For the fellow SneakerHeads like myself out there, I just posted a listing of my kicks up for grabs at EBAY (CLICK to view)…any questions, feel free to gimme a shout!!
Marley Marl is a mastermind, a brilliant wizard, a virtuoso by all means! Let’s just say the man changed the face of Hip Hop Music emphatically. He introduced various heavyweights like the Big Daddy Kanes, the Craig Gs, the Master Aces, the MC Shans and the Kool G Raps and dropped a compilation album in 1988 on the renown Cold Chillin’-Label called “In Control Volume 1″ (with the ultimate anthem “The Symphony”) to officially present his X-Men-Click the “Juice Crew” to our defunct universe. And then there were two tracks, “The Rebel” and “Live Motivator”, starring a boyish sounding kid called Percy / Tragedy… Now I am indeed very familiar with all the stories that have been told about the man before he became Khadafi: How a 13 year old Percy Chapman had to sleep on Marley’s stoop before the legend gave him a shot and actually started recording with him; how my man had to do 20 months on Rikers Island right after his debut on “In Control Volume 1″, an experience pushing him to his adolescent limits and forcing him to realize how he had to change his ways and what he successfully managed to emphasize on his debut album. But I will tell you a little different story: Back in 1993 when the hype about Nas releasing an album reached uncalled heights and the title of that album “Illmatic” was circulating our airwaves, I told everybody Mr. Jones is a biter!
Yes Sir, your icon of now majestic realm, the Nasty Nas turned Escobar turned God’s Son, had taken the title of his debut-masterpiece off a rhyme Tragedy had delivered back in ‘88 from a song called “The Rebel”: “The rap automatical, the rhymatical / Forget ill, I get illmatical / Biceps pulsating in my lungs / Queensbridge Projects is where I’m from” (later on, Nas told the world that Tragedy’s been one of his idols). It wasn’t really the “illmatical” phrase that’s been buried in my mind for years. It was the graphic line “Biceps pulsating in my lungs” (take a minute to think about the line, it’s stupid folks) that had me going berserk and therefore, I knew right away where Nas had found his “inspiration”. See, both of the songs Tragedy dropped back on “In Control” were overshadowing every house-hold name featured on that album. “The Motivator” used unseen vocabulary and excelled in every branch. But that didn’t seem to help him cause any fanfare when his debut “Intelligent Hoodlum” was released in 1990. For once, his label A&M Records chose to call him Intelligent Hoodlum too and not Tragedy (don’t ask me why!). Then, my man didn’t come out on Cold Chillin’ like everybody else from the “Juice Crew” (and what every fan would have had expected) and the whole project was left nearly unnoticed by the die-hard addicts. Still, the album was everything of a treasure if you ask me.
Starting from the incredibly simple artwork (maybe I should drop a top ten list of best album-covers of all time!?), the mostly dark and gloomy production of Marley Marl that touched a realm of mysticism (and certainly something the man was not known for) and up to the impeccable lyrics delivered, this adventure felt unusual but very “right”. The first song (it was called Intelligent Hoodlum too and somebody from A&M should have felt a little weird) was magic (”I’m the Intelligent Hoodlum – reactor, I cause fear / Writing like Mark Twain, recite like Shakespeare”), “Back To Reality” ingenious, “Black and Proud” bold and “Microphone Check” playful! But the stand-out track had to be “Arrest the President” where he said: “Someone yelled out: Get the hell out / Evil fell out, but I’m no sell-out / Black’s the mineral, white subliminal / Arrest the President, he’s the criminal”. I could go on for days quoting lines form this album but I have to admit, I slept on this initially only to go back and listen to it again right after “In Control Volume 2″ came out in 1991. Still, this is a classic…-Rasul
“Black And Proud”
Ooooh, it’s about that time folks!! The days of “30 Albums To Get You Thru November” are almost numbered. Believe me, it’s getting hard to meet that quota as well for numerous reasons (not wanting to “double up” on uploads, and never actually taking the time to “sit down” and rank each release numerically). On with today’s last posts! In regards to Double X’s (formerly Double XX Posse) “Ruff, Rugged & Raw, I actually had a real difficult time trying to pick between their 1995 release and “Put Ya Boots On” which featured classic cuts like “Not Gonna Be Able To Do It” and tales of police brutality on “The Headcracker” (no pun intended, ha ha). Lo & behold, I have to go with the more cohesive and better production featured on “Ruff, Rugged & Raw.
