Previous post:

Next post:

Click HERE

Eric's Top 100 Tuesdays (51-55) commentary by Rasul

by Eric on May 8, 2007

51. Showbiz & A.G.-Runaway Slave

“Take about ten from beginning to end / Don’t mean to brag, but I am what I am… Now let off get off step off ’cause you’re soft / Stop blushing I’m rushing like Mikael Gorbatschow / Special tactics, you can’t hack this / Brothers ain’t half-stepping, they’re walking backwards/”… This was my introduction to AG back in 1990 when he spit these venomous lines on Lord Finesse his debut “The Funky Technician”. These two good fellows, and along with their crew D.I.T.C, spelled a new era in New York’s musical history. See, Digging in the crates was not a hip moniker, more than anything; it was a virtue, a wild call for creativity and uniqueness, a brave overture to orchestrate tunes with untouched vinyl. What Showbiz had colorfully demonstrated on their “Soul Clap EP” continued to feel more splendid and reverberant on “Runaway Slave”. The multi-layered and more up-tempo beats were the fundament for bass heavy instrumentations, topped by perfectly matching horn patterns. Lyrically, AG showcased pure diversity. For once, the title of the album was a social commentary in its entirety, reflecting the mind states of an entire generation. “More Than A Way Out Of The Ghetto” was a tale of survival, “Hold Your Head” a smooth criminal, and “Silence Of The Lambs” the epitome of fresh. This is a Hip Hop classic by all means! On another note: If you haven’t heard my old group Square One’s “Walk Of Life”, you’ve missed the best AG verse I’ve personally heard to this very day. Dude was mad cool though (special shout outs to my man Party Arty…). Enjoy!

52. Method Man-Tical

Guess what brethren; I’m probably the wrong one to write about Meth since I never really liked him so much. Wait, hold your horses because I’m not going to hate… The man has always been the most charismatic and visible member of the clan, using comical references and his trademark delivery to stand out. “Tical” was the very first release after the monstrous success of “Enter The…”, right where every label with a working fax-machine signed away some guy somehow associated with the Wu, capitalizing off the greatest marketing scam our culture has ever come to see. This album still captured the raw and audibly dark essence of “Enter The…” with RZA producing more energetic pieces (almost every beat on this album is driving), giving Mr. Smith enough room to create his mastery, singing his songs of mercy. But that’s when my problem starts: see, I can listen to the man for a good 16 bars, make it even 20 . You expect the GZA or Deck to come along and save the day but on this album, that rarely happens. There are still a couple of a good joints, “Bring The Pain”, “All I Need” (not as good as the remix though) or “P.L.O. Style” to name a few but overall, this is not one of the best Wu-Tang albums. Still, I understand most of the people admiring “Tical” for its easy and more comprehensive approach to the Wu legacy…

53. Masta Ace Inc.-Sittin’ On Chrome

I have a huge amount of respect for Ace! Ever since his first offerings on the ever so notorious “The Symphony” alongside giants like G. Rap and Kane, his eclectic debut “Take A Look Around” in 1990, to his frank attempts to gain relevancy in a money-driven industry with “Disposable Arts” and “A Long Hot Summer”, the man managed a considerable balance between “nostalgia” (what a reference- Eric is going to love me for this one) and “underground bravado”. “Sittin’ On Chrome” was the follow-up to Ace his sophomore release from ’93, “The Slaughtahouse”, an extremely dark album that had clearly abandoned the popular Marley Marl formula, introducing The I.N.C as his crew (by the way, what happened to Eyceurokk???). I remember a bitter Ace prior to “Slaughtahouse”, someone who sounded obviously tired and reluctant to accept the state of gangsters taking charge and thugs ruling the airwaves and henceforth, he took all of the aforementioned to his slaughterhouse and dealt with them in his own ways. “Sittin’…” had a mysterious concept behind it: His cousin from L.A was coming down to N.Y to pay him a visit over the summer and the album was trying to capture that vibe! Now I’m going to be a little brave and maybe, and in case you never heard this joint before, you guys would have to play this album again and give it a thought to understand where I’m coming from: Ace played himself with this album (and let’s face it: his career went down the drain afterwards- he sold a lot of singles but the album went wood and he was eventually dropped)! Listen to the choice of samples (a lot of smooth soul and funk, read less jazzy, read less East Coast); listen to the way almost every drum sound is programmed (read very simple with the emphasis on the bass-drum, a lot of rim-shots and less hard hitting snares), and listen how the 808 and the Moog were incorporated and above all, listen to Ace switching to a more sing-songy style using a lot more melody within his rhyme patterns (and the fact that he was less lyrical)! Does it ring a bell? Well, let’s say the influence of Dre and Snoop are all over this composition and his well woven “concept” (his cousin from L.A. is coming to visit) couldn’t hide the simple fact that Masta Ace was trying to gain more mass appeal… By far, this is still a good album (too many good songs to handpick a few for you guys) with various enjoyable moments besides the world famous “Born To Roll”, but I somehow could never surpass my impression of him neglecting his roots. I guess this is a very solid album done by the wrong artist…

