never knew about? Probably not, so I can only assume that Diamond needed a name that rhymed with "Peggy Fleming" in the next line. Okay, so Jennings does the trick. But "I put words together"??? That's the best you could come up with? Diamond was never really a great rapper but he's better than that.

For all my n***az in the places with blunts in they faces
Off the two turntables with the anvil cases
It's the L-I-K's that blaze and amaze that
[Gots to roll deep] in these crazy-ass days
But the Alkaholik rhymer, King Tee and Diamond D
Got the gats pointed at ya like we're to round three
Cause nineteen ninety-four is the year we overdo it
With the house party beats and flowin like fluid
Cause ain't nothin too but to do that s**t and print it
But it's all about the loot so every move is documented
And vented, by the man born for lyric kickin
Coolin out with your b***h eatin sweet and sour chicken

Das EFX - "They Want EFX"

I don't think it would be hyperbolic to say (and boys you can disagree with me if you like) that this song had a profound direct effect on hip-hop lyrical styles for about 2-3 years.

The lyrics themselves are essentially meaningless, a hodgepodge of various nursery rhymes, cartoon characters and children's games. But they are constructed in such a skillful way that it all makes a strange sort of logical sense. Hard to understand? Yes, but after repeated listenings I find myself still catching references I didn't catch the first time.

Also it has an awesome KRS-ONE vocal sample ("They want effects...") and the amazing "[Crack] Snap a neck for some live effects" sample from Erick Sermon.

But the way Das actually changed hip-hop was by popularizing the "diggidy-diggidy" style of rapping, where you could simply add a few syllables to a line by siggidy-saying whatever you wiggidy-want. Now, Das was very skillful, and this song was essentially the first of its kind, given that it was nonsense, but conceptual nonsense; there is a definite theme. And Das was smart by not overusing the "diggidy" style. Did they use it a lot? Well yes, but they rarely seemed too gratuitous. But after this song came out, everyone from Kris Kross to Ice Cube was adding a diggidy to their lyrics. It became annoying after a while, but for a brief period it was actually a lot of fun.

Well Ill be darned, shiver me timbers, yo head for the hills
I picked a weeping willow, and a daffodil
So back up bucko or Ill pulverize McGruff
Cause this little piggy gets busy and stuff
Arrivederci, heavens to mercy, honky tonk I get swift
I caught a Snuffleufapus and smoked a boogaloo spliff
I got the nooks, the crannies, the nitty gritty fodey-doe
All aboard, cast away, hey wheres my boogaloo?
Ooooh Im steaming, a-go-ny
Why's everybody always picking on me?
They call me puddin tane, and raps my game
You ask me again and Ill t-tell you the same
cause Im the vulgar vegemintarian, so stick em up freeze
So no pork sausages, mom, please
A-blitz shoots the breeze, Twiddly-Dee shoots his lip
Crazy Drayzy shot the sheriff, yup and I shot the gift
And thats pret-ty sneak-y, sis oh yep
I got my socks off, my rocks off, my Nestle's cup of cocoa
Holly Hobby tried to slob me, tried to rob me silly stunt
Diggedy-dun dun dun dun dun, dun dun

Sadat X - "The Lump Lump"

What is more awesome than Sadat X? Trying to figure out what the f--k he's talking about. Don't get me wrong, I actually think Dotty-X was the best MC in all of Brand Nubian (and Lord Jamar was a very distant third) but I swear to the Big Man Upstairs I have no idea what he's talking about sometimes. He seems to have graduated to the Raekwon the Chef school of just throwing together a bunch of cool-sounding words and making them sound awesome.

I really am not quite sure what Sadat is trying to say here. He looks like he's trying to make a point about being faithful to your girlie-girl or that a bunch of dudes are trying to get with her, but I'm still really not sure. It's far to cerebral for me. But one thing from the video is for sure: Sadat X has sex with a lot of women. And the beat is pretty hot on this song.

