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"Re-Ups" with *gasp* "Writeups" Pt. II

by Eric on October 31, 2007

“Breaking Atoms”-Main Source

The album came out in 1991 on Wild Pitch Records! That label was known for originality and an innovative approach and had gathered a strong and deep following throughout the years with their association to the 45 King and their earlier releases of Chill Rob G.’s “Ride The Rhythm”, Gangstarr’s “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and Lord Finesse’s “Funky Technician”. Therefore, if you were a true addict and always on the hunt for new music, you pretty much knew about that album when it first hit the shelves. But then again, you have to understand the dynamics of Hip Hop back in that year and other contenders Large Pro and his two Canadian DJs had to compete with to gain some sort of semi-notoriety. Hip Hop mattered back then! Everybody involved with the music sensed the season of change; the way the once beloved and partially secret treat of the “colored and oppressed” was slowly outgrowing regions and limitations and how it had already started to move beyond borders. Main Source had to go against PEs and De La’s, they had to bow to their musical soul-mates Tribe for infusing Jazz to our psyches and sadly enough, there was although this white guy from Miami doing the Running-Man and chanting “Ice Ice Baby”. I wouldn’t say “Breaking Atoms” flew under the radar, it was just one of those great compilations that grew on you with time: It took you a New York-Minute to really dig Extra P. with his silly-looking glasses who made a song about “Just Hanging Out” with his friends (and naming each and everyone of them), explaining the everyday activities all of us could easily relate to. “Lookin‘ At The Front Door” explained the unspoken matters between lovers growing out of a relationship with such ease and simplicity that it actually hurt! And that exactly was so compelling about the man: He just shared his often simple experiences with you and never sounded misplaced or remotely rushed- though he did get a little lyrical with “Just A Friendly Game Of Baseball” and “Live At The BBQ” introducing Nasty Nas. And there was the production. I think they can fill whole books with the credit and recognition Main Source have received for their diligent body of work. I’m not going to detail how they put this and that sample together to bore you. I’m sure most of you have heard this masterpiece and know what the heck I’m talking about…-Rasul

“Hard To Earn”-GangStarr

Ya’ know, as much critical acclaim as GangStarr’s “Daily Operation” may have received for being a daring and innovative Hip Hop classic at the time of it’s release….”Hard To Earn” is quite possibly my favorite album ever from  mastermind producer DJ Premier and his vocally “gifted” partner Guru.  Riding the success of the huge smash “Dwyck” (feat. Nice & Smooth) that was released a winter earlier as the B-Side to trunk rattling “Take It Personal”, GangStarr released the follow up to “Daily…” in March of 1994.  When speaking of classics released in 94′ , “Illmatic”, “Enta Da Stage”, “Ready To Die”, “Doggystyle” (which was actuallyreleased in the winter of 93′) & “Enter The Wu-Tang” are most likely the albums that first come to mind.  Very seldom (I’m guilty of this as well) is GangStarr’s “Hard To Earn” mentioned in the same breath as the aforementioned classics.  With “Hard To Earn” it’s very difficult to find a dent in GangStarr’s armor.  Containing universally known classics such as “Code Of The Streets”, “Mass Appeal” and “Speak Ya’ Clout” (is Primo’s beat for Jeru’s verse absolutely SICK or what!?) which features Gangstarr Foundation members Lil’ Dap (of Group Home) & Jeru The Damaja, “Hard To Earn” may have “pound for pound” matched the commercial success that GangStarr ever obtained with any of the releases from their monumental discography.  What I love about the album is the lesser known classics such as the “Blind Alley” sampled closer “Comin For Datazz”, the album’s opener “ALONGWAYTOGO” (where Primo cleverly pieces elements of  ”Impeach The President”, an ill Quincy Jones sample and vocal slices from Phife & Tip to create  “beautiful noize”) and the horn-laden “Now You’re Mine” which due to it’s lyrical content, should be featured on every basketball associated highlight video ever made.  Sad thing is, I think I’ve only ever heard “Now You’re Mine” accompany a “Jam Session” on “Inside Stuff” (which used to be a “re-cap” of the week in the NBA) that used to air Saturday mornings on NBC.  I can even remember the call to “emcees frontin’ hard” “Suckas Need Bodyguard” making some noise due to it’s lyrics which state that “real” emcees don’t need to have 1-5 people watching their every step at all times….shit, play that shit for Puffy, Jay or 50 nowadays!  From start to finish, there is not a bit of “fast-forward worthy” material on the album.  The beats are mostly “mind-blowing” and Guru plays CL to Primo’s Pete Rock, camouflaging whatever lyrical weaknesses he may have when not paired with Preem’s masterful production.  Hell, even “Aiight Chill” (which is basically an elongated voicemail that features drops from Nas to MC Eiht) bangs thanks to the bass heavy, studder-step beat laced by Primo.  “Hard To Earn” should be the blueprint for consistency in Hip Hop, sadly it may never receive the attention it deserves due to it’s release in a year that was flooded with “ground-breakers”…-Eric

