[The HardC.O.R.E. editorial staff wishes to apoligize for the delays in
putting out the February issue. Due to the transitional state of the
e-zine and the new setup on the world wide web, a lot of shit has been
going down. However, we feel you will like the new improved format, which
lays out columns that will appear on a regular basis, and an editorial
section for us to express our views. We also guarantee that next month's
issue will come out on time. Thank you for your support in these
endeavours, for sticking with the internet's best e-zine, HardC.O.R.E.]
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Vol. 3, Issue 2 February/March, 1995
The electronic magazine of hip-hop music and culture
Brought to you as a service of the Committee of Rap Excellence
Section 1 -- ONE
Table of Contents
Sect. Contents Author
----- -------- ------
001 The introduction
A Da 411 - table of contents staff
B Da 411 - HardC.O.R.E. staff
C Yo! We Want Your Demos staff
002 Monthly Articles
A 1995 New Jack Hip-Hop Awards email@example.com
B The Atlanta Scene firstname.lastname@example.org
C Back to the Old School email@example.com
D Style Dawg's Literary Review firstname.lastname@example.org
E Erick Sermon Interview DatDeafG@aol.com
F The Singles Scene 3JB3BAUERJ@VMS.CSD.MU.EDU
G The Midnight Ramble email@example.com
H Roots-N-Rap: Bob Marley firstname.lastname@example.org
I Some Shots From the Industry email@example.com
003 HardC.O.R.E. Editorials
A Tribute to Bob Marley firstname.lastname@example.org
B Hip-Hop Overseas email@example.com
C Love in Hip-Hop firstname.lastname@example.org
D Malt Liquor email@example.com
004 The Official HardC.O.R.E. Album Review Section
A Alkaholiks firstname.lastname@example.org
B Alphabet Soup email@example.com
C Catalyst Entertainment 12" firstname.lastname@example.org
D Concrete Jungle email@example.com
E DJ Quik 3JB3BAUERJ@VMS.CSD.MU.EDU
F Higher Learning firstname.lastname@example.org
G Laze email@example.com
H Loud '95 Nudder Budder 3JB3BAUERJ@VMS.CSD.MU.EDU
I The Roots firstname.lastname@example.org
J Sha-Key email@example.com
K Too $hort 3JB3BAUERJ@VMS.CSD.MU.EDU
L 2Pac DatDeafG@aol.com
The C.O.R.E. creed
We at C.O.R.E. support underground hip-hop (none of that crossover
bullshucks). That means we also support the 1st Amendment and the
right to uncensored music.
The C.O.R.E. anthems
I Used To Love H.E.R. Common Sense
Mostly Tha Voice Gangstarr
True to the Game Ice Cube
Outta Here KRS-One
How About Some HardC.O.R.E. M.O.P.
Time's Up O.C.
Straighten It Out Pete Rock and CL Smooth
In the Trunk Too $hort
Remember Where You Came From Whodini
E-mail: to subscribe, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with this line of
text in body of your message:
Aight, let's say you got a demo that you've been trying to shop
round. A few people like it, but nobody with some clout is buying. Or
let's say you know someone who's got some skills, but you don't know what
you can do to help 'em get on. Suppose even further, that you've got an
internet account (chances are you do, else you wouldn't be reading this),
and want to give you and your friends' efforts a little publicity. Well,
have we got a deal for you...
HardC.O.R.E.'s review section isn't just for the major labels.
We don't even GET anything from major labels. In fact, some of us would
much rather review what the independent folks are making, since they
aren't affected by the A&R and high level decisions of major labels.
So we want to hear what you guys are making. A few groups are
getting their demos reviewed here among the likes of Gangstarr, Heavy D.
and the Boys, Terminator X and Arrested Development. Who knows? You
might even hear bigger and better things from The Mo'Fessionals, DOA,
Raw Produce, and Union of Authority before you know it. With all the
people subscribing to HardCORE (not to mention the number of people
reading HardCORE via FTP and Gopher), you never know who might want to
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Give us a shout. You can e-mail me at email@example.com
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send your tape. Keep in mind that we're pretty honest with our reviews
(if we think your shit is wack, we'll say so to your face), but if you
think you got what it takes, you'll see a review from us before you know
it. All you have to lose is a tape, right?
Peace... the HardC.O.R.E. Review Staff
Section 2 -- TWO
What is the New Jack Hip Hop Awards?
A few years ago, everyone on alt.rap and the funky-music mailing list
was bitchin' about how lame the Grammy's were in general, and
especially how weak they were when it came to rap and hiphop.
Thus was born the New Jack Hip Hop Awards.
*You* decide on the categories. *You* nominate. *You* vote. All we
do is count and give out the Jacks. You can't blame us.
Misc 1: Breaking it Down
Misc 2: Awards for Innovation
Misc 3: Videos & Such Stuff
Whackness and former whackness
Hall of Fame
Got it? Good. Let's begin, shall we?
====----> Nasty rap
Nasty just to *be* nasty folks. Just plain dirty. Nasty. Nasty.
As nasty as he wants to be is our counter, Tenderloin Waxx.
Phattest Nasty Group
22.9% Dogg Pound
16.2% 2 Live Crew
Hmmm. Gravediggas take the first Jack of the day with little fuss.
Way behind them are Outkast and The Dogg Pound who duked it out in a
very close race for second.
Phattest Nasty Male Rapper
44.9% Too $hort
40.8% Snoop Doggy Dogg
After being the second place prince for the last two years--first
losing to Ice Cube(!) and then Snoop Doggy Dogg--Too $hort finally
returns to his nasty throne. He had it most of the way, but Snoop was
slowing catching up.
Luke finishes the list near the bottom, only outdoing Red Hot Love
Tone's write-in vote.
Phattest Nasty Female Rapper
No contest. Rage had it all the way.
And it's worth mentioning that far more folks voted for this award
than usual. So, nasty female MCs are finally getting their due...
which may or may not be a good thing depending upon how you think
Phattest Nasty Rap Single
60.9% "Me and my Bitch" by The Notorious BIG (Biggie Smalls)
39.1% "Toostie Roll" by 69 Boyz
And BIG wins. And with a sensitive title like that, he deserves it.
The 69 Boyz never had a chance (and no, technically, this doesn't
count as our first majority win since there were only two folks
Phattest Nasty Rap Album
38.5% _Doggystyle_ by Snoop Doggy Dogg
29.8% _6 Feet Deep_ by Gravediggaz
24.0% _Non-Fiction_ by Black Sheep
7.7% _Freak for Life_ by Luke
And Snoop takes home the nasty Jack. The Gravediggas keep a
respectable lead over Black Sheep while Luke, once again, is left at
====----> Crossover Rap
This is not to be confused with hip-pop like Vanilla Ice Cream Cone.
This is the rap that really "crosses" to other genres, be they R&B,
reggae, hard rock or even pop while actually remaining both good *and* true
to hip hop.
It was email@example.com who counted these.
Phattest Crossover Group
47.4% Digable Planets
29.3% Beastie Boys
17.2% Ill Al Scratch
And Digables take it with no effort whatsoever. Although better
loved by eMpTyV, the Beastie Boys end up at (a very solid) second.
Ill Al Scratch takes third over Michael Franti's Spearhead.
Phattest Crossover Male Rapper
27.5% Heavy D
19.3% MCA (of The Beastie Boys)
18.3% Common Sense
14.7% Keith Murray
11.9% CL Smooth
8.3% Michael Franti (from Spearhead)
And after a huge fall from grace in last year's awards (a dismal
fourth place that left him barely ahead of Father MC), it looks like
Heavy D has come back in full swing. MCA and Common Sense tried
desperately to make up the gap in the end but as you can see, it was
too little, too late.
And my main man Franti rounds out the list at the bottom. Doesn't
look like the move from Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy has done him
well, at least as far as the awards go.
Phattest Crossover Female Rapper
54.7% Queen Latifah
25.5% Me'Shell NdegeOcello
19.8% MC Lyte
And Queen Latifah takes the first majority win of the day by
absolutely trouncing the competition. Last year's first place winner,
MC Lyte, is at the bottom, not really even a threat to the soulful,
funky tunes of Me'Shell.
Phattest Crossover Rap Single
21.6% "Vocab" by The Fugees
20.7% "I Used to Love Her" by Common Sense
20.7% "Sabotage" by The Beastie Boys
17.2% "I Remember" by Coolio
12.9% "Breakfast At Denny's" by Buckshot LeFonque
6.9% "Where My Homies" by Ill Al Scratch
And this one was decided on the last day. First place was a
back-and-forth thing for the whole race. Really, too close to call,
but the contract says we got to call it, so The Fugees win.
Common Sense and The Beastie Boys tie for second. Coolio manages to
stay in shouting distance but The Branford/Premier mix and the Ill Al
Scratch crew come in waaaay behind (Ill Al also got a write-in, btw,
for "I'll Take Her").
Phattest Crossover Rap Album
22.9% _Blowout Comb_ by Digable Planets
22.0% _Ill Communication_ by The Beastie Boys
21.2% _Do You Want More?_ by The Roots
20.3% _The Main Ingredinet_ by Pete Rock & CL Smooth
11.9% _Buckshot LeFonque_ by Buckshot LeFonque
1.7% _Home_ by Spearhead
Now *this* really is too close to call. The Digables managed to pull
it out over the BBs again--this time at the last second--but it's
essentially a four-way tie for first.
So that only leaves the Marsalis/Premier mixture and the Michael
Franti effort. They kinda lost.
Rappin' for your ego rappers go here.
Who counted it? Marcell Gabriel, of course. Don't ask silly questions.
Phattest Braggadocio Group
57.4% Wu-Tang Clan
17.6% Organized Konfusion
Wow. I guess Wu-Tang Clan ain't nothin' to f*** wit.
A rare majority win here, boys and girls. And it was never even a
Phattest Braggadocio Male Rapper
20.4% The Notorious B.I.G. (Biggie Smalls)
18.3% Craig Mack
4.9% Jeru The Damaja
And the rookies pretty much dominate the category. Poor old Guru only
managed to squeak by Jeru (who only barely just a new jack... but then
neither is anyone else up there really).
Nas took a big lead early on and it was just impossible for BIG and
Craig Mack to ever catch up. And Casual wasn't even tryin'.
Phattest Braggadocio Female Rapper
48.2% MC Lyte
29.3% Yo Yo
Must have been those Janet Jackson and Brandy remixes that put MC Lyte
over the top 'cause, uh, what else has she done? Not even close.
Phattest Braggadocio Rap Single
47.4% "Flava In Your Ear" by Craig Mack
37.2% "Come Clean" by Jeru The Damaja
15.3% "How Many MCs" by Black Moon
And another easy win. This time it's Craig Mack's megahit stompin'
all over the competition. He came from a distant second towards the
end to make the victory even sweeter.
Phattest Braggadocio Rap Album
31.4% _36 Chambers_ by Wu Tang Clan
23.7% _Illmatic_ by Nas
14.1% _Ready To Die_ by The Notorious B.I.G. (Biggie Smalls)
9.6% _The Sun Rises In The East_ by Jeru The Damaja
8.3% _Fear Itself_ by Casual
7.1% _Between A Rock and A Hard Place_ by The Artifacts
5.8% _Stress: The Extinction Agenda_ by Organized Konfusion
And Wu-Tang takes it again... with authority. The well-hyped Illmatic
comes in secong with this year's larger-than-life MC, BIG, doing third.
After this point, it's more of a toss-up.
====----> The Dope Thangs
This set was counted by my homeslice, qyz (that's like "quiz" as in
The Quizmaster Rapper).
Award for the funniest rap
51.1% "Freestylin' at the Fortune 500" by The Coup
48.9% "Ice Froggy Frog" by Ice Froggy Frog (Fear of a Black Hat)
Too close to call, really, but well, we gotta call it. The Coup, our
ever-so-serious crew from Oakland managed to make at least a few folks
laugh with their take off on Rockefeller, Getty and Trump.
And while we're here, let me put a word in for our second prize winner
by giving the nod to _Fear of a Black Hat_... a great movie. If you
slept on it, go rent it now. Now. All Hip Hop fans must see this
Phattest lyrics... slammin' beat not required.
27.9% "One Love" by Nas
25.2% "I Used to Love H.E.R." by Common Sense
23.4% "Come Clean" by Jeru the Damaja
14.4% "Time's Up" by O.C.
9.1% "Mental Stamina" by Jeru the Damaja
Jeru had this one for quite a while, but he lost some steam. Nas and
Common Sense (who will duke it out later as well) come up from behind
to take first and second. Another close call. Maybe if Jeru hadn't
had the votes split... but who can say?
Most Slammin' Beat
Make my head bop. I need no wordz.
27.7% "Come Clean" by Jeru
20.2% "Natural Born Killaz" by Dr Dre and Ice Cube
14.3% "9th Wonder" by Digable Planets
12.6% "The World is Yours" by Nas
10.1% "Code of the Streets" by Gangstarr
8.4% "Recognized Thresholds" by Boogie Monsters
4.2% "Stress" by Organized Konfusion
2.5% "Herb Is Pumpin'" by Keith Murray
Votes went every which a way. In the end, Jeru manages to beat out
the competition to emerge at the top with Ice Cube and Dr Dre pulling
in a definite second place. After that it gets a bit murkier with
Digables actually beating Nas and Gangstarr by a point or two. It is
Keith lookin' none too beautiful in the basement.
Now, this is a fine art.
38.5% "Flava in Ya Ear" by Craig Mack
20.5% "Nappy Heads" by Fugees
17.2% "I Got Cha Opin" by Black Moon
12.3% "What Can I Do?" by Ice Cube
8.2% "Oh My God" by A Tribe Called Quest
3.3% "Stress" by Organized Konfusion
No big surprise, I guess, that Craig Mack's remix--featuring help from
everyone from BIG to LL Cool J--manages to come out on top. Still he
manages a nice solid lead--so he gets extra props.
More props to the Fugees who manage a solid second over the popular
Another fine--and not lost--art.
47.2% DJ Premier for _Hard to Earn_
24.4% Pete Rock for _The Main Ingredient_
18.6% Terminator X for _Superbad_ and _Muse Sick N Hour Mess Age_
9.8% Pam The Funkstress for _Genocide and Juice_
Well, damn. Premier manages to do this again this year (if not by as
big a margin as last time). A solid victory. What to say?
Award for those producing people
50.8% DJ Premier for, well, everything
18.5% Dr. Dre for Snoop Doggy Dogg's _Doggystyle_
16.9% Rza for Wu Tang Clan, Method Man and others
5.3% Pete Rock for _The Main Ingredient_
Well, damn, again. Unlike last year, DJ Premier manages to take this
category... and with serious authority. Too much for me. The rest of
the votes went to Dr Dre and Rza with Beatnuts beating out(!) my man
Pete Rock by a hair or two.
====----> More Dope Thangs
Alta--a truly dedicated New Jack vote counter--counted these.
Leaders of the New School
Award for the most innovative rapper/group this year. Doesn't have
to be someone new, might be an old dog learning and teaching some
new tricks. In any case, should take hip hop in a new direction.
The folks starting the new subgenres.
33.6% _Illmatic_ by Nas
12.1% _The Sun Rises in the East_ by Jeru the Damaja
10.3% _Genocide and Juice_ by The Coup
10.3% _Blunted on Reality_ by The Fugees
10.3% _From the Ground Up_ by The Roots
9.5% _Resurrection_ by Common Sense
6.0% _Boxcar Sessions_ by Saafir
4.4% _Stress: The Extinction Agenda_ by Organized Konfusion
3.5% _Hiphopera_ by Volume 10
A lot of nominees in this category and Nas takes it handily. Jeru
just barely takes second, escaping the three-way tie for third place.
After that, it's really only Common Sense as the rest have only token
Best fusion of Hip-Hop with non-Hip-Hop
Being the experimenters that they are, Hip-Hop artists are often
trying to merge their styles with stuff from other genres, be it
heay metal, jazz or country. Who did the best thing this year?
41.7% _Ill Communication_ by The Beastie Boys
31.7% _From the Ground Up_ and others by The Roots
26.6% _Red Hot and Cool_ by Various
And with Digables on their heels, the ever-present Beasties finally
take a solid first place... followed by the jazz stylings of The
Roots. Last year, the hard-rock-and-rap fusion didn't fare very well,
but this time it's on top (still, the jazz-fusion takes 58.3% of the
votes, so maybe it was just split voting).
Phattest Non-USA Artist
Often, Hip Hop Heads in the USA never get exposure to the phat
ones outside the border.