Oh you got your own dough, from where I don't know
You hold degrees from two universities
Girl you're worth cheese in the nine-seis
Sadat owns apartment keys, is it Alize for Dolo
You got a mind on top of that spine plus the lump lump
Highly educated and highly motivated
Workin girl skirt tight love to hurt
What to exert, I break your next man's pocket
Smell of freak fragrant, unlike the vagrant
You can pay the rent always, and don't be gettin hallways
In the bed girlie and at work by nine
Put on the work force ridin on a iron horse
Bring it home to dad, the one piece cause I'm here
Workout baby doll and keep yo' career
No chiggedy, no diggedy, not you
Glad that I got you, when I did
Cause you was runnin wild with this out of style kid, no class
Light in the ass, white enough to pass
Shotproof glass for the midnight mass

Monday, July 17, 2006

Big L - "No Endz, No Skinz"

Okay, so this video is a little weak, especially considering what an awesome, catchy song it is. But I'm putting it out there for the God Toddy Scrills, since both he and I worship Big L in general, and this song in particular.

The song is peculiar in that Big L seems to lament the fact that you can't get a girl unless you have some cash, and it would be much less shallow to judge a guy based on his looks. Now, the late Mr. L was certainly no looker, but apparently he didn't have any cash either, and therefore had bad luck with women. This song comes from a different era, where it was okay to make fun of a woman for wanting to take all of a fella's money. You can't do that now, due to "political correctness" (thanks Hillary Clinton!), but curious that a girl can still oil herself up and shake her booty in any rap video today. Yikes.

I tell it how it is cause im a goldfigga
And I hate a money hungry girl a.k.a. golddigger
It ain't even funny
Some girls dont even know me askin me can they get some money
I'm lookin nuthin like ya poppa
I wouldnt give a chick 10 cent to put cheese on a Whopper
They wanna know why im so fly
A girl ask me for a ring and i put one around her whole eye
Chicks used to diss but now they wanna kiss
Yo Showbiz, I'ma break it down like this

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Rough House Survivors - "Rough House"

Another one of those one-off, obscure groups that was totally indicative of their era (about 1992) but never did more than put out one album/hit song. This album was actually surprisingly strong. (No doubt most of you remember their other semi-hit, "Check Da Backpack".)

This song has a wicked organ riff, a very interesting reggae-infused chorus, and decent lyrics. And of course the video -- being about a bunch of Rough Guys -- takes place in the ghettos, with a lot of chain-link fences and run-down buildings. And it's in a strange sepia/black and white that uses a lot of zooming and strobing. Yeah, the video isn't that great, and the song doesn't really deviate from the main beat at all, but I liked it when it came out.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Jimmy Smith - "Walk on the Wild Side"

I know this isn't hip-hop, but just indulge me here.

I came across this video of one of my favorite all time songs, a jazz song performed by the late Jimmy Smith, the master of the Hammond B-3 organ. It is a different version than I've ever heard before. It starts up nice and slow, and then about 3 minutes into the video starts to heat up.

It is flat-out one of the funkiest, most soulful jazz songs I can think of. It's a live television performance from 1961. You can see the master zoning out in about minute four, clearly in a zone. Great song. The original recording is one of my all-time favorite songs.

Jurassic 5 - "Concrete Schoolyard"

Okay so I am totally cheating on this song from 1997, but I love this song so much I don't even care. It has one of the baddest piano loops of all time, and sounds like an old-school throwdown, but which much better lyrics and flows than the Jurassic's 1980s predecessors. It's not an old school song, but it sure sounds like one.

The Jurassic 5 quickly shed their gimmick tag, when everyone thought early on that they were just old-school fakers. They proved to have the perfect blend of an old-school sensibility, but skilled lyrics. In other words, they weren't going to blame any weak rhymes on being "old school," but instead perfected their four-man interplay with great instrumentals.

Now I walk from Tranzania
Earthquake Transalvania
And on my way I kicked a whole through the wall of China
Just to get the right blend
Cause its schizophrenic of the pathway to livin
I fell into the deep end
You shouldn't have told me
The pyramids can hold me
So now a contest is what you owe me
Pull out your beats pull out your cuts
Give us a mic, whatup
And we goin tear shit up
I'm on some old and forgotten
Sun up to sun down
Like picking cotton
The nutty professor science droppin
Rockin Robbin's hood
From New York to Compton
Me and my three sons
Jabari, Shakir, and Kahsum

Masta Ace - Juice Crew Trivia

This is pretty awesome.