“Guerillas In Tha’ Mist”-Da Lench Mob

“With the L-E-N-C-H-M-O-B….T-Bone and datz’ J-Dee!”. On Ice Cube’s debut “Amerikkkas Most Wanted” and on “Jackin’ 4 Beats”, Cube made it clearly known that the lyrical onslaught wasn’t quite finished yet. Waiting in the wings were Cube affiliates T-Bone, J-Dee & Shorty whom would collectively form Da Lench Mob. Stepping out on their own two, Da Lench Mob would release their debut “Guerillas In Tha Mist” on EastWest records in the winter of 1992.  In a year that also featured standout debuts from Cypress Hill, Das Efx & Fu-Schickens, Da Lench Mob ruffled a few feathers with their whole “kill whitey, buck the devil” mentality which was similar to what Cube did with “Death Certificate”.  Me, being a naive, white boy growing up in a town with a population of about 300…..could have given “two shits” what Da Lench Mob was talking about.  Whatever it was….it sure sounded funky as hell over the production from Chilly Chill, Ice Cube, Rashad & Mr. Woody.  Keying in on the Bomb Squad production style that made Ice Cube’s debut such a huge success, “Guerillas…..” also featured beats the recalled sounds from other records that where popular on the airwaves during the time-frame of it’s release.  The “ruckus bringer” “Freedom Got An A.K.” always sounded like a more political “Jump Around”, much in part due to the shared “screamed” vocal sample.  Also, it’s hard not to listen to “Buck Tha’ Devil” and not think “Humpty Dance”, no matter what the lyrical content.  On the other hand, it can be said that Cube may have borrowed a page from Tha Lench Mob’s book with “It Was A Good Day”, which is very reminiscent of the vibe one feels while listening to “Lord Have Mercy”.  “Who Ya’ Gonna’ Shoot With That?” (which shares the same sample that Brand Nubian used for “Steal Ya’ Hoe”) has always been my favorite cut on the album thanks to the “beat switches” within the track and Lench Mob’s urging to “get a gun, cause’ a dog sure as hell isn’t gonna’ do the trick”.  Hmmm, that’s also a dope element that follows in the Bomb Squad traditon on the album, throughout many of the tracks there is more than one beat.  In doing so, the album never becomes a stagnant listen……but, it does succeed in keeping you on your toes prepping for the next drop that will totally change the direction of the song.  Of course, it’s widely know that this would be the last Lench Mob album for member J-Dee who was sentenced to life in prison for murder in 93′.  Tha Lench Mob would soon release “Planet Of Da Apes” in 94′ and would substitute emcee Maulkie for the incarcerated J-Dee, the album made very little noise leading to the demise of Cube’s homies.  Just when was the last time we heard Cube mention “Tha Lench Mob” anyway?…-Eric

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Jimbo Jones October 31, 2007 at 4:56 pm

Yeah man, all three albums CLASSICS. I’ve been checking this blog for a while now. Superb stuff! Me and my co-DJ on our show play tracks from those three albums a LOT, three of the best albums from their respective years. Main Source is amazing, that Hard To Earn is a tie for the best Gang Starr (with Moment Of Truth, IMO) and Guerillas In Tha Mist is WICKED. We played it start to finish befoer the show a few months back, and we’ve been playing selected tracks off it since…. (obviously got to be a bit careful, the station’s got guidelines about content so we’re pretty restricted to about four tracks, but it still BANGS).

Props for the blog man, dopeness.


max_bills November 1, 2007 at 2:31 am

growing up in toronto that main source made us feel proud even tho sir scratch and kcut took an obvious backseat to large pros rhymes and production… i can still remember playin ball and going to pool parties w/ “just hangin out” banging in the background… ah those were the days….

ipE November 1, 2007 at 4:14 am

“Hard to Earn” -link is actually Step in the Arena :)

Just-Ice November 7, 2007 at 8:53 am

Took the WP plunge, eh? Nice. Gotta love the back end goodies that come along it. Anyway…

I feel Breaking Atoms is such an underrated album. As a rap nerd way back when, I studied the liner booklets of all my cassette tapes, seeing who knew who and whatnot. I would continually see Extra P’s name in some of them, most notably G. Rap and Polo’s Wanted: Dead Or Alive. I knew the name but when I saw him on the “Looking At The Front Door” single as the lead rapper, I had to cop it knowing he must be nice if he hung with G. Rap, LOL. Man, what a refreshing voice to Hip Hop back then he was. I loved the authoritative voice that spoke like some intelligent around the way dude who was less preachy but more …well, real with it. They sounded different that anyone I listened to back then. I must have had that tape stoled or lost around five times and kept buying it, I thought it was that dope, still do.

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