Saturday, August 15, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

Kam - "Peace Treaty"

This song comes from that brief moment in about 1992-92 where East Coast and West Coast hip hop sounded very very similar. Kam, in my opinion, was one of the better rappers from the Left Coast from this era, and his album, Neva Again, is outstanding.

This song is about the short-lived peace treaty between L.A. gangs around that time. There was a gang truce after the Rodney King/L.A. Riots. Even though it is anti-caucazoid, it is a very positive song, showing Kam's innocence and/or naivete. The video is in that standard black and white strobe style. And I have to mention that in the color scenes I see a lot of blue and not much red. Could it be that Kam couldn't actually get any Bloods to show up to Crip-town? I wouldn't blame them honestly.

Lookin at the aftermath of the riot
I can still smell the ashes
From all the clashes
But quiet is kept, it wasn't just the blacks
Everybody was lootin, and had each other's backs
We came through in understandin, demandin
Justice, bust this, we all had our hand in
The cookie jar, took it far enough to make a statement
Daryl Gates - that's where all the hate went
We pass by a swap meet
Been shoppin at for years, but it couldn't stop heat
See ya, wouldn't wanna be your next door neighbor
Less government relief checks, more labor
10 percent blood suckers of the poor took a loss
For exploitation, had to show em who was boss
Teach em not to be so greedy
Had to shut em down, bound by a peace treaty

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Gravediggaz - "Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide"

This video isn't quite as scary as I remember it when I first saw it back in 1994, but it's pretty cool. And after I saw it I ran to Camelot records and bought the album.

The Gravediggaz were not the first, but probably the most successful, to be part of the short-lived "horrorcore" scene. The reason they were good is because they had a relatively light touch and put as much satire into the music as they did death-stuff. It was kind of a hip hop expansion team, with The RZA (from Wu-Tang Clan), Prince Paul and Frukwan (from Stetsasonic) and Too Poetic. An impressive lineup until Too Poetic died (seriously, he did).

Let's get it on ock, and watch the spot get blown
I be the sick lunatic with the devilish poem
From the mists of the darkness I come with this
Hittin straight, to the chest, like a Primatene mist
Ryzarector, YAH, the fanatical type
I'm like a bat, in the night, when it's time to take flight
Here I am, in the flesh, and yes I love sess
I'm obsessed, by the sounds, the track posess

Friday, August 07, 2009

Madvillain - "All Caps"

Okay, so I just started this thing and I'm already cheating.

Madvillain was a project that combined one of rap's best producers (Madlib) and one if it's best MC's (MF Doom), and although this album came out in 2003 (not anywhere near my "golden age" promise), it could have come out in 1993, except that it would have been so ahead of it's time that no one would have even given it a chance.

Plus it's one of the coolest videos I've ever seen. I love the comic book concept.

So nasty that it's probably somewhat of a travesty
Having me daily tellin' the people
You can call me Your Majesty
Keep your battery charged
You know it won't stick, yo
And it's not his fault you kick slow
Should've let your trick-ho chick hold your sick glow
Plus nobody couldn't do nothin' once he let the brick go
And you know I know that's a bunch of snow
The beat is so butter
Peep the slow cutter
As he utters the calm flow
Don't talk about my moms, yo
Sometimes he rhyme quick, sometimes he rhyme slow
And vice versa
Whip up a slice of nice verse pie
Hit it on the first try
Villain: The Worst Guy

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Lord Finesse - "Strictly For the Ladies"

Good sweet Allah how I love Lord Finesse. For the uninitiated, you may recognize his voice from "Check it out nowwww, the funk soul brotha." But Finesse is the man. Despite his incredibly formulaic rap style, his lyrics are awesome, with a combination of swagger and punchlines.

There are so many great elements to this video. First, the song is hot. It's basically not a love song at all, because he essentially just tells this girl he doesn't want anything to do with her after he very clearly boned her the night before. There is the great Big Daddy Kane "Now girls step up ta this" sample, which is so classic. There is the girl who says things like "Oh it's like that now" and "But last night you was kissin' and huggin' me!" but with a look on her face like she has just been given valium.

Oh, and the piece de resistance: an 18 year old Fat Joe swaying back and forth throughout the video.

Now I give a girl more than she’s asking for
I take them 18 and up, and that’s for sure
So when you’re done or you’re bored with your stupid zero
Contact me and I’ll save you like a super hero
Please your needs and get all close to you
And do you right like a man is supposed to do
Knock your boots until I begin to sprout
Give you something to brag to your friends about
After a date I’m the type to get pissed
When y’all girls want to front on a kiss
I let ’em know I’m not slow or work late
Y’all front the role (I don’t kiss on the first date)
Baby please, don’t give me that feedback
Straight up and down, you expect me to believe that?
I’ll take a kiss or a peck with a tight hug
I’m not the type to go out like a lightbulb
Or get crazy or go insane or get fed up
I’ll get smooth and f**k your whole head up

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

King Sun - "Be Black"

Okay, here's how I like 'em. Nice and obscure. Maybe King Sun was a little too African for his own good at times, but this song is hot in a very 1990 kind of way.

The point is that King Sun is sick of people who claim to have African pride but then only use it to be fashionable. But at the same time, his obsession with what people are wearing rivals Mr. Blackwell. And while I understand his need to "be black," is it really necessary to dress yourself in full sheik garb. There may have been a veiled reference to the A.F.R.O.S. as well, and if you remember them you know more about rap than you probably should.

