Download Pt. III of Eric’s 75 “Backpack Bangers” HERE
Aww man! I had to throw up that header, simply because I was amped to uncover it amongst the tidbits of B.S. on my hard drive. Anyway, here we go, another 25! And we don’t stop..eh, eh (c) Sean Combs (insert: Dave Chappelle doin’ the Harlem Shake). Hit the jump for more Backpack Bangers..
Found On: “What A Nig*a Know”/”Constipated Monkey” 12″ (1998, Fondle ‘Em)
Technically, KMD’s “What A Ni*ga Know?” was included on the original pressing of KMD’s shelved and highly-anticipated follow-up to their stellar LP, “Mr Hood”, 1994′s “Black Bastards”. Take your pick, it could have been the highly controversial cover art or the album title. Either way, Elektra wasn’t havin’ it. Thankfully, this “Backpack CLASSIC” (the LP and this single) both saw the light of day, even if we had to hold our collective breath(s) for just a few short years.
Found On: “Certified Superior”/”Ninety Degrees A Piece” 12″ (1998, Fondle Em)
Rok One dropped several 12″s but it’s his ’98 Fondle ‘Em (and they don’t stop..) treat, “Certified Superior” b/w “Ninety Degrees A Piece” that is a must have for any avid backpacker. The B-Side, well, let me rephrase: there really was no true B-Side, being that you also had features from the likes of Shabaam Sahdeeq, Kwest (DO NOT SLEEP on this dude’s catalog!) and L-Fudge on “Ninety Degrees..”. Produced by relatively unknown producer Scrappy, it’s a wonder dude didn’t get more work after this release. By the way, that’s not the photo for this corresponding 12″ to your left.
Found On: “One By One”/”The Hole Repertoire” 12″ (1998, Eastern Conference)
Produced by the man responsible for the thumping “B-Boy Document”, DJ Mighty Mighty, “The Hole Repertoire” was the first release from the Smut Peddlers, which also consisted of and boasted the lyrical talents of one Cage and Mr. Eon. Although, it wouldn’t be until 2001 that the collective dropped the full-length LP, “Porn Again”, “The Hole Repertoire” was enough to tempt your eardrums for 2 years plus. Once again, Cage on the assist, stole the show. Oh, and Trav, here’s where you heard the beat for Rhapsody’s, 9th Wonder-produced jawn.
Found On: “Raise The Levels Of The Boom”/”Watch His Back” (1993, Phat Wax)
Iight, I’ma cheat a few times on this go ’round. Even though the years of our backpack bangers span from the years of 1994-2000, I’m going back just one year prior to our intent, for the 1993 highly sought after gem, “Raise The Levels Of The Boom” by N-Tense. Dropping on Phat Wax, implementing a Busta Rhymes vocal sample from “Scenario” and utilizing nearly the same instrumental that fueled the Digital Underground classic, “The Humpty Dance”, “Raise The Levels” would be the last 12″ we’d hear from N-Tense, as they’d only surface momentarily for a slot on 1995′s “D & D Project” compilation. Also, I’m fairly certain that this jawn was laced by Curt Cazal (also a member of JVC Force) who along with partner Q-Ball, who made an appearance on my “first 25″ selections.
Found On: “Krunchtime” 12″ (1995, RAL)
Good LAWD!! Even though Melquan’s ’95 classic, “Krunchtime” is quite possibly the most distanced item from an independent on my list(s), it’s also one of, if not the favorite single inclusive in my “75″. Tell me that you didn’t sense that Melquan would be or was the second coming of Kool G Rap (or maybe it was too early back then, but even a young Nasir Jones?) when you witnessed his lyrical slaughter of this “Skull Snaps”-sampled domeringer!? Probably my favorite Terminator X production of All-Time, it’s somewhat mind-blowing as to why Melquan never seemed to get the chance to drop a full-length LP.
