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Eric's "Top 100 Tuesday"…a day early?? (80-82)

by Eric on July 23, 2007

80. Artifacts-Between A Rock & A Hard Place

After reading one of Dan Love’s (From Da Bricks) more recent post in regards to the productions of beatmaker T-Ray (Double XX Posse, MC Serch), I couldn’t help but think (I know there’s Discogs, but I have about an hour each nite to post..each minute is CRUCIAL) “didn’t T-Ray do some beats on the Artifacts joint?”. Well, I finally did break down and revert to Discogs and yes indeed he did do 7 tracks believe it or not. For some reason, I’d always thought that “Between A Rock & A Hard Place” was a Buckwild helmed production…..not so. If someone approached me and said “Eric, give me an album that represents the East Coast sound in the mid-90′s” this would be one of a select few along with “Illmatic“, “Dah Shinin” & “Enta Da Stage”. Tame One & El Da Sensei proved to be more than deserving of all the hype and attention that they received in anticipation of their debut. With more than competent lyrical content and an undeniable chemistry, Tame & MC El where destined to put New Jeruzalem (Jersey) on the map much like their predecessor fellow Brick City native Redman had done so admirably before them. With Classic singles like the graffiti laden “Wrong Side Of Da Tracks” and the Buckwild produced “neck snapper” “C’mon Wit Da Git Down”, “Between A Rock & Hard Place” was filled to the rim with quality product. I’ve always wondered why this album is often overlooked when conjuring up a list of definitive East Coast albums. Maybe it was it’s untimely release, for some reason I want to believe that this came out around the time Pete & CL dropped “The Main Ingredient” and Brand Nubian dropped “Everything Is Everything”, on the other hand a part of me thinks this came out around the time “Ready To Die” dropped. Whatever the case, with tracks such as the reminiscent “Whayback” and my favorite track.. the ode to the herbal “Lower The Boom” (damn, that beat is hard!!) fueling this release, it’s say to say that if you’ve never heard “Between A Rock & A Hard Place” you truly need a late pass. Do yourself a solid, pop this in the headphones and you’ll soon hear why I’m so big on this album. Sh*t, I’m just embarrassed I let it slide this far down my list….-Eric

81. Eric B & Rakim-Don’t Sweat The Technique

Jesus, a sure fire CLASSIC album (“Paid In Full”), what some may also categorize as classics (“Let The Rhythm Hit Em’” &”Follow The Leader”) and of course a very good album (“Don’t Sweat The Technique”) , yet could one imagine that Eric B & Rakim may have made their biggest paycheck to date when Target (yes the chain store) chose to use the instrumental to Eric B & Rakim 1992 hit “Don’t Sweat The Technique” for one of their commercials that aired early last year? Well, at least for Eric B & Ra’s sake I sure hope they did!! While not my favorite Eric B. & Rakim album “Don’t Sweat The Technique more than holds it’s own when compared against their efforts prior to this 1992 release. Almost immediately, the lead single “What’s On Your Mind?” laid the groundwork for this album, fresh off it’s inclusion on the “House Party II Soundtrack”. “What’s On Your Mind” was unlike anything I had ever heard from Rakim Allah up until that point, and to be honest I liked it! While the whispers of “ghost production” have been heard when referring to their previous release “Let The Rhythm”, I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case here either. Listen to “What’s Goin‘ On” or “Pass The Hand Grenade” and tell me that those aren’t Large Professor drums that you hear. Something that I noticed today while listening to “Don’t Sweat…”, alot of the drums on this album sound eerily similar to the drums that appeared on the Large Professor productions he did for Nikki D’s long-forgotten album “Daddy’s Little Girl” (see: “Your Man Is My Man”). Anyway, this album was a prime example of what some of us label “rear-end loaded” or “saving the best for last”, which is the case with the final tracks “What’s Goin‘ On”, which is followed by “Know The Ledge” (from the Juice Soundtrack), “Don’t Sweat The Techinique” and finishes with “Kick Along”. Not to say that there is filler on the front end of the album as tracks like the aforementioned “Pass The Hand Grenade” and the speaker blowin‘, bottom heavy “Rest Assured” knock like what you’d expect from Eric B. & Rakim, although tracks like “Relax With Pep” & “Keep The Beat” do sound a bit out of place on “Don’t Sweat The Technique”. In what’s was definitely Eric B. & Ra’s “longest” album, many folks will also argue that it is the duo’s “best” and most cohesive piece of work (believe it or not, I’ve read it numerous times in blogosphere). Still, don’t miss out on an album from one of the “Top 5, Dead Or Alive” that banged out of every Jeep in 1992….-Eric