Now everybody's wearin the red black and green
Here's the point: do you know what it means?
Red for the bloodshed, black for the people
Green for the land to be utilized equal
"Yo I'm from Africa" boy you're just a faker
Name one city "Uhh, Jamaica!"
WRONG... and I think that's a shame
An African look with an American name
You might fool others but you can't fool Sun
Wanna build with the brother, then I am the one
Play connect the dots, all the way to the motherland
What have you done for your nation my brotherman
You can't even do the right things for self
Then you got the nerve to criticize somebody else
If it wasn't for Chuck you wouldn't know of Farrakhan
I understand that the man is a paragon
Open up your eyes and ears and try to learn
Stop perpetratin with your false concern
Even some rappers, frontin in their videos
Nothing but Oreos, tryin to be memorial
I'm not impressed, by the way some stars
perpetrate to be original, you know who you are
I diss my people who choose to lack
Cause there's more to learn on how to be black

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Main Source - "Peace is Not the Word to Play"

What an odd subject for a song. Large Professor (rapper of Main Source, along with Canadian twin-brother DJ's K-Cut and Sir Scratch) apparently got sick of people using the word "peace" and then being ... well, unpeaceful.

Back in 1992 I didn't realize that this had become such a hypocrisy. Until one day, about three years ago, I was at the mall, sippin' on a milkshake, minding my business, taking a break. A crew of corny white boys tried to step to me. So of course I pulled out my glock and started spraying bullets everywhere. People started scattering, babies screaming, etc etc. Anyway, this one punk-ass cracker is lying in front of the Foot Locker wounded. So I squeezed one into his chest, and one in his head. (ALWAYS put one in the brain!) As I turned away, I said, "Peeeeace!" And then I paused. I felt like such a hypocrite. Large Pro was right all along.

PEACE! Piece of what?
You can't mean P.E.A.C.E.
Cause I've seen people on the streets
Shoot the next man and turn around and say peace
But that's leaving people in pieces
It's not what the meaning of peace is
To me it means the absence of all confusion
Not the oozing and brusing
That we're all so accumstomed to
Your friend got beef? I'll bust him too
What a brother from a certain way of life explained to me once, dunce
He didn't realize the fact that
He and myself were brothers on the same rope
Now last month he got hemmed up, huh, that's all she wrote

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Pharcyde - "Ya Mama"

I think this song is freakin' hilarious. You can keep your Biz Markie or your Fresh Prince or your Coolioolio. I think The Pharcyde was one of the most fun groups of the decade, and their debut album Bizarre Ride II tha Pharcyde is one of my favorite albums of 1993.

This song exemplifies everything that was great about the Pharcyde. Funky, whimsical production and clever lyrics. "Ya Mama" is basically an entire song full of jokes about your moms. And unlike that crappy "Yo Momma" show on MTV, most of the jokes are actually funny. Although can someone tell me why Fatlip is listed as "Derrick" in the video? Why were so many rappers named Derrick and then changed it? (Yeah, I'm talking to you Sadat X!)

Seriously, how this song never became a hit is a mystery to me. It really should be one of those songs that when it comes on at a club the whole place goes crazy and raps along with all the words. But noooo .... people would rather hear Sean Paul. Wow I sound bitter. Just enjoy.

Ya mama look like she's been in the dryer with some rocks
With the big bust nose sucking dirt out of socks
Held up the ice cream truck with a slingshot
She grabbed a bag of Cheese Corn and a soda pop
Ya mama root'n'toot and stole my loot and my zoot suit
She may have the muscles, but no, she's not cute
She's not pretty, oh what a pity, got the glass titty
Filled up with Kool-aid, just for the kiddies
On a cliff butt naked, tootin' on a flute
Ridin on a horse drinkin whisky out a boot
She's got the teeth and the wings of an African bat
Her middle name is Mudbone and on top of all that

Ya mama got the wooden legs with real feet
(Ya mama got the wooden legs with real feet)
Ya mama got the wooden legs with real feet
Ya mama, ya mama, ya mama...

Smoothe da Hustler - "Broken Language"

I first heard this song in 1995 on college radio and was blown away by it. The beat sounds like something Mobb Deep would create, and the lyrics (after Trigga the Gambler's tepid first verse) are amazing, describing a sort of superhero or uber-badass. For months we had no idea who performed the song or what it was called, so we just called it "The Who?" since nearly every line in the song is "The _________."

Footnote: this is one of the most overhyped, underperforming, disappointing albums of 1996 or almost any year. People really thought that Smoothe da Hustler was going to become the next elite gangster rapper, but this album was so mediocre that there was just no way to look past it. Classic case of setting the bar way too high.

...The money stasher, gun blastin razor slasher
The human asthma breath taker
Body dump waster
The glock cocker, block locker the rock chopper,
The shot popper, the jock cock glocker
The face splitter, human disgrace getter
The lady sh**ter, phone joneser
sneak over f**k your babysitter
The chronic smokin, gun totin hearse initiator
The crack supplier, the human drug generator
The honey gamer, the chicken tricker
The slick the long d**k p***y sticker
The ready to bust that 4ss kicker
The track manoeuvre, the box barrier
The off of the dome rapper
The c-74 ox carrier....

Sunday, August 02, 2009

K-Solo - "Fugitive"

I don't know whether or not K-Solo was really a fugitive in Suffolk County or not, but he paints a pretty vivid picture of why he's on the run from the cops. (Apparently hitting someone in the face with a brick will get you in trouble with the law. Pffffft!) He also does a lot of laughing in cops faces, which I know for a fact they do not care for.

If it is true, he's a lot better about it than I would be. I don't think the person who got the brick to the face died, because if he did, I think K-Solo would have gotten more than just 16 months.

I don't know what beef DMX always had with K-Solo, but he better watch it or he might get a brick to the face!