66.7% _Prose Combat_ by MC Solaar
20.2% _Subliminal Simulation_ by The Dream Warriors
Without Us3 to siphon off votes, MC "I've got more name recognition
that you" Solaar takes it to the hoop this year and wins with severe
The Dream Warriors, Canadian's finest, from whom we haven't heard
since, man, _And Now The Legacy Begins_ manage second place.
Phattest Reggae Hip Hop artist
'Nuff respect to all dancehall massive and crew.
37.3% "Take it Easy" by Mad Lion
31.4% "Romantic Call" by Patra with Yo Yo
12.7% "Destinaton Brooklyn (Nika)" by Vicious
10.8% _Kids from Foreign_ by Born Jamericans
7.8% "Make My Day" by Buju Banton
Patra had the race locked up early on, but it is Mad Lion who wins the
day. After those two, it was pretty much a crap shoot with everyone
making a respectable showing.
Provider of Phattest Samples
Everyone from James Brown to The Gap Band to Chick Corea have been
so kind as to provide hip hop with dope samples. Who's provided the
best stuff *this year*?
37.3% Parliament/Funkadelic/George Clinton (for examples, see every
song released this year)
29.7% The Isley Brothers for "Between the Sheets" (for examples, see
every other song released this year)
18.6% Slick Rick in "La Di Da Di" (used in a couple of places this year)
14.4% Michael Jackson for "Human Nature" (see "IT Ain't Hard To Tell")
We've done this before: The P-funk dominates again, as they have the
last two years. Can this keep going?
The number two spot is held by the Isley brothers, among the most
oversampled group of 1994.
Most Innovative Use of a Sample
Award for the artist who used a sample (be it music, voice or
whatever) in the most innovative or unexpected way to great
51.5% Craig Mack for using the Days Of Our Lives theme in "Real Raw"
48.5% Pete Rock for KRS-One's "woop, woop" in "The Main Ingredient"
Not a lot of nominees this year, but Craig Mack just barely gets the
props on this one anyway. I guess I'll have to listen to "Real Raw"
Let's see what's the shiznit and what's not.
====----> Dope Videos and Other Visual Stuff
Mark Nyon sat in front of the screen for quite a while to qualify to
count these votes. Thanks, man.
Phattest Short Form Video
Award for the phattest video.
25.4% "Natural Born Killaz" by Ice Cube and Dr. Dre
22.2% "Sabotage" by The Beastie Boys
15.9% "Can't Stop The Prophet" by Jeru The Damaja
9.5% "Give It Up" by Public Enemy
9.5% "Flavor In Ya Ear" by Craig Mack
8.7% "Never Seen A Man Cry" by Scarface
4.8% "Light Sleeper" by Saafir
4.0% "Strange" by The Boogiemonsters
And the first Jack of the day goes to the Ice Cube and Dr. Dre effort.
"Sabotage" just *barely* made the voting form but almost managed to
grab it away from them. "NBK" managed to cause a little bit of
controversy here and there (it was featured on a local news station
here in sunny Boston) but was more notorious among Hip Hop fans for
being the first indication that *maybe*, *maybe* _Helter Skelter_
really, truly will come out.
Smif-n-Wessun managed a write-in.
Phattest Long Form Video
Award for phattest long video release
44.6% _Sabotage_ by The Beastie Boys
31.7% _Murder Was The Case_ by Snoop Doggy Dogg
23.7% _Enemy Strikes Live_ by Public Enemy
And this was pretty clear from day one. The only real surprise was
that somehow we let _Enemy Strikes Live_ in the final form this year
*despite* that fact that it's older than dirt (it won the 1991 Jack
for best long form video with over 70% of the vote). Whatever. Fans
*still* voted for it in droves (hmmmm, it *was* a good tape).
Phattest Hip Hop Video Show
Award for the phattest video show (or was this obvious?).
54.1% Rap City (on BET) with Big Les & Joe Clark
26.5% Yo! MTV Raps! (Friday) with Dr. Dre and Ed Lover
10.2% Yo! MTV Raps! (Friday) with Fab Five Freddy
6.1% Hip Hop Fridays on California Music Channel with Andy Kawanami
3.1% Yo! (MTV daily) with Dr. Dre and Ed Lover
And Rap City takes it for the second year in a row--with authority, I
might add--finally ending the dynasty of Yo!. Hmmm, much props to Hip
Hop Fridays for doing pretty damn well, all things considered. I'll
have to give it a peep when I'm California way.
Best live performance/tour/live album
Award for, well, what it says.
57.6% De La Soul/A Tribe Called Quest (various tours)
32.3% KRS-One (various tours)
10.1% Organized Konfusion/Artifacts/Rass Kass (various tours)
Yes, well. Yes, well. I guess De La ripped it up elsewhere as they
did in Boston. They win.
====----> Whackness and former whackness
Our counter this time was the ever humble Ravindra Pillalamarri.
For the suckas that go pop. Should have been at least vaguely
hip-hop in the first place.
19.8% Dr Dre
17.9% Warren G
15.1% Eazy E
6.6% Nice & Smooth
And this one went exactly like the nominations.
Anyway, Hammer ought to be ashamed of himself for that last album. He
actually managed to copy every single selling trend of the last two
years. I usually let Household Tool slide on these things, but it was
just plain silly listening to him try to convince the Hip Hop Nation
that he was *harder* than all the other MCs in the world.
Damn, he played himself like solitare.
The weakest, but visible, whackster of the year.
31.1% Vanilla "I can be hard too" Ice
17.0% Snoop Doggy Dogg
14.2% Da Brat
8.5% Warren G
3.8% Nice & Smooth
So, anyway, Vanilla Ice Cream Cone actually produced an album last
year; he was sporting something like dreds and he may have even been
acting like he was smokin' some weed.
He deserves everything he gets.
This is different than the biggest sellout. Sometimes old
favorites just plain fall off without even getting the money for
14.7% Big Daddy Kane
14.7% Public Enemy
12.7% Black Sheep
12.7% Ice Cube
7.0% Nice & Smooth
Well. If someone's keeping score, it looks Erick Sermon has come out
of the EPMD break up ahead of his estranged partner.
Um. Well, a special nod goes to Kane. At least this year he didn't
end up in both the whackest and sellout categories. No half steppin'
And, of course, I have to say something about Public Enemy. *I* liked
the album, but I guess some other folks didn't. Will PE ever live
down _It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back_?
Anyway, Black Sheep(!) and Ice Cube(!) tie for fourth while Nice &
Smooth hit the bottom... in this case, of course, that's good.
A lot of big names this year.
Most Overrated Rapper
Yet another bit of semantic subtlety. Now there are whack rappers
in hip-pop and we know who they are. But sometimes we get rappers
who produce a strong split in The Underground. Who gets all these
mad props but shouldn't?
48.2% Snoop Doggy Dogg
14.5% Warren G.
13.7% The Notorious BIG (Biggie Smalls)
12.8% Da Brat
3.6% Craig Mack
2.7% Keith Murray
*Almost* a real majority win. This Snoop and Dre backlash is in full
effect. No one else even came close... not mega-played Craig Mack nor
Warren "every-other-video" G.
Hmmm. What's up with that?
On the good side, sometimes folks we had written off as dead, come
back like hard.
27.4% Public Enemy
26.3% Slick Rick
17.9% Black Sheep
8.4% Dougie Fresh
And Public Enemy fans speak out. It's worth noting that Slick Rick
had this one all the way until the very last batch. Looks like PE
still has a strong base somewhere.
Now, someone want to explain two things to me: 1) where Rza cameback
from? and 2) how did Hammer get in here?
Hardest and Ugliest Dis'
Award for *the* hardest most diggum-smack dis of the year--the one
that made you screw up your face and go "damn!"
Ha. "Diggum-smack dis". I love that.
Anyway, the results are:
66.7% "Don't get mad; UPS is hiring" (Flava remix) by The Notorious BIG
23.2% "Dollars & Sense" by DJ Quik
10.1% "The Wake Up Show" by Saafir
This year's batch of disses are a bit different since we don't really
have head-to-head battle records competing here (like the Cube v NWA
battles), but it doesn't much matter. The Notorious BIG gets a rare
Saafir did pretty well, too, considering that he's still pretty much
====----> Progressive/Jazz Rap
Well, I still don't know how to define this category but groups like
De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest as well as Souls of Mischief,
Digable Planets and the like fall into this class.
La Tondra--Tondar the barbarian to her friends--counted these up.
Phattest Progressive/Jazz Rap Group
37.4% A Tribe Called Quest
26.0% Digable Planets
20.6% The Roots
9.1% De La Soul
Let's see. That'd be A Tribe Called Quest... again. They've won it
every single year since the New Jack Awards were started (they won it
when we called it Bohemian Rap).
But the margin is getting smaller.
I think Q-Tip et al had better look out for up-and-comers The Roots....
In the meantime they can revel in their clear-cut victory over their
once-dominating cousins De La Soul. They did pretty badly, just barely
topping The Fugees and the Souls of Mischief write-in.
Phattest Progressive/Jazz Male Rapper
12.9% MC Solaar
11.5% Jeru tha Damaja
9.4% CL Smooth
1.5% Prince Paul
Anyway, Q-Tip does it again. Only Guru has ever stopped Q-Tip in this
category and then only last year (and then just barely). I think
Q-Tip has gotten his revenge.
Speaking of Guru, MC Solaar should definitely be thanking him for
making him such a visible and recognizable presence. I'm sure that
had it not been for his guest appearance on Guru's jazz-rap solo
effort, he'd've never had a chance against Jeru.
Phattest Progressive/Jazz Female Rapper
44.5% Ladybug Mecca
27.3% Me'Shell NdegeOcello
19.5% Lauryn Hill
8.7% Simple E
And Ladybug Digs her way to an easy first place... followed by the
anti-alternative hip hop singer Me'Shell NdegeOcello.
Ladybug is definitely becoming a staple in this category (she won last
Alone in the basement is Simple E, playin' wit her funk. And where's
Phattest Progressive/Jazz Rap Single
30.5% "9th Wonder" by Digable Planets
24.4% "Distortion to Static" by The Roots
19.8% "Oh My God" by A Tribe Called Quest
13.7% "Got a Love" by Pete Rock and CL Smooth
11.6% "Stress" by Organized Konfusion
And The Digables take it again following up on last year's singles
victory. But this time, there wasn't quite the struggle. This is a
Phattest Progressive/Jazz Rap Album
55.7% _Midnight Marauders_ by A Tribe Called Quest
26.7% _Blowout Comb_ by Digable Planets
17.6% _The Main Ingredient_ by Pete Rock and CL Smooth
And ATCQ wins with Midnight Marauders which came out some twenty years
ago, but still got airplay last year. And it's an ugly win, one of
those majority wins. They regin supreme.
====----> Gangsta Hip-Hop
This is Hip-Hop that's, um, Gangsta: everyone from Ice Cube to Geto
Boyz to Ice-T to Snoop and back. We all know more or less what we
William David Hass counted this one up for us.
Phattest Gangsta Group
62.1% Wu-Tang Clan
17.7% The Dogg Pound
1.7% South Central Cartel
And the Wu-Tang style defeats, well, everyone else with a stunning
majority win despite protest from the crowd that they ain't gangstas.
Oh, well, I bow to the will of the people on this one.
Hmmm. Let's move on.
Phattest Gangsta Male Rapper
48.1% Ice Cube
20.6% Snoop Doggy Dogg
19.1% MC Eiht
Ice Cube takes this one convincingly. The comeback kid in this
category was Snoop Doggy Dogg, whose fans got together at the last
second to help him take second over a slightly surprised MC Eiht.
Scarface rounds out the pack ahead of write-ins Spice One and Big Boi.
Phattest Gangsta Female Rapper
Rage took it from the giddy-up while Bo$$ and Yo-Yo fought it out for
second. Bo$$ wins that battle over the veteran lady gangsta.
Phattest Gangsta Rap Single
27.8% "I Never Seen a Man Cry" by Scarface
27.0% "Natural Born Killers" by Ice Cube and Dr Dre
12.7% "Really Doe" by Ice Cube
11.1% "Murder Was the Case" by Snoop Doggy Dogg
8.7% "Gin and Juice" by Snoop Doggy Dogg
7.9% "All For the Money" by M.C. Eiht
4.8% "Game Recognize Game" by JT the Bigga Figga
It looked like Ice Cube and Dre were going to pull it off towards the
end, but Scarface held on to his slim lead, thus redeeming himself
after coming in last in the male category. Snoop manages to fall
behind Ice Cube again and takes fourth and fifth.
Phattest Gangsta Rap Album
35.1% _DoggyStyle_ by Snoop Doggy Dogg
33.3% _Lethal Injection_ by Ice Cube
16.2% _Bootlegs and B-Sides_ by Ice Cube
15.4% _The Diary_ by Scarface
Those Snoop fans managed to make a big difference. Despite the fact
that Ice Cube's _Lethal Injection_ seemed to have it wrapped up by a
narrow margin, Snoop pulls it out with the last batch of votes. An
And it's a hard one to take since if some of those Cube fans who voted
for _Bootlegs and B-Sides_ had instead voted for _Lethal Injection_...
but that's not what happened. Snoop wins the Jack.
====----> Political Hip-Hop
Rap with an explicit social and political message.
Who counted? That Jamaican knockin' out Ja-fakin's:
firstname.lastname@example.org, of course.
Phattest Political Group
42.6% Public Enemy
19.1% The Coup
11.0% Organized Konfusion
9.6% Digable Planets
3.0% The Goats
It went pretty much like the nominations. Well, at least this time
Public Enemy actually released something during the year in question.
Oddly, this time, their usual majority win did not materialize.
Given that it *was* Public Enemy they were up against, The Coup, that
mad phat mau-mau posse from Oakland, did pretty well by securing a
strong second place showing. Meanwhile, the even-more-political-for-94
Digable Planets got squished by the Fugees and OK but did better
than cult-faves The Goats.
Phattest Political Male Rapper
23.2% Chuck D.
13.8% Ice Cube
13.8% Jeru The Damaja
12.3% Boots (from The Coup)
And with a last-minute surge, Hip Hop Elder Statesman KRS-ONE, manages
to snatch the Jack from Chuck D. Things were much tighter for KRS-ONE
this time around than for last year when he rode _Return of the Boom
Bap_ to massive victories.
The race for third was interesting as Ice Cube came from out of
absolutely nowhere to steal the sun from Jeru. Meanwhile, Paris and
Boots round out the list with respectable showings.
Phattest Political Female Rapper
49.2% Lauryn (from the Fugees)
42.6% Queen Latifah
It looks closer than it was. Only Queen Latifah's last-minute surge
makes this look like a contest. Lauryn has it from the first vote.
Phattest Political Rap Single
36.1% "Can't Stop The Prophet" by Jeru The Damaja
27.1% "Give It Up" by Public Enemy
19.5% "So Whatcha Gone Do?" by Public Enemy
10.5% "Takin' These" by The Coup
6.8% "Guerilla Funk" by Paris
I dunno. Looks like Jeru benefitted from the split in the PE vote
this time around. Head to head, he might have lost.
Phattest Political Rap Album
35.5% _Muse Sick N Hour Mess Age_ by Public Enemy
32.3% _The Sun Rises In The East_ Jeru The Damaja
25.0% _Genocide and Juice_ by The Coup
7.2% _Guerilla Funk_ by Paris
And it looks like that really might have been the case. Despite a
late tie and the momentum, Jeru fell before the mack truck that is
Public Enemy. Meanwhile The Coup did a solid third place.
====----> What you've been waiting for
And I saved the best batch for me. And I enjoyed every damn minute of
Most Unfairly Slept On Album
Ever year some artist comes off proper but is ignored by the
community. Here we remedy that.
The nominees are:
_Resurrection_ by Common Sense
_Genocide and Juice_ by The Coup
_Stress: The Extinction Agenda_ by Organized Konfusion
_Muse Sick n Hour Mess Age_ by Public Enemy
_Between a Rock and a Hard Place_ by The Artifacts
_Riders of the Storm_ by The Boogiemonsters
And the results are:
30.4% _Muse Sick n Hour Mess Age_ by Public Enemy
17.9% _Genocide and Juice_ by The Coup
17.0% _Stress: The Extinction Agenda_ by Organized Konfusion
15.2% _Resurrection_ by Common Sense
13.3% _Riders of the Storm_ by The Boogiemonsters
6.2% _Between a Rock and a Hard Place_ by The Artifacts
There were many frustrated Public Enemy fans on alt.rap since many
posters there decided that they were unimpressed with the newest PE
joint. Those frustrated fans have made it clear that they think this
is unfair and that ya'll ought to give them another chance.
Supporters of The Coup's newer brand of political stylin' have also
made their recommendations known (and I have to admit that I agree
with them: The Coup is all that and a Thanksgiving dinner like your
grandmomma used to make) just a bit louder than fans of the newest OK
Are you going to listen?
