Monday, August 13, 2007

Company Flow - "End to End Burners"

Company Flow were the Beatles of indie hip hop. not only were they the most influential, but they were the best.

El-P has become more of an industrial artist than the "dirty dusty" rapper and producer he once was; he is actually somehwat mainstream. Ironically, Big Juss is one of the most abstract, avant garde rappers out there.

This track was kind of their swan song, they're last great record before they broke up. I love this song a lot, not only because it was the first video I ever saw from these guys after wearing out their Funcrusher Plus LP, but it's just a blistering track. The pulsating beat dives right into the lyrics with no four-bar intro needed. The lyrics are fast and furious (and sometimes unintelligible, click here for approximate lyrics, a new window will pop up), and contain all the pre-Y2K tension that was being felt at the time. It's one of the songs that gets me pumped up like no other.

And Jesus H. Christ, just check out these lyrics.

[El-P] Yo, I cut most meticulous with a similar interest
King of pain and sing to a metronome without an influence
Shot burner off-kilter bust sh*t at random
Like civil war muskets or A.D.D. kids throwin tantrums
Out out the damn spot with phantom power rebel bunch
Using the populace like Phen-Fen the meat to public school lunches
Sad to say im the matrix with the code for smallpox rapist
Out of all shots mine are worn from hit 'n' runs, caught 'em
Straight from limbo where the most favourite dish is faces
Marching like Dimes or Orangemen through Belfast
Manimal hybrids recombination, then beatbox
til the tastebuds on our tongues are smooth and shapeless
Dodging thought police this patient zero the folk hero
Klepto steal the spotlight before b-boys turn complacent
Specialize in neuter services and theft of game systems
The crew detaches expands and credits them towards purchases
Wisdom with a bad touch, and I'll provide incision pain plus
that botched the operation and denied insurance claim form
Overfiendish, twenty cock to shoot out f*ck your mind
before that morning cup of ovaltine sh*t
El Producto, C.F. born to break shit down and replace it with
fortified vitamins that you can lick right off the vinyl
Little Leaguer, my phonics is on some clearly ironic shit
like hittin pick six on the day of the apocalypse

Grand Puba - "I Like It"

I was never a huge fan of Grand Puba. I always thought he was a nice counterpoint rapper with the rest of Brand Nubian, but he tended to get somewhat annoying when he did his own thing. He tended to get a little lazy on the mic, especially with his offbeat flow.

Having said, that I always thought this was one of the coolest, smoothest songs of 1995. It's got a great, mellow beat, with that awesome vibraphone sound. His lyrics, while not amazing, fit the song fine. It is a little ridiculous of course that an ugly, overweight, cross-eyed man such as Grand Puba would talk about getting ass, but it was pretty much his m.o. from the start. And of course he has to mention Stud Doogie, like he does in every other goddamn song he ever made. But he doesn't mention DJ Alamo. Hmmmm....

The video is kind of dumb: he straight up rips off the video for A Tribe Called Quest's "Scenario" (3 years later no less!) with the computer graphics theme. I can't help but think that this video would have been about 10x cooler if he had just driven around New York City at night and shot that for the whole video instead of wasting time in Puba's boring apartment.

Oh, but Kid from Kid 'N' Play is in the video, and that is just strange. And why the hell are Lord Jamar and Sadat X in there? Didn't Brand Nubian break up so they didn't have to see each other anymore?

I hit a flow all dipped in lotion
Sit back and sip moe as Im countin my doe
Grand puba macks well, doogie, comin with the new york
We keep it real like jail when we might talk
Honies know cause when Im in the set
Grand puba is the one who makes they stink box wet
So let me tell ya somethin lady
When ya flow this flow then its all cream and baby
I made this one for the brothers in the party
To find a hottie
And dance body to body
Step one: first you grab honey by the waist
Step two: then you move at a ghetto pace
Step three: then ya look her dead in the face
Step four: now its time to leave this place
Hold up, be careful of the cheesas
The teasas, the one who wants the money and the visas
Ima tell honies straight off the bat
But please dont even go there with that, dig it
This ones designed to make your spine in your back wind
Grand puba lights it up for you every time

Sunday, June 17, 2007

KRS-ONE vs Kool G Rap

A great debate here trying to decide who is the greatest MC in the history of hip-hop. You really can't go wrong with either of these rappers. As uneven as many of their albums have been, you can't really deny that they are both in the elite echelon.

What strikes me is the complete dissimilarity of styles. KRS is more about politics and prosyletizing, with the occasional punchline-heavy freestyle. G Rap was all punchlines and storytelling. KRS had the deep voice and conviction; G Rap had the rapid-fire delivery and incredibly inventive wordplay.

If you put a gun to my head and asked me to pick, I go Kool G Rap. He is one of the five greatest MCs that ever lived (and the #1 underrated). He was years ahead of all his contemporaries in the early 1990s -- yes, including Kane and Rakim -- and paved the way for such lyrical technicians as Pharaoh Monche, Black Thought, Nas, Aesop Rock and El-Producto. Jay-Z owes a huge debt to Kool G Rap. M.O.P. basically took their entire style from his third album.

KRS-ONE has more cache and is considered more of a legend, but G Rap is the craftsman's rapper. And also doesn't consider himself the "embodiment of hip-hop."

Hell, I'm just glad it isn't the same tired-ass Tupac/Biggie debate. KRS or G Rap would destroy either one of those fellas.

