Castor Pollux – 1979
From: Guts & Garbage: A Collection of Shit, 2008
I’ve mentioned Castor Pollux many times over the past couple of years. Admittedly, he is somewhat of a “unheard of” and that’s very unfortunate. I was really happy with both the album he did with Technicali Sounds artist, Ariano, as well as the little project, “Guts & Garbage: A Collection of Shit” both from back in 2008. The track, “1979″, has a strong beat that embeds itself into your conscious. I’ve had this beat playing over and over in my head quite often in past. The sample combines strings and an ill vocal sample along with other cool little aspects to give it that “triumphant”. Lyrically, he sounds exactly like somebody, problem is, I can’t place it. He has grown on me as far as his MC skills go, his tone and energy match the tracks background well. This is one cat I will be on the lookout for in the future.
Smile Rays feat Akrobatik - Smilin’ On You
From: Smilin’ On Ya (Rawkus, 2007)
This song is one of my favorite from the last decade, “Smilin’ On You” from The Smile Rays. This beat is drenched in funk. I miss the funk, it’s something that isn’t seen in hip hop much these days. A thick sax sample highlights some boomin’ drums that makes you both smilin’ and snarling all at the same time. Then you combine some “at your throat” verses, both in terms of delivery and lyrics from both Akrobatik and Therapy (who else think these two need to do an album together?) and you have a track that makes you want to bob your head while you mush someone in the face, and smile while doing it. To top it all of, Da*sey drops her best chorus of the album on this track. Everything is just a beautiful, yet one of the more pure hip hop song I’ve heard in a while.
Junk Science – Roads
From: Feeding Einstein (Embeddded Records, 2005)
I discovered Junk Science right around 2005 on a blog whose name escapes me now, but I was attracted to their dusty “lo-fi” sound of the two songs posted. It wasn’t until about a year later that I would hear Feeding Einstein, their debut album and they became one of my favorite groups of the past decade. I was always surprised “Roads”, which was actually used for a car commercial, didn’t make it to the mainstream. The hook, sung by Scott Thorough, is stuff that is usually gobbled up mainstream. That’s not to say this was an attempt at selling out, because it’s so not. The lyrics and rhymes are all NYC hip hop (in the authentic throwback sense). Junk Science is one of the most consistent groups out there right now. They create good music, they keep their “sound” while still making new and interesting sounding music. “Roads” might be one of their more “different” sounding tracks, but it’s well worth more attention than it got.
J-Live – Satisfied
From: All Of The Above (Coup d’Etat, 2002)
J-Live could simply be grouped into this list by himself alone. Is there any one artist that is more slept on, yet more talented, more diverse, or brings more to the table than J-Live? Not many if there is. J-Live tackles the ills of the world over one of the best DJ Spinna beats that I have ever heard from him. “Satisfied” is one of those two way beasts, in which both the lyrics and the beat are top notch and compliment each other very well. With what almost sounds like a harmonica sample, the stringy bouncy beat gives J-Live room to run as he brings up some good points and shines lights on issues of what’s wrong with this country (and still relevant some eight years later). Give the man his just due.
N.E.R.D. – She Wants To Move (Native Tongue Remix)
From: She Wants To Move 12″: The Remixes (Virgin Records, 2004)
Who would thought a song from The Neptunes…errrr, N*E*R*D featuring Pos, Common, Q-Tip and Mos Def would ever be slept on? Well, it kinda of was. Either that it was big in the clubs, but since I don’t frequent the clubs all that much I wouldn’t know. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good club beat, and that’s what this remix of “She Wants to Move” is all about. It’s got a groove that even makes me, who hates to dance, want to cut the rug up. This is also good for throwing on when a young lady wants to do a little strip tease for you, and yes, I might know that from experience. Plus it’s always good to hear the Tongues on a joint together, who can argue with that?
The Boulevard Connection – CpH Claimin’ Respect #2 feat Common, Ed OG & Masta Ace
Found On: CpH Claimin’ Respect #2 / G.A. (Remix) 12″ (Boulevard Connection Records, Groove Attack Productions, 2004)
Being the Masta Ace stan that I am, of course I’m going to push anything Ace has ever done. Yet somehow, “CpH Clamin’ Respect #2″, seemed to slip through the cracks back in 2004. I first heard this song on the Mastaace.com forums, which is where I used to reside back in the day. I used to think the song was simply called “The Boulevard Connection”, and that’s still what I refer to it, so that might have something to do with it. You get Common, Edo. G and of course Ace, and Ace rips his verse, and that’s not even more normal fan boy tendencies saying that. The beat is a nice string beat that I really got into back in those days. The history of this is somewhat confused and clustered, but it’s a track that should be included in the top tracks of the decade.
Afu-Ra - Sucka Free
From: State of the Arts (Life Force Records, 2005)
For a Primo beat, Afu-Ra’s “Sucka Free” was fairly slept on as well. Maybe it’s because the album was just so-so, or maybe it’s because this was (I think) the only Primo beat found on the album. It certainly shouldn’t be because of the beat, as it is one of Primo’s beat from that year. Everything you like in a Primo beat is found on “Sucka Free”. Bangin’ drums, check. Chops, check. Ill bass line, check. It’s all here. Then of course Afu-Ra is no slouch on the mic, and he proves that on the track as well. Toss in a dope hook, and this shit is bangin’….that’s right, BANGIN’
Pete Rock feat Grap Luva – Collector’s Item
From: Collector’s Iteam b/w Blindsided (Up Above Records, 2004)
Y’all remember I.n.I. right? Well “Collector’s Item” features 2/3 of that group, the Phillips brothers doing what they do best. That is bringing some soulful, meaningful, authentic hip hop. If you can’t get with Grap Luva and Pete Rock (and Kev Brown doing the hook) on this track, clean out your years, or better yet, listen to some polka music. The beat is some classic Pete Rock, which some pianos, drums, and an ill bass line that makes me wish I was back in ’93 again. Grap Luva is slept on for his mic presence and he shines bright over his brother beat. It was confined to this 12 inch release, which featured LMNO on the b-side, and somewhat hard to find these days.
Pete Rock feat Grap Luva – Revenge
From: Revenge 12″ (Handcuts Records, 2006)
Yes, another Grap Luva and Pete Rock banger. Who else thinks these two should just drop an album and get it over with? Anyway, “Revenge” was a Japan only 12″ released in 2006. In my opinion, it’s not as good as “Collector’s Item”, but pretty damn close. It’s more classic Pete Rock goodness, with light scattering of piano keys over an ill vocal sample. Grap Luva of course sounds at home over Pete’s beats and Pete even runs down the chorus. It’s a shame this was limited to the Japan market, because it’s a great track.
Dynas – The Future feat DJ Jazzy Jeff
From: The Apartment (BBE Records, 2009)
Dynas’ The Apartment is in the running for 2009′s most slept on album. Naturally I was a big fan of the album and one of the better tracks found on it is “The Future” which featured cuts and production from the legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff. They both go hand and hand perfectly as Jeff cuts shit up and it works well as they are tired into the simple yet effective beat. It’s not simple in it’s complexity, as there are several pieces layered together to give it’s sound, but it’s fairly repetitive, but it still works great. Dynas is one of those cats that has been around for a few years before his debut album and has always caught my attention with his presence on the mic and this is no different. Lots of energy found on here.