That’s right, you get a double dosage of Backpack Bangers today! Being that the wife was outta’ town this weekend for Air Force duty, I just got in the groove late last night and churned another ‘go round out. I don’t think cats understand just how much time goes into each one of these posts, but it’s more than worth it as it allows each of us to revisit one of Hip Hop’s finest eras. So here we go 76-100 of my personal Backpack Bangers. Also, be sure to check our prior “lists” as I’ve been adding links for each “25″ at the top of each post. I’ve actually labeled zipped each file that will sort nicely (with each “25″ as an actual album) when added to your Itunes.
Download Eric’s 76-100 Backpack Bangers HERE or “Naw Mean”-3rd Eye f. Nine
or “Naw Mean”-3rd Eye f. Nine
Found On: 3rd Eye’s “Planets” LP (1998, Declic Sound)
Don’t get it twisted 3rd Eye’s aka Jesse West has been in the game for a minute. Whether you first heard him on the “Who’s The Man” (“Ease Up” appears as the album’s final cut) soundtrack or Super Cat’s “Dolly My Baby” (also you could argue that West was the first rapper to incorporate the word “bling” into a track) the remix or aiding in the recording of Biggie’s first demo, don’t forget that 3rd Eye also served as on the of the first rappers whom ever signed to Motown. Yet it’s this Nine-assisted (who also, along with 3rd Eye also utilized the 24/7 moniker), Father Time-produced “Naw Mean” that bangs the hardest amongst West’s oft-forgotten discography.
Found On: “Keep It Real” 12″ (1994, Capitol)
Heisting AZ’s potent vocal sample from the game-changing “Life’s A Bitch”, Miilkbone scored his biggest hit to date with the Mufi-produced gem “Keep It Real”. It’s odd, looking back on things nowadays, yet I could have sworn that Naughty By Nature’s KayGee handled the production on “Keep It Real”. Oh well, thank goodness for Discogs! Sadly, this would be nearly the last we’d hear from the Jersey resident, who’d later make minimal noise with his inclusion on Death Row’s failed “Chronic 2000″ release.
Found On: “Hot” 12″ (1999, White Label)
I told you that I was gonna’ make a valiant attempt to include one of my favorite duos of all-time, The Artifacts, amongst each one of my “25″ submissions. However, I think I may have omitted the duo of Tame One & El Da Sensei from my last outing, but they’re back this ‘go round with the digger’s classic, “Hot”. Not to cause any additional confusion, but “Hot” is actually the K-Def remix of the ‘Fact’s “It’s Gettin’ Hot” (and, I promise you, after reading that you’ll wanna’ continue the track title with the Nelly cut that is unfairly embedded in your membrane, my apologies), which originally appeared on the duo’s sophomore LP, “That’s Them”. Borrowing the popular George Benson sample “Face It Boy, It’s Over”, K-Def (the production aspect of Real Live) is the real star of this remix as his instrumental nearly outshines the potent lyrical duo.
Found On: “The BDI Thug” LP (1999, Duck Down)
Do you remember Buck’s first solo venture from 1999, “The BDI Thug”? Yeah, aside from “Breath Control” I almost didn’t either. What could be considered as two failed “back to back” outings from Duck Down, first with the failed release of the Boot Camp Clik’s “For The People” (which incorporated a ton of instrumentation that we just weren’t accustomed to hearing from the collective) and this LP, which lacked any real cohesion and was noticeably uninspired. Yet, Buckshot took it back to basics with “Breath Control”, inserting the much needed Beatminerz production (Baby Paul, actually) which momentarily breathed life back into the “BDI Thug”. Oh, yeah it’s also worth noting that a young, up-start Just Blaze contributed production for “Heavy Weighters” from the LP.
Found On: “Unstoppable”/”Queens Life” 12″ (1996, Blunt)
Removed from the soundtrack for the movie “The Fan”, Pete Rock laced Mic Geronimo with a piano-laden, bass heavy production that only left you wishing for more collaborative productions from the two. Hmm, it’s too bad that Pete didn’t stick around for contributions to Mic’s sophomore slump, “Vendetta” (on which “Unstoppable” also appears). Speaking of which, when you take a classic such as Mic’s “The Natural” into consideration, was “Vendetta” really that bad? I mean, I can remember being extremely dissapointed with Mic’s foll0w-up, being that “The Natural” was so dope, but revisiting the tracklist and the producers involved, I can’t see how this album failed so miserably. Look’s like I have some homework for this week!
