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Philaflava's 100 Greatest Obscure Tracks

by Travis on August 11, 2007

A couple weeks ago, the new “Mind Squad” (you youngins won’t get it) got together on Philaflava to assemble a list of some of the greatest obscure tracks known to man kind. Of course, yours truly was apart of this little project. After days and days of bickering and arguing (okay, it wasn’t that bad) we settled on a list that is a great guide for some quality tracks that deserve to be track down.

I know all you little greedy krumbsnatchas are only in this for the MP3′s, so there are some MP3′s to be had, and more to come, so be sure to check the site every few days for updates, including my additions, since I’ve been too damn busy/lazy to up my stuff yet. While you are on the boards, make sure you sign up and say that WYDU sent you….cause Mister Gloss is giving me 50 bucks for every new person I sign up there…..well, he should give me 50 bucks for every new person I send that way…but we’ll let that slide. Then make sure you go and vote in the “Greatest 90′s Song” tournament. Some of my favorites have been losing, so I need more like minded people voting.

Philaflava.com’s 100 Greatest Obscure Tracks

When 9 people come together and attempt to create a list of 100 tracks it isn’t an easy task. Collectively we brought over 350 nominations to the table but after much deliberation we finally came to an agreement. Unlike our previous lists we decided it would be best to leave this unranked. These tracks are great for their own reasons and we just wanted to make a list that represented the importantance of the b-side, the significance of the remix and remind those of the self-satisfaction when finally laying your hands on that sought after gem. You will see a few artists show up once and trust me there could have been several with a handful of worthy tracks such as The Artifacts, The Beatnuts, Mobb Deep and Money Boss Players. This list should serve as your guide into what we like to call the 100 Greatest Obscure Tracks. Use it to as a checklist and download these tracks. Look from them on eBAY, Half.com or your favorite blog. These tracks are all worthy of your time and I strongly recommend checking the write-ups (below list) for some very informative and insightful reviews. We’ll have a discussion forum open for this list, as well as providing you Mp3’s of these tracks. We ask that you tell us what you think, share files, memories and enjoy the music.

-J. Gloss

The advent of the Mp3 blog has been rather kind to us nostalgic completists/ random rap collectors/ aging b-boys. In the ‘90s we dreamt of the day that static-free versions of elusive cuts by Money Boss Players and Govna Matic would be rendered instantly accessible to all heads. But no matter how plentiful the online supply of uncovered or resurrected gems, we are fundamentally unable, even as a collective, to recreate the most memorable characteristics of the fan culture of our beloved bygone rap eras. In fact, every step we take to enshrine these gilded epochs for all eternity (including the effort you are currently browsing) leads to the rapid deterioration of the values and practices that partly defined the The Rap World As We Once Knew It.

In this past life of rap (which isn’t entirely over but hasn’t been quite the same since oh, about 1998) a particular brand of makeshift resourcefulness and soldierly patience that was manifested by the genre’s most revered artists was regularly displayed and honed by its most enthusiastic and caring fans. Rap wasn’t necessarily easy to come by, even though a continually wider spectrum of personalities and styles were made accessible through semi-mainstream outlets like Yo! MTV Raps and the Source Magazine that did a respectable if inevitably unsatisfying job covering the genre as a whole.

Searching for music from slept-on or up-and-coming artists was largely a localized, grass-roots hunt. Meaning, quite simply, that if you wanted to delve a bit deeper than Nas/Lauryn Hill collabos and Junior Mafia-esque tales of V.I.P. fuckery, you had to vacate the plush world of shiny compact discs and confront the grimy abyss of second-generation dubs of crackly after-hours college mixshows, where b-sides, demos, alternate takes, and songs that would be permanently cockblocked by industry politricks reigned supreme.

Nostalgic sentiments for this era of rap have often been dismissed as wistful elitism, a thirtysomething need to keep one’s treasures guarded while sneering at the ignorant masses. However, the “underground” rap culture of the ‘90s was defined less by elitism and more by a desire to subvert the system as a whole: you wanted to be the first kid in your high school to not only own the dub, but to distribute it. This lo-fi, grass-roots mentality paralleled both the DIY indie business philosophy and the musical aesthetic of the time. We opted for the sound of the low-budget environment, and because of that, listening to the rugged flows and hard beats of the time felt like being part of a genuine movement. Thus we present our selectio
ns for rap’s 100 Greatest Obscure Tracks. It surely isn’t the same posting these in CDQ online, but we have no choice but to embrace the new technology in order to keep the old culture alive. It’s not too bad of a conundrum to face. – Thun

