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"Hit Or Miss?" aka "it wasn't the Golden Era, but… be the judge"

by Eric on April 15, 2008

Whaddup peoples? I hope that everyone is having a hastle-free week. Today is the first post in a series that will be highlighting some of our favorite so-called “Golden Age” artists, who later put out product in a not so “Golden Age” era. Yep, I’m talkin’ about the late nineties and into the new millennium, times were extremely hard for an artist like A.G. to go from the classic status of “Runaway Slave” and “Goodfellas” to little or no public fanfare associated with the release of “The Dirty Version”. Many of the albums from the forthcoming series fell upon deaf ears, if any of them were given the light of day at all (i.e, the Rough House Survivors follow-up)  For me, this is going to be fun, because honestly I hadn’t heard 2/3 of the albums that I’ve posted today prior to 2008. So, needless to say, it’ll be like an enjoyable homework assignment for me as well. Oh, and I’ll be wrapping up the “I Love The 90′s” series probably sometime late next week, I’d say that it went over fairly well. And one more thing, be sure to give us a “Happy Birthday” in the “Shout Box”, I just realized that “When They Reminisce” celebrated (not really) it’s first Birthday late in March. Damn, a year already? Wow, I remember the first month when I started “W.T.R.” and we were getting like…maybe…100 hits a day, I thought I was on the trail to becoming an “internet celeb”. Well, who would have thought that today we average nearly 1,800 to 2,000 hits a day (two weeks ago, we topped 3,000 for the first time ever!)  Those figures well exceed my expectations of this site, but honestly, it’s for the love of this Hip Hop.  Once again, thanks to all for your returning visits and for making “When They Reminisce” what it is today!…-Eric

“The Dirty Version”-A.G. (2000, Silva Dom)

For those that think underground Hip Hop has withered down to nothing more than Internet surfin’ coffee shop cats and beef-n-broccoli-wearin’ backpackers in SoHo…well, you’re getting pretty close.  However, back in 2000, all of this madness had just started to begin.  Arising from the depths of unda’ came forth an emcee on a mission to breathe life into an otherwise stagnant Hip Hop scene.  Although “The Dirty Version” was A.G.’s debut solo album, by 2000 he was considered anything but a “new jack”.  As one half of the legendary duo, Showbiz & A.G., Andre the Giant had more than enough time in the game to warrant the respect of his peers.

The Five-Foot and change Bronx native spit lyrics with the fury and presence of a 350 lb. linebacker on tracks like “Muddslide”, with it’s thunderous violins and neck snappin’ drums.  And with the Ghetto Dwellas behind him on the boisterous, back spinnin’ “Rude Awakening”, A.G. proved that he still had it in him.  But the lyrics on “Dirty Version” didn’t seem to carry the same braggadocio that we came to expect from A.G.  He professed his story telling abilities while giving insight into his struggle on “All Eye Seeing” as he spit: “Seen 13 year olds split Phillies and spit nine-millies/I seen a million/I seen nig*as jack beats and make a killin’/Nig*as keep it real and still flop/I seen nig*as moms keep it real and buy krillz on the block/This sh*t is real on the block/I seen Dapper Dan every week in ’88/Trigger on The VI just the other day/One love, my nig*a/I seen (Big) L pass away..

“The Dirty Version” picked up once A.G. reunited with his partner in rhyme, Showbiz, on “Drop It Heavy”, which also featured the lyrical talents of Krs One and the late Big Pun.  Of course, you probably didn’t hear too many, if any of these tracks on day-time radio, but regardless…back in the dawn of the new millenium, “The Dirty Version” was kinda’ refreshing.

“Now Or Never: Odyssey 2000″-Easy Mo Bee (2000, Priority)

All personnel report to your respective posts. Your captain, Easy Mo Bee, prepares to take you on a musical journey with the compilation, “Now Or Never..”, a galactic journey through Hip Hop’s multicultural spectrum, courtesy of the most lyrical troopers from all points. By the way, if you’re unaware of the captain’s status in the game, there’s a loooong list of clientele who have reaped the benefits of this beat navigator. Namely, 2Pac, Craig Mack, Biggie, the Lost Boyz and Jazz great Miles Davis.

This album had a distinct battle-ready direction as evidenced on “Shit’s Goin’ Down Tonite”.  Here, Kurupt and Da Nation called out fake jakes over a slick drum beat with a repetitive clap, while those Dirty South claimin’ cats, Goodie Mob, didn’t let up for a second on the amped-up call-out track, “Fie Fie Delish”.  Still wanna battle?  Check “NYC”, a piano-looped, laid-back groove with verbal vet Kool G Rap and his protege, Jinx, layin’ down the lyrical law.  Easy pulls the ol’ switch-a-roo on the title track by abandoning his post behind the boards and giving the controls to his brother L.G., or whom you may identify as L.G. Experience, who delivered a violin-laden, soap opera insprired vibe while Mo Bee spits his feelings:  “It’s now or never/Whatever stake my claim/Shake my pain/Dodgin’ all these fakes in the game/Hate is to blame/Bakin’ over cake and a dame/Easy Mo the same..”.  Let’s just say that Mo Bee was best served behind the boards!