For all of us who remember the Juice Crew from the late 1980s and early '90s, this is kind of a 5-minute trip back in time. Masta Ace does a cool little thing called "Juice Crew Trivia," an old-school routine where he gets the audience to guess the name of the artist who rapped over the beat his DJ provides. He only does three Juice Crew members (and for leaving out Kool G Rap I almost want to yell at him), but it's very cool. And good to know that even in the 2000s, people still remember who the Juice Crew is.

See if you can guess the three crew members he mentions before you watch it. It's not G Rap, it's not Craig G, it's not Shante, it's not even TJ Swan. Oh, and it's not DJ Polo or Mister Cee. Or Marley Marl for that matter. That sort of narrows it down.

(Note: the sound kind of cuts out toward the middle and goes off-sync, but it's still cool to listen to.)

Del tha Funkee Homosapien - "MIstadobalina"

This is a funky song that was kind of a precursor to the "new West Coast" movement of the early 1990s. This album, I Wish My Brother George Was Here, is one of my favorites. It was brand new for its time; funky hip-hop with a weird bohemian edge. But not fake, Digable Planets-style bohemian, just an offbeat sensibility. If I could only find it on disc... sigh.

This song always intrigued me. It could mean one of two things. One, it could be an admonishment of a type of person who is a poseur, someone who jumped on the hip-hop bandwagon when it became popular. Del mentions people who used to mock him before, and now want to hang out with him. Hmmm...

But my theory has always been that the song -- and the namesake, Bob Dobalina -- represents the white man, who used to hate rap music, and now latches onto it since it is popular and can make money. Not only does the video (with suited-up caucasian businessmen) seem to support this, but a few select lyrics do as well. He speaks of serpents and snakes, which could be a veiled reference to the "white devil." (In fact, I remember reading an interview once where Del's cousin Ice Cube said about whites, and I'm paraphrasing, "All white people are snakes. Now, not all snakes are poisonous, but they are all snakes." Amen, Cube!)

Ooooo, ooooo, mistadobalina
You thought ya could manipulate
You thought you could fool me
Ooooo, ooooo, mistadobalina
Teach would have put me on a stump and then he schooled me
Friends can be fraudulent
Just you wait and see
First he was my moneygrip
Then he stole my honeydip
Mistadobalina is a serpent
Don't you agree
The little two-tima
Resembles aunt jemima
With jeans and a dirty white hoodie
Seems like he wouldn't be a snake
Or would he?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Common Sense - "Soul By the Pound" (Remix)

Back before some queer now-defunct fag-rock band named Common Sense made him change his name, the original Common Sense (now known simply as Common) put out two of the best albms of the mid 1990s. His second album, 1994's Resurrection, is textbook hip hop for the sensitive guy who also wants to drop some clever lyrics. It was right before he turned into a loverman and decided to do R&B songs with D'Angelo and the Roots. And that Common is fine, but I miss Common Sense! This song is from the time of Common's first album, Can I Borrow a Dollar? which is another fantastic album.

Warning: This song is NOT the version that is on that album. It was a 12" single. This is one of my greatest pet peeves. And hip hop is about the only genre of music where it's a problem, because of remixes and alternate versions and whatnot. How many times have you seen a great video, then gone out to buy the album, and the version on the album is totally different from the video version? (Examples: "Buddy" by De La Soul, "Nappy Headz" (original version) by The Fugees, "I'm the Magnificent" by Special Ed, "Check Yo Self" by Ice Cube. The list goes on and on.)

But this song is far superior to the tepid album version. And Common not only has a fresh beat, but adds the awesome Grand Puba sample. And the "gimme a T.O. baby like, um, Chris Webber" always brings me right back to that time period when I hear it. Great song.

I'll buy you on a cracker, bayow, watch where the sparks went
Fatter than Dre, a Lover like Ed, super as Clark Kent
So give it away Lois, as I change clothes without a booth
And ride like this, like woof
The roof is on fire, it's not an LA riot
I got more ho-ho-hoes than the Jolly Green Giant
Large as the Professor and I'm never faking funk, hock
Fat as heavy metal yet I'm harder than punk rock
So take me to a land I know not too far away
I got skills like Tim and I'm coming in a Harda-way
So keep the crossover, Common is a b-boy
While you be dragging last, I be kicking like Bruce Leroy
Sho nuff, yo I got the stuff that tops the stove
And I am about to explo-o-o-ode!

Ice T - "You Played Yourself"

One of the coolest songs from one of the formerly coolest rappers on the planet. This song is from the Iceberg/Freedom of Speech Just Watch What You Say album.