100 Greatest Obscure Tracks

13 – Slow Burnin’
Ahmad, Ras Kass & Saafir – Comewiddit (Fredwreck Remix)
Al Tariq – No Question feat. Black Attack, Rawcotiks & Problemz
Bas Blasta – The Rhythm feat. Lord Finesse, Fat Joe, JuJu, & Godfather Don
Big L- How Will I Make It
Black Moon – Murder MC’s
Black Rob- Permanent Scars
Black Sheep – Similak Child (Homogenized Remix)
Boogie Down Productions – Questions & Answers (Remix)
Boogie Down Productions – We In There (ATCQ Remix)
Brand Nubian – Allah U Akbar (Remix)
Brand Nubian – Step Into Da Cipher feat. Serge, Mastro Manny & Snagglepuss
Brother Lynch Hung – Had 2 Gat Ya
Children of The Corn – I Remember When
Chubb Rock – Three Men At Chung King feat. Red Hot Lover Tone & Grand Puba
Da Fat Cat Clique – Da Flow feat. The Man They Call Lux, EST, Rugged Ruff
Da King & I – Tears
Darc Mind – I’m Ill
Dark Skinned Assassin – Unholy
Dark Sun Ridas – Time To Build (Ultra Marsalis Remix)
De La Soul – Ego Trippin’ Part III
DEL – Undisputed Champs feat. Pep Love & Q-Tip
Demasters – Feel No Guilt feat. Nine
Diamond D – Hiatus (Remix) feat. The CRU
Diamond D – Sally Got A One Track Mind (Showbiz remix)
DMX – Can’t Touch The Kid
Dre Dog- The Ave
E Money Bags – Regulate feat. Prodigy & Majesty of Live Squad
Eightball – What The Fuck Is The Eightball
EPMD – Brothers From Brentwood, L.I.
Erick Sermon – If You Don’t Know Like I Know feat. Trigger, Heltah Skeltah & O.G.C.
Erick Sermon – The Ill Shit feat. Kam & Ice Cube
Fab 5 (Heltah Skeltah + O.G.C.) – Blah
Fesu – War With No Mercy
Fierce – Crab
Funkmaster Flex – Six Million Ways To Die feat. Nine & Tragedy
Godfather Don – Burn (Remix)
Gova Mattic – Family Day feat. Redman, Tame One, Pace Won, Young Zee, Roz Noble & Runt Dog
Grand Puba – Fat Rat
Hard 2 Obtain – Ism and Blues
Joe Sinistr – Under The Sun
Kilo G. – Release Me feat. Pimp C.
Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo – 2 To The Head feat. Ice Cube, Scarface & Bushwick Bill
Kool G. Rap- Mister Mister
Kool Keith – Yo Black (Buckwild Remix)
Kurious – Mansion And A Yacht feat. Sadat X & Mike G
Leaders of The New School – Classic Material (Diamond D Remix)
LL Cool J – Crime Stories
Lord Finesse – Shorties Kaught In The System
Mac Dre – California Livin
Mac Mall – Let’s Get A Telly
Main Source – Set It Off feat. The LOX
Mase – Drug Wars
Masta Ace – The B Side feat. Paula Perry & Lord Digga
MC Serch – Back To The Grill (Remix) feat. Chub Rock, Red Hot Lover Tone, Nas & O.C.
Mean Green – L.A. Finest feat. Mykill Miers
MF Grimm- So Watcha Want Nigga
Mic Geronimo – Three Stories High feat. Royal Flush
Mobb Deep – First Day of Spring feat. Tragedy Khadafi
Mobb Deep- Cop Hell (DJ Premier Remix)
Money Boss Players – What U Sayin
Nas – Street Dreams (K-Def Remix)
Naughty By Nature – It’s On (Beatnuts Remix)
Nine – Me, Myself, and My Microphone
N-Tense – Raise The Levels of The Boom
Nubian Crackers – Do You Wanna Hear It? feat. The Artifacts
O.C. – Born To Live (DJ Eclipse Remix)
Omnisence – Touch Ya’ll feat. Sadat X
ONYX – Purse Snatchaz Part 2 feat. Smoothe Da Hustler & Trigga Tha Gambler
Penthouse Players Clique – P.S. Phuk U 2 feat. DJ Quik & Eazy-E
Planet Asia – Full Course Meal
Private Investigators – Mash Up The Mic (Remix)
Rahsheed – Industrypartybumrusha
Ras Kass – Music Business feat. Xzibit
Real Live – The Turnaround (Remix) feat. Tragedy and Capone
Saafir – Light Sleeper (OG Mix)
Sadat X – Escape From New York feat. Pete Rock & Deda
Sadat X – Lump Lump (Nubian Remix) feat. Grand Puba & Lord Jamar
Sham and The Professor So-Low-Ist (Kenny Dope Remix)
Shorty Long- Shorty Doing His Own Thang
Shyheim – Licka Shot
South Central Cartel – West Coast Gangsta Team feat. Spice 1, Ice T, MC Eiht & 2Pac
Strictly Roots – Begs No Friends (Remix) feat. Fat Joe & Grand Puba
Tasc 4orce – Takin’ No Shorts
Tha Alkaholiks – Relieve Yourself (O.G. Version
The Artifacts – It’s Getting Hot (K-Def Remix)
The Artifacts – Who I Am
The Beatnuts – Hellraiser (Remix)
The Roots – Proceed III feat. Bahamadia
Top Quality – Magnum Opus
Tragedy Khadafi – Street Life (Return of The Life)
Trendz of Culture – Off & On (Lord Finesse Remix)
Trendz of Culture – Who Got My Back (Remix) feat Method Man & Treach
UGK – It’s Suppose To Bubble
Ultramagnetic MC’s – Raise It Up (Remix)
Yaggfu Front – Slappin’ Suckas Silly (Diamond D Remix) feat. Diamond D
Young Zee – Stay Gold feat. Lauryn Hill
YZ – When The Road Is Covered In Snow

