Today’s single is another one of those groups that I’ve only recently discovered in the last year or two. The Alps Cru was introduced to me by the best forum for real hip hop on the net, Philaflava and since then, I’ve been a big fan of the group. Their sound is hard to explain. It’s most definitely an east coast vibe, but it’s got a “ruff” jazz like sound to it.
The Alps Cru, also known as The Alps of Concept, was a group that met up at Xavier University (New Orleans) in the early 90′s. As college students, it was originally DJ Al Bless and P Smooth, with two others, Rob III and Shorty Jive joining up at a later time. They originally dropped a single around 1992, in a VERY limited supply, titled “The Concept”. Soon in 1994, the “Unknown EP” dropped, and with only 200 or 300 pressed up, it’s a rather hard find. In 1995, they would drop the 12 inch single “Intensity”, which was limited to another 300 copies that were pressed up. It’s that single that we are talking about this week.
For the full story check out this post on Top-Notch-Records http://top-notch-records.blogspot.com/2008/12/x-mas-special-alps-cru-story.html
The single features an a-side of three different tracks, “Intensity”, “No Questions”, and “Nocturnal Illusions”. The highlight of this single is the “Intensity” track, obviously since this is referred to as the “Intensity” 12 inch or EP. What grabs you about this track is the ill string sample that starts at the tracks intro. It’s seriously some dope shit, as it gives the track some dark vibes, but when you throw in the light fluttering of keys and an ill vocal sample (DJ Kool?), it’s just an all out dope track. And that’s just talking about the beat. Their are two MC’s, and don’t ask me who is who, because I don’t know. The first MC gets busy with the first and third verses. While he’s good, the second verse is from a cat that can straight flow. What he is saying isn’t all that impressive, it’s how he pieces it all together and just straight runs with it that is so impressive. “Intensity” is really one of those tracks that leaves me wishing for the old days again. I know, shoot me for wanting “real” hip hop again, but the quality found on this song dwarfs the majority of the music being released today.
The second track, “Nocturnal Illusions” is the weak link on the single if there is one, yet that shouldn’t take away from the track, as it is very good as well. The song is on a “My Mind’s Playing Tricks On Me” vibe, as the evils found on any city street when the sun goes down is the topic of discussion. Maybe not as twisted as the Geto Boys opus, or as psychedelic, Alps Cru still discusses the evils that lurk in the night time. The beat does a good job of adding to the overall feeling of darkness and despair, as a lone sax sample wails in and out of the track backed by a thick key sample. It’s a nice track that does well by itself, but is just so different from the other two tracks both lyrically and musically, it could easily get lost in the shuffle.
The third and final track is “No Questions”. This particular track also shows up on the groups 2008 release, “Loud Mouth”, which is an unreleased joint from the group, who’s presence can still be found on the internet. The release was a fairly inexpensive one, unlike some of the other labels out there that charge ridiculous coin for unreleased tracks (no names mentioned), so I if you are a vinyl collector, I’d highly suggest supporting them. The intro also uses the same ’95 flavor vibe that relies heavily on a dope piano sample and tons of dope scratching to kick things off as “Intensity” did. The beat for “No Questions” switches up as the lyrics drop as a deep upright bass sound flows into only to switch up into a plethora of other sounds around the second sixteen. This track isn’t as dark as “Intensity”, but it’s just as dope. Again, the MC’s aren’t the most complex, but what they lack in subject matter, they make up for in style. They remind of another group which I can’t quite put my finger on, but none the less, they hold it down over the beat that has a lot substance and flavor. Another excellent track.
The b-side is filled with the instrumentals, which is great since these beats are all that and then some. DJ Al Bless did an excellent job on the production tip for the single, as he did all the production work. I found myself hitting repeat on the “Intensity” instrumental. Strong aspects are found all over this single. It’s quite the find since such limited quantities were released. I couldn’t even find any for sale on the internet, so that should tell you what one would go for if found. All of the Alps of Concept material out there is a must find, the production is top notched, the rhymes are tight and delivered well. It’s quality music and reminds me of why I fell in love with hip hop in the first place.
The Alps of Concept (aka The Alps Cru) – Intensity (Blue Concept Records, 1995)
|А2||Nocturnal Illusions (2:25)|
|А3||No Question (3:49)|
|B1||Intensity (Instrumental) (4:08)|
|B2||Nocturnal Illusions (Instrumental) (2:25)|
|B3||No Question (Instrumental) (3:49)|