Found On: “No Fear”/”Da Storm” 12″ (1996, Priority/Duck Down)
“One time, one time, all ya’ll can kiss where da’ sun don’t shine..” Attaining substantial underground success as 3/5′s of the Fab 5 collective (along with Ruck & Rock a.k.a. Heltah Skeltah), the trio of Loueville Sluggah, Top Dog & Starang Wondah were primed and ready for success with their debut “Da Storm” and the lead single “No Fear” served as the perfect precursor for an LP that is seemingly often overlooked in favor of Heltah Skeltah’s “Nocturnal” as the finest spin-off LP from the annuls of the Boot Camp library. Yet another Beatminerz smash!
Found On: “Wrap Your Lips Around This” LP (1995, EastWest)
While 8-Off garnered my attention with his debut maxi-cassette (yeah, that’s the format I still have it on), “Alize For Dolo”/”Kick Down The Fu*king Door”, my attention quickly wandered with the follow-up release, a faltered attempt at commercial radio with “Ghetto Girl”. Even though you could group 8-Off amongst the likes of the “Everybody wanna’ sound grimey” crowd (c) Sticky Fingaz, there’s no denying this self-produced heatrock from the shelved (or, at the very least, with minimal distribution) LP, “Wrap Your Lips Around This”.
Found On: Unreleased/”Dah Shinin” “Cutting Room Floor”
I don’t know how I discovered Tek and Steele’s “Nuttin’ Move But Da Money”, but I’m always amazed by the airy production, compliments of Da Beatminerz. Knowing that it didn’t make it on “Da Shinin” is quite depressing, as the track would have played nicely sandwiched between the likes of “Stand Strong” and “Shinin..Next Shit” My assumption for the track’s exclusion had to be the same ol’ sample clearing bullshit. Yet, Da Beatminerz’ production on this unreleased gem is possibly one of their best ever!
Found On: “The Rules”/”MIC V.S.O.P.”/”Thin Minutes” 12″ (1998, Heavyweight Recordings)
Ten years deep in the game as both a B-Boy and producer, Strong Arm Steady’s Krondon merged with producer Truly Odd to record the underground smash, “The Rules” in ’98. “The Rules” marked the birth of one of the left coast’s most recognized names and voices. The single enjoyed huge underground success, a favorite amongst college radio DJs and hip hop fans everywhere. Krondon then connected with DJ Pen One and Self Scientific’s DJ Khalil to create his next masterpiece single, “Black Gold/Miraculous” shortly thereafter.
Found On: Buckwild’s “Still Diggin’ Composition” EP
Omar Credle has had his fair share of classics, ranging from the game-changing “Time’s Up” to his appearance on the “Crooklyn Dodgers II” cut alongside Jeru and Chubb Rock, but how in the world the Buckwild-produced “Burn Me Slow”, received no major burn (pun intended) is beyond comprehension. “Burn Me Slow” found O.C. laid in the cut takin’ it easy, atop Buck’s looped key’s, while “O” pays homage to weed smoking. Buckwild and O.C. were the perfect marriage between emcee and producer, I would’ve loved a full album of nothing but O.C. and Buck.
Found On: “Buddah Blessed It”/”Mind Tricks”/”Flashback” 12″ (1995, Elektra)
My, my, my. Being that this is an actual “backpackers” compilation, and most “backpackers” love emcees. Especially those whom can rip another rapper to shreds, goin’ for delf off the top of the dome. So, it’s only natural that freestyle fanatic Supernatural finds himself on this list with the Djinji Brown-produced lead single from his only 12″ release on the famed Elektra imprint with “Buddah Blessed It”. Thank God for the interwebs as we are now able to fully enjoy the unreleased LP, “Natural Disasters”, of which “Buddah Blessed It” appears on.
Found On: “The Beginning Of The End”/”God Sound” 12″ (1997, EMI)
It’s very appropriate that the Boogiemonsters (who also cut their four-man crew in half for their sophomore LP, “God Sound”) had a single and video for “Strange” from the crew’s debut, “Riders Of The Storm: “The Underwater Album”, because in ’94 these cats were looked upon as exactly that….strange. However, even though “Recognized Thresholds Of Negative Stress” (although, “Mark Of The Beast” had me illin’) may be considered the group’s most notable hit to date, the Domingo-produced (I wonder how that connect arose?) put “God Sound” on the right path, but sadly the group would fade into oblivion with a lame follow-up and never could duplicate the success of their debut. Ironically, Ivor Myers, a former member of the group, is a SDA Pastor who now degrades and condemns the creation of the group and Hip Hop!