Top Ten MCs?

Here is one person's list of the top 10 MCs. I would have to agree with about 7 of them. Can you guess which ones?

Who are yours?

Friday, May 18, 2007

RJD2 - "Ghostwriter"

Okay I have to admit I have something of a hard-on for this song, and I can't pinpoint exactly why. I think it's the way it builds up from a kind of smooth, laid-back guitar vibe, then breaks out into a dramatic, triumphant horn solo.

The song came out around 2002 and I still have a rather unusual obsession with it. It's my ringtone so call me anytime.

This is a very cool live version that RJD2 did somewhere with some turntablism and some live instrumentation. It's only about 3 minutes long, but it gives you everything you need to know about how awesome this instrumental is. The sound is a little spotty, so you may have to turn it up.

This appears to be some kind of student film that someone made with "Ghostwriter" as the soundtrack. The video appears to be kind of pointless to me, and more a reason to show some cool camera angles. Real film student shit. But I could listen to this song with a video of a kitten taking a nap, and it's the album version, so I don't care. (Actually, I just finished watching the video and it ends up being kinda cool.)

It's such a great song, because at about the 5 minute mark, you think it's just about over and then it kicks into overdrive just one more time. Magnificent.

Lords of the Underground - "Chief Rocka"

I always had a strange soft spot in my heart for Lords of the Underground. I'm not quite sure why. A lot of their songs were kind of corny. Their names were Mr. Funky, Doitall (like "do it all") and Lord Jaz. And they had a somewhat publicized battle with one of my all time favorite MCs, Lord Finesse.

But this song is one of their greats. First of all, the song itself is beyond hot. The beat itself is vintage east coast funk. It's got an actual DJ doing actual scratching. The lyrics are actually kind of cool, not corny like they got once in a while.

The video itself is very much of its era, with a lot of rapping going on in very dark rooms. But the video is set apart by the slow motion breakdancing. For some reason that is just the perfect, graceful counterpoint to the chaotic and frenetic music. I can't hear the song without thinking of this video.

Also, Redman shows up at 3:38!!! Of course it's so dark you can barely see him.

Keep in mind, there are several versions of this song, all slightly different. The first version contains the chorus is simply Lord Jaz cutting up "The Lord Chief Rocka, Numba One Chief Rocka" on vinyl. The radio edit -- and in my opinion superior, but much harder-to-find version -- is the "Boomshakalaka yo here comes the Chief Rocka" chorus.

"Lord Chief Rocka version"

"Boomshakalaka version"

I'm the, Chief Rocka, so I guess I am in charge
I freak it with a twist so you'll boom it in your cars
I'm the, one with the flow and the grip like G.I. Joe
I snatch, I grab, and then I grab the dough, see if
I was an Indian I'd still be the Chief
Hittin' gangsters like Apache with the funk from beneath
To the hip, the hop, to the hibby to the hibbidy
hip-hop, oh no, I don't wanna go pop!
I got, too much soul, rhythm and blues
R&B ya see, all that's cool, but
hip-hop and rap yeah that's where my heart's at
Even back when I used to break on a box

Heavy D - "Don't Curse"

I'm back babies!

Before I begin, just a quick few words. The world has changed a lot since my last post in October. YouTube is not as valuable or reliable as it once was. I'm finding many of the previous videos I've posted are not working or have been removed. Why do record companies have their heads shoved so far up their own asses that they can't realize that YouTube (and similar sites) are the best advertisting they can get. Morons!

Okay let's get started

I was never a big fan of Heavy D, however this album -- Blue Funk -- had a bunch of genuine surprises. "A Buncha Niggaz" was one of them, this was another.

If you flash back to 1992, you may not have been able to assemble a better array of hip hop stars of that time period. Count 'em down: Heavy D, Kool G Rap, Grand Puba, CL Smooth, Big Daddy Kane (wearing a Big Daddy Cast on his arm), Pete Rock and Q-Tip. That is a formidable lineup, and you could say that except for maybe CL Smooth, it's a Hip Hop Hall of Fame lineup.

I actually really really like the concept of this video where each rapper gets his own "room" which fits his rapping style. So Kool G. Rap gets a high-stakes roulette wheel, Kane gets a fancy room with a lot of girls, CL Smooth gets a room with a 6'6" basketball hoop? Okay. The problem, as was the problem with most rap videos of the era, was that it jumps around way too much. They could have made this so much cooler and more conceptual, but instead the camera has do bob and weave around like Katherine Hepburn holding a camera while running on a treadmill.

I really like that in the song, they pretend that they were just about to swear, but somehow covered it up. How hard do you think it was to get Kool G Rap to actually NOT swear?

You can't really hear it in this version of the video, but at the end, the chorus chants "Free Slick Rick." That's part of the problem with the hip hop community. If Slick Rick had attempted to murder you, would you want him let out?

You're telling me don't curse on a verse, they did it worse
First I put a curse on every verse
I kind of got outrageous
Check it, even made a record on how I'm doing on the B-I-T-C-Hes
Drop some verses for the bust
Every word that you heard is cause I didn't give a f-, aw shucks
Hey yo, I almost forgot
The curse is a plot but it's getting kinda hot
So I'ma let profanity retire, hey
But if worse comes to worse, I'll cut you out like Richard Pryor
So Grand Puba, kick a verse
But do your man a favor and don't curse