We’re back again in what has been not only a highly successful post but a classic Hip Hop fantasy draft of sorts for myself, Eric & Travis over here @ Bloggerhouse. With each successive post we must cross off some of our picks & go back to the lab to come up with jawns the other two of us won’t select. This is made all the more hilarious by the fact that it seems that we all may share a brain in some aspects.
These 25 picks are representative of the tracks that I heard banging on the radio, in walkmans, on turntables, in CD players, cars, via computer speakers (as RealAudio files from Sandbox or 88 Hip Hop) or Sony MiniDisc players between 1994 and 2000. Just keep in mind that some folks were jammin’ to Cam’ron’s “357 (Pull It)” some of us were like “Is he rappin’ over the fuckin’ “Magnum P.I.” theme song? What’s next? “Night Court”?”. Here’s part two of my list. Enjoy (or don’t):
Dredknotz “Causin’ A Menace” (1994)
Here’s the story. Back in 1994, an insane 12″ & CDS (CD single) dropped with 3 song on it featuring a new group on Elektra called the Dredknotz. They’d been mentioned on Prime Minister Pete Nice & Daddy Rich’s “Dust To Dust” album as well. While both “Causin’ A Menace” & “The Anthem” tore up the college radio & mixtape circuit for months and the “Causin’ A Menace” video became popular on BET’s Rap City there would be no album forthcoming. Dammit.
Saafir “Light Sleeper” (1994)
Saafir appeared on Casual’s “Fear Itself” album & made heads go insane after about 16 bars on a skit. Then he appeared on “Come Widdit” alongside Ras Kass (who received a Hip Hop Quotable for his first ever recorded verse on wax). He also murdered the Digital Underground “Invasion Of The Body Hats” album. He also appeared in “Menace II Society” as Kane’s cousin Harold. He dropped this single “Light Sleeper”/”Battle Drill” from his Qwest “Boxcar Sessions” LP. Next came the legendary Hiero/Hobo Junction battles & a spot in the supergroup Golden State Warriors (w/ Ras Kass & Xzibit).
Ground Floor “One, Two” (1994)
Ground Floor were from New England and it was a big deal for them to get with a New York indie label & drop a smash 12″. When the video appeared on BET’s “Rap City” we all bugged out. Lord Finesse was also on Bandoola Records so things were really looking up. The song was everywhere and you hear it in cars all over New England. About 3 months later there was no follow up and 6 months later the promised Lord Finesse EP didn’t drop either. Soon the Bandoola phone number wasn’t even working anymore but “One, Two” lives on.
Saukrates “Father Time” (1995)
This song was described by my boy Hak from Philly as “The song by the dude who sounds like GZA dissin’ GZA but it’s so dope you don’t care” back in 1996. Good answer! Good answer! © Random contestant on “Family Feud”. I played this song to death and it was a favorite on college radio all over the East coast. Even the B side was a damn classic (Choclair “21 Years”)! It was a good year before everyone realized that both these kids were from Canada (no Maestro Fresh Wes).
The Sunz Of Man “Soldiers Of Darkness”/”5 Arch Angels” single was huge on the underground when it dropped on Wu Tang Records. Huge. It was the introduction of Killa Sin, Hell Razah, Shabazz The Disciple & what was to become Killarmy. After this jawn & “No Love Without Hate” Sunz Of Man developed quite a rabid fanbase. I should know, I was one of them. I even have “The Last Shall Be First” on both CD & vinyl plus all of those Red Hook 12″s that turned out to be unauthorized by the Wu. 4th Disciple & True Master were monsters behind the boards.
The original version was already dope but the version that was used in the video? Sheeeeeeit! © Clay Davis. There wasn’t a mixtape in existence that didn’t have this jawn on it. Not one. It climbed up both the Yo! MTV Raps & BET Rap City countdowns. Before it was the “Freak Mode (XXX Mix)” that took the mixtape circuit by storm a few years before. The 5% NGE rhetoric in the song helped Funkdoobiest gang a bunch of fans that weren’t previously checking for them. Soul Assassins & Buzztone Management. I remember it all like it was yesterday…
RA was free from his dick suckin’ record label (formerly as part of the concept group Crustified Dibbs) & he began to assault the underground with a string of classic white labels. One of these classic 12″s being “50,000 Heads” featuring Brand Nubian’s Sadat X and the B side “Smithaven Mall”. While the B side ended up on a few compilations this was my jam for a good minute. Then RA reappeared on Rawkus with “Flipside” and all Hell broke loose. Again.