Found On: “Ya’ Gotta’ Know”/”Skills R Amazing” 12″ (1997, Broken Records)
From just good ‘ol Kool Kim, better known as one half of the “Blue Cheese” duo, the UMCs, to Fly Guy Kool Kim and now, in the present day, NYOil, no matter how deep in the game dude has been consistent. Although, the argument could be made that the UMC’s “Unleashed” was less than stellar, I actually really dug that album, as gems like “Whoa Now” remain in rotation to this day. Yet, it’s this ’97 diamond in the ruff that remains as one of my favorite Kim/NYOil cuts that you’ve probably never heard. Released on Broken Records, “Ya Gotta’ Know” also found lyrical contributions from female emcee Essence, with booming production from Kim’s P.N.C., Haas G (the other half of the UMCs).
Found On: “Come Widdit” 12″ (1994, Priority)
Quick, think “Street Fighter” soundtrack, what’s the first track that comes to mind? I’d actually be surprised if you replied: Nas’ “One On One”. However, in most instances this soundtrack is revered for one single cut, the King Tech-produced “Come Widdit”. Yet it was Fredwreck who borrowed (or even may have first implemented) the potent horn sample that fueled Queen Latifah’s “U.N.I.T.Y.” for an actual remix. Man, while I never would place Ahmad amongst the likes of lyrical heavyweights Ras Kass and Saafir, dude definitely went for dolo on this outing! Damn, and to imagine, this jawn in nearly 16 years old?
Found On: “A+Z” 12″ Promo (1996, Universal)
What’s crazy is that nowadays you hear cats talkin’ ’bout: “Yo, dude is so ill and he’s only 16! Yeah, whatever son, do the math, Hempstead’s A+ was only 13(!) he dropped his solid debut, “The Latch Key Child” on Universal in ’96. A+ debut single, “All I See” may have showcased his youth, but the album, comprised of collabos with the like of AZ, Q-Tip, Prodigy and Buckwild was no kiddie rap. This track, “A+Z” produced by former Beatminerz affiliate Ike Lee, was always my favorite from the LP. Although, AZ was ahead of his time lyrically, A+ more than held his ground on this piano stab-laden track.
Found On: “It’s OK”/”Writer’s Block”/”Cashin’ The Checks” 12″ (1998, All Natural Inc.)
Although I’m fairly certain that there was another version of “Writer’s Block” that floated around just one year prior to the “radio version” of the track that I so fondly recall, this Chicago duo blessed the streets with yet another smash from their lengthy, often unheralded discography. Ok, now I think I remember, the other version of “Writer’s Block” appeared on the “50 Years” 12″, which is a difficult track to track down, yet equally as dope as “Writer’s Block”.
Found On: “Envy”/”Firewater” 12″ (1996, Relativity)
No matter how many radio jawns Fat Joe seems to load his albums with, he always throws a few choice “street” cuts into the mix, staying true to his roots. While Joey was still keepin’ it street for the most part with his sophomore LP, “Jealous One’s Envy” it was “Firewater”, the B-Side to “Envy” that was not only one of the hardest cuts that I’d witnessed from Joe, but it also really (although he did appeared on the album) introduced the world to the rapid fire lyricism of Big Pun.
Found On: “Genuine”/”Don’t Make Me Try” 12″ (1996, Hydra Entertainment)
Ahh yes, another banger from the Hydra lineup. Matter of fact, I believe that “Don’t Make Me Try” was one of the earlier releases from the label. Before Gab Gotcha unleashed the underground smash, “Angels”, he along with Creature formed the Triflicts. Much like “Angels”, both sides of this 12″, “Don’t Make Me Try” and “Genuine” boasted production from the legendary Beatnuts. Even though, both of the singles are kinda’ neck and neck in terms of playability, I gotta’ give the upper hand to “Don’t Make Me Try”, even though the sample had been utilized many times prior to this release.