Found On: Nice & Smooth’s “Funky Funky Rhymes” EP
LG a.k.a. LG Experience stated that he constructed the backdrop for this lyrical free for all with the Loose Ends’ “Hangin’ On A String” and that Kid Capri stumbled upon this beat via his relationship with Al Skratch, whom like Capri, also worked magic on the wheelz of steel (thanks to PhilaFlava for the aforementioned info tidbit). While the lyrical line-up of Nice & Smooth, Nine, Ill & Al Skratch and M.O.P. is somewhat questionable due to the drastic variance in content and deliveries, on this cut, it works beautifully! Apparently this track was included on the Nice & Smooth EP called “Funky Funky Rhymes”. I’ve tried to find that EP, but to no avail. Still, “Dr. Feelgood” is dopeness you need in your life.
Found On: “Last Will & Testimony”/”Original” 12″ (1998, Tommy Boy Black Label)
Releasing product on three different labels (Beyond Real, Tommy Boy Black Label and Landspeed), the duo of DJ Spinna and Kriminul released what was quite possibly their finest 12″ in 1998 on, get this, Tommy “ain’t my mutaphuckin” Boy, with the killer double dose “Last Will & Testiment”/”Original”. Fueled by yet another potent Spinna production, cats also seem to forget just how damn efficient Kriminul was on the M-I-C. While it’s easy to get caught up in Spinna’s production, Krim’s delivery is what truly set this Brooklyn duo apart from the rest on the independent pack.
Found On:”Snatcha Season Pt. I” (1998, M.I.A. Recordings)
While the classic “Closer To God” may very well be the popular choice for our “backpack bangers” you can’t front on the Dialek-produced, ode to the artform, the poignant, Hip Hop”. Call it the Beantown version of Common Sense’s “I Used To Love H.E.R.” if you will, but “Hip Hop” stayed in rotation throughout the summer of ’98, even more so than the thumping, introspective, Primo-laced, “Closer To God”.
Found On: “Spontaneity EP” (1997, K-Otix Entertainment)
Yes, the producer of “7 MCs” Russell Gonzalez is now better known as THE ARE, the same gentlemen who’s worked with the likes of De La & Masta Ace and dropped a nice LP with Kay. Judging from the production that can be found on much of the ‘Otix discography, you’d never imagine that they hailed from Houston, Texas. As witnessed with “7 MCs”, K-Otix dropped nothin’ but pure East Coast boom-bap up until their break-up in 2004.
Found On: Kid Capri’s “Soundtrack To The Streets” (1998, Columbia)
With what is probably the hardest incorporation of the ever-so-popular Al Green sample “Love & Happiness”, Kid Capri was fortunate enough to have had this banger on what was an otherwise forgettable compilation with his compilation LP, “Soundtrack To The Streets”. I know many of you will frown at the Columbia inclusion on this list, but the surprisingly, Kid Capri-produced knocka’ is too hot to leave off, and it was even an afterthought during it’s initial release in ’98.
Found On: “The Judas Theory”-Tragedy/”Raise Hell”-M.O.P. (1997, Not On Label)
Finally, I was able to get my hands on this ruckus-bringin, Biggie-sampled, DR Period-laced dome-cracker via J Love’s (damn, that dude annoys the sh*t outta’ me!) “M.O.P.: Legends Vol.5″) in 2007. It just wouldn’t be right to not include one of hip hop’s most potent duos of all-time somewhere on this list. Originally dropped around in 1997, “Raise Hell” made a few notable radio shows, yet from my understanding, never officially came out. What a better time and place then now?
Found On: “On The Reels”/”Violatin”/”Piece Of The Pie” 12″ (1999, Spongebath Records)
Can we all just agree that Count Bass D’s “Pre-Life Crisis” was just slightly ahead of it’s time? Emerging from the depths of Nashville, TN, of all places, this multi-talented emcee not only remains as one of Hip Hop’s more eclectic personalities but also one of it’s most (often unfairly) overlooked. Take for instance the insane 12″ he dropped in ’99 on Spongebath, namely the Nas-sampled “On The Wheels”. Boasting some knockin’ drums and a hefty bassline, Bass D delivered one of his most talked about lyrical outings on this “three times dope” 12″. Also, don’t sleep on the Mighty V.I.C. remix of “Violatin”, another cut that barely missed this list.