Contributors: Dred Scott, Galvatron78, glavet (me), Killer Ben, madtapes Magneto, MGP, Paragraph President & Philaflava.

Big L – How Will I Make It
One of the very few pre-Lifestylez Ov Da Poor And Dangerous tracks that have surfaced after Big L’s untimely death. This demo was made available on the Harlems finest vinyl compilations, which were later released on CD. The intro sets the mood perfectly, while the basic and unpolished production are the perfect backdrop for Big L’s hard hitting lyrics. Big L, while known for his vicious punch lines, and braggadocios hardcore rhetoric, he was one of the better storytellers of his era and this track is an excellent example of how to utilize great imagery with a message of despair and anger.

Black Moon – Murder MC’s
Surprisingly, this track was a throw off of the “Enta Da Stage” LP. It could have easily replaced a couple songs found on that LP. The track was in the smooth flavor that was found on some of the “..Stage” tracks, but still had that rough Brooklyn feel to it. The Beatminerz were on top of their game during those early BCC days and this beat is a testament to that fact. A dope bass line is present and their hard drums grace the track that accompany the “sing-a-long” chorus that Black Moon employed on many of their tracks from that era.

Black Rob – Permanent Scars
When I heard Black Rob on 112 ‘Come See Me’ remix in 1996 the first thing that stood out to me about him was his voice- it’s one of the most distinctive in hip hop. ‘Permanent Scars’ was originally intended for his second album The Black Rob Report but was taken off it as the beat on the track was used by Beanie Sigel on ‘Feel It In The Air. The melodic and sombre beat provided by Heavy D serves as the perfect backdrop for Rob’s storytelling rhymes: “Parole buggin/I’m tryin to be cakey/called the P.O./aight man fuck it, violate me/I’m on the run now/ask a few niggas in the Bronx who to come to if you want a gun/fam I did it all with different schools of niggas/late night back hallway smoking whools with niggas.” Rob’s loose, almost conversational flow comes to life here as he paints a vivid picture of the struggles in his life. What makes this track stand
out even more to me is that he does with the raw emotion in his voice more than with anything he actually says

Children of The Corn – I Remember When
Children of The Corn are one of the most unrecognized groups of the 90s. Concatenating of leader Big L (RIP), Killa Cam’Ron, Murder Mase, Bloodshed (RIP) and Herb Mcgruff all hailing from the rough streets of Harlem. This track is the most essential track of their terrific, yet small catalogue of music. Bloodshed and Cam’ Ron both trade verses giving a retrospective look of their upbringing, and a simpler time of life, when fists where protection, and guns weren’t the choice of weapon for street villains. Cam’Ron gets even more descriptive giving details of the drug game’s heavy hitters of his era, and shouting out the rap group birth out of that drug cartel: Mob Style. If you’re a fan of mid 90s East coast rap, then this is a must listen!

Dark Skinned Assassin – Unholy
Known only to connoisseurs of Staten Island hip hop and fanatical Wu Tang Clan collectors, The Dark Skinned Assassin (also known as DSA) is a rare case of an extended family member who actually is highly skilled at his craft. He put out a number of 12-inch releases that feature Clan members Raekwon and Method Man. “Unholy” features a 70’s vocal sample that sets the tone for the rest of the song: “It’s been too hard livin’, but I’m afraid to die.” Powerful snares and punchy high-hats lay the track for a bubbly and melodic organ sample that DSA runs laps around with deep, introspective, lyrics about the day to day drama of disastrous choices. Hold it down? Kill? Be killed? Run from it all? DSA lays it out, rapping about his reflection in the mirror and what he sees and the result is a man preparing to confront his own bad choices and path that brought him there. This 12-inch came out on Black Dog Records and like most Staten Island releases of its day was more of a local hit than a lot of the other 12-inch singles that were getting national attention as the indie explosion was popping off. Obscure isn’t the word, these days you won’t find this in shops and your best bet is eBay unless you live in the Staten Island area.