Back during my basketball jihad to Baltimore that landed me at Morgan State I recorded Royal Flush’s “Movin On Ya Weak Production” off of the college radio station. My roommate Brian would say “Yo Celtic, play that “Woop Woop” jam”. I’d say “You mean “Movin’ On Ya Weak Production”?” and he’d respond with “Yeah whatever, play it Jo!”. It got played a lot all over campus and beyond. Royal Flush dropped a few more ill singles on Blunt before his classic album “Ghetto Millionaire” dropped the next year. Memories don’t live like people doooo! © Mos Def
Lawrence, MA emcee Krumb Snatcha picked up the torch that legend Scientifik bore and spit fire over a DJ Premier beat. This single was dropped on Lawrence based indie label M.I.A (Mass In Action) Records. “Gettin’ Closer To God” was Krumb’s introduction to the world & it was soon added to indie Hip Hop compilations all over the globe & co-signed by everyone from DJ Premier to Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito to DJ Greenpeace. Before long Krumb Snatcha got the Hip Hop Quotable in The Source for “Make ‘Em Pay” and got down with GangStarr Foundation. The rest was history.
Rawcotiks “Magic Chef” (1997)
Rawcotiks were affiliates of The Beatnuts & Ghetto Pros (V.I.C.) and when Junkyard Juju laced these cats with a lovely filp of a track from the cult classic film “Fantastic Planet” it was a wrap for real. If you’ve never seen a record frenzy before then God bless your souls. Every time this track was a on mixtape or played on a radio show it seemed to fuel something in people where they had to go find this record. The thing is it wasn’t the easiest jawn to nail down, either. I once played a game of “Time Crisis 3″ with a fellow Newbury Comics employee over the final copy of it at our store. I lost & had to wait 3 months before getting one at the Tower Records in Harvard Square (RIP).
The Beatnuts were coming off their not so subliminal diss to their label (Relativity) “Find That” (which became yet another classic jawn) and in the same vein they dropped the lead single to their incredible “Stone Crazy” album “Do You Believe?”. This song ended up becoming an anthem to backpackers all over the world related to the lyrics in the chorus, “we gotta finish your shit so we can start our own”. In 1997, the indie boom began and we entered what I like to call The Backpack Era (1997-2002). Beatnuts forever, die hard motherfuckers!
This Superegular release had Boston fingers all over it as it featured vocals from Esoteric & Virtuoso which were recorded in Boston by Brick Records own Papa D. This is also the first ever project bearing the name Army Of The Pharaohs on it. The B side “War Ensemble” featured Bahamadia but the star of the show was clearly Ikon The Verbal Hologram blacking out over a Stoupe The Enemy Of Mankind beat. Ikon The Verbal Hologram would one day become Vinnie Paz and join up with Jus Allah but that is another story.
Paula Perry “Extra, Extra” (1998)
This DJ Premier smash featured BK representer and Masta Ace Inc. member Paula Perry murdering yet another jawn with extreme vengeance and furious anger. The vocal version AND instrumental took on mythical proportions as it was a go to instrumental for heads to freestyle over or the vocal version was used to hype up crowds when it got slow at a venue. I’ve seen it happen. Shit, I even suggested it a few times! It’s criminal that Paula Perry’s album “Tales From Fort Knox” never dropped in September 1998 on Mad Sounds/Motown Records. I saw it in the database at Tower. First 9.22.08 then TBD then nada. It never even leaked. What. the. fuck. happened?
Illadelph Asian crew Mountain Brothers first appeared on the scene around 1996 but it wasn’t until 1998 when they made noise nationally. Jawns like “Paperchase” and “Adventures Of..” raised some eyebrows but when “Galaxies: The Next Level” started getting spins it was on & poppin’ for Styles Infinite, Peril-L & superproducer Chops. The musicianship exhibited in the track coupled with nice bars made this track a backpack favorite (it was even reviewed in Blaze Magazine by a panel). The video helped make the song even more popular but the song exploded after it was featured on MTV’s “20 Under The Radar” indie music competition back in 1998. Their independent album (from their own label Pimpstrut) “Self: Volume 1″ is a classic & I have all of their old material. I even have Chops “Vituosity” LP & his instrumental mixtape “Changing Lanes” with Kanye West.
Afu Ra signed with Gee Street/V2 Records which had quite an impressive roster on paper (Ky-Mani Marley, QNC, Tragedy Khadafi, Jungle Brothers etc.) and they’d recently dropped the memorable compilation “The Year Of The Backslap”. Afu Ra’s DJ Premier helmed single created quite a buzz on the underground circuit. Before you knew it, he was in every magazine that mattered to heads: Stress, Mass Appeal, Ego Trip, On The Go, Elemental, Insomniac, Blaze, XXL & the list goes on. He’d go on to drop some more gems. Maybe some of them even land on these upcoming lists? We’ll see…
Laster was a Boston native. The track was produced by Madsol-Desar of Knights Of Music, yet another Boston native. It was released on Dark Records which was based in New York. Laster had also made noise with another banger featuring Ed O.G called “Off Balance” which appeared on a few notable compilations. This track was selected for a few as well. Before you knew it people began to put two and two together and realize that Boston was one of the few cities at the center of the new Hip Hop indie boom/Backpacker movement. Soon labels like Brick, Detonator, Landspeed & Biscuithead became well known worldwide.