Found On: “Mad Izm” 12″ (1994, Capitol)
Again, not exactly an independent, it’s hard to argue Channel Live’s inclusion on this collection of cuts as “Mad Izm” exemplifies everything that is a “backpack banger”. Pick your poison, it was either “Mad Izm” or Black Moon’s “Who Got Da Props”, but being that “Props” dropped in ’93 it was just one year too early for my taste. Speaking of Black Moon, I honestly thought that the duo of Tuffy and Hakim were gonna’ be the second coming of the Bucktown crew after the first few listens to “Mad Izm”. As simple as a production as this jawn was, those rapid bass knocks will always remain embedded in my membrane.
Found On: “The Hiatus Remix”/”MC2″ 12″ (1998, Dusty Fingers Records)
La, la, la, la, la…Gotdamn! THIS IS A REMIX KID!! They just don’t do ‘em like this anymore, right? Featuring one of my favorite crews (pun intended) of all-time, CRU on the lyrical assist, the legendary Diamond D put one helluva’ spin on an otherwise dull cut with his classic remix of “The Hiatus”. Even though Diamond’s follow up to “Stunts..”, “Hatred, Passions & Infidelity” can be deemed as a failure (I mean, c’mon, those were pretty high standards to uphold when following a debut of that status), “The Hiatus Remix” would have made that album (“Hatred..”) a definite cop had it been included on the original pressing of the LP.
Found On: “Rise”/”Visions Of Splendour”/”Sea Freestyle” (1996, Bite It! Recordings)
While still only a teenager Lewis released “B Boy Antiks” and this featured cut, “Rise” through Trevor Jackson’s Bite It! label. The EP and 12″ featured some of the finest production to come out of the UK hiphop scene, more reminiscent of Pete Rock and DITC than Hijack or Gunshot, one listen to “Rise” and it’s easy to hear how Parker has remained relevant (especially with “International Summers” along with John Robinson) nearly a decade and a half later!
Found On: “Set It Off” 12″ (1995, Paper Music)
Yeah, I’ll admit it, I’m guilty of posing as a knowitall on occasion, yet I’m not afraid to admit that prior to 5 minutes ago, I NEVER knew that Greg Nice’s independent 12″, “Set It Off” was produced by Salaam Remi! Crazy, I tell you! I can recall first hearing “Set It Off” on DJ Cash Money’s mixtape, “Look Who’s Coming For Dinner” and eagerly anticipating a full-length album from Mr. N-I-C-E, yet we all know that it never came together. Still, it was nice to hear Greg on the solo tip, and even a little odd. Yet, Greg remained at home on the party tip with a call and response hook over a thick Remi track.
“We’re On Top Of Thangs”-Council f. Jaz-O
Found On: “We’re On Top Of Things”/”Bananas” 12″ (1999, Rancore Records)
It’s only right that this track was released on the cusp of the “jiggy” era, as much of the lyrical content that makes up the majority of “We’re On Top Of Things” is a direct parallel to the thoughts of materialism that fueled many of the major label releases that dropped around this time-frame. Included on the same soundtrack (“Black Mask”) that also brought you the Screwball classic, “F.A.Y.B.A.N.”, there’s no denyin’ this Jaz-O featured cut (who also assisted with the production) as this instrumental embodies R.A.W.
Found On: “Get In Where You Fit In”/”Down 4 Whatever” 12″ (1995, Wreck)
I gotta’ admit, out of all the joints that I’ve included on my “75″ up until this point in time, Kaotic Style’s “Get In Where You Fit In” just may be the most commercial track that you’ve never heard. Utilizing the immensely popular “Super Lover Man” sample (also found on “Mad” Skillz’ “Nod Factor”), Kaotic Style released an under the radar 12″ on the Wreck Records imprint. You may also recall the duo of Kaotic Style via their appearance (an ill freestyle) on Funkmaster Flex’ “60 Minutes of Funk Vol. I”. The duo would later release a few more singles to no astounding response, yet nothing bangs quite like “Get In Where You Fit In Does”. Lord knows your boy is a sucka’ for those R & B belted hooks over a block shaking drum kick.
