Even though Pos K’s ’92 release “The Skills….” was considered to be his official debut, he was the farthest thing from a “rookie” in Hip Hop. Pos had moderate success via his collabo with MC Lyte, “A Good Combination”, and also his offering that appeared on the First Priority compilation “Basement Flavor” (“I’m Not Havin’ It”). More notable, was Pos’ unforgettable appearance on Brand Nubian’s classic debut “One For All” with the reggae-tinged jam, “Who Can Get Busy Like This Man”. So, after nearly three years in waiting Pos’ K starting kickin’ ass and takin’ names in Hip-Hop with his HUGE smash “I Got A Man”. And when I say HUGE, we’re talkin’ an appearance on the largely forgotten “MTV Party To Go” compilation album HUGE (I hope you sense the hint of sarcasm thrown in there). Sadly, that would be Positive’s lone crown jewel in Hip Hop, and believe it or not, I think in the long run that it may have actually hindered his sales, due to the fact that many of the hardrocks were expecting more of the “fluff-stuff” flavor that was indeed “I Got A Man”.
In my opinion, “The Skills” is an extremely good album, for ’92 standards that is. A collective of jazzy grooves and heavy bass thumps, “The Skills” had just enough good stuff to cater to nearly every fan-base. Positive liked to call himself “Mr. Clean Cut and Daper”, and that’s exactly the way that his rhyme style and delivery came off, kinda’ “tongue in cheek”, if you catch my drift. Of course, you had the commercial success of the aforementioned “I Got A Man”, yet you also had the more hardcore “How The Fu*ck Would You Know” (many of you will identify the sample from Public Enemy’s debut, Yo! Bumrush The Show”) and “One 2 The Head”. You also had the tracks aimed as the fly skimmies, “Minnie The Moocher (f. Grand Daddy I.U.) and “CarHoppers”. Finally, you had the good ole’ funky sh*t that you couldn’t help but move along with such as the irresistible “Shakin” (my favorite joint from the album) and “Nightshift” (yet another track amongst the thousands that used the “Substitution” break). Like I mentioned before, there’s something for everyone on “The Skills That Pay The Bills”.
Sitting here listening to the album while I type this, I can honestly say that even today “The Skills..” plays just as it did in ’92. Hell, I may love the album even more now than I did back during my Freshman year of High School. Boy, it’s albums like this that truly take you back to the days when your only worries were makin’ sure you had enough gas in the tank to get from point A to point B, and sliding into to Home Room before the opening bell rang. Man, what a dope album!
Earning his stripes by producing hits for the likes of diverse groups such as the Poor Righteous Teachers, Kwest The Madd Lad, YZ and King Sun, Tony D aka Don Nots, aka Grand Poobah, aka Harvey Wallbanger is widely considered as the funkiest white boy to ever lay a finger on the SP1200. Not to mention a solo album of his own, “Droppin’ Funky Verses” under his belt, Tony D was no “new jack” when his collaborative effort with Rahzi Hightower (you may remember him from P.R.T.’s “Selah”) and Be-Fyne aka The Crusaders For Real Hip Hop hit tapedecks nationwide. If Tony D ever had a crowning moment it had to be his contributions to P.R.T.’s debut classic “Holy Intellect”. However, maybe Tony’s most controversial moment came thanks to the popularity of Naughty By Nature’s “O.P.P.”. It is believed that Tony D’s “Adam’s Nightmare” (from Tony’s independently released breakbeat LP, “Music Makes You Move”) was the source for the backdrop to Naughty’s biggest selling hit to date. Plain and simple, Tony believes that Kay Gee “stole his sh*t”. In a February ’92 issue to “The Source” (the Geto Boys “Mind Playin’ Tricks On Ya” cover) Tony D had this to say about the so-called “jack”:
“They sampled my loop! I ain’t gonna’ beef about it ’cause I’ll use anybody’s beat. I just want people to be aware of who actually hooked it up first. Any record store in New York who had my breakbeat album (“Music Makes You Move”), they’re like “Yo, what about O.P.P. using your stuff?, everywhere I go. Having a big beef over it and to do something radical or dumb is not the case. I just want people to be aware that I hooked the sh*t up first!”
Of course, Kaygee, the producer behind the Naughty smash maintained his innocence: ” I never heard his record…”O.P.P.” has flavor, our album has flavor. Tony D just put out an album that was garbage” (editor’s note: I’m assuming that Kay is referring to Tony’s debut on 4th & Broadway, “Droppin’ Funky Verses”). Finally, Kay Gee summed it up like this: “Yo Tone, get off our jocks!”. By the way, is it just me or is some of the writing in the older Source magazines absolutely atrocious?
Anyway, let’s get back to Tony’s follow up, “Deja Vu, It’s 82″. I have to say I’d never even heard this record until two weeks ago, after having passed it over countless times throughout my “tape shopping” days. Needless to say, I’m impressed, not so much lyrically…but on the boards Tony is definitely nice with his! The first track that really caught my ear was “Funky Uptown”, on which many of you will recognize the sample used for this track from Group Home’s “Serious Rap Shit”, which I believe was the only track on “Livin’ Proof” that Guru produced. Even the hook on “Funky…” is catchy as hell: “Grab a Funky Uptown/And I’ll show you a brother/Tappin’ it HARD on the SP”, and Rahzi Hightower sings/chants a verse with his Reggae flavor that also made P.R.T.’s “Selah” one of my favorite tracks from “Black Business”. Also, the two other tracks that really stood out were “Ultimate Reality” and “May I Continue”. The aforementioned “Ultimate Reality” has one of the funkiest yet simplest hooks I’ve ever heard, the vocal sample “Ultimate Reality” is speed up, repeated again and again over the infamous “Substitution” break (although I think this sample is actually from Ultramagnetic, not 100% sure though). There’s even a bit of “beat-boxing” thrown in for good measure, and “May I Continue” has that rugged “93-94″ flavor, heavy drums and dope horn sample which really became a “standard” for East Coast Hip Hop during that time-frame.