Two years went by, me running from the cops
My mom looked at my dad, my dad said "Son, this has gotta stop"
Dad gave me money, he said, "Son, this is for ya"
I went to Garden City to go get me a lawyer
I went to jail, Monday I was in jail through Friday
When you're black and you're in trouble man does your lawyer get paid
Then my moms told the judge "My son's a good child"
Then he laughed at my mother and said "Then take us to trial"
I told my mom and dad I felt within
If we took Suffolk County to court or trial, I know I wouldn't win
So without a doubt, like any black kid in Suffolk county
K-S-O-L-O had to cop out
To sixteen months in Riverhead
Instead of fighting and wilding, I wrote my records instead
Comisarry was ???, inmates owed me
CO's would beat me up on shakedowns, but now those suckers know me
And I laugh at those cops who arrest me for what I did
Cause I'm hooked and no longer am I a fugitive

Zhigge - "Toss It Up"

Zhigge to me was the epitome of that brief moment in hip hop, around 1992, when songs could be both banging and fun. (See House of Pain's "Jump Around," YBT's "Tap the Bottle," Onyx's "Slam".) This song has got everything, a great, ebullient chorus, nice lyrics and a sweet horn riff.

It's one of those songs that just takes me right back to those days when I was like 16 years old, playing basketball after school with Mike C., staying up till 2AM when the local college hip hop radio show would end. Sleeping through sophomore year of high school. And much of junior year. You know...either way, it was a great party jam. And there are dancers in the video! Maybe the last video in history to have authentic hip hop dancing.

Tossin' it up, once again, it's the man
That gets more boots than Tim's got on Berland (hey!)
Through my course I've crossed some tough times
So I write rhymes that's designed to get mine
With a quickness, DJ the thickness
If you're sweet, we'll have you tossin' in your sleep.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Souls of Mischief - "'93 Til Infinity"

I don't know if it's the song itself or the very laid-back video with the outdoor settings, but this video is one that really sticks in my head as a favorite. It's not all that impressive or innovative but it was such a refreshing change from a lot of the in-your-face, in the ghetto imagery of the time.

Souls of Mischief should have been a great hip hop crew. With four very distinct voices and lyrical styles, Opio, Phesto, A-Plus and Tajai should have revolutionized rap music. Instead, they put out one incredibly good album, which is (of course), '93 Til Infinity.

What is great about this song is not only that they never say the word "infinity" in the chorus, but rather just "This is how we chill from '93 til ..." but that they eschew all the hard-posing that was so popular and showed themselves simply "chilling." At the beach, in the forest, in someone's rec room.

At the time, I would say Heiro was the premier West Coast hip hop crew, but I might be biased because they sounded like an East Coast hip hop crew (more attention to lyrics, jazz beats instead of funk beats, etc.). This track remains one of my favorites.

Yo, crews are jealous cause we get props
The cops
Wanna stop
Our fun, but the top
Is where we're dwelling, swelling, phat
No sleep
I work fifteen jerks get their hoes sweeped
Under their noses
This bro's quick
To hit blunts and flip once I'm chillin cause my crew's close, kid
I boasted
Most kids accept this as cool
I exit
Cause I'm an exception to the rule
I'm steppin
To the cool spots where crew's flock to stare at them
Or see where the shit that's flam b
Bland leaking out his pocket
So, I got tons of endo
And go to the ho in's
My ace spinned
Phat and enough tracks
Time to get prolific with the whiz kid

Friday, July 31, 2009

Das EFX - "Baknaffek"

Das EFX's second album, Straight Up Sewaside, was a decent, if disappointing follow up to their debut, Dead Serious, which really revolutionized rap for about 3-4 years with the "biggidy-diggidy" style they perfected. That style was later used by many other rap artists, from Bone Thugs & Harmony to Ice Cube.

This song, however, is a standout. You can tell that from the first verse that they are attempting to be a bit more straightforward, and less off-the-wall. And they have moved their locale out of the sewer into the subways. (I may have to do a post at some point about all the videos that take place in the subways.)

I am very skeptical when using black and white in a rap video, because it has been done many times, and mostly superfluously. EPMD's "Crossover" did NOT need to be in black and white. Neither did Ice Cube's "Be True to the Game." There was no reason other than just directorial masturbation. But here it works and works to great effect. B&W is perfect for the underground setting, then turns to a drab color when they come up from the underground. There is also something cool about the way they are initially rapping to each other in the beginning, as if having a conversation, only to turn to the camera for the final two verses. Great, underrated song and video.

Shippity bop, well hot diggity, where's the iggity? The bum siggity
N****s wanna know but check the flow my little chickadee
I'm comin with the Books so kid, it looks like it's a winner
Ya better get'cha plate because I'm servin raps for dinner
See I freak it from the sewer plus I'm quick to do ya posse
I'm swoopin on the note just like I was a kamikaze
See they thought I lost my spot so they went and got real comfy
So now I gotta hit me hard and bogart like Humphrey
Ya hypocrite, I'm rippin it because I'm flyer
Ya phony, full of bologne like Oscar Meyer
See I attack a pack of rappers just for practice
I bust my tactics, I'm sharper than a f**kin' axe is
(Set it off!) One two (Set it off!)

Miilkbone - "Keep It Real"

By request...

Quoth my ex-roomie/current-homey Kuba: "I truly believe this cat from NJ would have been bigger if he wasn't white. A damn shame too. The piano chords used in this track will give you a sore neck." Damn right! I forgot how ill the piano loop in this song is.

Lyrically, this is a pretty tight set, if unexceptional. In 1995, people were -- to echo Kuba's sentiments -- a little afraid of a whiteboy who had such crazylegs and used so many hand motions. You'd have to think that if he didn't move around so much, he would have come off so "wiggerish." (Not that there was anything wrong with being wiggerish in '95, mind you!)