With 95% of the production duties handled by Double X themselves (why am I thinking that T-Ray had a heavy involvement in the production as well?) , the album is loaded with East Coast flava‘ from beginning to end. Reliant on echoed horn loops, murky drums and rolling basslines “Ruff….” is one of the golden era’s most slept-on and overlooked gems to ever come outta’ New York. I can remember digging for this one for quite some time in PA, I don’t know if Big Beat distributed very few copies of the album or what, but I had a hard to getting my hands on a copy for the longest. The highlight of this album for me, comes at the expense of the Lord Finesse masterpiece “Money Talks”, which is in my opinion Finesse’s greatest piece of work on the boards…EVER!! You’ll see “Money Talks” pop up on my “Top 25 Beats Of All Time”. On the mic, Sugar Ray is easily distinguishable and carries most of the workload on this one, with BK providing back up from time to time. Sugar Ray was always a dope emcee in my eyes, his lyrics where never “top notch” but his delivery and presence more than compromised his lyrical downside. If you love that “ol New York rap” here’s anotha‘ gem for you…..but why in the hell did I always think that Double X hailed from Jersey. There’s very little info floating around the net’ in regards to Double X Posse, so if I’m incorrect someone give me a shout.
Yet another difficult selection for me…believe it or not, I placed Grand Puba’s 1995 release “2000″ ahead of his solo debut “Reel To Reel” on my “Top 100″. The reasoning behind this is fairly simple, the growth that Puba displayed between “Reel To Reel” and “2000” was quite evident. I mean, we all loved “Reel To Reel” but face it….the production was far from polished, but the dusty samples and sparse drum kicks were all part of the attraction. With “2000″ is was clear that Puba packed a few rounds in his holster attempting to crack the urban charts. The most radio friendly track on “Reel To Reel” was more than likely “360 (What Goes Around)”..on “2000″ there are several recognizable instances. For example, let’s take the summer anthem “I Like It” armed with a nice, lighthearted, uptempo beat courtesy of Mark Sparks and a breezy, soulful chorus this track should have actually received more play and received more attention than it actually did. Another notable track would have to be the opener “Very Special” which is yet another Mark Sparks head-nodder..why didn’t this one hit the urban radio charts?…I don’t know.
Overall, the album is much better as a whole than Puba’s previous release. Remember when Treach of Naughty By Nature stated that Puba was “one of the fiercest emcees” on Naughty’s self titled debut? Well, that fierceness is toned down a bit on “2000″ for the listener who’s first exposure to Puba is this sophomore effort. I can remember this album dropped around the time Ace’s “Sittin‘ On Chrome” hit and that was almost anything you heard bumpin‘ out of Jeep Wranglers and Pathfinders during those warm summer months of 1995. The highlight of “2000″ for me is the Minnesota blessed “Amazing”, utilizing the same sample O.C.’s jerked for “Far From Yours” and most recently underground up & comer Danny! supplied it for “Fly” on his third album “Charm”, this track will damn near have you in a neckbrace till’ it’s all said and done. I know it’s gotta’ be difficult for the die hard Puba, Brand Nubian fan to admit “2000″ was a far better album than “Reel To Reel” but face it…..the lyrics were still there and the beats where leaps and bounds ahead of those heard on “Reel…”. Just let it go man!!!!….-Eric
“A Little Of This”
Released in 1997, on the label that was responsible for comprising 3/4 of the disc’s roster (Loud Records), “Soul In The Hole” proved to be one of the most impressive compilations ever dropped in Hip Hop. Although, I’ve watched the documentary which entails inner city basketball and the struggles to make it out of the hood and into something good….I don’t think that any song included on the soundtrack actually appeared in the movie for whatever reason. At my old age, my memory tends to fail me at times..if I’m wrong on this this one give a shout. Nevertheless, this is a very solid soundtrack which plays more as a showcase for Loud’s “stacked” roster than as a musical backing for the movie. Without a doubt, I can honestly say that every track on “Soul In The Hole” is solid….no track less being at least a 3 out of a 5.