Ice-T was never the greatest lyricist, but back in like 1989, he was one of the coolest guys around. He was in serious pimp mode all the time, with a kangol and fresh truck jewels dripping off him. He always had a smokin' hot girl with him. He had fresh sunglasses and a bitching ponytail.

This is such a cool song with such a great guitar riff for a beat. And the song is basically about how people talk smack but can't really follow through on it. Ice is kinda lame now, playing a cop on network TV and no longer killing people, but this was when he was awesome.

You got problems, you claim you need a break
But every dollar you get you take
Straight to the Dopeman, try to get a beam up
Your idle time is spent tryna scheme up
Another way to get money for a jumbo
When you go to sleep you count Five-O's
Lyin' and cheatin', everybody you're beatin'
Dirty clothes and you're skinny cos you haven't been eatin'
You ripped off all your family and your friends
Nowhere does your larceny end
And then you get an idea for a big move
An armed robbery...smooth
But everything went wrong, somebody got shot
You couldn't get away, the cops roll, you're popped
And now you're locked, yo, lampin' on Death Row
Society's fault? No
Nobody put the crack into the pipe
Nobody made you smoke off your life
You thought that you could do dope and still stay cool? Fool.

Akinyele - "The Bomb"

Akinyele's (pronounced AK-uh-NELL-ee) first album was called Vagina Diner, which is really ironic, because there was very little sexual content. And ironically, Ak's biggest about two years later was called "Put It In Your Mouth" which is about exactly what you would think.

But after the first two tracks, this is one of the great overlooked classic hip hop albums of 1993. This song isn't the best on the album (I would say "No Exit," "Exercise" and "Checkmate" are my favorites), but it's the most commercial. It's got a catchy beat and got Ak some recognition.

One of Ak's gimmicks was that thing where he would suddenly lower his voice for one or two words in a verse. For example, in the song "Checkmate," he says the following:

So don't front like you don't know what my name is
Before I start diving up in that ass like Greg Louganis
That's not my number one AIM IS
You take my style and squeeze your lips
like probably you see your life stopped, you're freakin FAMOUS
I dare another rapper try to TAME THIS
I hit you in the ANUS
Once y'all reach for the damn STAINLESS

I loved it but it never really caught on for the guy. (And I can't tell you how many times Todd and I have said "I'll hit you in the ANUS.") You can see what I mean with the lyrics printed below in the second verse of this video. And yes, he did do it in every song.

I catch wreck like an automatic tec
Ripping rhymes as if it was written with Gilletes
Rapping over slamming tracks
My hand's compared to a drug called crack
Because it don't take much to get your ass smacked
So you can save bullshit
Word is bond get your shoehorn
Because I got a style that fit
See Akenyele be cold cuttin' brothers up like a DELI
Keeping my cool like Arthur FONZARELLI
I kick more black ass than Jim KELLY
Down with easy shit, this nigga TELL ME

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

(Navigational Note)

Just wanted to point out that I have changed the archiving on this site to weekly instead of monthly. I have been getting a little happy with the additions of videos and so there is a lot wedged into June. Hopefully this will be a little easier. I may move to the daily archiving if it gets too crazy, but I hope not.

Just wanted to remind all 3 of my readers to please leave comments and suggestions. Half the fun of re-living all these videos is getting feedback, impressions and memories. Maybe you think one of my choices sucks, so if so, please let me know. I will fight you to the death on such an argument, but that goes without saying. Or if it's your first time checking out any of the videos, your educated comments are welcome.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Gnarls Barkley - "Crazy" (Live at MTV Movie Awards)

Technically, this isn't a rap video, but I love this song and the performance was great. Especially the totally awesome Star Wars theme. Chewie on the drums, Rebel pilots on backup vocals, a stormtrooper on the guitar, and Imperial officers playing the strings. Brilliant. Danger Mouse (on the keyboards) is borderline genius. Maybe finally it will be cool to be a geek.

N.W.A - "Straight Outta Compton"

If you're anything like me, the first time you heard N.W.A's "Straight Outta Compton," you were probably in your buddy's room, listening to it very quietly on a stereo so your mom wouldn't hear it. And you were probably a combination of exhilarated and scared sh!tless. On one hand, it was terrifying to hear that people were actually like this: violent, misogynistic, vulgar. But the fact that they were allowed to say it was remarkable to me.

