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.