1. “Hidden Insight” (Classic Mix) – Brass Tacks
Found On: “Ice Breaker Classic”/”Hidden Insight” 12″ (Star Point Tactics, 1996)
I know that I’ve written about this track before, but I gotta’ say, over the last few months “Hidden Insight” has quickly propelled itself into my “Top 5 Tracks” of all-time, no exaggeration! The production, courtesy of virtual unknowns, Wall & Steel (“Hidden Insight” seems to be their only “credit”) is simple, yet very effective, thanks to a hard-hitting bassline and filtered horns that echo ever so lovely. The duo (I’m guessing, from their pics on Discogs), also released a somewhat disappointing EP shortly after the release of this 12″, “Star Point Tactics”, and currently stands shoulder to shoulder against Citizen Kane as my favorite act(s) to emerge from Canada! Maaan, this track is a perfect representation of why I loved the mid-nineties so damn much..
2. “Kick It Like Dis” – Lord Aaqil
Found On: “Check It Out” EP (Tobeat Records, 1993)
Maaan, it’s hard to imagine just how far a few of these so-called “random” rappers would have gotten, that is, had they received the proper push/break/ear. Lord Aaqil is definitely one of those particular talents whose product had “smash” stamped all over it, yet never received the acclaim of say a Redman, Das Efx or Pete & CL, artists whom all share the same “feel” of “Kick It Like Dis”. While the remainder of Aaqil’s EP, “Check It Out” does sound a bit dated, rightfully so, the tumbling horns and rolling drums make “Kick It Like Dis” one of those tracks that you wish you’d heard back in ’93, but comes off just as funky in the present day. And of course, Aaqil gets props simply ‘cuz he’s a Philly cat. This joint is just pure rawness!
3. “Stuck (Pt.I) – FX Felix Cruz
Found On: “Stuck (Pt.I)”/Da Other Side” 12″ (SPR, 1996)
What do I know about FX-Felix Cruz? Jack sh*t, that’s what! Other than the fact that dude snatched a very familiar/ borderline “overused” vocal sample in the form of Havoc’s ”I got you stuck off the realness” and made it very bearable, even enjoyable with the appropriately titled “Stuck (Pt.I)” from 1996. Producer CashUs Clay Mack (yes, really..) who also did from work for Breez Evahflowin’ (“On The Mic”) laced FX with a raw, striped down track that was perfectly suited for the 9-6. Oh, and don’t front Feliz had some serious skills lyrically that can’t be fronted on either….
4. “The Boros” – Bee Why
Found On: “The Boros” 12″ (Wolfpack, 1997)
First of all, lemme’ clarify, until recently…maybe the last year or so, I’ve never been up to speed with some of my cohorts, namely the heads at PhilaFlava, VinylAddicts or Werner Von Wallenrod when it comes to rare, unearthed, unreleased “gems”. However, I do consider myself fairly knowledgeable and learning every day. So, I’ll keep the talk of this record to a minimum, it’s been floating around the ‘net for quite some time, and is one of my favorite underground records ever. Yet, how and when did this drop (as I just found it scouring the ‘net for more info on Bee Why)? Also, note the Gee The Professor reference, pretty cool….
Bee Why “The Lost Tapes” features 13 rare and unreleased recordings from the Queens Emcee who first popped on the scene with his now highly collectable 12″ single “The Boros” back in 1997. He then released 2 more singles “Remember the Time” and “G.A.T.S”.
“Bee Why has made his mark in the underground Hip Hop scene with a then unknown producer Gee The Nutty Professor who later changed his name to Ayatollah. Ayatollah later produced many classics records for Mos Def , Tragedy Khadafi, Rakim, Masta Ace, Inspectah Deck, Cormega and many more. With all 13 tracks produced by Gee, it gives you a rare look into Ayatollah’s first recorded production which would later shape his hip hop sound”.
5. “Cranium” (Remix) – Gauge f. Cella Dwellas
Found On: “Off Key/Cranium (Remix) 12″ (Maestro Records, 1997)
GAUGE a.k.a. Gauge The Mental Murderah. Grew up in the same neighborhood as Hip-Hop mainstays Special Ed, Busta Rhymes and The Cella Dwellas. Back in 1990, Gauge, alongside fellow Brooklynite, Lord Have Mercy (Flipmode Squad), released the rare single “Order In The Court” as B.A.S.S. (Brothers About Sight and Sound). Oddly enough, GAUGE has actually toured the the likes of GangStarr and the Fugees. Gauge also dropped the single “Cranium” b/w “Breathless” on Maestro Records which was extremelly successful, hence the follow up remix of “Cranium” which is featured here. Depending on what your tastes are, the remix of “Cranium” can be extremely dope or unbearable, and the eerie (imagine taking your fingernails across a blackboard) sound effect is odd yet makes the track very memorable.