The instrumental sounds like something Premier might have come up with back then, and it's a perfect example of what pretty much everything sounded like back in the Nine-Pound.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Boogie Down Productions - "You Must Learn"

As was one of the most annoying trends of hip hop music in the 1990s, the video version of this song was much different (and far superior) to the one on the album. Whereas the album version starts with the infamous, "Hey Kris? What are you doin' outta school???" bit, this one starts with the Blastmaster KRS-ONE speaking to a bunch of kids in a classroom before he is forceably removed by the white devil school board. He is greeted by the rest of the Boogie Down Productions, including D-Nice and his enormous wife at the time, Ms. Melodie. (Was Melodie her maiden name?)

The cool thing about this video is that it is essentially about learning black history in America, but it more or less sounds like a party song. KRS, for all his flaws and pretention, really rocks this song. And I learned things like that a black man invented the traffic light and another invented the straightening comb. The video is actually surprisingly dynamic for its time period, with a lot of motion and movement. And better than most BDP videos of the day, that's for sure. I do really enjoy the Benetton-multicultural group of teenagers who start lip-sync'ing at the end. And boy does KRS know how to get a crowd to follow him down the street.

Let me continue with Theodosyius
A Greek ruler not known to most of us
He in the fourth century A.D.
Calls the Egyptians fools you see
Two years later, Justinian rules
Six A.D., was it for schools
As a result, ignorance had swirled
Over Christian Europe and grateful Roman worlds
This went on for a thousand years
Of ignorance stupidity and tears
Now comes the seventeenth century hardness
Europe, began to come out of it's darkness
So J.F. Blumenbach, a German
Came out of nowhere and started confirming
White supremacy and men of colors
Before this time, all men were brothers
It was Johann, who went on to say
There are five different colors in the world today
That's caucasian, malayan, and mongolian
American-indian, and ethiopian
Yes, the ignorance gets scarier
He believed whites were superior
According to his idiotic fountain
The purest whites were from the Caucas mountains
J A Blofener, and H S Chamberlain
Both supported this outrageous racism

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Big Daddy Kane at VH1 Hip Hop Honors

Okay, so this isn't technically a video, but it's honestly one of the best things I've ever seen. T.I., Common, the Roots and the Big Daddy himself doing an excellent medley of Kane's greatest hits at the VH1 Hip Hop Honors in 2005. The part at the end of where he and Scoob and Scrap dance literally gives me chills every time I see it. That son of a bitch can rock a party...

I profile a style that’s mild and meanwhile
Put on trial a rap pile to exile
Make you tumble and stumble, in a rumble just crumble
And I’m still calm and humble
You need another helpin hand to swing on
I stand alone, but still you gotta bring on
Your batman and robin, cagney and lacey
Starsky and hutch, but they still can’t face me
And if may make this one thing here clear
That’s for you not to come near, period
So I ain’t buggin or delirious
My swift tongue’s like a sword, that’s how severe it is
And I can slice and dice a fisher price mc
That thought he was nice into minute rice
Single-handed, I ain’t with that band stuff
Cause Cee’ll scratch a record like flakes of dandruff

Mic Geronimo - "It's Real"

This is one of the smoother East Coast rap songs to come out in 1995, Mic Geronimo was one of those guys who put out a hot single, and everyone anticipated the album, but the album was average at best. (For the record, the album, The Natural, is not a bad album, and has some good tracks like "Men vs. Many" and "Master I.C." but was disappointing overall.)

This is just a great song to ride in your car to, which is rather inconvenient since you are looking at it on your computer. And those who did not buy rap tapes back in the day might not know that the real title is "S**t's Real." And he also looks a bit like Tek Money from The Real World.

Another day of steppin through the belly of the beast
I leave the compound and make my way to my stomping grounds
I'm just about broke to the letter
It can't get any worse, it could only get better
I burn a lamp I wanna waste lines, Geronimo'll be fine
Brothers come up back in un-divine
So now I unwind and keep my focus on my schedule
It's critical for me to run a scan of my plan
I keep steppin', and on the DL, I be well
It's the gospel, chicks'll get a call when it's possible
I make a redbone a dead bone, after the bed bone
I leave the ***** sewn from my tone.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Prefuse 73 & Edan Live

This show apparently took place in Brooklyn in May of 2006.

If you aren't familiar with Edan, he is one of the sickest underground artists right now. Not only are his songs filled with bizarre -- sometimes absurd -- hip hop references, but he can flow like you wouldn't believe. Plus, he raps AND DJ's at the same time, with one hand on the mic and the other hand doing the cuts. Sure he looks like John Lennon circa 1962, but the kid is nice. The echo pedal on the lyrics is just typical of the kind of stuff you can expect from Edan.

Prefuse 73 is no slouch either, though he plays the background on this particular video. The sound in the last minute or so of the video is typical of what you can expect from Prefuse, if you aren't familiar.

Intelligent Hoodlum/Tragedy - Grand Groove (Bonus Mix)

One of the proudest sub-subgenres in hip hop is the "back n da dayz" nostalgia song. Another is the "pour one out for the brothers who ain't here" tribute track. The artist who vacillated between the names "Tragedy," "Intelligent Hoodlum" and "Tragedy Khadafi" combined both sentiments with "Grand Groove," off his second album Saga of a Hoodlum.

The swirling piano keys and the female vocal vamps throughout the song give it a lighter, quasi-R&B feel, which is probably why I wasn't that into the song way back then. But in retrospect, it's a hot track, and a thoughtful, well-constructed song.

The first verse is about being born and growing up, the second verse is about his mother, and the third is about his grandmother who had -- apparently -- recently passed away. ("Grand" Groove, get it?) It comes off as sincere without being overly sentimental or corny, and though he injects a bit of his own experience (going to the penitentiary, for example), but also rings surprisingly universal.