Found On: DJ Krush’s “Meiso” (1995, Mo’ Wax)
Even though CL Smooth is my favorite emcee of all-time, I’ve never thought he sounded that great on anything that wasn’t Pete Rock-produced. However, the one exception to the rule was “Only The Strong Survive”. Taken from DJ Krush’s producer-driven LP, “Meiso”, CL picked up where he left off with “The Main Ingredient” as DJ Krush enabled Corey Penn to feel right at home with production that doesn’t stray to far from that of Peter Phillips.
Found On: “Info Kill”/”Population Control” 12″
The era of Big Juss and El-P, ‘doz were the days son. Independent to the core. “Eight Steps to Perfection” 12″, then the arrival of the “Funcrusher EP” (on clear vinyl, mind you). Then along came this record, the “Info Kill”/”Population Control” 12″, nonetheless on clear green vinyl. Of course, you have Pt. II of “Info Kill” on the “Funcrusher Plus” LP, but nothing beats the rawness of the O.G.
Found On: “Dynamite Soul”/”Who I Am” 12″ (1995, Big Beat)
Huh? What the..? Yes, sorry ya’ll, I had to do it. I mean, when you think of the Artifacts and the backpack classics they’ve crafted (with the most obvious jawn being “Wrong Side Of Da Tracks”), the duo of Tame and El have kept their respective headz to the ground and remained underground hip hop icons. This EZ Elpee-laced knocka’ was included as the B-Side of “Dynamite Soul” (which also featured Virginia’s Mad Skillz on the remix) 12″ and for reasons unknown, omitted from both the duo’s debut and sophomore efforts.
Found On: Immortal Records’ “The Next Chapter” compilation (1995, Immortal Records)
Going through my old tapes late last week, I stumbled upon the Immortal Records compilation “The Next Chapter” and it instantly took me back to the days of bumpin’ the forgotten Defari cut, “Big Up” in the Jeep Wrangler. Produced by E-Swift, this track reeks of that ‘ole nasty, filthy Alkaholik funk. While I could never really get into much of Defari’s (dude just always seemed so bland to me) work, “Big Up” grabbed me the first time I heard it as the instrumental transports you back to the heyday of EPMD.
Found On: “Live 4 Hip Hop”/”Six Cents” 12″ (1998, Beyond Real Recordings)
Yes, believe it or not, Channel Live did exist after “Mad Izm”. Releasing only one 12″ on one of the most prevalent and important independent labels in underground hip-hop, Beyond Real Recordings, Channel Live had me checkin’ for them on one final occasion with “Six Cents”. While “Live 4 Hip Hop” is laced by Domingo, it’s the lyrical performance on “Six Cents” that became my track of choice from this 12″. Even if the instrumental will have you singing “Don’t Walk Away” in you head, Hakim and Tuffy killed this ‘ish!
Found On: “Mingling (…With Mayhem)”/”Rap Ni*gaz” 12″ Czar Casket Records
Prior to his work alongside Pete Rock (for which Grand Agent is most recognized) with “This Is What They Meant”, there was this 12″, “Minging” b/w “Rap Nig*az” that was released before the start of the new millennium. “Mingling..” features an ill Kut Masta Kurt bounce track that is bound to up your blood pressure a few levels as Grand Agent drops boastful lyrics with effortless ease.
Found On: “Rotten Apple”-Operation Ratification/”Attack”-Stikken Moov 12″ (1995, Ill Kid Records)
“Five-O is hawkin’ me/Somebody’s talkin’ G”. Damn, it almost feels like yesterday when I had this cut and the majority of Guru’s “Ill Kid” showcase LP on repeat, with the volume cranked all the way up. Looking back at it, there’s more than a few choice cuts included on this compilation that could have made this list. Yet, if there’s one thing that I remember most about “Rotten Apple” is was it’s quick-hitting bassline. Even if Operation Ratification, whom are now better know as NYG’z, wouldn’t astound you lyrically, this jawn was a pure adrenaline rush back in the 9-5.
Found On: “Travellin’ Man”/”Around The Clock” 12″ (1998, DJ Honda Recordings)
Man, Honda has done a ton for underground hip-hop, and dropped a shit ton(c) Kenny Powers) in the interim. Amongst all the tracks and collabos that Honda has either lent his production duties to or recorded, “Travellin’ Man” stands taller then them all. Quite possibly Honda’s best production ever, “Travellin’ Man” couldn’t have been more suited for the lyrical stylings of Mos Def. This track seems to generate more of a fan-base as each year goes by.