Taken From: “New Jersey Drive” O.S.T.-Various (1995, Tommy Boy)
Thank the good Lord for the “shuffle” option on the Ipod!! Not only was Queen Latifah’s “Jersey” literally “buried” amongst the 150 GBs of other lost music on one of the greatest creations known to man, but “New Jersey Drive” (which, is one of the better soundtracks to ever drop) hasn’t received it’s fair share of spins in a few years either. A soundtrack which featured the likes of Outkast, Keith Murray, Ill Al Skratch and let’s not forget Total’s biggest splash to date that featured the Notorious B.I.G. (and mostly for what this soundtrack is remembered for), the James Brown-jerked, “Can’t You See”.
Produced by Latifah herself, “Jersey” is Dana’s ode to her good ole’ stompin’ grounds of New Jersey. Boasting Biz Markie’s infamous beatboxed: “I can’t..forget New Jersey”, this track is the true definition of East Coast “bounce”. The subtlety of “Jersey” is it’s beauty as Latifah laced the track with elegant, airy production that is extremely suitable for the “T.R.O.Y.” (although, not quite on that playing field) type of vibe Latifah is aiming for with “Jersey”. Even though female emcees don’t serve as the most popular listening choice amongst male Hip Hop fans these days, Queen Latifah’s “Jersey” is an instant classic that should not be overlooked.
Taken From: “Firing Squad”-M.O.P. (1996, Relativity)
Now wait a hot second here!! How is it possible that a track produced by the legendary DJ Premier is considered even remotley “forgotten” Eric? Well, for one, even though I purchased M.O.P.’s “Firing Squad” when it dropped waaay back in ’96, I…much like most of you, I assume…have done the most popular and necessary thing, conduct a “Google Blog Search” and nonchalantly proceed to download the album. Well, here’s the real kicker, if any of you may have also noticed-most of the downloads for “Firing Squad” contain the extension of “Salute”, titled “Salute Pt. II”…not the original. So, even when I lucked out and found this album in the “used” bin at Hastings a few months ago, I had totally forgotten just how “necessary” this track was. However, here today-just for you, I’ve included the “original” for your downloading pleasure (as I pat myself on the back).
“Salute” finds M.O.P. at their most “ruckus-bringin” finest lyrically , over a Primo track that sounds like what would happen if the instrumentals from Nas’ “Nas Is Like” and M.O.P.’s “Everyday” (from the best M.O.P. album to date, “Warriorz”) had offspring. Sadly, “Salute” is waaay too short, clocking it at a shade over two minutes in length, it goes without saying that “Salute” truly leaves you fiending for more. By the way, speaking of the aforementioned “Everyday”, that same track also featured Wyclef’s proteges, Product G & B…whatever happened to those dudes?
Taken From: “Everything is Everything”-Brand Nubian (1994, Elektra)
For starters, admittedly, due to the fact that I purchased Brand Nubian’s third album (and follow-up to “In God We Trust”, Lord J and Sadat’s second effort sans Grand Puba) on the same day as Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s “The Main Ingredient”, it’s a pretty fair statement to say that “Everything Is Everything” didn’t receive too many plays in the…aheem…Geo Tracker (!). One track over the years that’s really seemed to stick to my ribs was the Lord Jamar solo outing on the album, “Return Of The Dread”.
Borrowing two vocal samples from Scarface (“It’s the return of the muthafu*kin’ dreadlock” and “anyway you come, I’m in your muthafu*kin’ sh*t man” (maine), Lord J (who also produced the track) does one of my favorite samples of all-time (the Emotions’ infamous “Blind Alley”) justice. With a super-thick bassline and hard drums, Lord Jamar unleashes verbal fury over a track that suits his persona to a tee. Even though, Jamar exercises his usual “Kill Whitey” theme hear, it’s hard not to love the strongest track on the last dope album we’d hear from Brand Nubian.
Taken From: “Cruisin’” Maxi-Single (1996, EMI)
Even though it would take me nearly 8 (!) years since it’s release to first hear this track, it’s safe to say that the Beatminerz reworking of the D’Angelo classic, “Brown Sugar”, will go down not only as one of my favorite Beatminerz’ remixes of all-time, but one of my top three Beatminerz’ beats ever! Improving on an already classic track by the time “Cruisin” (D’Angelo’s third single released from the album, also titled “Brown Sugar”) is not an easy task, but the production team of the Beatminerz did it with such ease that it’s not far fetched to say that the remix hits harder than it’s predecessor.
Also, let’s not forget that this remix also featured a VERY nice sixteen from the legendary Kool G Rap. Talk about an odd pairing? However, believe it or not, it works masterfully. Da Beatminerz creating somewhat of an airy feel (damn those bells are slick!) to match D’Angelo’s silky smooth vocals (pause). Also, as far as I’m concerned, the Kool G Rap verse is without a doubt one of the best verses he’s laid on wax…and there’s been a plethora of them to choose from! Yes, I’m aware that this doesn’t necessarily qualify as “Hip Hop”, but gotdamn it’s hard to front on this Beatminerz CLASSIC.
Taken From: “Blue Funk”-Heavy D & The Boyz (1992, Uptown)
First you hit us with “Brown Sugar” (?) now this, “Truthful”? Damn Eric, what’s next Pink? Yes, I’ll admit I’ve always been a sucker for blaring horn loops, knockin’ drums and to top it all off? Yes, throw some sultry vocals from an “R & B Chick” on the hook and it’s ova’ for this mellow-type of fellow. C’mon now, you just can’t front on Heavy D’s suppossed “dark” album, which was recorded shortly after the tragic death of one of Heavy’s dancers, Trouble T-Roy (hence, the forthcoming of Pete & C.L.’s “T.R.O.Y.” for all you no-brainers out there). Shoot, I love “Blue Funk” enough to put in in my “Top 25″ albums ever! Hell, maybe even my “Top 15″, I’m serious..this album was ALL I played during basketball season during my sophomore year of High School.
Laced by one of the most forgotten producers of our era, Tony Dofat (who also produced “Who’s The Man?” and “Who’s In The House”, from the album), “Truthful” is blessed with swift drums, Dofat’s signature horns and (again) an angelic vocal performance on the hook (courtesy of Terri Robinson). The smoothest of the smooth, Heavy D, can be found reminiscing over love lost (as usual)….and don’t sleep people, Heavy was NICE on the M-I-C. One of many emcees from the golden era that never receives his due props, rather to be written off as a “softie”. Yeah, the man behind “A Buncha’ Nig#as”, “Don’t Curse” and “Blue Funk” (produced by Hev’s cousin, Pete Rock) is soft, gimme’ a break! Minus the obligatory reggae cut “Girl”, “Blue Funk” was void of any fast-forward material, a true CLASSIC in my book.