Found On: “The Rhythm”/”Dangerous” 12″ (RCA, 1994)
With production from the mighty and extremely overlooked, Groove Merchantz (Godfather Don & V.I.C.), Bas Blasta scooped up a gang of some of the undergrounds finest (keep in mind, we’re talking Fat Joe circa ’94) to include Joey Crack, Godfather Don (who handled the production), JuJu of the Beatnuts and Lord Finesse, for the FONKAY(c) Biz Markie, “The Rhythm”. Released as the B-Side to the ridiculous “Dangerous”, “The Rhythm”, even though it was released on RCA, served as a precursor to the underground movement that would continue for nearly a decade strong.
Found On: “Shadowboxin”/”4th Chamber” 12″ (1996, Geffen)
More “4th Chamber” than “Shadowboxin.” The latter was a favorite of all the wannabe chickenheads in high school. To be fair, it was mostly Method Man that drew them in, and I’m not at all knocking the song, but “4th Chamber” is on a whole ‘notha level. RZA fucking around with a synthesizer and guitar feedback like some post-punker over one of grimiest samples in hip-hop history, and Ghostface “sipping rum out of Stanley Cups.” It’s hard not to place “4th Chamber” as perhaps the most overlooked Wu track, but also maybe it’s best to emerge from their extensive catalog of classics.
Found On: “I Know Ways”/”S.E.L.F.” 12″ (1998, K)
More greatness from the Northwest, this time coming from Bedroom Produksionz. Comprised of two-thirds of Black Anger, the “Produksionz” drop consciousness and Afrocentricity like their hometown counterparts Source of Labor, but with a distinctly harder edge. Sayeed’s beats are tight, driving and prominent in the mix, while Kendo’s delivery is equally intense and raw. The B-Side, “I Know Ways” features a potent verse from Silent Lamb Silas Blak. Once again, here’s an act/crew that probably would have been a whole lot more successful if they had come from a different city.
Found On: Messiah “Survival Of The Fetus”-Rubbabandz “Purple Rain” 12″ (1995, Messenger Records)
On my last “25″ we had Citizen Kane’s “Blackrain” (which we played on last evening’s #SCRUNCHFACE SHOW), now we have even more “rain”, but on this occasion it’s Purple, and it sure as hell isn’t from Prince, but delivered from the backpack of Wu Affiliate Rubbabandz. The jazzy sample found on “Purple Rain” is removed from the Duke Ellington and John Coltrane album on Blue Note records, a very slept on release, no doubt. Some of you may also recall Rubbabandz from his appearances on both of Shyheim’s first to LPs, “A.K.A. The Rugged Child” and “The Lost Generation”.
Found On: “State Of Emergency” Compilation LP (1994, Mad Sound Recordings)
The saving grace to an otherwise sub-par compilation, Lord Finesse, once again, delivered another quality remix that often gets passed over when discussing some of the D.I.T.C affiliate’s finest “re-workings”. Also, you may recognize that young, upstart, lyrical legend on the hook. Yup, it’s the one and only Big L (whom Finesse has recently recognized as his “driving force” for making music during the mid ta’ late-’90s). I mean, Finesse has had some CLASSIC remixes, but Shorties Kaught In The System is just INSANE, and those ear-piercing horns? God Lawd!
Found On: “Can I Get It?”/”Hush The Crowd” 12″ (1996 Raw Shack)
Awww man, where do I begin? While “Braggin’ Writes” will always go down as the standard J-Live underground banger of all-time, the thumping “Can I Get It?” will always remain as my favorite cut from this lyrical heavyweight. Produced by George Sulmers (someone help with more info on this cat, please?) “Can I Get It?”. This cut was more of J’s depiction of how an average cat could roll outta’ bed in the morning, brush his teeth, get dressed and proceed to rock a crowd. While the cut did take some warming up to, due to the earlier success of “Braggin’ Writes” (released just a year prior to “Can I Get It?”, this cut would remain in constant rotation in the headphones until the new millennium.
Found On: “Positional Bypass”/”Onemantality” 12″ (1995, Luge Records)
Is there any real argument to the statement that Sic Sense’s “Positional Bypass” b/w “Onemantality” is the finest 12″ to emerge from the T-Dot? I mean, the Monch and Guru vocal samples? The thumping production that takes you back to the essence of the Golden Era, yet still sounds fresh a decade and a half later? This cat murders this hefty instrumental. “Positional” is an all-time underground favorite of mine that incorporates all the necessary elements that result in a classic production!