I understand you're going back to the essence
But I do miss your presence
Too busy tryin' to be slick and get over
Back in the days I used to wish I was older
And I remember, and I remember, and I remember
I used to sneak in the house with my eyes all red
Duck the blow that was aimed for my head
Run in the streets like a runaway slave
I didn't know you was headed for the grave
Never miss a good friend until they're gone
As long as I'm alive you're gonna live on and on
Who says your best friend has to be a brother
A friend is someone who's always there for another
No more snakes in the grass when you're near
Grand groove, I love ya and I wish you were here
I still love ya to this very day
One love, grand groove, ya passed away

Monday, July 27, 2009

Illogic - "Birthright"

No video attached, a great song from Columbus, Ohio's own Illogic, and his 2004 album Celestial Clockwork. This would have been a perfect fit in 1995.

And while you're at it, go to and check out the equally transcendent "Lesson In Love."

Danger Mouse - "Encore"

I think that Danger Mouse's "The Grey Album" -- which features Jay-Z's vocals from The Black Album and instrumentals which uses samples from the Beatles' The White Album -- is one of the great musical achievements of the last decade or so. What a brilliantly clever concept.

This video takes it one step further, with a Beatles concert that gets a modern update. Brilliant. And with better production and instrumentals than Jay-Z picks for himself, it's easier to see the brilliance of his lyrics and flow. As good as Kool G Rap in his prime? Mmmm, that's pushing it. But he's got the goods, no doubt.

Who you know fresher than Hov'? Riddle me that
The rest of y'all know where I'm lyrically at
Can't none of y'all mirror me back
Yeah hearin me rap is like hearin G. Rap in his prime
I'm, young H.O., rap's Grateful Dead
Back to take over the globe, now break bread
I'm in, Boeing jets, Global Express
Out the country but the blueberry still connect
On the low but the yacht got a triple deck
But when you Young, what the f**k you expect? Yep, yep
Grand openin', grand closin'
God damn, your man Hov' cracked the can open again
Who you gon' find doper than him with no pen
just draw off inspiration
Soon you gon' see you can't replace him
with cheap imitations for DESE GENERATIONS

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Nas - "The World Is Yours" (Q-Tip Remix)

To improve on Nas's 1994 Illmatic album would be a tall order, but Q-Tip damn near does it by creating a new, different and more dynamic version of this beloved single.

This is a far smoother instrumental version than the one that Pete Rock assembled for the album. It flows better (in my opinion) than the original, and sounded more like a song you would want to drive around to in the summer, rather than one you would sit in your bedroom and listen to.

Nas also does a cool thing with the second verse where he changes it, but bookends it with some familiar elements of the original. And even if some people don't think the inclusion of this track would be an improvement on the original, it would be a fitting replacement.

To my man Ill Will, God bless your life
To my peoples throughout Queens, God bless your life
My insights and light's vision
Words of wisdom, niggas pay me intuition
To listen, to murder paragraphs of mysticism
Man plant seeds that brings forth multiple breeds
So many cultures and one planet to broke my culture's free
Son, I need Weed to proceed
Change the flow speed and I'm getting vexed, Giuliani is six six six
There's no days for broke days selling smoke pays
I toke the chocolate for the phillies, never roach spray
Shit is a hassle, the bridge is like a haunted castle
The mic my religion, the system is the Devil's lasso
Hey yo, the trife life is most influental
The colors on mens skins and pens is coincidental
How ya living large or broker, you're wasting time extortin papers from smokers
Cacthing court papers getting broker

YAGGFU Front - "Left Field"

Once in a while a song comes along that is so perfect, and just goes away as fast as it arrived. "Left Field" is such a song, it's an unlikely love song, in the vein of The Pharcyde's "Passin' Me By," and straddles the line between sincerity and irony.

There is a lot to like about the song. The instrumental has a very cool organ riff, and some funky futuristic sounds. The song itself is three distinct verses of guys' rationales for not talking to a pretty girl in a club. One is too shy, one is too fly, one is too stupid. The middle verse is the most poignant, speaking of unrequited love.

Another thing: the band's name means "You Are Gonna Get F**ked Up (If You) Front." That is classic.

I got this girlfriend, but she's not really mine
Cause on the end of girlfriend is the way that she's inclined
Dressed to impress but she don't play dress-up
to catch my attention cause I already messed up
See I get ribbed, cause she acts like I'm sibling
Playin a brother role puts a block between my goals
I'm sold on the thought, cause I know I can correct it
But I don't step, cause I'm scared she might reject it
So I play along just for a chance to be around her
Perhaps she'll catch my hints, and we can end this fencin
then I'll make her my babyyy babyyy babyyy
Drivin me crazy on the one and one tip
When will she stop this brother stuff?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

El-P, Aesop, DJ Abilities, RJD2 - Cambridge, MA, 05/02

Sick sick sick sick. Two of the best indie hip hop DJs in the world, and the two greatest MCs of this decade.

Spice 1 - "In My Neighborhood"

Since YouTube removed this video, I had to go to their competitor, Daily Motion. Seems like they do a nice job, but this is the first time I've used them so forgive me if there is a glitch.

This song is a bit on the negative side, I suppose, but it's catchy, using a very funky sample and a nice flow. (The rest of this album sucked in my opinion, but that's neither here nor there.) In some ways it's a little positive, just "putting a mirror up to society" [yawn] and showing the "realities of the ghetto." [Zzzzzz]

But the song is very funky, and I even like the "INNN MYYYY NEIGGHHHHH-BOR-HOOOOOD" sung chorus. Spice-1 never really was one of my favorites, but this song was.