Choclair “Flagrant” (1999)
Choclair would come back and drop yet another monster jam to follow “21 Years” produced by none other than Saukrates, fellow member of The Circle. This beat combined with Choclair’s bars made it impossible for heads to overlook what was coming out of the T.O., especially after a particular single dropped that made significant noise in the States as well as overseas but that is another story…
Self Scientic “The Return” (1999)
Chace Infinite & DJ Khalil are without a doubt one of the greatest Hip Hop duos or groups of the past decade. There is no doubt in my mind. I was mesmerized by this one track in particular called “Return” by them and it’s still one of my favorite all time tracks to this very day. I bought a Bobbito Garcia compilation years later and I was not the least bit surprised to see this song on it as well. Great minds think alike, I guess. The world needs another Self Scientific album right about now.
Shortly after dropping the highly slept on “Focused Daily” album on Tommy Boy via Beni B’s ABB Records Defari changed his name to Billy The Kid and dropped the LP “The Saloon Music” on ABB with his Likwit Crew compatriots. If you slept on this track back when it dropped then you need to kick yourself square in the ass cuz it’s insane. I remember it being on a few compilations as well. Another Heirut Likwit Crew connection!
Skeme Team “14 Years Of Rap” (1999)
Skeme Team’s “Con Artist”/”14 Years Of Rap” 12″ was called “Plan A”. It was a precursor to their “Plan B” LP that was supposed to also drop on 3-2-1 Records. The group W.H.T. consisted of Q-Unique & Jise One of Arsonists and Ill Bill & Goretex of Non Phixion with Skeme Team on the boards. 10 K was also shouted out on a few Non Phixion records as he was a producer as well as engineer. This jawn was immortalized by a “Graffiti Rock” inspired video as well. “Plan B” dropped independently via Sandbox Automatic the next year as 3-2-1 Records folded before either the Bigg Juss “Lune TNS” or Ultramagnetic MC’s new albums could drop.
Pace Won was signed to Roc A Bloc/Ruffhouse which was Ski’s label imprint. I believe Ski’s artists at the time were Pace One, Camp Lo & Sporty Thievz. I’m not sure if Major Coins were down too or not. In any event, soon Ruffhouse folded & Pace Won went with the Outsidaz still hot off their appearance on “The Score” over to Ruffnation Records to drop the “Night Life EP”. “The Rah Rah” was obviously a Pace Won solo track from his Roc A Bloc residency as the name “Roc A Bloc” is dubbed over with “Ruffnation”. Outsidaz started out as openers on the mp3.com Lyricist Lounge Show Tour but at the end they were the tour headliners. Unfortunately, Slang Ton (Blaze Battle Champion) passed away before “The Bricks” LP could be completed. Salute.
Cannibal Ox “Iron Galaxy” (2000)
Cannibal Ox made their first appearance on El-P’s new Def Jux label via “Def Jux presents…” and a split 12″ followed by an “Iron Galaxy”/”Straight Of The D.I.C.” single. The buzz created by both of these releases in addition to El-P’s debut solo LP “Fantastic Damage” (although on “Def Jux presents…” liner notes it was tentatively titled “Paincave”, hence the chant at the end of the final track “Simple”) pushed Cannibal Ox’s classic album “The Cold Vein” into the stratosphere.
The Dwellas “Ill Collabo” (2000)
The former Loud Records group Cella Dwellas changed their name to The Dwellas as UG & Phantasm The Tall Man also switched labels to Dante Ross’ Stimulated imprint to drop their re-up “The Last Shall Be First”. This track created a big underground buzz & was on all the mixtapes but the album didn’t make it to many stores and got little to no promotion so few people have it. It’s a damn shame because Pharaohe Monch killed this slap dead.
Masterminds “Seven” (2000)
Masterminds had built quite a name for themselves over the previous 4 years through a string of stellar 12″s & EP’s. In 2000, they hooked up with Ground Control Records/Nu Gruv Alliance to distribute their debut LP “Underground Railroad”. This was a solid album from front to back but the epic posse cut “Seven” featuring themselves, J-Live, El-P, J-Treds, Mr. Complex & Shabaam Sahdeeq murdering a hot beat (provided by either Mr. Khaliyl formerly of The Bush Babees or Kimani Rogers of Masterminds). What a jawn.
Micranots “Pitch Black Ark” (2000)
The short lived indie labels Sub Verse Music & Indie 5000 popped up around the same time. Sub Verse put out MF Doom’s “Operation Doomsday” in addition to Micranots “Pitch Black Ark” 12″. This song got some ridiculous burn on the underground circuit at the time as another single followed before their slept on “Obelisk Movements” LP dropped in 2000. For those of us that remember those horns then those drums dropping in at the perfect time, we salute you.
Up next: Eric & Travis each drop their 2nd lists.