The album starts off with the uplifting “The Game Of Life (Score)” brought to you by none other than the revolutionary…but gangsta Dead Prez. Kind of a corny story that goes along with “The Game Of Life” (now, keep in mind this was 1997!), I was carrying three jobs at the time (U.P.S., Junior High Basketball coach & part-time DJ) and three nights a week (usually Friday & Saturday nite) I spun the wheels of steel at a local hole in the wall that after it was all said and done turned out to be a pretty good gig. This soundtrack dropped around the Puffy-era where there really wasn’t much quality in Hip Hop, I can remember trying to break “The Game Of Life” almost weekly, simply because I liked it so much. I remember that I always blended it in with get this….Mariah Carey’s “The Roof” (the remix with Mobb Deep, she basically ganked the “Shook Ones Pt.II” instrumental for “The Roof”) and cats never caught on, but I’ll be damned if “The Roof” didn’t get people outta’ there seats!! (makes no sense to me either)….Damn, I loved that record though. Still, plenty of goodness on “Soul In The Hole” for everyone. From the Primo signature sound of Sauce Money’s (an emcee that fell short of his peers expectations) “Against The Grain” to the subtle but poignant No I.D. production found on Common’s “High Expectations”. “High Expectations” remains…in my opinion, one of the best songs Common ever recorded, too bad Common doesn’t put No I.D. back on speed dial for another album….Shit, I even still doubt that would help his lackadaisical performance on “Finding Forever”. From M.O.P. to Xzibit to Big Pun to Smif N Wessun (Cocoa Brovaz) you can find a little something for everybody on “Soul In The Hole”…one of the best soundtracks to ever drop.
“Soul In The Hole”-Wu All-Stars
“Jazzmatazz Vol. I”-Guru of GangStarr (1993, Chrysalis)
Being one of the first emcees to combine both elements of Hip Hop & Jazz, Guru’s “Jazzmatazz Vol.I” remains one of my favorites when paired against the likes of releases from Buckshot LeFonque, Justice System and Ghetto Phillharmonic to name a few. With an extremely impressive lineup (Roy Ayers, Brandford Marsalis, N’Dea Davenport(Brand New Heavies),etc.)”Jazzmatazz Vol.I” was released in the summer of 1993 influencing numerous acts to try to emulate Guru’s winning formula….”Buhloone Mind State” or “Blowout Comb” anyone?? Of course, Guru has always been heavily Jazz influenced to begin with…for Christ sakes he had Primo on the boards!…plus he was just coming off the heels of “Daily Operation” which was one of the most blunted, dustiest, jazziest Hip Hop albums ever released as far as I’m concerned. I believe that “Trust Me” which also featured the soothing vocal stylings of the Brand New Heavies’ N’Dea Davenport (surprisingly, she co-produced “Trust Me” as well). Man, I remember hearing that (Trust Me) on the box while workin‘ a hot-ass Saturday afternoon at Sunoco on the Pennsylvania Turnpike during the summer of my Junior year in High School, I almost fell outta’ my chair!
Overall “Jazzmatazz Vol. I” seemed to keep me in tune a whole lot more than it’s follow up “Vol.2″ (that album could’ve stood to lose just a few tracks), clocking in 12 tracks deep there is not much wastage, but the album (”Vol.I”) is long on quality cuts. I also loved “Transit Ride” which is capped off by a wonderful sax solo by Brandford Marsalis and “Sights In The City”…which for some odd reason has been getting quite a few plays from me as of late. Don’t get it twisted, Guru has never been the dopest on the mic but by his on admission “It’s Mostly Tha‘ Voice” and until some of his more recent solo efforts he had always been one of my favs. Listening to “Jazmatazz Vol.I” yesterday made me wish that Hip Hop would go back to the days off jazz rap when the Digable Planets, GangStarr, and “Buhloone Mind State” where holding down the East Coast instead of seeing the Ying Yang Twins, Dipset & Mims plastered all over the tube’ and polluting every “urban” radio station. Guru’s “Jazzmatazz Vol.I” is far from classic, but it will succeed in providing you & your’s with a dope soundtrack to a lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoon….especially in the summertime.