Click HERE to DL 76-100 of Trav’s “Backpack Bangers”
The finale of our backpack classics. It’s been fun, I’ve learned a few things I didn’t know, like the catalog of Fondle ‘Em is like any backpackers wet dream, there is more dope shit out there than I can usually remember, don’t dare say that a beat was from a Prince Paul album when it was originally on a Big Daddy Kane album first and Shortie No Mass is pretty damn cute. I thought this last chapter would be difficult to put together, but all I really had to do was go through my crates (both digital and vinyl) and I found more than enough to fill this one up and maybe more (not that I’m going to, these things are time consuming as all hell). So here it is, in all it’s jansport glory and timberland goodness, my classics…..
Found On: “America is Dying Slowly”, (EastWest Records, 1996)
I had to figure out a way to get a De La song on these lists. I wanted to include the b-side only “Ego Trippin’ Part 3″, but it was released a year too early in ’93. But what better way to include De La than include them rhyming over some classic backpack production from the Beatminerz on “The Hustle”. You can’t argue about the dopeness found on this track. It seemed out of place on a compilation celebrating safe sex, but what the hell, anything that dope can be on whatever the hell it wants.
Found On: Microphone Master (Remix) 12″ (EastWest Records, 1995)
On the “traditional” backpacker mode, the Mobb Deep assisted “Microphone Masters” remix which is somewhat of an “underground” classic. Easy Moe Bee hooks up a ridiculous beat for the Das and Mobb crews to create a song all their own. The mixing of the two groups work better than what would appear on paper, with both of them bringing their “a” game to the table. It’s dark, it still upbeat and “funky”. It’s got timbos and dreads written all over it.
Found On: “A Day With The Homiez” b/w “Front Street”
Early Jay Dee aka J Dilla group along with Detroit emcee Phat Kat, “A Day Wit The Homiez”. Of course it’s also produced by Dilla with a rather common sample and more reminiscent to what you would find Dilla doing with the Ummah and his stuff on Pharcyde’s Labcabin…album. Nothing mind bending, but I guarantee that you play this a few times, you’ll be diggin’ it.
Found On: Rugged-N-Raw 12″ (Relativity, 1996)
Some people hate on the PMD solo projects, but I’ve always enjoyed them, or at least I can appreciate the strong parts of his albums. The lead single from his second album, “Rugged-N-Raw” had some of that EPMD mojo found on it. 8-Off Agalllah hooked up a beat that lived up to it’s name, with a rugged bass line and an ill vocal sample that just ads even more to ruffness.
Found On: Come Take A Ride 12″ (Warner Bros, 1994)
My cohort Dart already covered already dropped the equally dope “How Nice Am I” on one of his earlier list, but my favorite joint from the Marley Marl produced group was “Come Take A Ride”. Most of us know about the story of the lost album and even some claims that K-Def did most of the production so I won’t get into that. The beat is perfect cruising music, or chillin’ on the “C-Train” with those big ass headphones on while you have your latest stash of vinyl in your backpack.
Found On: “That Be Boostin’”/”Smoke You On the Mic”/”Dunt Da Dunt Dunt” (Black Market, 1995)
“That’s Boostin’” finds Kev spittin’ over a sparse bass line with a funky little key sample. It’s fairly simple, but it’s right up there with some classic Beatminerz type shit, although Kev does all the production found on the single. The topic is on some Lo-Lifes type shit, as Kev talks about lifting records, clothes and other goodies all over town.
Found On: “My Tracks”/”Gettin’ Over”/”Da Flow”/”Live From Fox Valley”
One of the more obscure tracks found on this backpacker list, my love of “Da Flow” from Da Fat Cat Clique and some of Philly’s best in the underground during the mid 90′s is fairly recent after I was introduced to the track on the Philaflava “100 Greatest Obscure Tracks” (which I was apart of aka glavet). Philly has some of the dopest underground artists that cats don’t really
Found On: “Make It Happen” b/w “Praise Due” (Fondle ‘Em, 1998)
J-Treds was another slept on emcee from the indie period of the late 90′s. Probably best known for being a member of the super group, the Indelible MC’s, J-Treds dropped this excellent 12 inch on the might Fondle ‘Em label. “Make It Happen” is a piano driven beat with some sax stabs that gives it that authentic backpack sound of the indie/backpacker sound of the late 90′s. Treds was no slouch on the mic either as he delivers a great single.