With this effort, Easy Mo attempted to cater to all ears.  But, with more than your usual album count-21 tracks, a few skits, a couple of intrumentals and of course, a phone message from B.I.G.-the LP suffered from overkill.  There’s an adage that applies to this situation in which a wise man once uttered, “Sometimes less is more than enough”.  Had Mo Bee applied that same wisdom to this project, he had the potential to turn “Now Or Never…” into a sick compilation.

“M-Pire Strikez Back”-Originoo Gunn Clappaz(1999, Priority)

In Hip Hop, “family” can be very important to one’sgrowth and elevation. However, when a camp becomes too large, some of it’s members may have trouble establishing their own identity. Soon, they may find themselves recognized and remembered more for their “association” rather than their own talent. And when your elder brethren are the Boot Camp Click’s Black Moon, Smif N Wessun and Heltah Skeltah, distinguishing yourself as a separate group can be an arduous task. Thus, when O.G.C.’s Starang Wondah, Louieville Sluggah and Top Dawg released their debut “The Storm” in ’96, they didn’t receive the same acclaim as their Bucktown affiliates. It wasn’t that they lacked skills, they were just simply overlooked. With their follow-up, ’99′s “M-Pire Strikez Back” this trio aimed to establish their own sound, and prove that they too could rep B.C.C. all by their lonesome.

From jump-street, the fiery tone of the anthemic “Shoot To Kill”, and the groove of orchestrated violins and hard drums along with the wailing vocals on “Bounce To The Ounce” hit the nail on the head in terms of dopeness. Also, O.G.C. shined on tracks like “Girlz Ninety Now”, where the Gunn Clappaz traded simple, yet humorous verses with the Boot Camp Click about sexual escapades over a laid-back Dru Ha produced track. Even when they reunited with Heltah Skeltah on the Fab 5 reunion, “Dirtiest Players In The Game”, they displayed the same chemistry as on the classic “Leflaur Leflah Eshkoshka”.

Things took a turn for the worst on “Slo Mo” and “Set Sail”, tracks that just didn’t have the same impact as some of the album’s stronger cuts due to the noticeable absence of the murky, grimy Beatminerz sound, which was instead replaced with live instrumentation and little..if any…sampling. Despite a few decent moments, “M-Pire Strikez Back” definitely didn’t have the same bang as it’s predecessor, “The Storm”. Hardcore B.C.C. headz were obviously disappointed, left eagerly anticipating the so-called Fab 5 album that still hasn’t come to fruition.

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Jos-B April 15, 2008 at 7:36 pm

Am I crazy, or does that O.G.C. cover say “The M-Pire SHrikez Back”?


linkel April 15, 2008 at 7:37 pm

Holy Shit!!! How did u catch that? Man, that’s crazy, never noticed that b4

Thadeacon April 15, 2008 at 11:00 pm

It sure does… wow I own that joint and never noticed that. I wanted to like that joint so bad, but it collected dust in my crates outside of a couple joints on there… good look on the mp3 so I can go back to it!

Dro April 16, 2008 at 5:38 am

Hmm i didnt now that Rough House Survivers had a shelved album , u got it ?
I know they had something out in 97 , “New York to LA ” i think it was…

Dan Love April 16, 2008 at 11:29 am

Congrats on the year Eric, we’ve all come so far *joyous sob*.

Keep doing it!



squintzy jones April 16, 2008 at 9:34 am

yall are fuckin crazy…”The M-Pire Shrikes Back” is a classic…yeah, there are a few duds on there, but for the most part you can just play that shit through, front to back…i mean i am a die-hard BCC fan, but when shit sucks i’ll call a spade a spade. Yall need to go back and revisit the “M-Pire” IMO

max_bills April 16, 2008 at 11:05 am

this blog continues to shine above all the mediocrity and newjack sermons that proliferate the internet… keep sh*t real

linkel April 16, 2008 at 5:12 pm

….and I quote:

“yall are fuckin crazy…”The M-Pire Shrikes Back” is a classic……yeah, there are a few duds on there, but for the most part you can just play that shit through, front to back”

-That makes absolutely no sense….

hugo April 16, 2008 at 6:08 pm

Isn’t “Girlz Ninety Now” a remake of Disco Three’s “I Met A Girl”?

Max April 16, 2008 at 9:05 pm

Starang comin like a hurricane, lickin shots..I always thought Shrikez was weird myself..This is where the year by year albums become interesting..shits bout to be alot more underground for realzz..

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