Welcome to the ghetto, although I call it my neighborhood
Some people get out, but some people stay for good
I see a dopefiend yellin he's a O.G.
He scratched his head and started starin like he knows me
I say, "What up, old man, I seen your face before"
It was my homie's pops, shirt dirty, pants tore
He had a 40 in his hand, left a little swallow
He said, "Young-ass ni***a," and then he threw the bottle
I ducked down, and I had to duck real fast
Stepped two feet back, and then I banked his 4ss
I started kickin and stompin my n***a's brains out
I heard a b***h yell "freeze!" and runnin out the house
It was his wife, and the b***h started bustin at me
I can't believe this s**t, this b***h is trigger-happy

Friday, July 24, 2009

Aesop Rock - "Pigs"

This not the official video for the hidden track on 2007's None Shall Pass album, but it's a helluva cool way to spend 4 1/2 minutes.

The director is Dan Wolfe, the artist is Jeremy Fish.

The Jaz - "The Originators"

It's funny that all of us take it for granted that Jay-Z is pretty much the Alpha Dog everywhere he goes. He's got the swagger of a young Apollo Creed, but the laid back essense of Lando Calrissian.

But true-heads will remember back in the early 1990s when HOVA was actually second fiddle to Big Jaz in the group, The Jaz. Before Chip Fu, Das EFX, Twista or Daddy Freddy, the Jaz had pretty much perfected the so-fast-you-can-barely-understand-it hip hop flow. How the words to this song can even be transcribed is a miracle.

In this video, it is pretty clear that Big Jaz is the B.M.O.C. Definite Treach and Vinnie vibe happening. Big Jaz is cool and seems to have confidence, and Jay-Z looks like a skinny little upstart. (Who knew back then that this little Doc Gooden-on-Crack lookalike would be nailing one of the top-five hottest women on the planet?) There's no question that even back then the kid had insane skills, and in a way all he probably had to do to modernize himself was take that incredible dexterity and just slow it down. Amazing how dumbing things down can get you more notoriety. And it should be noted that this song is so fast that Big Jaz actually says the words "You sucker, you f**ker, you p*ssy, you wussy, nobody can verse me" and it doesn't get bleeped out.

Two questions: 1) do you think that Jay-Z came up with his rap name trying to impress Big Jaz? Like a fondness for an older brother. 2) Do you think Jigga ever calls Big Jaz anymore?

Oh, and I forgot to mention. This song is definitely hot, even today.

Wreckin and wreckin in seconds less than speeds of light
So the miggeda-more that come, the miggeda-merrier, right, right
Excitin the mic much to the delight of millions of Nubians
And Amorites just can't understand the groove we're in
Cool, it might take a couple of takes for you to clarify
Don't lie, you coulda never got in on the first try
But never to worry, I'm not in a hurry, take your time
Cause it's my rhyme, I siggeda-said so, and I'm J-a-y-Z, y'all know me
I wish you could write, cause you'd pay me all the rhymes you stole from me

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Wu-Tang Lego Clan

Tip o' the cap to Steady Bloggin...

Wu-Tang Lego: Da Mystery of Chessboxin' from davo on Vimeo.

Wu-Tang Lego: Killer Tape from davo on Vimeo.

New Edition - "Word To The Mutha"

This isn't technically a hip-hop song, but I love it anyway. All original members of New Edition come through and put out a surprisingly hot (for its time) song. The BBD clothes (powder blue suspenders) are pretty atrocious, and the black-and-white-with-blue-tinge film style is a painful reminder of mistakes past. But the song is funky and the rapping is actually kind of awesome. And naturally, it included Bobby Brown going completely ape-shit, many years before it became customary.

Michael Bivins is really a trailblazer. Who else would be that ugly, and that unstylish, and still have the audicity to not only make out with a girl in the video, but wipe his lips right in front of her right before he starts rapping. And that is before he does a very obvious crotch-grab and yells "get the Bozack." He might as well be saying "F--k you, Erick Sermon!" How Biv-10 never became the dominant record label in America continues to mystify me. And they couldn't give Johnny Gill more to do than just sing the stupid opening? Come on, New Edition, you're better than that.

Funkmaster Flex feat. 9 Double M - "Six Million Ways to Die"

Before he dropped the unheralded mini-classic Nine Lives in 1995, Nine went by the name of "9 Double M." And on this forgotten 1993 underground jam, he dropped a pretty hot freestyle/battle verse on this track, with the then-little known Funkmaster Flex.

The song uses a familiar instrumental: it's basically the same instrumental as "Punks Jump Up to Get Beat Down" (the original version), only with more hyped up drums and more amped up feel all around. It was memorable not because of the lyrics -- which are solid but don't quite stand the test of time -- but because of the ingenius chorus: "six million ways to die, choose one." It was released on the dearly defunct Wreck Records label. An alternate version also exists with Tragedy/Intelligent Hoodlum dropping a verse in the middle; that version is lyrically superior but did not have a vide.

The video follows the rules of the time: jumpy camera movements, no more than 2.3 seconds on any one thing, a chain link fence, a thugged-out MC with a vest. What might not fly in 2009 is the collage of guns, knives and Chinese throwing stars.

"A" is for action, "B" is for burnin'
"C" I'm catchin' bodies like Erick gives a Sermon
And I'm waitin' for a sucker to get fly
I been around hip hop, and I-I-I-I...
Know how to catch wreck as a car lot
And the schoolyard, I get crazy like a retard
I'm like Houdini in a straitjacket, brother I get loose
Boo yaa kah Boo yaa kah, let me tell ya somethin'
I get wicked like a Luther Vandross wedding singahh
Supahmaaan, Um uh, fly high
Uh way up in uh the sky
Oh whatever, never step to 9DoubleM the gat
With the ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-chit chat
I'm just chillin', that's word to Chuck
Just till I get busy and come back with a HUH-HAW


One of the best tracks that Nine ever put out was not on his albums, but was a dark, brooding single called "Famaldahyde." You can listen to it below (no video attached).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Kool G Rap & DJ Polo - "Ill Street Blues"

Here is another one from the man I consider to be the greatest rapper that ever lived.