Found On: “At The Speed of Life” (Loud Records, 1996)
I might have to defend my decision to include an all-west coast track on a backpacker list, but hear me out. First off, “Birds Eye View” is produced by one of the great backpacker producers of all-time in the form of Diamond D. The beat is nothing short of straight up east coast funk. Secondly, it’s released on Loud Records, which to me was basically the west coast version of Duck Down. Third, all three emcees, Tash, J-Ro and Xzibit bring lyrics upon lyrics to the table. It’s east coast backpackin’ music to the core.
Found On: “Just Can’t Explain”/”Check Da Status”/”All Alone (Blue Concept Label, 1996)
I’ve been trying to figure out which track from the very obscure (thus underrated) group, Alps Cru, since we started this crazy little list almost a month ago. I could have went a lot of ways, because the Alps Cru has some dope tracks on their several hard as “finding a snowball on the equator” singles but in the end it was “Check Da Status” that grabbed my vote. For sure you probably won’t find it on any other list for favorite backpacker joints, but it’s my list so I’ll take this piano treat that to me screams big ass headphones and jansports.
Found On: “Land of the Lost” 12″ (Loud Records, 1994)
Interestingly enough, I was never the biggest Cella Dwellas fan, yet I’ve been a big fan of “Land of the Lost” since first hearing it back in ’94. Maybe it’s the production, which isn’t far removed from what Lord Digga (and I’m sure to a lesser extent, Norm aka Witch Doc) and his Bluez Brothers production team’s sound found on the greatest hip hop album ever, Masta Ace’s Slaughtahouse. The beat is dope enough and bangin’ enough that the vocals are rhymes don’t get on my nerves like most of their music would later on.
Found On: Big Willie Smith EP w/ Da Beat Terrorists (Funky Ass Records, 1995)
While this was probably the start of the weird, spaced out, trippin’, multi alias, fucked up, weird as shit Kool Keith that we would start to see by the late 90′s, I’ve still always liked this EP. I guess the initial weirdness was cool. For me, it got older after awhile (I still don’t like Dr. Octagon). Kut Masta Kurt and Keith always seemed to work well together and this is no different.
Found On: “Feel No Guilt” b/w “Ain’t No Sunshine (remix)” (London, 1999)
“Feel No Guilt” originally caught my attention because of Nine’s involvement, and while he does add that extra umph to the single, this track is a banger all on it’s own. With it’s sparse piano keys, strings and the Milk D sampled chorus, it’s a just straight up dopeness. Some Nine adlibs thrown in makes it even nicer. Demastas are fairly unknown, but I think they’ve gotten some shine from us obscure/90′s aficionado’s for including Nine on this single.
Found On: “Harlem Kidz Get Biz” b/w “Reppin’ Uptown”
McGruff as he was called back in those days had some buzz with “Harlem Kidz Get Biz”. If I remember right, there was some advertising going on for it, some mixtape appearances then we didn’t hear much from McGruff for another couple years when a rather weak, label influenced, watered down album that didn’t do much. Still though, this was some dope ish, with a hard rock/backpack steez going in it.
Found On: “The Mad Scientist”/ “Spacey”/ “Blast Off” (Geffen, 1996)
While we were all waiting to “buy the album” when he dropped it, but three years later, all we got were a couple singles from Large Pro. “The Mad Scientist” being the first I believe, so of course it got a lot of play from me and my fellow hip hop heads. It’s some what formulated in it’s sound, yet it’s still done by Large Professor, so of course it’s dope.
Found On: “Like This” b/w “U Like My Style” (Track Team Records, 2002)
Produced by the Beatminerz, I seem to remember “U Like My Style” making some Tony Touch tape in ’96 or so. Regardless, the song was recorded in 1995, but as far as I can tell, wasn’t given the official release until 2002. Fans of De La Soul will no doubt recognize Shortie No Mass as she made several appearances on De La’s “Buhloone Mind State”. Personally, I always liked her verse on “In The Woods” so I always wished she had more material to her name.
Found On:“Tru Dat” b/w “New & Improved”
I know next to nothing about the Puppets of Chaos, other than this is pretty much the only single I know they released. The b-side wins on this one, as “New & Improved” is the slightly better track. The emcees do their thing and the hook is something that will probably be ingrained in your brain for awhile. The beat, produced by the DJ, is some “stompin’ down the blvd in black boots” type of steez as it just picks everything up a level. Nothing mind blowing, but they do it well.