De La Soul – Ego Trippin’ (Part Three)
Armed with a new beat and new lyrics, “Ego Trippin’ (Part Three)” almost eclipses the original version. The beat is classic Prince Paul, full of horns, strings, and keys thrown together to make this stand up to any of Paul’s past classics. De La has always snuck in classic, but very often unheard of tracks such as this (Clear Lake Auditorium anyone?). The original version of this song (not the Ultra track) took shots at the flavor of the moment in hip hop at the time and some of the pop-rap that was running amuck at the time (sound familiar?). Part three has some of the same lyrical concepts, mocking the gun-toting MC’s in their first “warm-up” verse.

DMX – Can’t Touch The Kid
A lot of tracks from artists who make it into the mainstream after years of floundering in the underground have some sentimental value, but usually lack much in the way of good quality. However, DMX is one of the artists whose material before his big mainstream break, can actually be compared to his official releases. Enter “Can’t Touch the Kid,” possibly the finest example of Dam’s talents. A booming beat, followed by DMX delivering three terrific verses, with clever wordplay and a rough growl DMX gave us his most superb track of maybe his life.

Dre Dog – The Ave
Dre Dog aka Andre Nickatina has always been one of the most talented, original and criminally slept on West Coast MC’s. ‘The Ave’ was the first single from his In-A-Minute Records 1993 debut album ‘The New Jim Jones’. A classic track from an equally classic and groundbreaking album Dre uses this song to reminisce on his younger years, neighbourhood, fake friends, materialistic women and everyday life in the ghetto. Something which sets this song apart for me is that despite of the laid back and mellow beat Dre maintains the same nihilism and anger he displays throughout the album. His fatalistic attitude to all the social problems he describes makes this track all the more powerful and memorable. This has to be one of the most quotable early 90s tracks, so here are just a few of my favorites:

“I don’t care about jail ho/I’ll just go and lift weights/let my hair and my nails grow”
“I’m not a motherfucking animal/you want your pussy ate baby find a nigga that’s a cannibal”


“OG niggas turn into alcoholics/what you think about it fool?/nigga I can’t call it/little kids run around with a nose full of boogers while my niggas on the block sell that rocked up sugar/touching there gats every time a fool pass/waiting to put slugs up in a niggas ass/we say fuck school/we say fuck grades/we’d rather get paid/snort cocaine on the ave/


“Real niggas just multiply/but nowadays real niggas just die/dip across to another set/put a bullet in a niggas ass laugh then jet/cause real smoke budda hoe/triple cross motherfucker then giggle at his funeral”
“Dre Dog creep solo/me be with hella motherfuckers?/oh hell no/


“I don’t care about jail ho/I’ll just go and lift weights/let my hair and my nails grow”
“I’m not a motherfucking animal/you want your pussy ate baby find a nigga that’s a cannibal”


Like most classic it is not only what is being said but also how it is said.

Fab 5 (Heltah Skeltah + O.G.C.) – Blah
Rockness Monster is the fucking man. I have to say it. With all the praise of Ruck (Sean P.), Rockness to me was always better. And this track from Heltah Skeltah and OGC sub-sets of the larger Boot Camp Click, explains why I feel that way. Not to take anything way from Starang, Top Dog, Louisville and Ruck who themselves are as proficient as anyone in that era in verbally murdering any beat, with their grandiloquently hardcore raps. With a striking chorus, and laced with a phenomenal beat, both groups trade verses giving their one dose of violence, while exhibiting their personal doctrine of what it is to be hardcore and daring any rivals to “come test” their credentials on or off the M.I.C.

Fierce – Crab
Fierce is a very talented MC who has one 12′ to his credit and one appearance on a major label release that includes 50 Cent, Puffy, Mase, and all kinds of representatives of the jiggy-faggot era that was 1997-1999. Fierce gain such notoriety at one point that he was on Rap City with only a 12′ to his name and no video to show for it. The 12′ in question is “Come Close/Crab” and it’s really remarkable. He displays a verbal dexterity unseen in many of the greatest rappers and this is evidenced by amount of rhymes he can pack into the bars without sounding rushed, contrived, or anything less than quite polished. As dope as he comes on “Crab,” “Come Close” is even more vicious on the mic. “Crab” is the better song because the lyrics fit the mood of the dark, haunting piano loop better than “Come Close” does on the B-Side. “Crab” is the A-Side to his 1996 Hot Wax 12′ release. If you like what you hear you can check for more of Fierce’s rhymes on Tha Madd Rapper’s 1999 album “Tell ‘Em Why You Mad” on “Whateva” and the promo only “For The Love” 12′ which is als
o a Madd Rapper release that is tough to find.