When I first heard this song in 1992 I almost crapped my pants. It was on a college radio station at about 2AM, and I had been waiting for this album to come out for two years. As soon as I heard that lispy "Aww yeah," I knew who it was even before they said it.

The video itself is kinda cool, even if low budget. (This was after the Live and Let Die album got dropped by Warner Brothers after the "Cop Killer" fallout and had to be released by the smaller -- but seminal -- Cold Chillin' label.)

Suckas I clobber, because my town is full of cops 'n' robbers
You're not promised tomorrow in this little shop of horrors
So I got to get with the business and hit quick
Money-grip's pockets lookin' thick, so I stick slick
Hold it right there, hands in the air, I know you got the loot
Or better yet, face down on the ground, empty your pockets, troop
Hit the deck I got the tech right on your neck
And I inspect the megabucks, the heck with a traveler's check.

Funkmaster Flex feat. Akinyele & Sadat X - "Loud Hangover"

One of the great summer songs of 1996. Funkmaster Flex was trying to promote his mix CD 60 Minutes of Funk, and commissioned two really excellent MCs: Sadat X, best known from Brand Nubian, but arguably the best lyricist in the group, and Akinyele, before he turned into a Biggie/pimp wannabe with his "Put it in Your Mouth" bullcrap.

This song is just hot. Other than the annoying repeating of the first verse and re-doing the damn thing (including the MCs acting along with the scratching) there is so much to like about the song. The beat with the strumming string is awesome. The interplay between the rappers is great. The video is another "sewer" video, which empirically proves how hard these guys are.

Aiyyo, niggaz on my dick
Cause I stay dropping jewels like the incarcerated version of Slick Rick
There's no question I'll, damage a professional
Cause I'm a big child, in this profession
Scatchin and itchin to set it, like a yeast infection
Big up to agreement rappers, don't know the half
Movin like moonwalkers with your backwards ass
I'm too fast, for those who procrastinate
Goin bananas like gorillas from the Planet of the Apes
To play it safe, you punks better wear capes
You can't escape, when I'm on your fire escape
hangin your ass out the window like drapes
You want beef I bring steak bust your motherf**king chop
It's the Ak, straight up and down, like six o'clock
I'm amped like watts with a fo'-fo' that go
Hit that toe and shot, cause word to Sadat
X marks the spot when it's time to get hot

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A.D.O.R. - Let it All Hang Out

This video was M.I.A. on YouTube for several years, which is a damn shame, because it is one of the hottest unsung songs of the 1990s. (The rest of the album is nothing special, FYI, so if you are downloading, you can stick to this track.)

A.D.O.R. supposedly stood for "Another Definition of Rhythm," and I never really knew whether I was supposed to call him "Adore" or "Ay Dee Oh Arr." It would have been super awkward if I ever met him.

The video is standard, boilerplate early 1990s stuff. Lots of streets and alleyways. Slow motion, black and white shots of New York's urban denizens running from some unknown pursuer. A bunch of girls in bandanas and safety-orange bubblegoose jackets are like A.D.O.R.'s personal cheerleading squad.

And it wouldn't be a Pete Rock remix if it didn't have a) horns in the instrumental, and b) Pete Rock talking ("uh-huh, that's right") all the way through the song. [Note to P.Diddy, you didn't fucking invent that or the remix: Pete Rock did.]

Apparently A.D.O.R. only really had one hit in him, but damn if it wasn't a good one.

C'mon, feel the vibe from the rhythms to break the devil's ties
A feeling of good times, musical highs
Rhythm, harmony, soul skills and that
put together for the master plan is surely to attract
The people it take, the speakers to quake, the points to make
The A.D.O.R. posesses what it takes
To make it feel good, the way it should
Give me the mic and Pete Rock and you know I could
Straight up getcha all, UHH, all night long
It feels too right, too strong to be wrong
Let's turn it up, full blast, and make it last
Yo I'm thinkin bout the future, fuck the past
With the beat that's pumpin
To get the people jumpin but sayin somethin
Do you know what, I'm talkin about
When I tell you to express yourself
And let it all hang out

Monday, July 20, 2009

Quasimoto - Rappcats

There is something very powerful about nostalgia. There is also something about encountering people who know the same kind of obscure crap that you like. Quasimoto (aka Madlib) does both for me in this video.

The song itself is basically a braggart's anthem that "I know rap, my man." And the video is strictly a litany of half-second clips of old rap videos, picturs and clips, some recognizable (Fred Flintstone scratching is a trip), some completely obscure (Maestro Fresh Wes, Son of Bazerk, the Mr. T "Treat Your Mother Right" song, Freshco & Miz). It's a combination of highbrow and lowbrow that makes for sensory overload and a Pavlovian orgy of images that make me want to break out all my old tapes.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tribe or Black Moon?

Interesting post going on over at The T.R.O.Y. Blog right now, about which is the better 1993 album:

Midnight Maruaders or Enta Da Stage?

Go on over and weigh in.

Fat Joe - S--t is Real

There was a very small window in the 1990s where Fat Joe was kind of awesome. This song is probably the apex of that window, and clearly his best song.

The man who would later call himself "Joey Crack" (lame...) had a couple of guest spots on a couple of DITC albums (notably Diamond D and Showbiz & AG in 1992) but really didn't add much. I always put him on par with the likes of Tim Dog and U-God, lyrically... which is to say, stiff, uninspired, kinda dull.