Found On: “Your Pockets Been Picked”/”Down With The Freestyle Professors” (Freestyle Records, 1994)
Freestyle Professors are one of those groups that are well known for being obscure. Anybody that’s deep into underground hip hop undoubtedly know about the Freestyle Professors. Myself, I didn’t know about them in the 90′s, but they were one of the first “obscure” groups I discovered during the rise of the blogs in early 2005. “Down With the Freestyle Professors” has always been my favorite joint from them, as Showbiz hooks up a classic DITC sounding beat, straight with bouncy horns and ill bass lines.
Found On: Lord Sear/Stak Chedda – “Alcoholic Vibes” b/w “My Hindu Love” (Fondle ‘Em, 1997)
Bobbito’s sidekick back in the late 90′s, Lord Sear dropped this ode to the alcoholic tendencies of the radio side kick in the form of “Alcoholic Vibes”. It’s not a great song by any of the stretch of the imagination, but it’s in the same vein of a “cult classic” of sorts for me. Produced by Lord Sear himself, it’s a lazy beat, sort of the drunken master style. As far as an emcee, Lord Sear is like an ODB in that he is more of a character than a “dope rapper”. But hey, it works, the joint is always a part of any pre drinking ritual back in the day.
Found On:“Relax Y’self”/”Supa Dupa”/”Hunger Strike” (Fondle ‘Em, 1996)
Another Fondle ‘Em record? What can I say, they dropped some great singles in the late 90′s. Mr. Live was an NYC emcee (who would have thought) who brought a lot of presence on the mic. He had somewhat of a creative and different flow and delivery. Reminds me of someone, but I can’t quite place it. It’s joint like this that bring me back to the “good ole days”, with a solid hook, great lyrics, and a dope beat. Mr Live is back too, down with my man Arablak, had a new project just last year.
Found: “Widespread” b/w “The Chosen” (Fondle ‘Em, 2000)
There are some emcees, and its’ rare for me these days, that you just want to hear what they say. That’s the way it’s always been for me when listening to Jakki Da Motamouth and it’s because of “The Chosen”. Jakki is just straight up spitting battle rhymes and they hard as a fuckin’ brick. The beat is no slouch neither, produced by the late Camu Tao, it’s perfect for Jakki to straight up spit darts.
Found On: “Water World” LP (Terrorist Records, 1999)
Although “Honest Expression” wasn’t a single and was just one of 17 songs founded on Binary Star’s debut album (and later the re-released version, Masters of the Universe), this song is one of the more personal songs for me when it comes to some of my views on the hip hop world. In my older age, I realize arguing about the purity or the lack of in the hip hop world is more or less a waste of my breath and energy, but when I need to vent, I just throw on this joint. Real shit that is even more honest 11 years later.
Found On: “MC’s Act Like They Don’t Know” b/w “Represent The Real Hip-Hop”
Sure, it may be too “mid-ground” or whatever the fuck you want to call it, but “MC’s Act Like You Don’t Know” is just a straight up throw back backpacker joint. I’ve never hid the fact that in his prime, I consider KRS-One the best MC to ever grace the mic, and he was in his prime on this joint. Throw in a Primo beat when he was in his prime, and this joint is nothing back classic backpacker goodness.
Found On: “Them That’s Not” b/w “True School Anthem”
Truth is, we could have went with several J-Live joints, and I’ve been meaning to used one of his joints since we started this crazy little idea. I was reminded of “Them That’s Not” while preparing to do an interview with Grap Luva for an upcoming project I’m involved in. It was Grap who produced this joint and is the bases for one of of the most original and creative songs in hip hop history. The beat starts slow while J-Live chronicles a semi fictional (it could be many cats) artist, but as the artist career takes off, the beat speeds up. After awhile, the beat hits it’s crescendo then starts to slow down, and J-Live is kickin’ lyrics about how his career is starting to fade. Creative shit, straight up.
Found On: “Rocket Science” 12″ (Fondle ‘Em, 1998)
What better way to end this 100 track fiesta than to throw just one more Fondle ‘Em released track on the list. This time, it’s the Columbus, Ohio based “super” group, MHz. Dart already dropped one of their tracks, but I was always a fan of “Rocket Science”, so on the list it goes. It’s basically another Copywrite and Jakki joint, but it also features a dope beat from RJD2. I’m a sucka for bluesy guitar licks for samples and it works as Copy and Jakki just rip shit to shreads….