Govna Mattic – Family Day feat. Redman, Tame One, Pace Won, Young Zee, Roz Noble & Runt Dog
Ok, ok, ok- I know it sounds oxymoronic or even impossible but this song came out in 1997 and still remains obscure and elusive to collectors. I mean, how can a song with a feature by a platinum-selling rapper (Redman), a member of a highly acclaimed group with video play on Rap City and Yo! MTV Raps (Tame One, formerly of The Artifacts), and the hottest underground group of the era (Young Zee and Pacewon of the Outsidaz, who were featured on The Fugees 10-times platinum album The Score) ever be obscure? Well, it remained obscure because it was released by Govna Mattic, a relative of Redman and by proxy Tame One. Govna Mattic himself is a Newark legend and was in a group with Dizzle Don. Much like Redman, these guys love to smoke weed. Red is actually on the cover of the Govna Mattic/Diezzle Don 12′”Ghetto Red Hot” breaking up a brick of weed in front of a map of the world- which they obviously sought to take over via their vinyl sales. Anyway, “Family Day” is basically a laid-back song that reminds me of a mid-summer bar-b-que and to that end a family reunion gets underway
over the sweet, melodic beat provided by Govna Mattic himself. Redman, Tame, and I think Govna Mattic are all cousins. Roz Noble, that’s likely Reggie Noble’s sister. Young Zee and Pace are related as well and Pace I think is related to Tame. This was supposed to be released on Govna’s 1998 LP Hell Up In Newark and the album even got great reviews in Rap
Pages and The Source but it never got a distribution worthy of the reviews it received.

Hard 2 Obtain – Ism & Blues
It’s hard to believe that a “title track” wouldn’t be included on the album its named after, but that’s the case with Hard 2 Obtain’s “Ism & Blues” track that was included as a b-side to “Ghetto Diamond”. Produced by the production crew, the Stimulated Dummies, the track would have fit in perfectly on a Black Moon album, with the SD’s doing their best Beatminerz imitation. The tight bass line grabs the listener right off the bat then on the chorus the horns come with the smoothness that reminds one of smoking the ism in a dark club. MC’s Taste and DL aren’t the best lyricists by any means, but fit nicely on the track and remind ones self why you didn’t need to be a incredible lyricist to make a great album. The posse chorus that ran prevalent throughout hip hop during the early 90′s is found here as well, but as I said, everything just works perfectly with this track. It’s unfortunate that this track didn’t make the album, not sure if it was sample issues or what the reasoning was, but it would have been one of the best songs on an already good album.

Kool G. Rap – Hey Mister
One day DJ Mike Nice was chilling out at Upstairs Records in Brooklyn and Dr. Butcher appeared out of nowhere with a stack of white labels in his hand. A couple weeks later a second pressing appeared at Mr. Bongos in London. This was right around the time The Kool Genius of Rap dropped his solo debut 4,5,6. G. Rap was known for his graphic story-telling. Drug deals gone bad, shoot outs with cops, talking like sex- he almost covered the full spectrum of extreme and explicit writing, almost. And then he wrote a song that no record label could ever release.

“Hey Mister Mister, what the fuck you doin’?
Hey Mister Mister… KEEP WALKIN’ PAST! Hey
mister mister, what the fuck you doin? DON’T
INTERUPT ME WHILE I’m BEATING ON MY BITCH
ASS.”

Yes, that’s right folk; an ode to spousal abuse. The internet has led to this song becoming more and more well known but it really is quite obscure outside the confines of cyberspace. There were two pressings of this Dr. Butcher-produced white label. Remember the honky-tonk western vibe of “The Symphony,” which G. Rap murked about a decade earlier- well think of a similar piano loop that is louder and angrier. Add in a little boy’s voice being scratched-in, pleading for G. Rap’s attention, a no-good bitch pilfering from G. Rap’s hustle, and G. Rap hitting her “until her face gets bigger” and we have a real winner here folks. Not only did this deserve a commercial release, it also deserved a video complete with a bloodied-up Superhead. Ah the injustice! Well, at least I had “Hey Mister” played at my wedding reception.

Lord Finesse – Shorties Kaught In The System
Lord Finesse like his protégé Big L was mostly known for his wordplay and ability to make sucker MC’s duck for cover. Hell, he single-handedly dissected and annihilated the entire “Lords of the Underground” with one 2 minute freestyle. Shorties Kaught In The System is track depicting the urban life, of a young male, trapped in a cycle of crime and desperation, trying to survive in his environment. And the harsh reality is, songs like these are no longer a necessity, but are considered “out of left field” and “unconventional” when it should be the norm. Unfortunately the world is so cynical now, but this track stands the test of time, and is even more important today.

Mase – Drug Wars
Mase? That sucker that used to rap all those pretty boy, glossy cross-over tracks with that piranha P. Diddy? How’d he make the list? Well, simply Mase at one point was a FUCKING BEAST! The Mase you see dancing around on your TV as a walking stereotype, or the televangelist swindling dollars out of helpless saps who actual follow his “Word of God” is totally opposite of the one that was once part of the best groups of the mid 90s. Murder Mase’s Drug Wars is a verbal exercise in wit, rhyme schemes and adroitness penning that has only been matched by a few in that era. Mase spits one long verse giving details of his neighborhood’s conditions, the NYC law enforcements corrupt ways and how he lives through it. A truly unparallel exposition by this once incredibly talented writer.