Ultimately, “Deja Vu, It’s ’82″ still sounds fly, nearly 16 years later. I’m pretty sure that most of you’ll will enjoy this album and it’s a fairly decent representation of the quality that emerged from New Jersey during the early 90′s. However, it’s quite clear that Tony D saved some of his best production for much of Poor Righteous Teachers’ work.
Another pick from Wild Pitch Records! All through the years, I’ve come across a chosen few of true music-lovers who knew about “School Of Hard Knocks” and surprisingly, we shared the same appreciation for this masterpiece. Those who haven’t heard about them were bound to hear my praise forever and ever. I’ve been passionate about every single aspect of this joint: The full twelve songs (touching street narratives with socially conscious rhymes), the lyrical artillery (my man was somewhere between Rakim and Kane, but he was way more “street”), the beats (perfect balance) and the appropriate artwork that showcased a certain honesty, humility and maybe even integrity. The only problem was that nobody besides me at that time seemed to really care about that album and I LOVED IT! I somehow created a romantic bond to this chef-d’oeuvre and now that I think about it, this should have made my list of all-time classics.
In a more than confused time (1991 ’till 1992 when the album dropped) where everybody was openly dooming the usage of the “N-Word” (who am I to judge anyway?), Hard Knock’s first single “Nigga For Hire” seemed bold and challenging, criticizing the social system designed in the United States to keep minorities in check. The song “Thoughts Of A Negro” gave a more detailed explanation of my man’s state of mind as it opens with the soundbite: “problem with ‘negro’ was not the word itself/ It was that a stereotype had been attached to that word ‘negro’ and that people were forced to live in accords to that stereotype”. My favorite cut on the album “Ghetto Love” was a benign gesture of affection for your friends. Now I know how we’ve been force-fed with mediocre attempts to romanticize the rapper’s willingness to “always ride” for his homies, but I have never heard a “real” love-song to underline that besides “Ghetto Love”. I will not quote anything from this song (you really have to listen to the whole song) or I will kindly ask everyone to hit up ohhla.com and read the lyrics to this joint to understand what I’m trying to say. Regardless, this is my ish people because it was and still is a perfect album…-Rasul
Ahhh, Common Sense…not Common….Common Sense! You see, when I think of the artist now known simply as “Common”, I remember the “blunts, bitches & brews” Common Sense with the “hiccup” rhyme flow that emulated that of that of it’s originators Das Efx. I’d placed Common Sense’s “Can I Borrow A Dollar?” in my “Top 100 Albums of All Time” simply because of the memories that this album holds for me. I first picked up “Can I Borrow A Dollar?” on my drive home from purchasing my first hooptie ( the one & only Baby Blue Honda Civic Hatchback) with the 3 G’s I had saved up over the summers before helping my dad out with his farming business. That same day I also picked up Zhigge’s self titled debut album (on the strength of “Toss It Up”), along with Insane Poetry’s debut (damn, they were trulyon some other sh*t, huh??) Like I’ve said in countless posts before this, I was also introduced to Common Sense (much like basically all of the music I bought circa 1993-1996) via his album review in The Source ( I think it got 3.5 mics, but I remember seeing “Charm’s Alarm” in the Fat Tape section) and I was very impressed with the beats that backed Common’s “still in development” rhyme stylie.
This was the Common that we all loved from the jump, comedic style and delivery, nonsensical rhymin’, sh*t talkin’ Common…And you know what?.. this album was just…Fun! Of course, Common just totally stepped his game up with “Resurrection” much to my delight as well as many a backpacker. Then along came Miss “I’ll turn a brother out in a minute” Badu (damn, what is she doin’ to these cats?) , which was around the time “One Day It’ll A Make Sense” dropped and that’s where Common lost me for a minute. Needless, to say I came back around “The Corner” with 2004’s release of what I consider a present day classic, “BE” (be sure to peep more on this record in my upcoming review for Metal Lungies. Okay, so let’s get back to “Can I Borrow A Dollar?”. First of all, you remember the flow and you remember the content..I wanna’ talk about the BEATS. With the bulk of the production handled by Immenslope (No I.D…..damn, he laced up Rhymefest’s “Fever”!!!), Twighlite Zone and one cut (Heidi Hoe) from the…say it with me now!…World…Famous….Beat…Nuts, “Can I Borrow…” boasted some pretty decent beats. “Charms Alarm” has always been my favorite track here, with “Soul By The Pound” not trailing behind too far (BTW, what about the “Soul By The Pound” remix?..talk about some bottom! And, who can forget the “So gimme’ a T.O. baby/Like um, Chris Webber..?) Of course, I could go on & on to justify why I like this album even more than 2000′s “Like Water For Chocolate” but it’s just a different Common…a totally different style and the whole nine yards…and damn it! that’s the Common Sense I miss!
Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe this was the very first “actual” Fat Tape that appeared in an issue of “The Source”. Before this June 1992 issue there was the “Singles File” and such but no “Fat Tape”. So, here ya’ go, the first of many to come:
1. “Deep Cover”-Dre & Snoop
2. “You Can’t See”-Heavy D & The Boyz
3. “Fakin’ The Funk”-Main Source
4. “The Big Man”-Chubb Rock
5. “It’s Goin’ Down”-EPMD
6. “For Pete’ Sake”-Pete Rock & CL Smooth
7. “Dwyck”-Gangstarr f. Nice & Smooth
8. “Party Groove”-Showbiz & AG
9. “Mic Checka”-Das Efx
10. “The Original Way”-Boogie Down Productions