Phattest New Hip Hopster
The best New Jack to arrive on the scene this year.
The nominees are:
_Illmatic_ by Nas
_Project: Funk Da World_ by Craig Mack
_Ready To Die_ by The Notorious B.I.G. (Biggie Smalls)
_The Sun Rises in the East_ by Jeru the Damaja
_The Most Beautifullest Thing In This World_ by Keith Murray
_Boxcar Sessions_ by Saafir
And the winner?
38.3% _Illmatic_ by Nas
20.9% _The Sun Rises in the East_ by Jeru the Damaja
13.9% _Project: Funk Da World_ by Craig Mack
12.2% _The Most Beautifullest..._ by Keith Murray
9.6% _Ready To Die_ by The Notorious B.I.G. (Biggie Smalls)
5.1% _Boxcar Sessions_ by Saafir
No contest. Nas' had first and Jeru had second from the get-go.
And that was that. The only race was between Craig Mack and Keith
Murray and Craig took that one... again.
Hall of Fame
Award for that person or persons who managed to make hip hop history
and has/have stood the test of time. We're talking about those
back in the day who helped make our current dopeness possible.
Note: Public Enemy, Run-DMC and KRS-One/Boogie Down Productions,
our 1991-1993 winners, were ineligible this year.
Our nominees were:
Eric B and Rakim
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five
A Tribe Called Quest
and our winner was:
29.9% Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five
24.1% Eric B and Rakim
23.4% A Tribe Called Quest
13.8% Slick Rick
8.8% Ice Cube
About damn time. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five--responsible
for such great singles as "New York, New York" and "The
Message"--represent hip hop history as well as hip hop greatness.
Despite being a distant fourth last year, they managed to jog the
memories of enough hip hop heads to make it in this time around.
This race wins the award for biggest surprise. Slick Rick actually
lead the way for the first few batches of votes. It was only in the
last week that ATCQ, Eric B and Rakim and, finally, G5 managed to pull
There were a few other surprises: noticeably absent is a nomination
for George Clinton/Parliament/Funkadelic. They've been pretty much a
staple of this category ever since the beginning.
And next year? Well these things never seem to be predictive, but it
looks like the fight next year might be between Eric B and Rakim and A
Tribe Called Quest.
Album Hall of Fame
Award for that album that has managed to make hip hop history
and has stood the test of time. This is for *the* best and most
influential hip hop albums *ever*.
_It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back_ by Public Enemy
_Criminal Minded_ by Boogie Down Productions
_By All Means Necessary_ by Boogie Down Productions
_Straight Outta Compton_ by N.W.A
_3 Feet High And Rising_ De La Soul
_Paid In Full_ by Eric B & Rakim
_AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted_ by Ice Cube
And the first inductee is:
39.1% _It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back_ by Public Enemy
14.1% _Criminal Minded_ by Boogie Down Productions
13.3% _By All Means Necessary_ by Boogie Down Productions
10.2% _Straight Outta Compton_ by N.W.A
12.5% _3 Feet High And Rising_ De La Soul
7.8% _Paid In Full_ by Eric B & Rakim
3.0% _AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted_ by Ice Cube
As if you're surprised.
It probably would have made more sense to just declare this an
automatic inductee and vote on the second album instead.
This was never even a contest. This is not only everyone's favorite
Public Enemy album, it's on everyone's top ten list. _Nations_ had
the first vote and the last.
At this point I'd explain to all of you readers just what this album
is and tell you of it's enormous impact on Hip Hop when it dropped in
1988, but why bother? You all own it.
I have to give special dap to both second and third. Perhaps next
year the race will be between Boogie Down Productions and BDP. Or
maybe not. I get the feeling that Eric B and Rakim will be in the mix
next time as many of their fans seemed torn between them and PE. And
maybe we'll see this year's write-ins--EPMD and 3rd Bass--give it a
Phattest Rap Single
Phattest single to drop last year. Period.
"Flava in Your Ear" by Craig Mack
"I Used To Love HER" by Common Sense
"The World Is Yours" by Nas
"Give It Up" by Public Enemy
"Stress" by Organized Konfusion
"I Got Cha Opin" by Black Moon
And the winners?
26.2% "Flava in Your Ear" by Craig Mack
21.4% "I Used To Love HER" by Common Sense
18.3% "The World Is Yours" by Nas
15.9% "Give It Up" by Public Enemy
12.6% "I Got Cha Opin" by Black Moon
5.6% "Stress" by Organized Konfusion
This one came down to the wire. At first it was Craig Mack... then
Common Sense... then Mack... then CS... back and forth, forth and
back. But finally Craig Mack won the day with his muchly played
summer jam single (now ask me what people thought of the album).
I guess that was a foregone conclusion, but is anyone as surprised as
I am with the strong showing of Common Sense's nostaligic criticism of
the current state of affairs in rap? And over "The World Is Yours" no
What does this bode?
Well, before we go to the last award, let me mention the write-ins:
"Goin' Down" by Scareface, "Code of the Streets" by Gangstarr and "Put
Em on The Glass" by Sir Mix a Lot.
That's done. Now for our last award:
Phattest Rap Album
The award for the phattest Album. Period. No more, no less.
Our nominees for this year are:
_Illmatic_ by Nas
_Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik_ by Outkast
_The Sun Rises in the East_ by Jeru the Damaja
_Hard to Earn_ by Gangstarr
_Blowout Comb_ by Digable Planets
_Muse Sick N Hour Mess Age_ by Public Enemy
And the winner?
Well, the winner is:
29.7% _Illmatic_ by Nas
16.1% _Blowout Comb_ by Digable Planets
16.1% _Muse Sick N Hour Mess Age_ by Public Enemy
15.2% _Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik_ by Outkast
12.7% _The Sun Rises in the East_ by Jeru the Damaja
10.2% _Hard to Earn_ by Gangstarr
And I'm happy! Why? Because now I get to say:
And it looks like the world is Nas'!
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!
Oh, I'm hilarious. Get it? Get it? Who's world is this? It's Nas'!
HA HA HA!
And it was no contest. This was clear from the first vote cast.
But this year was a bit different. Usually it's very clear who's
second, who's third and so on, but this time everyone is actually
pretty close. And, in fact, The Nas win is by no means particularly
large for this category. A Tribe Called Quest had a bigger shut out
for first last year and Ice Cube's _The Predator_ completely
devestated the competition in the 1992 awards.
The big surprise for me was _Blowout Comb_. It got very little video
time as far as I could tell and not too many folks talked about it on
the netwaves, but whoot, there it is tied for second.
And, overall, the trend hinted at last year seems to be getting
stronger. I don't see too many gangstas nominated this time around.
No real presence by Dr Dre and even Ice Cube did kind of poorly
compared to his usual showing.
Maybe the "I used to love HER" crowd are getting ready for a coup?
We'll see next year.
I'm out of here like last year.
Martay the Hip-Hop Wiz
THE ATLANTA SCENE
Common is comin', hooray! Chicago's finest MC be at the Velvet
Thursday night as part of the rebirth of cool that just keeps goin'
and goin'. Dose and Talib will be spinnin', as always.
The last show was rather lame, however. MC Breed and his
crew(s) were in the house. First up was One Puff (with Gansta Pat, who
if you haven't heard of him you didn't miss anything, ditto if you
miss this new group) and they bit Bone Thugs rhyme style and the
Goodie Mob's dress style. Oh, well. Chapter of Madness took the stage
next and reminded us of their home addresses (Decatur & 285) several
hundred times and talked about something totally original, Blunts!
The last group had the benifit (?) of MC Breed performing with
them, who wanted us to know how spontaneous everything was as they
proceeded to kick a very choreographed stage routine, I swear I heard
the voice on the instrumental track too, however they yelled on the
mic enough to make it impossible to distinguish if their lyrics were
already on the tape.
Anyway, Common is comin'! Infamous Jacksonville bass guru, DJ
Trans was in town helping to produce the upcoming J. Bond & DJ
Goldfinger LP from Bahari records. That shit booms, and I don't even
like bass too much. Kaper records has finally put out a halfway decent
group. I think. I saw the video and heard the first song from Question
? Society recently, and it wasn't half bad. It's called "Look Away" or
something. They're gonna open an upcoming AIDS awareness benefit at
the Roxy with Craig Mack, Notorious B.I.G. and Outkast.
That's about all the latest news from Atlanta, just remember,
Common is Comin', and you will get the whole story from Martay. Peace.
Ryan A. MacMichael
BACK TO THE OLD SCHOOL
I recently read an article saying that old school artists
should just give it up and not bother making "comebacks" because their
attempts were lame and off-point from what people were doing today. I
have to admit that, yes, some of the comebacks of late have been kind
of weak -- but who could have the gall to tell the godfathers of hip-
hop to step off?!
Do fans of Joshua Redman tell Stanley Turrentine to give up
the saxophone? Would fans of Harry Connick, Jr. tell Frank Sinatra to
hang up the mic? I don't think so. In jazz and other music forms,
the founders and artists who made the greatest advancements are
praised and welcomed back with open arms. I think one of the major
problems with a lot of hip-hop fans is that they are so closed-minded
to one particular style ('92 -- Das EFX style, '93 -- Onyx style, '94 --
Dre) that they refuse to give any attention to the pioneers.
After all, they argue, when you have something that shakes
your whole damn block with the maddest lyrical styles ever, who needs
to listen to the old school? These are the same kids that will never
know the feeling of hearing "Here We Go" or "Rock Box" for the first
time. And I'm willing to bet they couldn't name the members of the
Sugarhill Gang. And would they have any idea who originally said
"sometimes it's like a jungle / it makes me wonder how I keep from
I'm going to go as far as saying that many of the old-
schoolers still have it. Take RAIDERS OF THE LOST ART, for instance.
The Furious Five, The Treacherous Three, Busy Bee, Kurtis Blow, and
Afrika Bambaataa all make good showings. Granted, they might not be
the ultra-slickly produced tracks we're used to hearing, but pehaps
Whodini put it best on "Do It Again":
Now I remember in the days of way back,
with just a 4-track and no SP-12 to make tracks.
Wearin' leather suits and boots was the gear
of live bands and hip-hop stars of the year.
These kids remember being told that rap would never be more
than a fad. But after 20 years, kids take the music for granted and
think that not being able to sign with Warner Bros. is a struggle for
a group. I was never at a block party to hear Kool Herc on the
wheels, but I've made myself aware. Too many bandwagon fans couldn't
tell you who the fuck Kool Herc was. They probably think he's some
dead guy who played disco music (scary considering he's still around).
So I'm gonna take the time in my mixes, on my show, in my
rhymes, wherever, to pay tribute to the people that came before. "I
won't forget y'all...even when everyone else does."
STYLE DAWG'S HIP-HOP LITERARY REVIEW
S.H. Fernando, Jr. "The New Beats: Exploring the Music,
Culture, and Attitudes of Hip-Hop"
If you want a concise, realistic analysis exploring the Music,
Culture and Attitudes of Hip-Hop Culture, both Afrika Bambatta, leader
of the Universal Zulu Nation, and Samuel G. Freedman, author of "Small
Victories" and "Upon This Rock" suggest S.H. Fernando, Jr.'s "The New
Beats." The book is undoubtedly the best work published on the urban
culture to date, for though its principle focus is mainstream hip-hop,
the book does not pander to the interests of corporate America's music
While newspapers and magazines gloss and pander to the style
and passions of hip-hop, "The New Beats" accentuates those styles and
passions. This fact is evident when Fernando describes the sources of
hip-hop. Unlike other publications, which simply paraphrase that "hip-
hop" is the music behind the lyrics, which are "rapped," a form of
sonic bricolage with roots in "toasting," a style of making music by
speaking over records; Fernando truly gets to the origins of the
music, journeying back to precolonial Africa. He informs us that,
"Today's rappers bear a striking similarity to the griots (or gewel,
the Senegalese term), West African bards who played an especially
important role in precolonial society, orally passing on the cultural
history of their people." He goes on to allude comparisons between
modern-day rappers and precolonial West Africans by stating "The art
of the griot required music and song skill and also an unerring
memory. The spiritual life of the citizens of the community, past,
present and future, rest in the virtuosity and unerring exactness of
the griot. The songs of the griot are more precise than any history
The book is quite an informative resource due to its analytic
approach in dropping commentary on the hip-hop culture. The book
defines mainstream hip-hop through the utilization of social history.
Fernando consulted with many contemporaries in the hip-hop industry
such as Cypress Hill, Public Enemy, Dr. Dre, Pete Rock and C.L.
Smooth, and many others to gage opinion on what hip-hop means to them.
This is a respectable approach in comparsion to other books of
notoriety such as "Bring the Noise!: A Guide To Rap Music and Hip-Hop
Culture," by Havelock Nelson and Michael A. Gonzales, which simply
appeared as press material from record companies with an introduction
by Fab 5 Freddy.
And "Lyrics? You need lyrics..." Lyrics are dropped for your
enjoyment with full analysis. Fernando also succeeds in achiving the
impossible: illustrating reflections of Black historial imagery in
If the book's focus is the pursuit of truth, it manifests
itself in the words of the Brooklyn journalist. Check out "The New
Beats." It's quite a read for any hip-hop fan.
Dat Deaf G
THE E: A HARDC.O.R.E. INTERVIEW
[Editor's note: This interview was conducted before the release of
Redman's current album, "Dare Is A Darkside."]
Erick Sermon has been very inclusive and tight-lipped regarding
the EPMD break up. He stays focused on his career, helping others get
phat tracks courtesy of his production company. Needless, to say, I
wanted to get the scoop on Sermon for all the fans out there who had
been wondering, and I was pacing the floor like crazy waiting for the
call. He finally called me through the relay service from his home
which is near Atlanta, Georgia.
DeafG: You've been crazy busy producing a lot of serious tracks for
various artists/groups. What has that experience been like for
Sermon: Well a while ago - I've been moving back 'n forth to Atlanta
when I was in da Boondocks. I met with Dallas Austin and worked
out of his studio. I got the vibes of producing while I was in his
studio and it just caught on. A group called Illegal which is
managed by Left-Eye of T.L.C., she asked for my help on Illegal's
debut album. From there on, I've done production work for Boss,
Shaquille O'Neal, my R&B group call 309, as well as others upcoming
and ongoing projects. I figured I'd keep on producing more than
rapping. Definitely want to keep making hit records for people as
well as myself.
DeafG: You basically help Redman blew up on da hip hop scene on a larger
scale. How's the second album for Redman coming along and when do
you think that it will come out?
Sermon: Well, right now were working on the production tip. As we
speak, we have most of the charts completed; just getting the songs
together. As far as the format for his second album Redman is
coming back harder than before. Reggie is doing most of the
production this time around, but believe me Duane, I'll be here
just be there just to make sure that things are correct.
DeafG: I really like the song "Tonight's Da Nite" by Redman, 'cuz it was
all that. Oh, I understand that you did some dope, mad production
for Illegal and they made Chi-Ali look like ....
Sermon: (laughs) Well that is funny! They were not dissing anyone, but they
were making statements for rap since we are hardcore. Illegal just
thought that whoever was not hardcore in da game, they were going to
get served! Sometimes I felt they didn't have to do it and they are
very happy about it. The song went to the top of the charts.
DeafG: You're basically starting to use live instruments and easing off
the sampling. Will the use of live music make the track music
better or will it hurt rap music - since there is a lot of sampling
going on these days?
Sermon: Oh no, I'm still sampling - it's just off of Illegal's record. On
the album No Pressure, I worked it with P-Funk, Zapp and Roger
Troutman, who used to be with Zapp. Roger really made the EPMD's
music foundation. EPMD used the clap sound and that started the
trend. When I get tired of sampling, in other words used it up,
then I would go totally live.
DeafG: Ever since the beginning - back in the days of EPMD, your laid-back
style has been very consistent and you tell it like it is in your
rhymes. When you were with Sleeping Bag, did they ever ask you to
change your style?
Sermon: No, they never asked us to change the EPMD sound. We were very
original and something new at the time. After the first single went
gold, they let EPMD do what we did as a team. We went number one
with the first album and second album as well. Again they didn't
ask us to change our style, they just said here's some money to
go buy yourself something.
DeafG: Word, I heard you. Now you send out a very strong message to all
fake MC and groups that they need to get out the game, because
they're are not legit. Yet a line in "Stay Real" almost threw me
off. I thought you were dissing' LL Cool J. Cuz you said "when he
was rockin' da bells" - I was like oh snap! Then it hit me that
there were some problems on the "Rampage" video regarding his
decision not to appear. Could you clarify that one for me please?
