Archive for the ‘Hip-hop’ Category

Back to the Golden Age

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

Whats up people. Dapper Dan here, some of you might know me from my show Return of the Boom Bap last semester. Being abroad in London, I miss KWUR and thought I could trick myself into having some false sense of contribution to the station by posting on this lovely blog here. So, without any further bullshit here’s some dope ass hip-hop albums you might all enjoy from the so-called “Golden Age” (like 1987-1996) that I’d probably be rocking at 10 watts if I were back in STL. So…

De La Soul – Buhloone Mindstate (1993)

De La Soul are pretty well known, but for some reason “Buhloone Mindstate,” without a doubt their best album in my opinion, has never gotten its proper due and remains pretty criminally underrated. This gem was released in 1993, and was De La’s third and last collaboration with genius producer Prince Paul. Once again, Paul’s all over this one in the best way possible (you can really see what they lack without him when you hear their like post-96 shit, like the “AOI” series and “The Grind Date”).
Anyway, I’m not sure there’s another hip-hop album that flows so seamlessly from beginning to end. Unlike their first two albums, the more well-known “3 Feet High and Rising” and “De La Soul is Dead,” Buhloone goes light on the skits and such, which is a serious improvement. The album’s also short on guest appearances, only featuring Guru, Dres from Black Sheep, and some verses here and there from a female MC named Shortie No Mass. However, we get some sweet live instrumentation from Maceo Parker, Fred Wesley and Pee Wee Ellis of James Brown and J.B.s fame on tracks like “Patti Dooke,” “I Be Blowin'” and “I Am I Be.”
Like I said, “Buhloone” flows like silk but some stand-out tracks include “Ego Trippin’ Pt. 2,” “Area,” and “Breakadawn.”

Juggaknots – Re:Release (2002)

Oh man is this good. Juggaknots (Breezly Brewin, Buddy Slim, Heroine) recorded most of the tracks on this album around 1995 and released them as the “Clear Blue Skies” EP for Bobbito Garcia’s record label Fondle ‘Em. Juggaknots were definitely in good company on Fondle ‘Em during the mid-90s with the likes of Company Flow, Arsonists, MHz, MF Grimm and a newly renamed MF Doom.
This album is of the exceptional variety where you can easily listen to the whole thing all the way through and not really skip any tracks. “Re:Release” has some dirty ass beats throughout (with some nice Coltrane and Taxi Driver OST samples), but the strength of the album is absolutely due to Breezly Brewin. Basically, Breeze is one of the sickest MCs I’ve ever heard. He’s got a crazy complex and unorthodox rhyming scheme. Nobody has a flow quite like his, at least that I’ve ever heard (check him out as the featured MC on Prince Paul’s concept album “A Prince Among Thieves” from 1999).
Like so many great 90s hip-hop artists, Juggaknots later material – “The Love Deluxe Movement” (2004) and “Use Your Confusion” (2006) – unfortunately in no way compares to the earlier shit. Nonetheless, this album is some dirty New York underground shit.
Just about every track is good, but I guess the stand-outs are “Jivetalk,” “Sex Type Thang,” “I’m Gonna Kill You,” and “Clear Blue Skies.”

The Beatnuts – The Beatnuts a.k.a. Street Level (1994)

The Beatnuts (Psycho Les, Juju, Fashion) aren’t the strongest lyricists, basically sticking to the Alkaholik-type of hedonistic pussy/weed/40s rhymes. But in their case I could give a shit cuz they make the sickest fucking beats ever. The 3 producers/MCs were sort of like marginal members of the Native Tongues Tribe in early 90s New York (A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Black Sheep, and so on), and have produced a lot beats for other people over the years, like Common Sense, Chi-Ali, Kurious, Da Youngsta’s and Fat Joe. Their beats are everything you want out of jazzy early-mid 90s hip-hop, with nice, funky horn, guitar and acoustic bass samples.
Following their almost as good debut EP from 1993, “Intoxicated Demons,” this album keeps it pretty simple, with only one guest appearance throughout from Grand Puba of Brand Nubian. Just funky ass beats and party rhymes. Beatnuts have put out like 4 or 5 albums since then, none of which compare, although “Stone Crazy” is definitely solid (if you can remember all the way to back to like 97 or 98 the song “Off the Books” was all over the radio).
Some stand-out tracks: “Let Off A Couple,” “Rik’s Joint,” “Hit Me With That”

CMJ 2008 First Thoughts

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

What’s up everyone,
So, KWUR’s CMJ crew needed an inside man to get into 21+ shows. Apparently, besides DJ Meatface, I’m the only one over 21 on exec staff. This is indeed a disturbing universe.

Anyway, we arrived in town last night in time to catch the tail end of Thursday festivities. We went to Drom in hopes of catching some hip hop, especially if it’s hosted by dudes like Pharoh Monch. The bouncer said the event was 21+ since the venue wasn’t serving food (which would have made it 18+) – Dj DB, The Intern and Kenny bounced to get some food on a stick (NYC is awesome!). The only artist left on the bill at Drom was Empire ISIS, a female, North African (?) hip-hip/reggae MC who is in charge of so much testosterone on stage you’d think she manages gang bangs after her shows.

She had 3 male backup dancers, a drummer, bassist and DJ. Almost everyone was from a different country, which made the tracks interesting musically, and Empress Gangstress (as she is also known) engaged the audience well, as she is known as a good entertainer.

Ultimately, however, her performance fell flat, since Drom was thinly populated with people at the ends of their evenings. She tried hard to keep us from leaving, becoming “bored” performing her own songs. She also sounds like a cross between every female pop star’s voices combined with a little bit of extra mask to blast your face. I think she could either sound smoother and less forceful, or she should have more female members accompanying her on stage.

Her music varied from bouncy, active, party hip hop to a slow jam she dedicated to all the “gangstas” all over the world. Another track was about female solidarity and fighting for a woman’s right to party by her own rules. All around good message in her music, which was nice to hear compared to other female rappers who tell their listeners to bend over and get flexible for the next available cock.

A different message is welcome anywhere, and Empire ISIS is savvy, world educated (she’s lived many places and even biked through 7 countries – read her bio), and not afraid to do as she pleases. Given the venue (what the hell does Drom mean anyway?) and her growing maturity as an on-stage performer, I’d give her show last night a 6/10. She’s got good potential for the future (positive, emotional hip hop=win), but really needs to change her vocal sound. It is not attractive aurally, and probably strains her voice too.