54. Big Pun-Capital Punishment

I know exactly where I was when the planes hit the twin towers in 2001. I know exactly where I was when I heard how Buster Douglas had mastered the biggest upset in the history of sport, defeating my beloved Mike Tyson. And, I know exactly where I was when my homie Milo called me to tell me Big Pun has just passed away. I was working at a record store and I stepped outside, went around the corner into a dark backstreet and, well, I shed a couple of tears… Words could never describe the uncommon connection I always felt with the late great Pun. Maybe it was the complexion we shared, maybe it was his approach to write, the way he embodied all my great inspirations paving the way before him, all the Rakims, Kanes and G. Raps; maybe it was him stepping into the mayhem of my Hip Hop world as an underdog due to his line of decent alongside Fat Joe, by all means an underdog himself, or maybe it was the night I spent kicking
it with him at Tunnel years ago. Either way, Pun is one of the greatest of all time although he never fully received the amount of respect he truly deserved- not even remotely! If there’s one album, that one artist who changed the face of Hip Hop after the golden age in a more than positive and groundbreaking way, I’ll always go with Pun and “Capital Punishment” (and maybe The Clipse’s “Lord Willing”) – especially in 1998 where Hip Hop and his morals began to turn to a dead end street. Nas once called him the missing piece to the puzzle, Nore said his legacy will be forever mentioned with the icons I named earlier, and me, I think “Capital Punishment” is one of top five debuts of all time! I don’t know of any track, and god knows I mean any track, where he didn’t combine profound lyricisms with flow and delivery on the highest possible level, outshining any rapper he made a song with (just check out Fat Joe’s “John Blaze” off his Don Cartagena album where he bodied “all” of them saying, “even if I stutter I’ll still sh sh shit on you”). Hands down, Biggie or Pac were never even close to his brilliance of wordplay and wit. This album has it all: beautiful rhymes, very strong production, tunes for the ladies, great feature appearances, funny skits, and so on and so on… Although check out his second album “Yeeeah Baby” where he had matured as an artist and displayed more depth. May his soul rest in peace…

55. Ice Cube-The Predator

This is my second time writing on Cube so I’m not going to dwell on his history. “The Predator” is by far Cube’s most cohesive and homogeneous body of work (as far as his albums are concerned). This album came out shortly after the devastating L.A. riots, sparked by the hideous injustice in Rodney King’s case and the general discontent among a lost generation. Cube addressed the racial profiling, the police brutality (an issue everybody was aware of), the nation-wide recession and the political powerlessness when it came to African-American problems. He although addressed the allegations of anti-Semitism on “When Will They Shoot” (They say I can sing like a jaybird / But ni$$a, don’t say the j-word). Overall, Cube toned his diction down, dropped more straightforward and powerful lines where needed, and in my eyes, drifted away from his NWA personality to find himself as a solo artist. The music is still Bomb Squad every day all day, but this time he mixed in some light-hearted tunes to take away the gloomy atmosphere. “Now I Gotta Wet Cha” with its Solomon Burke “Get Out My Life Woman” sample (really, how many different versions do you guys know? Hit me up), “It Was Good Day” with The Isley Brothers’ “Footsteps In The Dark”, and “Dirty Mack” with the notorious “Aqua Boogie” are just a few examples. Please, don’t mistake this for a “G-Funk” album! Indeed, there are a bunch of “Parliament” samples used, but this is well-balanced composition of East meets West (something Cube had already mastered on his first two albums), capturing the quintessence of Hip Hop in 1992. A brilliant pick by Eric…

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Comments on this entry are closed.