Sermon: Oh no that was no diss to LL, I was quoting the rosters that EPMD
went on tours with back. LL Cool J and others were the one around
when I was coming out with EPMD.
DeafG: So what do you think about the R&B scene - its seem it is using a
lot of guest rappers, which is cool in apporiate cases. Do you
think da soul is drifting away from the true purpose of R&B or is
its an experiments gone out of control?
Sermon: Oh people do diss R&B a lot these days. But most people don't seem
to realize what's up with that. All raps music that contains
samples are from old records that were strictly R&B in the first
place. If I was doing an EPMD's album, I'd call it R&Beats.
DeafG: I hear you and that's a good point to bring out. I want to know
what was it like working with Colin Wolfe on your album?
Sermon: The boy is a musical genius! Basically he can play bass, guitar,
piano, and he's very talented with other musical instruments. He
knows how to do a drum loop around a song. He deserves massive
credit for what he have done so far and as well as the future
projects he does as well as the cuts on my albums.
DeafG: I understand that you've moved from da Boondocks to da Big A in
Georgia. How is was the transition from your old home in Strong
Island to da deep south into Chocolate City?
Sermon: Well you know that I've been down here there several times before,
so I knew what it was about. Back in '90 and '91, I want to move
down here, but I couldn't do that with EPMD in effect. I want to
do my own thing you know what I am sayin'? So really I knew what
it was going to be like and I'm expecting to enjoy it down here
in my new crib.
DeafG: That's good that you were prepare for the change in the scenery.
What do you think the future of rap is going to be like?
Sermon: Well I hope the future of rap is like it was back in '88, when
EPMD first came out with Eric B. & Rakim, Whodini, Fresh Prince
and Jazzy Jeff, and LL when he was rockin' bells.
DeafG: What was it like when you flew out to Cali to chill and work with
Cube, Kam, and their set?
Sermon: Man dat was the illin' day! When I got there, I was greeted and
treated with respect like a senior like Run DMC is treat these
days. They grew up to my music (da EPMD's tapes). Not only we
work on tracks for my album, we also play basketball. I was bustin'
Cube's ass on the court.
DeafG: Who's better at b-ball, Cube or you?
Sermon: Cube wasn't stickin' me that much - one of KAM's boys was. I was
doing the boy badly, yet when Cube was shootin' it would seem like
it would always going in. I was on top of my game. It was a cool
day and I was wearing my street clothes - jean and a street shirt
and my Lugz and playing some mad basketball. Ice Cube's crew and
Kam's crew are a fun bunch! Cube has always been my boy since his
days with NWA. Because he was rapping with me and tell me what
was going on and the next thing I know when I went to the record
store I saw his first album, "AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted," and that
made him crazy large! It was really good vibes in Cali!
DeafG: If it wasn't for rap music, what do you think you would be doing
Sermon: I would be in the landscaping business with my uncle. When I was
like 15 or 16 years old, I was doing that from time to time. But
I wasn't ready for work. I did held only one job in high school at
a supermarket call C-Town. On the first day on the job, it was
raining. The boss told me to mop the floor. I did that but I got
fed up because people were coming in and were tracking the floor
up. I told the boss to "Kiss my Ass!" and then left after 4 hours
on the job! That was when my rap career with EPMD was about to
DeafG: (laughing real hard) Oh damn! But I understand -- you did what
you have to do. What do you want most from this debut album -
other than go gold in 2 days and get paid in full?
Sermon: I just want the respect and my fans to understand what happened
with EPMD, it was an ego thang. But EPMD show that longevity
occurs when you keep it together. What happen between me and
Parrish is really personal. And the people close to it know what's
up with the split. I just want to be like Teddy Riley, when the
fans would go to the record store and pick it up and they know
what they're getting. I want that same thang with me, but it will
make them know its Erick Sermon's on the tape/CD.
DeafG: Da question everybody wants answered is what lead to the break
up of EPMD? You've been offer to tell your side, but you declined.
People who are close to you have stated you were bitter and
saddened by the turn of events.
Sermon: Alright, D - I give you the exclusive cuz I trust you not to
do me wrong. As you know I was always the quiet type when it
come to the interviews in the past w/EPMD. I trusted Parrish to
speak for me and the group. I cannot take nothing from Parrish.
He's a smart fellow. I fell behind on the business end and that's
partly my fault. If it was a 50/50 agreement, partners would let
each other know what's going on. Toward da end of '91, I didn't
know about people who were being hired by Parrish, and I was not
involved in the payroll process. I just want to have fun and make
music. Material things aren't important to me, even though I can
afford them. You got to keep in mind that my life or your life
could end at any moment, and you can't take the material stuff
with you. I was just living you know. On the taxes and finances,
I did not play a role in that either. Communications was the
biggest problem between Parrish and me, also the way he deals with
people. He can be very mean. I just want to help people and have
more of a family vibes. I never threatened people. I guess the
hip-hop media threw that in. I guess they figured I was involved in
those rumors that were circulated a while ago. I never threatened
nobody's kids or family. That story that The Source ran a while
ago was blown out of proportions. It put my career on the line. I
was under a lot of stress, went to the hospital a lot because of
stress. People start wondering what was up with me, because I was
not speaking about it. I was keeping myself busy and occupied with
my production company. I did not want a war to start and doing
albums by myself. A lot of things were negative. I realized the
fans were still out there, and before it was too late, I want to
bring this album out and let them know what's up with me. I rather
go broke myself. Yet I'm very happy as a solo artist. My parents
has never seen me so happy before. In the past, I was faking it
when I was smiling, but deep inside I was stressed out. Now this
is all behind me and I learn from my mistake I just look forward to
be very successful now and in the future.
DeafG: I hear you and understand what really went down with the split.
Thanks for the exclusive! Any last words for the EPMD's loyal fans
and the readers of HardC.O.R.E.?
Sermon: Tell the readers and fans that I ain't gone no where. I'm still
here. I want them to accept Erick Sermon for Erick Sermon like
when back in '88 I had a lisp, which is my trademark and still
had it going on into the '94. Stay focused on your goals, go with
first instinct. Don't let nobody tell you to change your format.
Like trying to be something that you aren't; so "Stay Real" to
THE SINGLES SCENE
Thus far in 1995, a large number of albums have yet to be
released. Luckily, to give you something to nibble on while you wait
for the main corse, plenty of hella nice singles are out there. Some
old timers, some newcomers, and even kids that haven't been heard from
in years are dropping phat singles. Here's a brief look at several of
Jemini: Brooklyn Kids b/w Funk Soul Session
I gotta start off with Jemini The Gifted One because I like
this kid so much. I'm greatly anticipating this New Yorker's debut EP
"Scars and Pain." The "Brooklyn Kids" single is straight as all hell --
the kid can flow, and the beat is nice. Flip the shit, kid, 'cause it
only gets better. "Funk Soul Session" hit me hard from the first time
I listened to it. Jemini uses two voice tones and goes from one to
another during each verse. Track drives me crazy.
Notorious B.I.G.: Big Poppa b/w Who Shot Ya
You already know about that "Big Poppa" joint. After hearing
the remix, though, you'll find out that they indeed could have taken
out that "Between the Sheets" sample used in the LP version and it
still would have been on hit. The main concern with this 12-inch,
however, is the flip side. "Who Shot Ya" is ill. Its a good song
whose beat hits and lyrics hit, and the overall mood is freaky. Some
more good shit from Biggie.
The Roots: Silent Treatment
"Do You Want More?!!!??!" has dropped, and it has dropped
heavy -- the shit is dope. This single takes one of it's songs and
gives you more different mixes than Betty Crocker. Check it: Da
Beatminerz, Kelo, Black Thought, and Brother Question all have mixes
on it. Also, there is a street mix and bonus beats where you get a
little over two minutes of some tight instrumentals. Ain't no denying
it, the shit is nice.
Keith Murray: Get Lifted b/w Pay Per View
If "Pay Per View" was just a little bit longer I would be much
happier, but its only three minutes long. Still, this previously
unreleased cut is hella good. In the three short minutes, there's
four rappers so they gotta be quick, but they still represent. LBM
(excellent delivery), Kel Vicious (he just straight up sounds like the
whole Death Squad), and female rapper Passione (nice) all team up with
Keith and they do their thing lovely. It's just not long enough,
Old Dirty Bastard: Brooklyn Zoo
I gotta give it up to all the members of the Wu for putting
out one of my all-time favorite LPs. Old Dirty is giving the solo
thing a shot (like so many others from the group) with the upcoming
"Return to the 36 Chambers." "Brooklyn Zoo" gets better with every
listen. First time I heard it I was like, "Nah, this ain't even good."
Not anymore. The single gets much well deserved play now. Also
included is the Lord Digga remix.
E-40: 1-Luv b/w Fed+
"In a Major Way," E-40s upcoming LP hasn't been released yet,
but a lot of eyes are on him and his big record contract. "The
Million Dollar Man" has a fairly unique delivery. Sometimes he sounds
a lot like fellow Bay-man Spice 1, but a lot of times there's just
something about his fast flow that you don't ever hear. "1-Luv"
features Leviti and is alright, but nothing I'm crazy about. On the B-
side is "Fed+" which is better. Funky ass beat makes this one.
Finally he gives you a little sampling of his LP with excerpts of four
songs on it. From this single I'm interested in the LP, but far from
Saafir: Just Riden b/w Pull Ya Card
Let me make this simple: I love "Pull Ya Card". Fresh beat,
fresh lyrics and rhyme schemes, fresh song. If you're sleeping on
Saafir, stop it -- he may take a while to get used to, but its worth
it when you start really hear it.
King Tee: Way Out There b/w Super Nigga
While we wait and wait for "King Tee IV Life" to finally drop,
we've got the second single released from the album. "Way Out There"
is fine, but the biggy on this single is once again the b-side.
"Super Nigga" features D.J. Pooh (who comes the fuck off... Damn!) and
Rashad from The Boogieman. There's even a Richard Pryor sample on the
track which tops it all off.
Very quickly, there's a couple other notables. Kam is back
also with "Pull Ya Hoe Card" b/w "Nut'n Nice". Kam's tracks seem a
little less stiff than some of the stuff on "Neva Again." Rashad of
the Boogie Men seems to be keeping busy as he produces a song for Kam
and raps on King Tee's new LP. And last, but definitely not least, a
kid by the name of Frankie Cutlass has one out called "La Boriquas"
that is ear-catching. I heard it once and said, "Damn, this kid can
make records". Check it out...
Sl...y (pronounced Sleepy)
THE MIDNIGHT RAMBLE
What's rambling at the midnight hour this month? KRS-One's
stop at St. Augustine's in Raleigh, NC, that's what. David J. and I
went to check this shit out, and it was truly pHat.
The music was two full hours of Boogie Down Productions, non-
stop. They covered the entire ten-year era, from 1985 to 1995. Kenny
Parker was on the tables and he cut it down nicely.
One member of the BDP crew, Willie D., was on point, but it
was KRS who broke down all the musical meters of rhyming styles. 20
minutes of that alone, with the crowd getting quiet to listen, and
then get live on cue. KRS One did some smooth-assed accapella on
black-history month that was dope as fuck. Then he just freestyled
for about 5 minutes or so, indescribable type shit. The sound system
could've been better (sound man, not the equipment), but it was still
all the way live.
Supernatural was scheduled to perform, but he didn't show.
Also on the bill was Blackgirl (she showed) and Vicious (who was a no
show). I've got no complaints though; the show was money well spent.
[Editor's Note: Sleep still owes me $40 for the tickets. -- David J.]
ROOTS 'n' RAP
Bob Marley: Global Black Revolutionary
Most people think
Great God will come from the sky
Take away everything
and make everybody feel high
But if you know what life is worth
You will look for yours on earth
And now you see the light,
Stand up for your rights! Jah!
Get up, stand up!
Stand up for your rights!
Get up stand up!
Don't give up the fight!
- Bob Marley, "Get Up, Stand Up" (1973)
I funnel through the tunnel, disgruntled
Tryin' to find me some light
In the rim of darkness, a'ight you see
I may not be the darkest brother
But I was always told to act my age, not my color
Not knowing that my color, was that of the original
So now I sing the new Negro Spiritual
Get up, stand up!
Stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up!
Don't give up the fight!
-- Common Sense, "Book of Life" (1994)
Bob Marley is the most revolutionary Black voice in music in
the past three decades, and his death in 1981 has done nothing to
change that. It's not without reason that Common Sense talks about
the "new Negro Spiritual." What's new about it is that, unlike songs
about the sweet by-and-by, it demands justice in the here and now.
It's a legacy that stretches from the alleys of Trenchtown to the
streets of the South Bronx, from the tin shacks of Soweto to the mean
streets of Compton. And, however different the hip-hop beat may be
from reggae riddims, the message remains the same: Don't give up the
fight! It's a message that echoes through the history of hip-hop; as
Kool DJ Herc says, "Yes, a de Yardman start it, yes it came from de
roots, de island..." The story of Bob Marley is bound up with the
history of 'slavery days,' the Trenchtown ghetto, and the struggles of
oppressed people around the world.
Robert Marley was born on February 6, 1945 in a rural area in
the north of Jamaica; his mother was a young Black woman named Cedilla
Booker, and his father was Norval Marley, a white quartermaster for
the British army. As a teenager, he moved to Kingston with his mother
and settled, like many new arrivals from rural Jamaica, in the
neighborhood known as Trenchtown (named after the long open sewer that
ran through its midst). It was here that Bob met Bunny Livingston
(later Bunny Wailer), and here that they began their long musical
At the time, American R&B, particularly of the New Orleans
school, dominated the music scene. DJ's with portable speakers and
turntables, the so-called "sound system men," ruled at local parties.
While most of them spun imported American vinyl, a few had begun to
make their own recordings. Marley first hooked up with Leslie Kong, a
small-time entrepreneur (and arch-rival of Prince Buster and Duke
Reid, then the major forces on Kingtson's Orange Street music row).
Marley cut only a few sides with Kong, only one of which -- "Judge
Not" attracted much attention.
Discouraged by the poor support Kong offered, Marley went to
Clement "Sir Coxsone" Dodd, the undisputed king of the system men.
This time, he brought Bunny, as well as Peter Tosh, with him to the
studio, and Dodd was duly impressed. The new group, known as the
"Wailing Wailers," released their debut on the Coxsone label in 1963,
and within a few weeks it rocketed to the top of the Jamaican charts.
This was the only the first of many sides the Wailing Wailers recorded
for Dodd, though eventually the group grew dissatisfied with the rigid
house style Dodd tended to impose on his recording artists. Marley
himself produced some of their final sessions in Dodd's famous Studio
After leaving Dodd, Marley re-organized the group, and set up
his own independent label, Wail 'N' Soul, in 1966. Yet like many
other such efforts, Wail 'N' Soul was unable to stay afloat
financially. Marley and the Wailers floated around in chaos for a
while, working with different producers, including a brief return
stint on Kong's Beverly label. After another falling out with Kong
(legend has it that Bunny put a curse on him, and Kong in fact died
not long after), the Wailers went in search of a new producer.
In the meantime, the musical tide had turned; a new generation
of Rude Boys preferred the slower, bassier beat of rock-steady to the
more upbeat ska rhythms. The optimistic spirit of Jamaica at
independence was fading along with the hopes of the thousands who came
to Kingston only to find that the jobs they sought were nowhere to be
found. The Trenchtown ghetto was growing along with the frustrations
of this new generation. It was at this time, in a fateful alliance,
the Wailers hooked up with the legendary Lee "Scratch" Perry. Perry,
then as now a producer with a strange mix of genius and insanity,
brought a new sound to the Wailers. Check out 1970's "Soul Rebel:"
I'm a rebel
Let them talk!
Talk won't bother me!
The Wailers/Perry tracks -- among them "Soul Rebel," "Sun is
Shining," "Don't Rock the Boat", "Small Axe," and "Duppy Conqueror" --
opened the way for a new, conscious style of music that was built
around a larger ensemble, with driving bass and vocal choruses. It
was music built on a Rastafarian foundation, but with an international
message to oppressed peoples everywhere. All that was missing was the
kind of distribution that would enable the Wailers' music to reach the
It's hard to imagine in retrospect, but in 1970 only a few
Jamaican records broke into the international market, and they were
all singles (or compilations of singles). In many cases, the
licensing fees paid were substandard, and even that tended to enrich
the producers more than the musicians. The idea of a reggae artist
cutting a studio *album* was unheard of -- but all that changed with
"Catch a Fire." Island Records, which at the time was one of the
largest independent labels in the world, provided the backing and
distribution. Given the money and studio time, Marley created a new
sound, what Linton Kwesi Johnson has called "International Reggae."
