For me, 1996 was the year that hip hop started to change for the worse. You could argue it wouldn’t really be until the turn of the century that hip hop’s identity would never be the same ever again, but I had a major disinterest in a lot of hip hop that year. I’m not sure what it was. It could have been the G-Funk music was getting played out something horrible. It could have been some of the lack luster albums dropped by established veterans such as Nas’ It Was Written or Tribe’s Beats, Rhymes & Life. It could have been from hearing the same old formula from the NYC MCs during the time. Hell, it could have even been the punk rock chick that I was somewhat dating and nailing during that summer. Whatever the case, I was unhappy with the way 1996 unfolded. Truth be told, I’d die for a year like that now, but coming out of basically ten amazing years of hip hop, I was a little spoiled.
What I didn’t know at the time though, there was still some quality music being made. It was just harder to find. With Yo! MTV Raps off the air by this time and The Source starting down its long road to complete shit, once again, we were left to find stuff out on our own. Now of course this wasn’t like the late 80′s when there was absolutely NOTHING, but it was still difficult to find decent music that was cookie cutter, packaged nicely, hip hop music. You had the whole Fondle ‘Em thing starting to take place, you had one of my personal favorites in Frankenstein and you had Big Kwam.
As far as an artist, I don’t know much about Kwam and there isn’t much on the internet about him. My first introduction to him was on a mixtape I picked up in Salt Lake City. It was some local DJ, by the name of Mook (I think). On this particular mixtape there was a handful of tracks that I hadn’t heard of before. One of my favorite tracks involved a KRS One vocal sample saying “buck-buck-buck, cuz I don’t give a mutha fuck…”, I looked all over hell trying to figure out who it was. My DJ friend didn’t know, I didn’t know, my boy Dino back home didn’t know. It was a mystery. About six months later, I was chilling in my apartment on a rainy Saturday night, listening to the Toss Salad Show on the local radio station, when a radio version came on. Of course it was a completely different jam, but the DJs were talking about it later and started describing the track I had been searching for. While I finally figured out who it was, I couldn’t find much on the dude until the wonders of the internet put me in contact with his music once again. Since then, this has long been one of my favorite singles, if for nothing else the personal history it has for me.
As mentioned, I can’t really find shit on the dude. He released a few singles from ’96 to ’98, with his most popular one being the DJ Spinna produced “Verbalise”. Three of his four singles appeared on Blind Side Recordings. He also did a few guest appearances for The Creators, who might have been in charge of Blind Side Recordings, not completely sure on that.
This particular single tends to be my favorite that I’ve heard of his, although I’m still lacking on a couple of them, if not for anything but the original version of “I Don’t Give a Fuck”. There are three main tracks that this single has to offer, and it leads off with “I Don’t Give Fuck Pt 2″, which is a basically a completely different version from the original, both in beat and lyrics. The beat is done by a Mr. Mayhem, who doesn’t have shit for credits on discogs. It’s not a bad beat, but not as hard rock as the original. There is a thick bassline that rumbles through the speakers and a slight humming weaves through the background like a well placed color on a painting. Spacey like keys and a few other odd sounds all come together add a nice little mood to the track. It’s definite NY music that just bangs.
Kwam is more than accomplished on the mic device, and in some ways, at least as far as vocal tone, he almost reminds me of Nas on Illmatic. He’s not lyrically skilled as the Nasty one, but he does a pretty good imitation. Also on the remix is A Butta and L Swift of the Natural Elements, which makes this a pretty heavy hitter in the indie realms for that time, although they are pretty reduced to hook assistants. The track appears as a radio, dirty version, and instrumental on the a-side.
“Mic 2 Mic” is the first of two b-sides. I’ve seen it get bigged up on a couple places before, and for good reason. As Robbie so eloquently points out on his post, it contains the ever popular kid like chant which always seems to go over well (see: “Children Sing”, on the Mr Green & Pacewon album from this year). Again, a hard bassline and even harder drums lace the track, all hooked up by The Creators, who should be fairly familiar to a lot of the late 90′s hip hop indie heads. A very nice beat indeed. There is a sample there that I should know, at least I should know what other track it’s been on, but I’m drawing blanks. Vocally, Kwam has a slightly different vocal tone on this track, not sounding so much like a Nas wannabe and builds his own identity. He attacks the mic with an unrelentless vigor and he drops some ill lines. Very nice b-side, as it shows up as a radio joint and a dirty version.
The last song on the b-side is one of my favorite joints from the time period, the original version of “I Don’t Give a Fuck”. It’s a basic track, but incorporates two things that makes any great grimy hip hop song, sparse piano keys and hard as brick wall drums. Add the previously mentioned KRS vocal sample and this joint is some nasty shit, in a good way.
In the end, the b-side wins again, with “Mic 2 Mic” and “I Don’t Give a Fuck” the original version make the listner wish there was some unreleased Big Kwam album out there at least that we could unearth. It’s not super rare and could probably be picked up for a semi over priced $20-$30 bucks.
|1||I Don’t Give A Whut (I Don’t Give A F… Part 2) (Radio)|
| Voice [Featuring] – A-B
utta , L Swift
|A2||I Don’t Give A Whut (I Don’t Give A F… Part 2) (Vocal)|
|Voice [Featuring] – A-Butta , L Swift|
|A3||I Don’t Give A Whut (I Don’t Give A F… Part 2) (Instrumental)|
|B1||Mic 2 Mic (Radio)|
|B2||Mic 2 Mic (Vocal)|
|B3||I Don’t Give A F… (Original Version)|