82. Das Efx-Straight Up Sewaside

Alright ya’ll, I can’t even front and I’d be willing to bet that you shared the same sentiments as me when you first heard Das Efx‘ “Straight Up Sewaside” the follow-up to their monumental debut “Dead Serious”. This is how bad it was at the time, I picked this album up along with Queen Latifah’s “Black Reign” (which still remains my favorite album from a female emcee…at least until Jean Grae drops something new) on what was probably one of my 30 or so “skip” days during my Senior year. It took months for this album to truly get any play, partly due to the fact that I loved “Black Reign” so much pushing “Straight Up….” to the waste side. I was disappointed to say the least, “Straight Up Sewasidemay have had 10 plays the first year of it’s release and I really didn’t get into this album until the early 2000′s. Now, I’ve come to the realization that this was another quality Solid Scheme production filled with entertaining, lyrics from VA’s own Drayz & Scoob. The problem has been stated many times over the course of the years that on “Straight Up SewasideDas Efx were truly “victims of their own style”. Say what you want, but even your favorite emcee has stolen a page our two from the originators of the “stiggedy, stiggedy style” (Common, Treach & Ice Cube being a few that instantly come to mind). If you had to pick one word that would convey the overall feeling of this album it would be “tentative”. Why “tentative”?? Quite simply, you can hear both Drayz & Scoob holding back on this album a bit, not wanting to continue on with what made them such a huge success and so recognizable. Not to say that the album still didn’t rank amongst the top 15-20 releases of 1993, but like I said….we just expected more. Still, “Straight Up Sewaside” is loaded with bangers, the uptempo “ruckus bringer” “Check It Out” always being my favorite. Also, “Gimme Dat Microphone” has the sound and tempo of “Dead Serious”….so much that one would assume that it may have been left on the cutting room floor while assembling the final track list for their debut. If Das‘ 3rd disc “Hold It Down” would have been trimmed down to say…11 or 12 tracks it would have definitely found itself in my “Top 100″ and would definitely have surpassed their sophomore effort. In all fairness, it would have been tough to match their debut in terms of cohesiveness and originality. Nonetheless, a great effort from two originators in the rap game whose debut will never be forgotten….-Eric

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{ 1 comment }

Danj! July 24, 2007 at 1:51 am

I dunno… I can’t really agree on the any of these three as long as ‘top 100′ status goes. But as I always say, one’s experience with an album is not always the same as another’s. I was a teen hearing all of these and I can say that Das’ album didn’t even make it out of ’93 with me, and I could never bring myself to sit thru it in later years. The Artifacts album is probably one of the most overlooked to date, so I ain’t all the way opposed to your decision to include it. But the Eric B & Ra album always felt just a bit “late” to me. By that time, hip-hop was headed elsewhere and ‘Dont’ Sweat The Technique’ sounded like they’d been holding it for about a year and a half prior to putting it out.

Oh, as far as the Artifacts album- it dropped around the time of Ready To Die and others… I think it just got lost in the shuffle, kinda like Pete & CL’s did. That last quarter of ’94 was not kind to a lot of albums that maybe shoulda dropped sooner.

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