The bass was funkier, the keyboards more up front, guitars alternated
steady riddims with rock riffs, and Marley's rich voice drove it all
Part of this sound was in fact due to Island's owner, Chris
Blackwell, who felt Marley's raw sound might turn off white audiences.
He re-mixed the original Kingston sessions, pulling back the bass,
pushing up Marley's vocal and bringing in British session guitarists
to add fills. Yet, while true reggae fans may still prefer the
Kingston versions, aspects of this new sound were soon incorporated
into the Wailers' recordings and stage shows; check out the live 1975
recording of "I Shot the Sheriff," where scathing guitar fills
dynamize the rhythm, at no expense to the pulsing bass. The Wailers'
albums crossed into the U.S. market with increasing success, and by
the time "Rastaman Vibration" came out in 1976, Marley showed that he
could drive a single straight up the charts without any need for a
Trouble was brewing, though. On a return trip to Jamaica to
hold a free concert in Kingston to promote peace among warring gangs
in the city, Marley was shot and wounded. He survived the gunshot,
but left Jamaica for an extended time, settling for a while in London
where he recorded the "Exodus" album. The UK had long been home to a
large community of Jamaican emigres, and reggae was beginning to have
a powerful influence on the entire English music scene; the album
spent over a year on the UK charts. Marley finally had the full
international audience his music deserved. A return concert in
Jamaica, along with full-fledged American concert tours, brought the
energy of the Wailers' live performances to tens of thousands.
Concerts in Africa followed, along with a European tour of stadiums,
including a crowd of 100,000 in Milan.
Yet it was just then, at the pinnacle of his career, that
Marley found he had cancer. He tried various herbal treatment, but
they proved of no avail -- Marley died on March 21, 1981.
Marley's death left a huge vacuum in the international reggae
scene. There was no other artist with his stature, and in fact while
the audiences in the U.S. were still swaying to the Wailers' beat,
music in Jamaica has already taken many different turns. The
development of dub (remixed instrumental tracks) by the legendary King
Tubby had opened the door in the early '70's to many new kinds of
artists. Sound system DJ's who were pumping dub began to use more
elaborate rhymes and toasts, and some took on stage personas harkening
back to the days of King Stitt and Count Machuki. Among leaders of
this new school of DJ's were U Roy, I Roy, and Big Youth.
While some early DJ hits such as U Roy's "Wake The Town"
(1970) were filled with crazy rhymes or slackness, there were many
conscious grooves as well. U Roy, the microphone madman, dropped
"Dread Inna Babylon" in 1975, as heavily Rastafarian as any Marley
album, and I Roy's "Black Man Time" (1974) was still more militant:
I talk to break oppression and set the captives free
So you got to understand I talk to rule the musical
Nation with justice and equality.
So black man you got to be free like a bird in a tree
And live in love and unity for I and I
So maybe you can make it if you try
Say it's a black man time. It a black man time.
At the same time, the spread of dub led to a new school of
conscious "dub poets," led by Linton Kwesi Johnson, who brought
together the deepest dub grooves with lyrics that, like Marley's, give
voice to the "sufferin' man" (and woman -- dub poets such as Ranking
Anne, Queen Majeeda, and Breeze have been on the forefront of
political poetry in Jamaica in the UK, though they are less well known
in the U.S.). Check out Johnson's "De Great Insurrekshun" and Ranking
Anne's "Kill De Police Bill" for their powerful comment on the Brixton
uprising of 1981. When rappers have stepped to the mic to talk about
Rodney King or the L.A. rebellion, they are following the footsteps of
these dub poets.
The deeper instrumental strands of dub have interwoven with
all kinds of music, from the almost catatonic "ambient dub" of Bill
Laswell and his various groups (Material, Praxis, etc.) to the high-
bpm UK "Jungle" school. Dub continues to evolve and expand its
territory, carrying its bassy meditations to every corner of the
globe, and among DJ's and dub poets alike, Marley's influence was
But back in the dancehalls, a different kind of DJ's ruled --
and in his hands, the tempos grew faster and the beat more insistent,
and the toasts and shouts were more likely to be slack than conscious.
By the late '70's and early '80's, dancehall artists like Yellowman,
Frankie Paul, and Tenor Saw held sway on the Jamaican charts, even
though their music had a much harder time finding any airplay in the
U.S. Rock stations which had played Marley scorned them, and Black
radio tended to avoid anything that violated its silk-sheets R&B flow
(this even though the Wailers often toured with R&B groups, from Sly
and the Family Stone to the Commodores).
In fact, Marley's death showed up another strange twist in the
airwave apartheid of the music industry; while Marley and his
imitators were certified "safe" for white radio, the dancehall sound
was taboo, while Black radio outside of NYC hardly ever played reggae
in the first place. It was in some ways the death of Bob Marley that
challenged these exclusions, renewing the connection between Jamaican
music and urban Black audiences.
The return to the "raw ghetto sound" in both New York and
Kingston signaled the reclamation of riddim by urban Black youth. The
historical connection between hip-hop and dancehall became a tactical
alliance. Jamaican emigres in the New York area were part of the
earliest hip-hop scene, and many Bronx DJ's, like KRS-One, put a
strong taste of ragga flavor in their rapping. The New York club
scene was a formative ground for hip-hop and dancehall alike, and hits
such as CJ Lodge's "Telephone Love" (1988) proved that there was an
immense overlap between the two audiences.
But it wasn't just musical style that linked Jamaican DJ's
with their New York and Cali brothers, it was the sense of music as a
form of cultural expression and resistance in the face of oppression.
Marley was the one who forged the way, turning Rude Boy antics into
global Black consciousness, and while in its early days the dancehall
scene was heavily into slackness, the underlying energy was still the
same. As Beres Hammond said, the music was still "puttin' up a
resistance." By the time Shabba Ranks was officially hailed by the
industry powers-that-be with his Sony debut, he was a sure thing, and
in his wake numerous other acts from Buju Banton to Tiger to Terror
Fabulous have broken into the U.S. market.
In the fertile crossroads between ragga and hip-hop,
collaboration and competition have forged all kinds of likely and
unlikely alliances. Doug E. Fresh and Papa San, Asher D and Daddy
Freddy, KRS-One and Shabba Ranks, Ice T and Black Uhuru, Scringer
Ranks and Queen Latifah, Tiger and Q-Tip -- the list goes on and on.
Switching in and out of the Jamaican patois has become a test for
prowess on the mic, and ragga rhythms and casio keyboard sounds are as
much a part of the hip-hop mix as P-Funk loops and Malcolm X samples.
In recent years, crews such as Worl-a-Girl and the Born Jamericans
have proven that hip-hop and dancehall are part of the same
transatlantic mix. A new generation of artists, such as Mad Lion,
Jamal-ski, Red Fox, the Poor Righteous Teachers, the Fugees, and Mad
Kap are as at home with ragga riddims as they are with hip-hop
Yet while breakneck riddims and roughneck rhymes still rule in
the East, West Coast beats just seem to get deeper and slower every
year. Is the metronome swinging in the other direction? One thing's
for sure - whether it's the ganja or the Chronic, that blunted feeling
is back, and it's not just a Cali thing, as the Philly sound of groups
like the Roots and the Goats proves.
But it's at times like this that you realize that it's not the
tempo, the bass lines, or the horn riffs that make the music, it's a
consciousness, an awareness, a solidarity. The music industry wants
to put it all in bins with labels like "Hip-Hop," "Reggae,"
"Dancehall," "Dub" or "World Beat," but true listeners know that the
same heartbeat that pulsed through Bob Marley's veins is still pumping
out speakers all around the world. It was Marley that led the way,
that provided the model without which a wide range of artists -- from
KRS-One, Queen Latifah, or the Fugees, to Patra, Buju Banton, or Beres
Hammond -- might never have commanded the massive audiences they do.
Bob Marley: Songs of Freedom (4 cd's) -- Island 512-280-2.
Tougher Than Tough: The Story of Jamaican Music -- Mango/Island 162-539-2.
Word Sound 'Ave Power: Dub Poets and Dub. Heartbeat CD HB 15.
Ranking Anne: A Slice of English Toast. Ariwa/RAS ARICD 002.
Linton Kwesi Johnson: Making History. Mango/Island CCD 9770
Ice T and Black Uhuru: Tip of the Iceberg. MESA R2 76003.
Funky Reggae Crew: Strictly Hip-Hop Reggae Fusion. Warner 9-26011-2.
World-a-Girl: Worl-a-Girl. Chaos/Columbia OK 57549.
SOME SHOTS FROM THE INDUSTRY
Back from exploring the shallow depths of hip-hop in Italy,
where the closest thing to hardcore is a goatee'd lyricist named
"Frankie Hi-NRG MC," I return to see the hip-hop industry is still as
entangled as ever in over-promotion, deep sleepers, and record execs
who give wack deals the green light from the 14th tee, just before he
lifts the Titleist with his 1-Wood. My service here is to comb
through all the distracting, illusionary tactics used by every single
record label, and bring to you the information necessary to remain a
month ahead of the kid who lives downstairs.
Just read the column.
Duran Duran--wait, is this the right column?--yes, Duran Duran
is covering the hip-hop classic "White Lines" with Melle Mel,
Grandmaster Flash, and the Furious Five. The original creators are
presumably in it for the cash, but I haven't figured out what's in it
for Duran Duran. I'd recommend that all parties involved in this
embarassment should take the advice of the song itself and "don't do
MC Eiht is starring in the lead role of the soon-to-be-
released film "Reasons." Similar to his persona on his records,
Eiht's character Neva can be summed up as "I kill, I deal, I steal."
And that's according to MC Eiht himself.
The Large Professor has completed his first solo album. No
release date has been set.
"Illegal Business" was the title of Mac Mall's highly
successful independent release, selling nearly 120,000 units. Now,
the Bar Area native has signed to Relativity. We can expect the first
single in March, and the full LP in May.
Masta Ase's second album on Delicious Vinyl has been complete
for some time. Carmelita Sanchez, promo rep at DV, describes the
album entitled "The Ride" like this: "Oh my god...That shit is
incredible. For all you non-believers out there that thought it was
over...it ain't over, even if that fat lady sings like Aretha. Ase
has kept his crew tight and this project is really extraordinary. No
fucking joke. You are all going to flip." Normally, with 100% of the
label reps, you don't believe a word they say about the quality of the
upcoming album. However, I would like to believe this is true,
considering the overall quality of Ase's last album, "Slaughtahouse."
"Pump Ya Fist," the upcoming Mario Van Peebles film
dramatizing the rise of the Black Panthers, is being accompanied with
a formidable hip-hop line up for the necssary dope soundtrack. KRS-
One, Chuck D, Speech, Grand Puba, the Fugees, and Ahmad are a few of
the set for the album, which is to be released on March 21. All
royalties from the sales of the album will be given to the
International Committee to Free Geronimo Pratt. These monies will be
put toward a legal fund to bring justice to Pratt, allegedly framed by
Reggae artist Bouty Killer and Special Ed, the Magnificent
One, have just finished a joint project in Jamaica.
What's next for Milk after the quiet release of his EP "Never
Dated"? A full length LP tenatively titled "Paid and Laid."
Now that the Pharcyde's recent string of soundtrack and
compilation singles have been pressed, their attention is focused on
their follow-up LP to 1992's "Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde."
If you listen to Dr. Dre, of "Yo! MTV Raps," he'll tell you
that the next movie he and his partner Ed Lover will be in is called
"Death of a Fat Man," about a big, fat guy who shrinks down into a
little guy, and nobody can find the big guy, so they say the big guy
dies. However, according to Ed Lover, a different plot is in the
works, entitled "Masters of Disguise." Employees of a rhythmic
scientist in a lab, the duo find themselves caught up in an FBI bank
robbery scheme. Believe what you want.
And so ends another installment of Shots From the Industry,
hip-hop's most reliable courier of accurate news. This month's column
has been derived from word of mouth, street corners, shady alleys,
stinky garbage bins, industry cocktail parties, underground heads
together, Billboard Magazine, CMJ, Props, and record company personnel
in key postions who can't keep secrets. Peace.
Section 3 -- THREE
BOB MARLEY, 1945-1981
All thanks and praises due to the man called Bob Marley. The
prophet, honorable Robert Nestor Marley, born February 6, 1945 and
passing on to Zion on May 11, 1981. No other has made such a lasting
impression on music, especially hip-hop. Sure James Brown's sound
dominated the 80's hip-hop scene, but the sound has changed. Today
the sound is different while the message is still the same. A music
to raise consciousness and condition, these of course traits of Bob
Unfortunately, money has corrupted this original intent of Hip-
Hop, but the real still exists. The intent? To have a good time and
uplift. It can be done, Bob Marley proved this already. He sang of
having fun "Lively up Yourself" and of upliftment "Redemption Song"
while remaining strong spiritually in his beliefs. Marley was a
pioneer like the originators of hip-hop. He started on an independent
label and worked his way up to Legend status.
Marley didn't glorify violence, degrade women, or claiming
some mythical street credibility. He had it, no need to discuss it.
He came up by bringing those around him up through his music and
spirit. The tragedy was that he was cut short. Bob would love true
hip-hop, because in his own way he was true hip-hop and will always be
a symbol of its spirit. Massive respect to the man call Bob Marley.
B-Right, the Bestower of Righteousness
East Coast Tribe Represent...
CAN I CALL MYSELF A MEMBER OF THE HIP-HOP NATION?
I am not sure, because I am white. Moreover, I live in
Europe, Austria, where not too many people are at least familiar with
the word hip-hop.
Nevertheless, I've been listening to the real thing since
1982, when I first heard "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash and The
Furious Five and though it might sound exaggerated. I don't know what
I would have done without hip-hop at some stages in my life. Brothers
and sisters were telling the truth without compromising to anything or
anybody, talking about the real necessities of life: unity, love,
But never stop to keep a very sharp eye on reality which is
light years away from the hypocritical statements of fake people all
over the world. You might wonder what it means to me listening to the
stories of ghetto reality, guns, drugs and hundreds of other problems.
First of all, it keeps me aware of the fact that I am blessed with the
place I have been born. Going deeper, my white brothers and sisters
live in a ghetto as well, an immaterial ghetto consisting of
ignorance, hate and greed. People don't give a fuck about their
neighbors, their co-workers and even their "friends". They walk
around in the streets like it was their last day on earth, they lack
positivity, warmth and love. Nobody gives love, so nobody can get
love. And I use 'nobody' in a way not to disrespect those few who do
There is also racism. Foreign workers coming from southern,
relatively poor countries like Turkey or the countries of former
Yugoslavia are often blamed for the increase of crime and insecurity.
It is often these people, especially the young ones, who get into hip-
hop doing their own stuff in their own language. Many German rap
groups feature foreigners or German kids with foreign parents dealing
with racism, ignorance and conformism. As you might guess they are
labeled with the same attributes like U.S. rappers: violent, rude and
this is no music.
One of the most popular German white rap groups are "Die
Fantastischen Vier" (The Fantastic Four), who had been emulating
American hip-hop without success until they went to the States for a
few months and realized that they have to speak about their own
problems in their own language. Four white German middle-class guys
can't talk about crack, but about decreasing moral values in their own
surroundings. They were the bomb, and people suddenly said that this
music is for little kids, because they don't deal with some very
explicit lyrics about sex, relationships and people in general. The
Four also do some crossover with Heavy Metal which, of course, earned
them some "falling-off"-comments. One of my favorite lines: "Respect,
this is our task and not wearing a false mask."
I see more and more ski caps, hoodies and mountain boots in
our streets. Mostly kids and often skate-boarders who bring their
stereos to play some hip-hop while skating. For many of them, though,
it is just fashion. They're somehow fascinated by the fearless
gangster image of rappers, by their outfit and by their moves, but
they do not get the message behind it, and at this point I am well
aware that it is ignorant for a white European to imply that he
But as Big Rube says on Outkast's
Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik (I couldn't stop listening to it over
and over again, every word is right on the money) "If you think it's
all about pimps and hoes and slammin' Cadillac doors... maybe you just
don't understand. An outcast is not considered to be part of the
normal world. He's looked at differently, because of his attitude,
beliefs or skin color... Are you an outcast?. I know I am! As a
matter of fact, fuck being anything else." To me, that is a great
definition of hip-hop and I have heard many rappers explain things
very accurately to the interviewers, but mostly they refuse to
This was the case with Ice-T. I didn't know much about him
until he got big media in Europe with his Cop Killer, and after all
the negative stereotypes I didn't appreciate him very much, but then I
saw an interview, just five minutes, and I was totally impressed - a
real brother. Yes, I know about the controversy about Ice-T, and this
is one of the few things I don't like with hip-hop -- brothers and
sisters dissin' brothers and sisters. They might not like each other,
but still there should be unity and basic respect. With all the money
coming into the rap game, this is obviously a tough task, but hip-hop
will survive everything, because it is true.