Masta Ace – The B-Side feat. Paula Perry, Leschea & Lord Digga
Hailed as one of the most consistent artists in the game ever, Ace came with a West Coast flavored album on his third studio album. Labeled as a “group” album, Ace came with his crew that consisted of Leschea, Lord Digga, and Paula Perry. The four would show up together on the track “The B-Side,” (Leschea doing basically the intro and chorus) for one of the strongest and overlooked track on the album. The track, produced by Ace himself, follows the deep bass/car crusin’ vibe that is found throughout the album. The INC crew also represents the “B-Side”, which in this case is the Brooklyn side. Leschea kicks shit off and gets the listener pumped then Ace comes in sets the mood for the joint. Ace rhymes sound less complicated than on previous releases, but still manages to come dope. Paula Perry has long been one of the most overlooked female MC’s in the game and the bars she spits demonstrates why that is so. The chorus is simple, yet effective. Digga will never be confused with Rakim, but handles his mic duties adequately enough to set it up for Ace to seal the deal. The track has always been one of my favorites from the “Sittin’ On Chrome” LP. The chemistry the four displayed, especially on this joint, is top notch and highly overlooked by the masses.

MC Serch – Back To The Grill (Remix) feat. Red Hot Lover Tone, Nas, O.C., & Chubb Rock
I’m sure there is a story behind this version, which contains the same MC’s as the original plus another guest appearance from another Serch protégé, O
.C., but I’ve either forgotten it or never heard it. The lyrics are the same as the original, with Nas spitting his classic verse that puts pretty much everyone else to shame. Off my memory, I think the remix was produced by T-Ray, who also did the original. The beat is rather basic, with a upright bass line that lends a thick feel overall to the track. One could argue that it is better than original in some ways.

Meen Green – L.A’s Finest
Another overlooked gem from the West comes courtesy of Meen Green. Featured on his 1997 release The Smokin’ Section, the Western Hemisfear O.G. links up with fellow left-side resident Mykill Miers as they trade verses letting niggas know that they will be hanging from palm trees if they come to L.A. thinking shit is sweet. Fellow Hemisfear member, Voodoo provides the ominous beat on this joint which lets Meen Green and Mykill Miers do their thing and murder the track. This same beat would be used a year later on Xzibit’s “Recycled Assassins” (the irony) but this joint is easily the better of the two. Check the rest of Meen Green’s album for more nice shit.

MF Grimm- So Wat Cha Want Nigga
Mf Grimm released this 12” in 1993 under the alias ‘Grim Reaper’ on the independent ‘Underground Records’ with the first verse originally being recorded for the ‘Live At The BBQ’ posse cut which Grimm did not make it on due to legal problems. The first thing that stands out to me here is Grimm’s energy and the aggression with which he attacks the beat. Unlike the reflective Mf Grimm of today this is a younger more psychotic and violent version with a more rapid fire delivery. The last line of the second verse “fuck the world/and all of you can suck my dick” sum up the sentiment on this track up perfectly.

Mobb Deep – Cop Hell
One of Mobb Deeps earliest recordings originally dating back to 1992, this DJ Premier produced track was done when Havoc and Prodigy were just 16 years old and was original intended for there Juvenile Hell album which it did not make it onto for obvious reasons. Over a hard and stripped down mid tempo Premier banger, Hav and P cause a bloodbath massacring the whole NYPD! Mobb Deep sound demented and ready to go to hell for snuffing Jesus on this one, a very far cry from there more recent efforts. This track was only ever available as a test pressing 12” of which there were no more than 10-20 copies. They have sold for around $1500, partly for the b-side unreleased DJ premier instrumentals, which legend has it he tried to mutilate with a razor so they would not get leaked.

Mobb Deep – First Day of Spring feat. Tragedy Khadafi
This song first came out in 1996 or 1997 and finally saw the light of day on the recent Mobb Deep Infamous Archives LP. The song is significant for a few reasons- it is part of a large body of work that The Mobb put out that never (until recently) saw the light of day while maintaining the classic sound of The Infamous and Hell On Earth era- before Murda Musik would mark the gradual decline of the group’s output. Also, the track is technically a Mobb Deep track but the star of the show is QB stalwart Tragedy Khadafi. The beat is a simple head nodder and Tragedy rips into a really brutal verse with lines such as “Yous a half-way/ thug that you portray/ if you got locked up for a day, you prolly come home gay,” and “When I was runnin’ from cops you was practicing jump shots.” Trag really does a bang-up job in illustrating the difference between thugs who live the life and fakes who live the life vicariously through the music. Yes, it’s a topic that’s been covered by many, but never quite as eloquently as Trag did it for us here. As mentioned earlier, Mobb Deep has a huge body of work that never saw the light of day that still could be regarded as classic status. It is certainly much better than what the crew is putting out on G-Unit. Luckily The Mobb recently put out The Infamous Archives. While this material isn’t at all new to vinyl geeks and mixtape (emphasis on tape here) collectors, a lot of Mobb Deep fans who longed for the group’s heyday never got a chance to hear this stuff and are ignoring the Infamous Archives release, expecting it to be more G Unit excrement. If you like this stuff go cop the album and then try to dig up the Mobb Deep “Infamous Demos,” which are the rough studio versions of The Infamous that were later re-worked into the classic album we revere today.