In 4 minutes and 26 seconds, the "F" word (and all its derivatives) is uttered 21 times. And this is the unedited version, so you won't get "Straight outta Compton / Crazy young brother named Ice Cube..." or any other lame attempt to clean it up. For better or worse, gangster rap started right here.

A crazy muthaf**ker from tha street
Attitude legit cause I'm tearin up s**t
MC Ren controls the automatic
For any dumb muthaf**ker that starts static
Not the right hand cause I'm the hand itself
every time I pull a AK off the shelf
The security is maximum and that's a law
R-E-N spells Ren, but I'm raw
See, cuz I'm the motherf**kin villain
The definition is clear, you're the witness of a killin'
that's takin place without a clue
And once you're on the scope, your 4ss is through
Look, you might take it as a trip
but a n***a like Ren is on a gangsta tip
Straight outta Compton...

Diamond D - "!*!* What U Heard"

Not exactly sure what they were doing with this video. There are a couple odd elements. First of all, the video itself is pretty lame hip-hop video stuff. Dark crowds of people, lots of zooming and fast-panning camera motion. A combination of black-n-white and color. And the strangest thing, Sadat X in the video lip-sync'ing his own sampled voice in the chorus.

The video pretends the song is called "What U Heard," but the song is really called "F--- What U Heard." Actually, officially, the title is listed on the album as "!*!* What U Heard." The bassline is hot and it's one of the better songs on the album. Of course, he also went by the name "Diamond and the Psychotic Neurotics" on his albums, but called himself Diamond D. and never introduced the Psychotic Neurotics at any point in any of his albums.

And by the way, in my opinion this album, Stunts, Blunts and Hip Hop was the best hip-hop album of 1992, which was the best year of rap music. So what does that tell you? It would have been better if they had made a better video, but the song is good and Diamond's lyrics are surprisingly good here.

From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli
My sounds slam, but some still wanna get with me
I don't understand, kid, you just can't see me
When the LP drops all my friends'll want a freebie
Whether in a car or you ride the train
My style stands out like a varicose vein
So don't front, cuz you know I'm the champ
Better off tryin' to buy a pack of Newports with a food stamp
Cuz the odds are none, and like Jimmy Castor, I've just begun
Brothers can't believe how the skills have gotten
Spicy as a steak with potatoes au gratin
But I'm not suped, I just got a lotta nerve
Cuz motherf**kers wanna see me shoot to the curb
But I just won't slip, cuz a slip ain't hip
I stay on my toe, like Broadway Joe

Shawshank Redemption - Edited Scene

Everyone loves the movie The Shawshank Redemption. But not everyone has seen this left-on-the-cutting-room-floor scene, with a distinct hip-hop flavuh! Apparently they couldn't get the rights to the song used, so they had to use the classical one instead.

Smif-N-Wessun - "Bucktown"

This song is about as close to a hip-hop anthem as you can get. Not only does it have the beautiful horn riff throughout the song, but a kick-ass drumbeat and that great chorus: "BUCKTOWWWWWN! Home of the original gun-clappers." While that phrase doesn't really make much sense at face value, those of us down with the Boot Camp at the time knew what it meant. (Note: I was not actually "down" with the Boot Camp at the time, I merely bought their albums.)

I don't smoke pot and I have never shot anyone in the face, but somehow listening to this song makes me feel like I have. This video seems very ordinary but it really captures a lot about the time period. The ghettos (of course) and some black and white photography are obligatory, but some of the standalone shots (like the noose swinging and the blood dripping off the curb) lend a sort of eerie menace to the whole affair.

This album (Da Shinin') by the way is one of the underrated gems of mid-'90s East Coast rap, top to bottom. It's too bad they had to change their names to Cocoa Brovaz and put out albums with a lot of synth. Oh well...

Another murderer, just another prankster
Rude Boy dead 'cause him t'ought him was a Gangster
Tried to live the life of a hood from the streets
Test the wrong Dread, now him in eternal sleep
Mr. Ripper, I-I-I, lurk in da Stuy
Twist up da ganja when I want ta get high
With my Breaddren, a buddah session
Learn ya lesson
Or get blasted by Mr. Smif or Mr. Wessun