Finally, a short note on my use of the word brother (or
sister). I don't feel exactly comfortable when I use it, because I
know what it means to black people, but when I am starting to have
these thoughts I segregate people in black and white or any other
color. This would brand me a racist. I'm not. We are all brothers
and sisters. Keep the vibes going.
Helmut A. Mayer
Ryan A MacMichael
LOVE IN RAP
Feburary is considered the month of love, and as we have just
exited this month, I'm going to take a few minutes and look back at a
part of hip-hop that is rarely covered: love. While "love of rap" is
a topic often covered, a true down-to-earth love is rarely expressed
in these days of being hard and toting nines.
Now, sure, there were some that were flat out wack. MC Shan's
two from "Play It Again, Shan" ("I Want to Thank You" and "How I Feel
About You"), Nice & Smooth's "Something I Can't Explain" (and they
shouldn't have tried!), and pretty much all of Big Daddy Kane's
attempts were way off. Fortunately, there have been a few love rap
songs worthy of notice.
The first one that we certainly must touch upon is L.L. Cool
J's 1987 "I Need Love." A lot of people like to jump on this as the
point at which he went soft. However, this particular cut was on
"Bigger and Deffer," which, besides "Radio," is by far his best
effort. "I Need Love" added a dab of sensitivity and counteracted the
beginning of "bitch" and "ho" era that was beginning on the West Coast
with the jump-off of the Compton crews. It wasn't soft -- it was true
from the start:
When I'm alone in my room sometimes I stare at the walls,
And in the back of my mind, I hear my conscience calls.
Telling me I need a girl who's as sweet as a dove,
For the first time in my life, I see I need love.
L.L. went on to do several love songs on "Walking With A
Panther," but none were quite as potent.
Also an impressive showing was Grandmaster Slice's 1991
"Thinking of You" (and yes, he's the same one that did the hip-hop
version of "Electric Slide"). His is also a very heartfelt song with
a similar sound to "I Need Love," but a very good song in itself:
People like to talk if you have a good thing,
Especially if they're single and they don't wear a ring.
'Cause you'll have me, and they'll have none,
We'll have a table for two and they'll have a table for one.
In 1990, MCA released a forgettable artist named Mark Dee
who's mediocre sound never really went anywhere. However, he did have
a decent love song in "Just Give Me Romance." Well complemented by
background vocals, Mark Dee shifted away from the sex-for-sex's sake
Spend the day together walking on the beach hand in hand,
Playing in the water, kissing on the sand.
Love is yours to cherish, faithfulness makes you feel proud,
As your heart skywrites "I love you" in the clouds.
It's not S-E-X, it's L-O-V-E I stress,
As a new day evolves, begin the same process.
Indeed I plead let my emotion enhance,
Sex comes next, but for now just give me romance.
It may be odd to imagine, but hardcore Just-Ice had a love
song on his 1990 Sleeping Bag release "Masterpiece." "I Write This in
the Dark" really had Just-Ice departing from his normal image:
I think about you so I write this in the dark,
Walking in the streets or take a stroll through the park.
Many things went wrong to the plan that had no pattern,
Pain, worry, fear, and concern.
To try and make amends for all the bad that was done,
I'd be saying "I'm sorry" until the end of time to come.
There's no other way to say this, old or new,
Simple and plain: I love you.
Perhaps the best love rap song of the late 80's/early 90's era
was Raheem's "You're the Greatest" from 1988's "The Vigilante."
Despite the off-tune beginning, Raheem delivers powerfully:
The mood is right and I'm excited, it's time for romance,
My mind says, "Yo Raheem, buddy, here's your chance!"
I make the move to get you ready, break out in sweat,
But still I wait another night because it ain't right yet.
The best thing about this song was not only the veracity of
the lyrics, but the fact it was delivered with the classic Raheem
style (which, in my opinion, is one of the most underrated).
Advancing things a couple of years is 1992/93's "Passin' Me
By" by The Pharcyde. Stories of rejection from each member were laid
shamelessly down over a thick ass tracks:
When I dream of fairy tales I think of meeting Shelly,
'Cause she's my type of hype and I can't stand when brothers tell me
That I should quit chasing and look for something better
But the smile that she shows makes me a go-getter.
To move things forward a bit more are two songs of late 1994
that are worthy of notice. The first is Method Man's "All I Need"
from "Tical." Like Just-Ice, this is a break from the normal image.
However, unlike "I Write This in the Dark," the sound itself is just
like Method Man. Perhaps that's why it works so well:
Shorty, I'm here for you anytime you need me,
For real, girl, it's me in your world, believe me.
Nothing make a man feel better than a woman,
A queen with a crown that be down for whatever.
There are a few things that's forever, my lady,
We can make war or make babies.
Back when I was nothing, you made a brother feel like he was
That's why I'm with you to this day, boo, no frontin'.
Even when the skies were gray,
You would rub me on my back and say "Baby, it'll be OK."
The other song to point out is Spearhead's "Love is da Shit."
Michael Franti (formerly of the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy) leads
on the vocals while his band backs him up with a funky, upbeat track:
I know this is wrong better stop this talk,
Because grass can grow up through a crack in a sidewalk,
And what I see when I look in your eyes
Grass that's truly greenest sprouting inside.
I wasn't even looking when I realized
That you had the vibe that was my fertilizer.
Thought love in this world was dead and buried and gone,
How could I be so cynical when I was so young:
You hit me in the chest like an 808 boom,
I found love is the shit that makes like bloom.
Love is the shit that makes life bloom,
And you never know when you might step in it.
As you can see, there are more than just a small handful of
love songs created under the genre of hip-hop that have come across
true and avoided being overly corny. I see it possibly coming back in
to style where most hip-hop artists will dedicate more of their songs
to the opposite sex in a respectful way. And that could definately be
a good thing.
MALT LIQUOR - A BBS DISCUSSION
Although I often get fed up with the amount of hardcore, "True
to the Game" posing that goes on within internet bulletin boards,
occasionally something good comes through. In this case, it was a
discussion of the effects and solutions to the malt liquor problem, in
a forum on the ISCA BBS known as "African American Issues".
My name, as it appears in this discussion, is KRS One. The
others are allowed to preserve their identity as they choose, but if
you want to talk to them on ISCA, look 'em up. These are some strong
intelligent brothers who aren't afraid to give you their opinion, and
even tell you that yours is full of shit.
Oh, and by the way, I no longer have an account on ISCA, but
you can still find me as KRS One on most of the net.
Feb 19, 1995 10:23 from KRS One
I'll be the first to admit, when King T and Ice Cube dropped that
"Once again it's on, I'm headed out the front do', Ice Cube in the glass house
headed for the sto'..." I was on the nutsac. I'll also be the first to admit I
like the taste of a 40 of malt liquor... beer is flat and I ain't with that...
if I drink I want something with FLAVOR. The problem I have is with the
way liquor is presented to and used in the inner city.
"On one side is the church
On the other there's a liquor store
Both of them keeping us poor
Keeping us down, my hood ain't considered a town" <---> Chuck D
There's the nail in the coffin. Malt liquor companies have devised a
strategy for success, and we need to examine that:
1. They target their product at people who due to their disillusionment and
disenfranchisement by an AmeriKKKan system are the most likely to purchase
liquor in an attempt to escape, and the least likely to use it responsibly.
2. To further entice the potential user, they keep an ear to the street on
hip-hop artists we love, and when the roar gets loud enough they offer
a fat deal that no starving, semi-starving, or even successful MC would
in his/her right mind refuse. When they talk, we listen... and that's
exactly what a malt liquor company wants.
3. Although malt liquor companies claim to target only a legal drinking
audience, hip-hop has a GREAT appeal to many youth _under_ the age
of eighteen. They'll never be sued in court for it, but somewhere in
the back room another company exec is snickering that they've found
a gold mine for cashing in on potential new users/abusers.
Now before I sound like the preacher at the pulpit, let me come clean. I have
no problem with malt liquor. I have no problem with you if you want to drink
it. I have no problem with St. Ide's commercials, because truth of the matter
is that they are about the only commercials worth watching OR listening to.
All I want you to do is think about it, the same way I do when I clutch a 40 in
my hand. Think about what you've bought, where your money is going, _who_ it
benefits the _most_, and who suffers the most because of it. That malt may no
longer taste as smooth as you thought.
It's a capitalistic society, and we have to live in the system... there's no
evil in being a PART of the system, but there is evil in not considering it's
effects and your responsibilities.
Feb 19, 1995 10:44 from Mad Fishmonger
It ain't hard to spend $100/month on alcohol and/or tobacco. That's $100
lining the pockets of rich white men. Think about it.
Y'know what I'd like to see? The microbrewery trend that has taken off lately
spreading to the black community. How about some small local breweries making
something for the 'hood? Setup costs aren't that bad, and there's decent money
in it. But microbrewery beer costs a lot more than the big brands (economies
of scale). You'd have to convince people that quality and local business
is better than quantity.
Feb 19, 1995 12:09 from KRS One
Mad Fishmonger: You know, that's a great thought, and it had never even
occured to me. A microbrewery would operate in the community, would be run by
people from it, and all that money spent on it's product would flow right back
into the community. But as you pointed out, selling it would be the hardest,
especially considering the money and clout most of the competition has...
Feb 19, 1995 14:21 from Amen Ra
KRS & MF>......You guys are missing the point. We don't want ANY of that
shit in our communities. No beer, cheap liquor , wine, or any other vice that
destroys the fiber of our community. A merchant of death is a merchant of
death, PERIOD. Anheiser-Busch, Stroh's, Seagrams, KOOL, and other alcohol and
cigarrette companies are nothiong but the 10% vampires and leeches that suck
the blood from our communities. Once we get it out, we keep it out!
Feb 19, 1995 15:39 from KRS One
Amen Ra: Tis true that no evil is better than any evil. But let's be realistic
about human nature -- there is no such thing as no evil. Trying to make
people give up their vices altogether could be a bitter and futile struggle
you could fight the rest of your life, gaining no ground and getting
nowhere. Sometimes it's just better to move people in the right direction,
and persuade them into the lesser of two evils. As I see it, a corporation
which makes money in the hood and channels it back through the hood is a
lesser evil than a corporation whose sole intent is to make a quick buck
without giving a fuck who it's from and not really caring if it comes back.
Feb 20, 1995 08:41 from Mad Fishmonger
What do you mean "we", Amen Ra? Seems to me a lot of people like a taste of
alcohol or tobacco now and then. And it *is* posssible, believe it or not,
to have an occasional beer without becoming a burden on society.
That's why I propose microbreweries. Keep the money in the community, where it
belongs. If you want to oppose alcohol on principle, that's fine, but don't
blame local business as a vampire in that case, and don't pretend to speak
Feb 20, 1995 09:05 from Amen Ra
MF>....Hey, I don't want that shit in my community. Why put it there? U
don't have it in your community, so why shove it in mine?
Feb 20, 1995 10:10 from Dirty Old Man
Amen Ra>I think that beer and other recreational brews have been around for
a very long time.Granted,things like malt liquor and Night Train have perversed
the idea of having a drink,but don't get on the "black people should not use
alcohol" tip.The Ancient Khemites brewed beer,people in the Motherland have
brewed palm wine for years.The Japanese have rice wine...people of color can
and will take a sip now and then.What we have to concentrate on is the cause of
why people will get dependent on such things.Nobody's got a gun to my head
making me take a sip or take a hit.But like the brother said earlier let's make
our own like they did back in the day instead of letting them sell that liquid
crack in our neighborhoods.
Feb 20, 1995 10:22 from Amen Ra
My whole point is why even have the stuff in the first place. For those of you
who study Islam, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stated that if the bad outweighed the
good of a particluar thing (i.e. alcohol), then throw it out. As Afrikan
people, we have enough vices as it is to eradicate. I don't think we need to
complicate the situation any more.
Feb 20, 1995 11:51 from KRS One
Amen Ra: Your point is well taken. Again though I point you to the nature of
humanity. Not all of us can aspire to be God. If we can't strip away the
vices in our nature, we should at least change them to having more positive
effects. Perhaps it would be better if alcohol had never been fermented, but
the fact that it exists is real, and no amount of admonition or prohibition
will ever change that fact.
Section 4 -- FOUR
THE OFFICIAL HARDC.O.R.E. REVIEW SECTION
The pH scale
6/pHat -- EE-YOW!! A hip-hop classic!
5/pHunky -- Definitely worth the price of admission.
4/pHine -- Pretty good, give it a listen.
3/pHair -- Some potential here, but it's not fully realized.
2/pHlat -- Falls far short of a quality product.
1/pHlat -- Get that Vanilla Lice shit outta here!
THA ALKAHOLIKS, "Coast II Coast"
"It's the 'Liks, rockin like a six point six..."
True indeed. These words originally surfaced on the
(incredible) Alkaholik b-side "Relieve Yourself" and have since
resurfaced on the "Let It Out" remix by Diamond D, which appears on
their new album "Coast II Coast".
This song is in particular a good place to start; the song is
indicative of a problem which keeps an otherwise outstanding album
from being a classic. The remix is _OK_, the new lyrics are _OK_, but
the original was the SHIT. I can understand wanting to redo the song
for the new album, but they could've at least included the original as
a bonus track. Putting on the _VERY_ nice remixes of "Mary Jane" or
"Daaam!" wouldn't have hurt either. Like their first album, this is
just too _Daaam_ short!
Now here's the good news: the four tracks which are just
_good_ are at LEAST as good as the six most outstanding cuts last time
around. That leaves six new songs which are INCREDIBLE, and one song
("WLIX") which is fucking awful. On the whole this makes for a
thoroughly enjoyable album, and since the wack track happens to be the
first, you can set your tape or CD on number two and just gliiiiiiide
the whole way through.
The bawdy humor is still in effect. On "Read My Lips", Tash
raps "You can tell who be drinkin Olde English, cause I hold it in my
system till I let it out my...". I don't know about the other headz
but I was chuckling. Even better are the ill mack tales they bust off
in "Hit and Run". Again J-Ro proves to be the man. Not only does he
get a girl to buy him dinner, but he does something - "tasteless, I
tipped the girl and got ghost with the waitress". Daaam!, I said to
The ruff and rugged metaphoric skills have gotten even
sharper. At one point Tash softens niggaz up "like relaxer in a
perm", at another J-Ro is gonna play like a freak in an elevator and
"fuck you up". The pinnacle has got to be Tash's second verse in
"Daaam!", which is a full minute of one-liners piled on top of each
other, each more Outstanding than the Gap Band. "Kick your, dopest
rhyme I'll break it up like 3rd Bass/I'm from the crew that sets it
off by spraying beer in your face/so in ninety-four I rock it for my
niggaz that remeber/means I'm stepping to the mic with lyrics colder
Tash in particular seems to have gotten riskier as an MC, and
it pays big dividends. You just ooze out your seat when he stretches
words for four syllables in every sentence like he does in "All the
Way Live". Speaking of which, Q-Tip and King Tee both make
appearances in this all-star knockout, and Diamond D cameos in one of
the two songs he produced, "The Next Level". The rest of the
production, except for the wack track, was done by E-Swift. Daaam,
does the kid know how to make a pHat beat or what?
So what's my conclusion about "Coast II Coast"? That's where
it will be rockin -- in every Jeep and Landcruiser from New York to
Cali. This album is by no means a Sophomore slump. In fact, it will
give Pete Rock and CL Smooth's "The Main Ingredient" and Common
Sense's "Resurrection" a run as the best followup albums to rock in
ninety-five. So crack a forty, grab a shorty, and make a toast to the
Liks. "Bottoms Up!!!"
pH Level -- 5/pHunky
Ryan A MacMichael
ALPHABET SOUP, "Layin' Low in the Cut"
(Prawn Song Records)
Alphabet Soup is a crew out of San Francisco that is very
heavily jazz-influenced, as are their close friends the Mo'Fessionals
(whose disc I gave a 6 rating about a year ago). As a matter of
fact, the MC that did most of the rapping on that album is the lead
on "Layin' Low in the Cut." He was known as Kingpin Roski on the
Mo'Fo's album, but apparently he's changed his name.
In any event, Alphabet Soup has a very, very thick sound to
them. Keys, drums, bass, guitar, and horns all add to the sound.
And these kids aren't some studio band, they are masters at their
respective instruments as well as improvisation and experimentation.
As for the lyrics: extremely serious. For example, peep the
first track, "Oppression:"
You have the right to get beat down,
56 blows to your body when you're on the ground,
'Cause you're guilty of having a deep dark tan
And the chromosome to make another black dome.