Money Boss Players – What U Sayin’
Classic shit right here from one of the most overlooked groups in hip-hop history. I remember bumpin MBP shit off Doo Wop mixtapes all throughout the 90′s, so I was waiting for an album for the longest time. After dropping various singles, their Cop N Go LP ended up getting shelved in ’98 leaving MBP fans stuck. Then I heard about their 1994 release, Ghetto Chronicle Daily. I couldn’t find much info on it at all til Spine Magazine reviewed it in their Rarities section in ’03. I remember hearing this joint and being hooked instantly, so I emailed the writer of the review begging for the the full song in mp3 form, he ended up lacing me with some crazy ass file type that I converted to mp3 which I spreaded online and the rest is history. This is one of those songs that gives you that unexplainable feeling that can only be elicited by great music. Criminally slept-on producer, Minnesota laces a creative 1920’s-esque but still hard-hitting beat to compliment the “I’m a G, I’m getting bitches and I’m living lavish” type lyrics. Make no mistake; this subject matter isn’t anything new nowadays, but remember this was made in the early 90’s before B.I.G. and Puff started the Shiny Suit era and before Jay was “Feelin It”. Lord Tariq, Eddie Chebba, Big Ah, C-Dub, Tre Bags and the rest of the MBP crew were truly ahead of their time and didn’t give a fuck whether you liked it or not cause they were gonna do their own thing regardless. They used to run with the infamous Pistol Pete from Soundview Projects (Google it kids) so that should tell you that they were true street niggas foremost with music coming second. Any fans of raw, NY hip-hop need to check out the rest of the GCD EP ASAP cause that shit is the epitome of grimy.

Nas – Street Dreams (K-Def Remix)
Does anyone remember the backlash that It Was Written received in 1996? I remember my local radio station DJ trying to be cute with his little “It Was Written wasn’t hittin’” line. Nas went from describing the turmoil and harsh realities of his environment on Illmatic to writing fantasy rap about crimes he never commit and mafioso wet dreams on his sophomore LP. What many people saw as a lack of authenticity, hipster revisionists now see as Nas’ own Kool G. Rap experiment- the master wordsmith penning artistically genius fiction over contemporary production. “Street Dreams” is a prime example of the jiggy-thug aesthetic that Nas apparently (to the critics) was not good at and as a single it received a lot of flack. I, for one, liked it but Cormega took issue with the pink suit. If the Eurhythmic’s sample wasn’t already commercial enough to make purists puke bile, the even-more fluffy alternative with R. Kelly was worse and sadly more popular on radio and TV. K-Def, who is a legendary producer in his own right and could have had a spot on Illmatic now that we look back on it, saved the day with his remix, that for whatever reason I can only find being sold by Japanese assholes on eBay. Equipped with better drums, the
same dramatic pause around 45 seconds in, and a slew of classic breaks used by DJs on hooks of the early to mid 90s- the song comes off more hip hop than the 80s-rock sounding original.

ONYX – Purse Snatchaz Part 2 feat. Smoothe Da Hustler & Trigga Tha Gambler
All We Got Iz Us is one of the darkest albums in all of hip hop. A rainy day in your cd player, shit is just that real. Depression and drug abuse, unpaid bills that stack up to heights that block the suns golden rays- what starts off as a fleeting bit of melancholy in your ears becomes very real to the rest of your senses when your listen to Onyx’s sophomore album. We have friends that die violently every day, a police force that is killing us off into extinction, cold and damp living quarters cramped with us, lots of us. And you know what? It’s all we got, so we stick together. Every storm breaks. The grays and blacks part ways and the streaks of light that make their way down to us in little slivers give us just enough hope to give the next day a chance. When it comes to Onyx and the depressive All We Got Iz Us era, that hope was “Purse Snatchaz Pt. Two.” Angry at the world? Do you have bills need to be paid? It’s time to go purse snatching! All of us, who stick together through this tempest of turmoil have found a way out, even for only the most brief of moments. When the chips are down, everyone waits for the day that their fortunes change, for the day that a well-deserved opportunity will arrive and to capitalize on it. A tiresome task in itself, anticipation can get the best of people and this track by Onyx has plenty of that in it’s history. This song was a reality that began as a rumor. Lyrical content aside, “Purse Snatchaz Pt. 2″ didn’t quite fit in to the sonic vibe of the rest of the album. People wanted this song so badly that an incomplete and unmastered version was jacked from someone in the Onyx camp and released on a mixtape before Onyx’s own DJ had a copy. The production is jazzy, Trigger the Gambler loans his voice to the hook and the result is a vibe of upliftment and spirituality. If this made it’s way onto the LP it would have made a fitting song to close out the album with. Sticky, Sonsee, Fredro Starr, Smoothe and Trigger- a disgruntled “us” who are fed up with their lot have an epiphany that reveals to them that the only way out of their misery is to blaze their own trail the Rob and Vic way.