This song, though, has the perfect combination of a very solid FJ flow, along with one of the baddest beats DJ Premier ever made.

The lyrics and video are surprisingly violent. The black and white conceit of the video (of which I am usually very much anti-), actually works here because it fits with the cinematic feel. They actually don't make videos anything like this anymore, especially in modern hip-hop. I feel that even if I didn't like hip hop, I would be compelled by this video.

Of course eventually he would come up with the "Lean Back," the wackest dance craze of the last half-century.

Now I'm sixteen and there's a brand new scene
I'm makin' mad loot, gettin' paid off the dope-fiends
Keepin shit in checkin order,
And my main man Tone was fuckin everybody else's daughter
See everybody knew in town that Joe and Tone had shit locked down
And a nigga wouldn't test me
It seems like every other day the fucking cops arrest me
But the shit would never stick
I make one phone call and be out right quick
Cause uncle Dan had my back
And now niggaz gettin' jealous cause they know I'm livin' fat
Talkin shit around the way and on the block
But never in my face cause they knew I packed a glock
And my crew is mad deep
A buncha crazy Puerto Ricans, so hey yo don't sleep
And all you bitch ass niggaz know the deal, check it out
The fucking shit is real

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Crooklyn/Return of the Crooklyn Dodgers

If you were into hip hop in 1994, there are a couple songs that you hear that transport you right back to that time. If you are the guy who wrote and directed The Wackness, those songs are "Around the Way Girl" by LL Cool J (1990), "Just a Friend," by Biz Markie (1989), "Can I Kick It" by ATCQ and "Summertime" by Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith (both 1991). Plus, you also used words like "wackness."

If you were me, "Crooklyn," by Special Ed, Masta Ace and Buckshot, is the quintessential 1994 East Coast hip hop song.

What is great about this song and video? What ISN'T great about it? First of all, Mike Tyson and Michael Jordan both represent the BK. (Never mind that MJ moved to N.Carolina when he was a toddler.) I'm not sure if this video was directed by Spike Lee or not, but it sure looks like it. Everything about the look of the video is cool: the "Soul Train" footage, the tours of the best parts of Brooklyn -- which make you want to visit -- and the fact that the black and white scenes don't look like some kind of pseudo artsy crap, like most of the B&W footage in rap videos of that era.

Crooklyn - Special Ed, Masta Ace, Buckshot

The coolest part of this is the way they combined three different eras of hip-hop and made it all sound current. Special Ed hadn't had a hit in five years when this came out, and here he flows better than ever as the grizzled veteran. Masta Ace had been building a solid career since "The Symphony," and was kind of the established journeyman. And Buckshot, coming off his succes with Black Moon, is the new-jack at this point.

The interweaving of the lyrics and references to the '70s and childhood and all that made this one a constant spin in my boombox in the nine-four.

Just one year later, when the guy who wrote and directed The Wackness was just discovering N.W.A for the first time, Spike Lee came out with ANOTHER movie and commissioned yet ANOTHER song, this time with three completely different guys who would bring the "Return of the Crooklyn Dodgers."

This time around, the grizzled vet was Chubb Rock, the established journeyman was the cone-headed Jeru the Damaja and the rookie was O.C. This time they called themselves Crooklyn Dodgers '95. This song/video was decidedly grittier than the original -- as Clockers is a decidedly more violent movie than Crooklyn -- but they did interpolate the "we did it like that and now we do it like this" element from the original song. Chubb mentions areas like Flatbush, Bushwick and Bed-Stuy, all neighborhoods that make white people roll up their windows. He also mentions taking back Ebbets field; don't tell the Chubbster (worrrrd up) that Ebbets was torn down back in '60.

Both Jeru and O.C. put out two very very good albums in the 1990s: Jeru had The Sun Rises in the East and The Wrath of the Math, and O.C. made Word...Life and Jewelz.

The lyrics don't have the same nostalgic resonance, but they are still pretty gritty. Jeru says "Chips that power nuclear bombs power my Sega." Christ I hope our bombs are better than that. But 'Ru does end the song with "Peace to the East New York, Perverted Monks and Mike Tyson," which reminds me every time why I love/miss him so much.

I was hoping that a new generation of Crooklyn Dodgers would be spawned every year. (In 2009 we could have Lil Fame, Vast Aire and Skyzoo!) But 'twas not to be.


By the looks of this this concert from June 2008, they still got it!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Jel - Sweet Cream In It

I'm not sure why Jel decided to give this song such a gay name as "Sweet Cream In It" but the beat is hot as hell, and although the sound is a little off, it looks like he is doing most of it live off the sampler. Shit is off the hook like "not guilty."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Xzibit feat. Ras Kass & Saafir - "Plastic Surgery"

The best song of many good songs on Xzibit's 1996 sleeper hit At the Speed of Life is what we used to call a "posse-cut." This one features two of the best lyricists of the day: Ras Kass and Saafir. Although neither of these two has put out a good album in their entire careers.

But for the purposes of this song, their punch-ups were just what the doctor ordered. (Pun intended!)

I'm like Dougie Howser MD with a desert eagle
Criminal Genius
Operation Seperatin' them siamese twins hangin' beneath a nigga's penis
Take it to your face like a skin graft
Rappers, I specialize in talent transplants
You want fat lips? Nurse get the colagen
And ten tons of stomach pumps
From all the c*m you and Richard Gere be swallowin'
Now followin' aks Vanna to buy you vowels
So you can C, I, A, E-Swift, O
U know Y
We remain uncontested to the contender,
We can Million Man March all the way to December
January, Feburary 28th

Monday, July 13, 2009

Big L - 1998 Freestyle

Here is why Big L was one of the best ever...

And for part 2, click here. This motherfu**ker was the truth.

Friday, June 26, 2009