Home, we call it home, but yet and still we're all alone
Legislated 3/5th's human to the bone.
Don't act up 'cause every time you try you'll get whipped,
Massa's got an ego so you better suck his dick.
The flow is fluid as broth and doesn't just consist of
simple end-rhymes; there is a lot of variety in the structure (as is
often lacking with heavy jazz-flavored rap albums). The lyrics are
also filled with imagery: "3am, I get a nudge while asleep in the
clink / It wasn't the way I wanted to greet the next day."
The mood of melody and lyrical seriousness continues
throughout with cuts like "Walkin' Roots," "Year 2000," "Meditate,"
and "For Your Conscious."
LAYIN' LOW IN THE CUT is packed with nice, full instrumental
sections and the lyrics are their perfect complement. Alphabet Soup
has gotten a lot of local respect from playing in clubs and the true
San Fran flavor carries over to wax. Now all I need to make me
perfectly happy is a Mo'Fessional's/Alphabet Soup double billing at
college and I'm straight.
pH Level -- 5/pHunky
THE CATALYST ENTERTAINMENT 12"
I made one of my classic HardC.O.R.E. swaps when I got down
for this deal with Catalyst Entertainment: you send me your records,
and I'll guarantee you the review. Since the bro at Catalyst hooked
me up with TWO copies each on vinyl, how the hell could I refuse?
Funkdoobiest, "Rock On:" A real suprise from the group that
has often been criticized for riding the Muggs train to success
while having meaningless lyrics. The original mix and the Buckwild
remix are both very smooth, and this one will actual have your head
One question of curiosity -- did SunDoobie join the Nation?
He drops little jewels here and there that make it sound possible.
This is also the only problem I have with the 12", is that while the
lyrics have focus, they still aren't that mind-bending or complex.
Anybody can talk about the Gods on record, but very few can flip it
like Sadat X or Grand Puba.
Supercat, "Scalp Dem:" I've never been a very big fan of
Supercat, but this may be the record to change my mind. First, I
positively *love* the Wu remix of "Scalp Dem", and Meth's cameo just
sweetens the pot. On the flipside you've got two excellent mixes of
"South Central", one with the overused (but still funky) "Outstanding"
loop and the other a bare-bones treatment by Saleem Remi. Both
songs feature highly political and poignant lyrics that even a
non-patois speaker should have no trouble discerning. It's very
Dana Barros, "Check It:" Not even the Muggs remix can put
this one over the top. I'm sorry, but his flow and his lyrics don't
impress me. Even Shaq comes off better. This track vindicates my
theory that some people "get" contracts, and some "buy" them, just
like Big Daddy Kane said in "How U Get a Record Deal".
pH Level -- 4/pHine
CONCRETE JUNGLE, "Concrete Jungle"
The click is Concrete Jungle. The crew is Mountain Brothers
(formerly known as D.O.A.). Their homies in the crew are the Drama
Club. This is the cassette they all put together -- self-titled,
In a previous issue of HardC.O.R.E., I reviewed a copy of
D.O.A.'s at the time new EP, and gave it some dap. I've always
thought Chops and Styles has some rhymes skills, and I dig their
voices and flows. Now they've returned with a new name, but it's
still the same game. And frankly, all the things that impressed me
before are still in full effect.
Let's start with "Invisible Man", which sounds straight
inspired by Harlan Ellison -- it damn well has to be. It's a tale
of racial comments and racial attitudes, and growing up under the
gun. The track is a laid-back funky guitar kind of groove, and the
triple-bursts of wordplay hit the head nice. Check the lyrics too
-- "How can I manage to damage stereotypes if I vanish?"
"Drunken Wordplay" has some nice scratchin, and some fairly
cool freestyling. The word-play and track are a notch below the
first song, but I can still listen to it.
Now "Sick" is the BOMB, it sounds sick! Organs lurk
underneath, and lyrics sting hard. "Rappers memory lapses, in every
happenstances, cancer's in my membrane..." Damn, I dropped a shit
In fact, most of the rest of the album follow this pattern
of two dope tracks, then one mediocre track. The Mountain Brothers
portion of this tape gets an overall rating of 5 for pHat, cause
it's the same shit on hit again. I liked it before, and nothin has
As for the Drama Club, they have a pHat track and a pHat
sample in "Bring on the Real MC's", but the lead MC on the mike
doesn't hit me quite right. He's not WACK, but something about the
stresses on his syllables hurts my ears. The second MC can barely
be heard. Turn up his MIC. For the pHat track alone I still give
"2 To Ya Head" though does NOT get props. It sounds like a
wack Beatminerz track, and those flows have gotta go. Sorry, no.
I'm hitting fast-forward...
And now the lead MC is trying to jock Buckshot, which I get
the feeling he may have been doing all along. He even does a little
sing-song in "Look Into the Eyes". OK, it sounds nice, but let's
try coming up with something original, alright guys? It's a good
track, at least -- nice sparse beat.
So overall, the tracks by the Mountain Brothers really make
this tape, and the tracks by the Drama Club drag it down. I'd say
it's worth a listen, though.
pH Level -- 4/pHine
DJ QUIK, "Safe + Sound"
Compton's Dante Blake is back on the scene after a long
absence with his third LP, "Safe + Sound." Quik is the name, and
pretty much everything is the game. The man plays instruments,
produces, and raps. In the past he has also been his own executive
producer. Not anymore. Although he is still on the Profile label,
DJ Quik is now down with the almighty Death Row camp and the new
executive producer is none other than Suge Knight. Quik is still
fonky, but now you will probably notice live instruments more and in
several songs, even a slight Death Row-like sound.
The first song is so perfect for him: the tempo is fast
enough, the beat is hyped enough, and his flow works with it.
Sadly, Quik seems to favor a more moderate/slow pace on most of his
songs than in the past. "Get At Me" gets the nod from me for being
the pace it is.
"Safe & Sound" is one of those slower-beat songs, but the
music is actually nice. On the track, Quik stresses how important
money is to him. When love, friends and God can fail you, money is
always good to you. If you get past the melodic beat and really
think about it, its kind of a depressing outlook on life, but that's
the way it is.
Leading into "Can I Eat It?" is the skit "Don't You Eat
It!". To be blunt, Quik has always been a huge supporter of
"licking the pearl tongue", as he likes to say. However, in his
older, wiser days, he has come to a new understanding of sexuality.
In 1995, he urges us to not eat it! Check it:
"But it ain't no trippin on mine (why's that?)
cause tongue condoms are hard to find
and even if your dicks protected
you can still catch the HIV by doin the nose-dive."
Besides having such an interesting topic, the song uses the
same beat used back in the day on Too $hort's "Don't Fight The
Feeling" (and more recently used by Rappin' 4-Tay's "Just Cause I
Called You a Bitch"). You gotta love any song with that beat!
"Tha Ho In You" starts off the second side of the LP and
features an almost blues-like guitar. Hi-C and 2nd II None rap on
this one. Seems as though they all have had their little beefs with
each other over the past couple of years, but came together to do a
few cuts on this LP. Usually when Hi-C, The D, KK, AMG, etc get
together they come out with something orgasmic and filled with
energy. Not this time, though -- just doesn't happen.
If you missed it on the "Murder Was The Case" soundtrack,
then you've gotta check out "Dollaz & Sense" here. Quik gives much
attention to MC Eiht. Really, he rips the shit out of him during
the entire song:
"Now I never had my dick sucked by a man before,
but you gonna be the first, you little trick ass ho,
and you can tell me just how it tastes,
but before I nut I shoot some piss in yo face.
...Tell me why you act so scary
given your set a bad name with your mispelled name
E-I-H-T, now should I continue?
Yeah, you left out the 'G', cause the 'G' ain't in you."
And so the fued between the Compton psycho and Quik continues.
As if that wasn't enough, Eiht is dealt with even more on the next
track, "Let You Havit." You remember "Quik's Groove" and "Quik's
Groove II?" Well, get ready for "Quik's Groove III". No, he didn't
do anything different. It's basically hearing the exact same thing
just a little rehashed. After the Snooze, oops, Groove, comes Playa
Hamm's turn to rip shit up. Up until now, with the exception of
"Get At Me," nothing has really been that uptempo. I was anxious to
hear Quik rappin' with a little more speed, but I had to settle for
Playa Hamm. Boom! The song hits right away, but its too damn
short. I wish Quik would have grabbed the mic after Hamm was done,
but it didn't happen that way.
Mix up Death Row and Quik's old fonky shit and what do you
get? "Keep Tha 'P' In It". Hi-C, 2-Tone, 2nd II None, and Kam all
bust rhymes, but the beat is still too slow. Still, it's a good
song, but it could have been better.
Now don't get me wrong: I may sound disappointed in the
tempo of the songs and I am, but the LP is still on hit -- it just
could've been better. This is a LP that you can definitely just
kick back to, listen to the music, and let the words do their own
thing. Hearing some of the songs makes me think back to the summer
and rollin with the windows down, just enjoying the music. DJ Quik
has made a good CD in "Safe + Sound." My only complaint is that it
needs at least a few more uptempo tracks.
pH Level - 4/pHine
SOUNDTRACK, "Higher Learning"
If there were an award for putting together the most
consistently strong original soundtracks, John Singleton ought to
get it. Ever since the sounds of "Boyz n the Hood" -- from Ice
Cube's "How to Survive in South Central" to Main Source's "Just a
Friendly Game of Baseball" to Yo-Yo's "Mama Don't Take No Mess" --
hit the streets in 1991, Singleton's been on a roll. The success of
his soundtracks led other directors and producers to put together
original hip-hop/R&B soundtracks for *their* films, and sometimes,
as with "Above the Rim," the soundtrack has been more impressive
than the film itself.
This time out, though, Singleton was looking for something a
little different, something that would mirror the campus conflicts
between many groups, representing more than just the hood. The
resulting mix of artists like Cube and OutKast with Tori Amos and
Liz Phair does just that, though at the cost of the kind of flow
that could have saved some listeners the trouble of programming
their CD players. Still, for those with an ear for different styles
and genres, the "Higher Learning" soundtrack is a satisfying mix --
kinda like walking down the hall of a dorm at some mythical
university (Columbus, anyone?) on a Saturday night and listening to
one stereo fade into another.
Ice Cube breaks it open at the start; he takes his listeners
"Higher," schooling the schooled and teaching the teachas:
Sayin' Fuck Professor Phipps
I come from the land of the Bloods and the Crips
Don't like scholarships because they hurt me
Nothin' but a slave to the University ...
From Cube, the sound slides like Luther Vandross over silk
sheets -- right on into Me'Shell NdegeOcello's "Soul Searchin' (I
Wanna Know If It's Mine)." Me'Shell's vocals are as sultry and
smoky as ever, and her skills on the bass are in full effect, though
to my ears this track is not one of her strongest. In a lot of ways
it sounds like an extended remix of last year's "Dred Loc." But
this is no time to get *too* relaxed; Mista Grimm quickly steps in
to liven up the party with "Situation: Grimm:"
It's miraculous, this mysterious
History-makin' rap sheet on a beat
Leavin' niggas shakin' from follicle to feet
Grimm's rhymes don't break much new ground, but his style is
full of twists and turns like these, and if a thuggish mix of
soulful vocals and rugged rhymes is what you want, look no further.
It makes for a funky segue into Raphael Saadiq's "Ask of You,"
easily the smoothest and most radio-ready track on this disc. With
Saadiq's seductive vocals and its deep, blue-light bass and beat,
this cut will without a doubt be emanating from bedroom speakers
from coast to coast.
All this leads up to the disc's first stylistic script-
flipping: Tori Amos's cover of R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion." As
with her earlier cover of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit,"
Amos's haunting vocals and piano lead you into a kind of melancholic
haze, understated but strangely effective.
And then once again, it's time to shift gears, this time to
slow down and take a sharp left turn into OutKast's East Point hood.
Some folks last year figured OutKast for your typical pimp/ho
rappers, but missed the deeper political message; just to underline
their point that it ain't about "pimpin' ho's and slammin' Cadillac
do's," OutKast drops the political bomb for 95 with "Phobia:"
So don't spend your whole life livin' it for the white
You got a nine to five, and now you choose to live in strife
You took your ass to the army 'cos you're scared of revolution
I'm writin' every day to stop that brain pollution ...
But wait: just when you're startin' to hit the funk with
these Madlanta prophets, your regularly scheduled broadcast is
interrupted by Rage Against the Machine's "Year of the Boomerang."
It's ironic, given RATM's revolutionary politics, that their music
ends up being used by Singelton as a skinhead leitmotif within the
film, but on record, their proper message comes through. RATM
leaves your ears aching, and just in time the Brand New Heavies come
to the rescue with their soothing q-tip of live funk, driven by
N'dea Davenport's shimmering vocals. Some have criticized the
Heavies for an unimpressive live sound, but there's no sign of that
here; Neil Cowley's jazzy keyboards, Andrew Levy's funky bass, and
Jan Kincaid's conga-overlaid beats all work perfectly.
After the Heavies' funky jazz, Liz Phair sounds even more
tiresome than usual. Not to offend her fans, but if atonal whispery
vocals, robotic beats, and slurred guitars are your bag, Suzanne
Vega has already done everything Phair does -- and with a lot more
artistry. Tori Amos's return with "Butterfly" is a relief after
Phair's monotonous whine. The rest of the album is the musical
equivalent of rolling credits -- time to get up out of your seat and
brush the popcorn off your lap. Zhane's predictable "By Your Side"
and Eve's Plum's grungy anthem "Eye" don't do much -- but in the
spirit of pop, they don't claim to, either. It all comes to a close
with Stanley Clarke's artistry, which has graced every Singleton
soundtrack; Clarke reminds you of what a real musician can do to
create drama, and fittingly ties up the whole package.
In short, while this disc has its uneven moments, and you
may *never* be in the mood to listen to every track in sequence,
there's a lot of artistry in these sixty minutes. With standout
tracks by OutKast and Ice Cube, hip-hop heads will get something for
their money, as will those who still crave some R&B and funk sounds
a little off the beaten path of format-driven radio. If you're a
fan of more than one of the artists represented here, you won't be
disappointed, and you may catch some new sounds that will help make
it worth your hard-earned ducats.
pH Level -- 4/pHine
LAZE, "The Vaults"
A Lyrical Prophet? Nah, he's on the solo creep now...
That's right, the man behind the hit singles (at least in
his own mind) "Num Bawon" and "Dig This" has ditched his DJ and
taken over behind the boards. Borrowing a note from Diamond D of
DITC, he has decided to go diggin' in "The Vaults" and see what he
could come up with.
I can't front on the fact that Laze has improved in a great
many ways. I also can't front on the fact that in a lot of ways, I
am continually dissapointed. Ever since I first heard Laze on the
alt.rap compilation tape song "Must Be the Music" I felt the kid had
potential. Sometimes I get a taste of something as good or better,
sometimes I'm left thinking "Damn, even Vanilla Ice sounded hard..."
That's half of Laze's problem -- his voice. Guru said it
best: some rappers have flavor, others have skills, but if your
voice ain't dope.... Now don't get me wrong here, I don't think Laze
can't come off on the mic. I said I've heard it before, and the
thing that impressed me most about this new album is I hear it more
here than on any tape to date.
For example, in the track "Monkey See, Monkey Do", Laze
kicks a really smooth kind of flow that sounds almost Slick
Rick-ish. It really works. I listen to this track and I actually
get hyped. It's ironic that the loop is in fact the SAME from
Guru's "Mostly Tha Voice" but hey, it's appropriate.
The flip is songs like "With a Pound Bro", where he gets so
hyped and squeaky that it should be downright embarrasing. You have
to credit Laze for working hard on writing good lyrics, but if you
can't stand listening to them then there's really no point.
So what else can I give Laze props for? The production is
nice -- VERY nice in fact, the best surprise of the entire album.
Sure, you can knock him for using a few loops that we've heard
before, but at least he used GOOD loops and hooked them up well. As
Laze would say himself, "Shit's tight like Speedo's". No arguement
here. Good choices of samples too, especially on "With a Pound
Bro", "Monkey See Monkey Do", "Shadow of a Doubt", and "Num Bawon
Here's the point -- Laze *still* has potential. It's
obvious that in being part of four or five albums (three of which
I've heard) Laze has learned a few things -- what sounds good, what
flows well, how to put shit together. And considering his young
age, there is plenty of time for Laze to come into his own. If that
voice can settle down (really, give up the up and down vocal
shifting) and the lyrics get tighter, there may be something here.
He's still not there yet, but this is the best tape so far.