Ras Kass – Music Of The Business feat. Xzibit
This cut is one of many unreleased gems mentioned in The Source’s “Fat Tape” section back in the day. It was supposed to be on Rassassination but got cut for some unknown reason. I would imagine that the label pulled the plug on the track since Ras breaks down the industry and exposes it as the corporate evil it truly is. Sure the rap game = crack game theme has been done before, but Ras delves deeper than any other rapper had at the time and shows why he’s one of the nicest MC’s to ever touch a mic. The beat on here is melancholy and goes with the industry rule #4080 lyrics perfectly. It’s a shame this didn’t make the lp cause it would been one of the best tracks on there by far. Either way it’s fucked up that Ras would drop a cut like this and then get caught in the industry trap himself years later.

Real Live – The Turnaround (Remix) feat. Tragedy and Capone
Slow dramatic strings, a perfectly balanced bass, tight drums, and shimmering cymbals are normally the property of an R and B song, but K-Def’s genius has integrated these cornerstones of the softer genre into a really great rap song. 1993 to 1997 was the era of the thug in rap music. Tragedy and Capone are the perfect side dish to Larry-O’s baritone kingpin tales. Keeping in line with the storyline that Larry-O presents throughout the duo’s album, the song isn’t explosive but rather a slick and effective track that properly represents Larry-O’s modus operandi- make the right moves and don’t attract the attention of the wrong crowd and you’ll accumulate riches and respect. Though the trio never became household names, if one were to judge by the way people still check for Larry-O, Trag, and Capone more than ten years after their climax it’s safe to say they are still rich in respect. This remix was not as popular as the remix to “Real Live Shit” with Cappadonna, Ghost and Killah Sin was and part of the reason for that is the fact that this is found only on the promo version of the 12-inch single and was released in very limited qualities. The 12-inch goes for as much as thirty dollars on eBay and European cats don’t have a problem charging thirty-five dollars or more in their record shops.

UGK – It’s Suppose To Bubble
UGK is underrated. UGK overrated. Whatever side of the coin you’re own, it’s undisputable; UGK went under the radar for years. Rightly or wrongly, it’s the truth. To me, UGK is one of the greatest rap duos ever, and this track along with the album “Super Tight” is as important to hear as any other album to come out of the south in the 90s. Bun B and Pimp C both give their declaration to their town Port Author Texas while giving a glimpse of the daily routine of the day. UGK rap eloquently over a smooth beat, with an addictive, yet simple chorus (on the surface), leaving us with one of the best tracks of the 90s.

Yaggfu Front – Slappin’ Suckas Silly (Remix) feat. Diamond D
Yaggfu Front is group that should have blown up, but unfortunately, they never did. The group came straight outta North Cacalaca (North Carolina) and consisted of D’Ranged & Damage, Spin, and Jingle Bel. They were on the lighter side of hip-hop, sort of like an East Coast Pharcyde. Surprisingly enough, the remix version that DITC alum Diamond D, doesn’t differ greatly from the version that appears on the LP beatwise. He keeps the general arrangement, but beefs up the bass line into its own creature, especially when played on some monster speakers. It provides some bounce that will keep that head noddin’. Diamond also adds some scratches to accompany the horns that already gave it that DITC “feel”. He drops the keys that could be found in the original version, which gives it a richer feeling. Lyrically, the chorus has been changed up, with Diamond handling those duties and completely changing it up. He also drops a few bars. While Yaggfu never blew up like they could have/ should have, this track is one that deserves more props than it currently does in this day of age in the hip-hop history books. Dope rhymes, head nodding bass line and a chorus that one is shouting out to by the end of the sing is all that a great hip hop song needs, yet so very few are found like this.

Young Zee – Stay Gold feat. Lauryn Hill
Young Zee of The Outsidaz is a tremendously talented rapper that never got his just due. His style was the catalyst of Eminem’s career and while his Musical Meltdown LP is almost as good as any album to come out of New Jersey, it never saw the light of day. This track, Stay Gold with Lauryn Hill was a single waiting to happen. The hottest new artists of the past 5 years Lauryn Hill doing the honors of spitting a verse and singing a wonderful hook with Young Zee demonstrating his superior rap skills with a unique flow and voice. This track could’ve been a classic in any format, in any era, yet do to label politics and the like, it never was to be. Still, this track showcases one of raps most hidden talents with another great artist, giving the audience a memorable song that ’til this day bumps like it just came out.

Contrib
utors:
Dred Scott, Galvatron78, glavet (me), Killer Ben, madtapes Magneto, MGP, Paragraph President & Philaflava.

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