"This is my job, goddammit, and I love it". Good attitude
kid, keep it up!
pH Level -- 4/pHine
VARIOUS ARTISTS, "Loud '95 Nudder Budders EP"
Loud records looks like they have their stuff straight for
1995. The Nudder Budders EP features five acts: Tha Alkaholiks,
Mobb Deep, Madkap, Cella Dwellas, and Bernard Paul (the only non-rap
artist). Originally Raekwon was advertised as one of the rappers on
the CD, but when it was released, Madkap had released the Chef.
Many would have preferred the member of the Wu, but you still can't
front on the lineup and their songs on this thang.
Since there are only five songs, we'll take a brief walk
through each of them. Loud must not believe in saving the best for
last because the record starts out with a bomb! Tha 'Liks' "Daaam!"
is on hit, no ifs ands or buts about it. The shit is spectacular,
and, oh my, the rhymes! Metaphors and just straight up crazy shit.
The entire song is reflective of this example, but here's just a
"I walked through a rainstorm, I didn't even get wet
I was bailin through hell, I didn't even bust a sweat
so you must have a locomotive, I'm mean a crazy reason
to wanna step up in sucka punk season."
Ill shit, fo' real.
Now we turn our attention to another incredibly phat song in
Mobb Deep's "Shook Ones Part II," which has been at the top of many
charts and rightfully so. Some serious east coast shit is on hit
here. These brothas you can feel and zone in to the semi-freaky
"...meanwhile back in Queens the realness and foundation
if I die, I couldn't find a better location
when the slugs penetrate, you feel a burnin sensation
gettin closer to God in a tight situation..."
While these are easily the best two tracks of the five, that
doesn't mean that there are no more good songs. Madkap hasn't been
heard from for a while, but comes out and gives a decent effort on
its cut "Questions". The lyrics are nothing to jump around about,
but the beat is in there. Production for Madkap is done by the
Beatnuts' JuJu. It sounds a'ight, but here's the problem: it sounds
waaay too much like "Hit Me With That" on the Beatnuts' "Street
Level" LP. Not identical, but much too close for comfort.
Not being a big fan of the whole horrorcore idea, I'm
surprised I like the Cellas Dwellas' "Land of The Lost" as much as I
do, because the song sounds almost exactly like the Gravediggaze.
Still, these guys do the shit right. A good song that many people
love, I can't put it up with Tha 'Liks or Mobb Deep, but still they
get they props.
The last song is where the EP runs into problems, at least
for me. I'm not a huge R&B sond, and Bernard Paul's singing just
doesn't do anything for me. The good thing, however, is that the
beat is nice. The first time I peeped the CD I was like, "damn,
this is kinda different, who the hell is this?" Then Bernard comes
out and I thought the man was Michael Jackson for a minute.
"Someone" is just something you gotta live with, I guess.
Even with the singing and the questionable beat on Madkap's
song, this EP is phat as hell. Like I said, they got they shit
straight over at Loud. If you can find this at a reasonable price
(remember, there's only five songs), grab it! The first two songs
alone will make up for any price you may pay.
pH Level - 4/pHine
THE ROOTS, "Organix"
Back in 1993, a group of musicians and lyrcists from South
and West Philly dropped an album on local label Remedy Records. The
album was entitled "Organix", the group, The Roots, formerly the
It was a fairly low-key album: a black cover with the name
in plain white lettering at the bottom. No stunts, blunts, or gats
displayed, no boasts proclaiming themselves as true playas, hardcore
G's or psycho-killas. The album made little noise domestically, but
in Europe, it blew up, prompting The Roots to spend time on the
continent, building their reputation and fan base.
In 1994, the Roots finally get the dap they deserve
stateside on the strength of their single "Distortion to Static" and
album "Do You Want More?!?!!". But the roots of the Roots lie in
their first effort, an album that embodies all the quality of their
sophomore effort, but lacked the exposure.
"Organix" is a good album....a very good album. In fact,
it's almost as good as "Do You Want More?" but there are some
The biggest one is the nature of the music. I've been
saying that "Organix" is a lot like brown sugar, it's unrefined, but
no less sweet. True indeed for this 17 track album that's filled
with the same sugary keys, tasty bass and lip-smacking drums as
their latest effort. However, "Organix" doesn't possess the same
level of complexity and production effort. This is not to say that
it's bad, but unfortunately, all comparisons work backwards, which is
Most people would say that "Organix" was the natural root
from which "Do You Want More?" sprung. Indeed, all the elements
were there in the beginning, but the main difference was more
thoughtful production, a better blending of sounds, and damn good
engineering (I mean, Bob Powers. C'mon...) There's also more of a
reliance on familiar basslines and drum loops, though it's still ALL
live. Missing are the incredible skills of Rahzel and Black
Thought's look-Ma-no-turntables wizardry. None the less, the music
is fantastic -- very jazzy without being hokey, and they don't rely
on the same formula on every song. Many of the tracks have a heavy
bass reliance, which is ok, but I wanted to hear more keys.
B.R.OtheR.? is at his best, dropping the funky beat. SSOTK rocks it
lovely too as does bassist HUB.
Lyrically, Black Thought still rips sh*t up -- intelligent
lyrics whether abstract or speaking on life; well-rhymed. He also
works more with poetry on "Organix", peep tracks like "Writer's
Block". This album was only a year preceding "Do You Want More?"
but Black Thought choose to make changes as he felt proper in that
time. Other lyricists include Malik B. and a couple more names that
I didn't catch at the time of this review (Dice Raw?).
"Good Music": NO QUESTION, the best damn track on an already
phat album. The keys are to die for, and the over all jazzy, sweet
soul feel of the track will get listeners open across the nation.
One of the finest homages to hip hop I've ever heard.
"Grits": a/k/a skins, and so on...this song is laced with
innuendo about hitting it. While not as sensually sweet as "Bonita
Applebaum" it's infinitely more mild and pleasant than Black Sheep's
"Let's Get Cozy". Peep for Hub's use of Donaldson and Miles Davis
in his bassline selections. This was a very '93-sounding song; the
use of the chorus keys sounds reminiscent of other songs at the
time. A very fun song, with a little raciness to spice it up.
"Leonard I-V": Wow...this is a song to peep the lyrics on.
The third verse is what had me rewinding. Tariq addresses the
position of the Roots relative to Native Tongue posse to which they
are often compared. He ackowledges his love for ATCQ, the JBs and
especially De La Soul but as he says, "I'm a big fan of the Soul,
but I'm trying to get this Roots sh*t in control," essentially
noting that The Roots stand alone. It was a great set of verses.
"Common Dust": The most surprising sound on this track is
the use of a guitar to lay down the flavor. Funky and twangy, this
cut is not for the dance floor, but provides much consideration for
There are three tracks on this LP that made it to other
albums. "The Session" is the mega long (13 minutes?) posse cut that
found its way to their import EP "From the Ground Up". There's an
earlier (and less refined and fun) version for "Essay Whuman?!"
their fantastic jazz improv homage. And then there's "Peace" which
people should recognize as the earlier version of the Intro from "Do
You Want More?!?!!"
Bottom line? This is a must have LP for any Roots fans.
It's shows a clear linkage to their latest album and is certainly a
fine piece of work in its own right regardless. Plus it's got some
butter cuts that don't sound dated at all. My copy is on import
double vinyl so you know it'll play louder, and I recommend people
look for it similarly.
Again, I wouldn't say this is as much the classic as "Do You
Want More?!?!!" is destined to become, but it's still a fine album
that lays down the strong foundation upon which their next effort
has killed and thrilled.
pH Level -- 5/pHunky
Ryan A MacMichael
SHA-KEY, "A Head Nodda's Journey to Adidi Skizm"
From what I've seen, this album has not exactly been noticed
since it was released in late 1994. And I'm still trying to figure
The thing is, on "A Head Nodda's Journey...", Sha-Key runs
styles rampant throughout, switching between flows constantly. And
she got her lyrics straight, there's no question there. The beats
are sweet and Rahzel had his beat-boxing skills on several tracks
here before The Roots' album came out. And there are no throw-away
So what's the problem?
I think it's the fact that Sha-Key is a female that is in
this game with a style that is associated with men. Her confidence
is obvious as is her sense of reality and trueness to the genre.
She chose not to take the Queen Latifah or Yo-Yo route and speak
about being a woman and such, she's speaking about being a rapper.
She shines on each track, but several really stick out.
"Bicoastal Holdup" starts off with an acapella rambling that grabs
you by the throat and shakes you until your eyes roll:
To the east, to the west: this is not a contest,
'Cause hip-hop's got it on, kick it 'till the morn,
We shall overcome: WACK MC'S!
Rahzel then comes in with his beatbox as Sha continues to
flow relentlessly. Then about a minute into it, "This Is a Holdup,"
most recognizable from the first Paris album, comes in. The main
song then begins:
Hardrock wanna-be, harder than the next G,
B-Boy stance with your ass out your pants.
Windcheck, roughneck, me the boom poetic
With your two pounds of pressure that it takes to pull the trigger,
though, you... ain't... NOTHING but some punk... ass... nigga!
Sha-Key then switches modes again and jumps onto a sped-up
sung verse with Rahzel back on the beat-box. She then downshifts
one last time to finish off the track. Damn nice.
Following next is "The Sleeper" which starts with a lullaby
sound layered with a Miles Davis-sounding horn. "Sexual Healing"
style "wake up, wake up" chants are brought in, leading to the
"Mahogany"-flavor drums. Here she speaks of her times with men, and
He hugged me, he fucked me, so he had to love me,
I guess I'm living the life of a puppet dummy.
An eerie sounding flute comes in during the break as the
horns continue. Absolute butter-on-iceness niceness.
Other MCs flex on A HEAD NADDA'S JOURNEY, among them High
Priest and Ill Bill (who's pretty damn ill: "I use a chainsaw when I
perform an abortion") and the rest of the Vibe Khameleonz, Beans,
Jae-Live (who's sweet, too), Pooh, Jah MC, Shamil, and Rahzel.
Often they complement her well, other times the best is brought out
in her during the posse cuts.
Sha-Key's lyrics are very carefully crafted, well delivered,
and often quite serious (especially on "Doompasaga").
Unfortunately, as with other female MC's in front of her, since she
comes off well enough to be considered with the men in the field,
she'll most likely be overlooked. But don't y'all make the same
mistake -- check out the album and give her the well deserved
pH Level -- 5/pHunky
TOO $HORT, "Cocktales"
Hey ho. Yeah, you. Can I ask you a question? Were you Born To
Mack? Best hope so, bee-atch, cause you gotta be able to Get In Where
You Fit In, and we all know that Life is Too $hort....
Yep yep, Shorty The Pimp is back with his sixth major
release and ninth overall release. Back in the 80s we could say
it, in 1990 we could say it, and now in 1995 we can still say that
Short Dog's In The House. The recording studio has seen a change of
venue (to Atlanta), but the sound is still full of that Oakland
funk, and the lyrical content is unmistakably classic Too $hort and
the music classic Dangerous Crew. The Crew has been pumping out LP
after LP in the past half year with Ant Banks' "The Big Badass,"
Goldy's "In The Land of Funk," and now "Cocktails."
A few months ago, Short (Todd Shaw) dropped "Cocktales".
Another story of females he's been with, the song is complemented by
a smooth Shorty B produced beat. Listening to the lyrics, the cut
makes you reminisce back to the 80s and "Freaky Tales":
"She was fine as fuck, but can't fuck with Tina
Tina, Tina, the sperm cleana
I took her to my house and I told her, 'strip!'
baby got freaky, started doing the splits..."
Indeed, vintage Too $hort. The rest of side one is pretty
solid throughout with the low spot being Baby D's (remember the
little baby voice on some older Digital Underground stuff?) verse
on "Thangs Change." I don't care how old the "Baby" is, the shit
sucked more than Short's bitch Tina! Luckily, Malik and Jamal from
Illegal represent better on the same track. "Can I Get a Bitch" is
a tight duet with Ant Banks who comes off lovely.
Side 2 doesn't stray away from the old Dangerous Crew
sound. "Giving Up The Funk" showcases Banks, Pee Wee, and Goldy all
rapping to a laidback funk beat talking about -- you guessed it --
bitches. "We Do This" is one of my favorite tracks and there is
certainly good reason for it. Flint's MC Breed, whose background
vocals are used in several songs, 2Pac, and Father Dom all team up
with $hort, and all are hella tight on this one, runnin' that ol'
After Tupac finishes up his verse on the above song, we come
to "Game." T$ and high school buddy Old School Freddy B tear shit
up like the old days. Freddy B comes off as a supermack while
rapping on one of the LPs best beats. The song is the only L.A. Dre
produced song and makes me wish he had done more. Check out Fred
"I dropped my drawers, dick on swoll
she couldn't believe the position was pole
in and out, out and in
I used the bitch like an ATM."
On "Sample The Funk", Shaw puts down artists who just loop a
beat for a track and says more people need to do their own music
throughout their songs and stop sampling. While you gotta give
$hort credit for a good criticism of some other rappers, realize
those same rappers could find worthy arguements about Too $hort's
style (e.g. lyrics, flow ability).
You want some fresh new lyrics, don't look here. From the
very beginning lines of the first song you'll find that Short will
occassionally implement lyrics he has used before into the current
LP. But, if you love Too $hort, then you can't pass it up. A good
guest lineup (minus Baby D) and fresh'n'funky beats matched up with
$hort's classic style make this one all worth it. Plus, when you
check your watch after listening to it, you'll see it isn't another
40 minute quickie -- only 1 of the 12 songs is under five minutes.
To keep the beats on point, there are a gang of producers --
everyone from Spearhead X to Banks to L.A. Dre.
Not something I would do often, but I must give this LP a
variable pH rating. Basically, if you're a longtime fan of Too $hort,
you'll probably find a lot to like about it and you can add a point
or two to the rating. If you want intelligent rhymes and freestyles,
though, forget it. Like Short says, "(freestylin) shit, I don't
even know how to do that shit."
pH Level - 3/pHair
Dat Deaf G
2PAC, "Me Against the World"
Poor old Tupac Shakur, da nigga y'all either love or hate,
is locked up for his lastest release. According to his recent
_Vibe_ jailhouse exclusive interview with Kevin Powell, this may be
his last rap album.
Shit, he might come back just like Mikey! I feel the song
"If I Die 2nite" was lyrically tight and bumping! The title track
was done with Dramacydal. I dont know who Dramacydal is but that
duet was mad phat! The track lay the foundation for the whole
album, revealing feelings beyond rage and frustration. Then the
shit get deep with "So Many Tears." and as fucked up this world we
all live in, "there are choices, there is faith, there is a
tommorrow worth creating. There must be." This sounds a lot like
gospel rap to me, but it should move your soul as well. Can I get an
In "Temptations," Tupac wants ya to know about what he went
through in life to get here. After the song is over, y'all will be
cryin' and hollerin' as if you were born again! "Young NIGGAZ", got
lines like "My young niggaz stay away from these dumb niggaz./ Put
down the guns and have some fun, nigga." The beat coulda have been a
little harder, but it's still all that, and it shows that 2Pac has
changed a *lot* since "Strictly for my NIGGAZ."
The next song is for the Gs, "Heavy in the Game" and rapper
Richie Rich appears on it. Nuttin' but butta! The tender and
emotionally-filled track "Dear MAMA" was a damn nice tribute to his
mother, Black Panther Afeni Shakur -- give a fist up to his momma,
y'all. And the remaining tracks were all dat! Especially da homage
in "Old School." Da last song "Outlaw" with Dramacydal was da
bomb! I wouldn't be surpise if he get this track's title branded
somewhere on his body...
I give "Me Against The World" a fist to da sky and an AK-47
in da air! It's different and it's phat! Some tracks could have use
more bass, but it lyrical contents is 2Pac at his best. Go get it
pH Level -- 5/pHunky
While all of us on the HardC.O.R.E. staff feel this issue is
one of our best yet (and hopefully worth the wait), we are more than
aware that there's at least one major story we didn't say anything
about this time around, that being Eazy E's recent revelation that
he has AIDS. This announcement has sent shockwaves through a hip-hop
nation that's still eagerly awaiting both Eazy's first full-length
LP in half a decade, as well as an N.W.A. reunion. Next issue,
we'll try to make some sense of this late-breaking story, as well as
the impact it will have on the future of rap music.
We'll also try to straighten out the Source and their
sources, who finally printed some info about HardC.O.R.E. in their
magazine, only to get that info WRONG! For the record, my e-mail
address is email@example.com, not firstname.lastname@example.org as was
published there. The correct subscription information is at the
top of this issue.
Plus, if we're *really* lucky, we'll have a few more albums
to review as well. If not, we can always tie Charles Isbell down to
a a chair and make him write that Goats review he's been saying he
would do for the past three years.
Oh, and I promise I'll have plenty to say next issue. Until