Monday, November 23, 2009

Old School Mondays:: Treats of the Day Edition

If you were on the site last week, you're likely aware that I'm a big fan of Ghettosocks' new album, Treat of the Day. There are a number of reasons for this, but one of the main ones is certainly Socks' liberal use of awesome old school vocal samples throughout the album. I'm not going to lie to you fine folks: I'm a sucker for old rap samples. If you've spent any time around this site, that shouldn't surprise you, but honestly, if you put a few songs on your album where you Premo-scratch (sure, everyone's done this, but I always associate it with Premier) a bunch of samples from classic hip hop songs for the chorus, well then you've gone a long way towards winning me over.

So, with an album full of good material fresh in my head, I couldn't resist doing an OSM that features the original songs for some of Treat of the Day's best samples. So then, a word about each song:

Jaz - Hawaiian Sophie - No better song to start with, as one of my favorite songs on TOTD is called Dreams of Hawaiian Sophie, and this Jaz tune is a Golden Age classic that I've never posted before. Luau's and high-top fades - a winning combo. And yes, it does feature a young, rather skinny version of yer man Jay-Z. Big Jaz put Jay on - it's too bad they hate each other now.

KRS-One - I Can't Wake Up - I also said this about Dreams of Hawaiian Sophie: "thanks in no small part to the fact that it samples one of my favorite KRS songs". This is that song, one in which KRS dreams he's a blunt being smoked by various hip hop personalities over a Premo beat. It's weirdly awesome.

Gangstarr - Dwyck f. Nice & Smooth - I've posted this song before, but bits of it are featured in both Ricochet and Pink Lemonade, so it appears again. Plus it's awesome, so there should be no complaints.

Joeski Love - Pee-Wee's Dance Another song that was posted a while ago, but again I refer to the awesomeness. Or perhaps some kitschy awesomeness, although I really do love this beat. It's also used in Ricochet.

Big Daddy Kane - Put Your Weight On It - Awesome, live-mix type of jam from BDK's often overlooked Taste Of Chocolate album. Kane just rips it as Mr. Cee flips the beat a few times. Forgot how great it was. Kane's "cut like a guillotine" from this song is scratched into the end of Fatal Flying Guillotine, which makes sense.

Wu-Tang - Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing Ta F*ck Wit - Grimy classic from the Wu (seriously, go back and listen to 36 Chambers, so awesome - more so when you consider RZA made some of those beats on like a 4-track) that is also sampled in Fatal Flying Guillotine.

The B-Boys - Rock The House - This jam is a classic here at the hill because hill co-founder somehow got a semi-warped, vinyl copy of it from somewhere in New Jersey one summer when he was on tour with Thrush Hermit as their merch guy (100% true story). It's Syndicate sniper Donald-D exhorting the masses to dance whilst Chuck Chillout cuts it up on the 1's & 2's. Great stuff, and Don's voice is sample on Rock The Discotech.

Have to warn you, there some awesome songs below, so go an enjoy, but like King Tee said, it's at your own risk. Oh, and if you like these songs, go get that Treat Of The Day.

MP3:: Jaz - Hawaiian Sophie

MP3:: KRS-One - I Can't Wake Up

MP3:: Gangstarr - DWYCK

MP3:: Joeski Love - Pee-Wee's Dance

MP3:: Big Daddy Kane - Put Your Weight On It

MP3:: Wu-Tang - Wu-Tang Clan Aint Nuthing Ta F Wit

MP3:: The B-Boys - Rock The House

Jaz - Hawaiian Sophie

Joe Ski Love - Pee Wee's Dance

Wu-Tang Clan Aint Nuthin' Ta F' Wit

Labels: Big Daddy Kane, , Greg Nice, , , Joeski, , Wu-Tang

Posted at 12:12 PM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Reviews:: Ghettosocks - Treat Of The Day

There's a good chance many of you reading this have not heard of Ghettosocks. That's fine, I mean, after all, that's what we're here for, to try and remedy that situation. But I will says this: if you like classic hip hop (more specifically hip hop & hip hop culture from the early to mid nineties), and you do listen to a Ghettosocks album, I'd be willing to bet my leather Africa medallion that you're going to like it. In fact, we should make the Grand Wizard Ghettosocks required listening for any fan of Golden Age hip hip - perhaps we can talk to KRS about getting such an amendment made to the hip hop constitution he's no doubt been writing for some time.

Despite that intro, I'd like to think that if you are a regular reader of the hill, then you likely have heard of Ghettosocks, as I've mentioned him a number of times previously. This includes fairly-fawning reviews of his last two projects: 2007's Get Some Friends, and his mixtape from last year, I Can Make Your Dog Famous. As you might imagine if you check out either of those reviews, I was eagerly awaiting the chance to hear Socks latest release, Treat Of The Day, and now that I have, you can add a third fawning review to that list.

I've said words to this effect, and I'll say them again, Ghettosocks is easily one of my favorite Canadian MC's, and he would still be even if he didn't happen to live in the city the hill calls home, but rather Conception Harbour, Thunder Bay, Moose Jaw, or some other dual-named locale across this country. Any Ghettosocks project always matches his razor sharp, monotone flow and his mastery of witty one-liners with top notch boom-bapery and the finest in old school samples. The tasty Treat Of The Day is no different. Well it's slightly different, what with the delicious theme that runs through the album and the fact that this time out Socks reached out to a number of his Alpha Flight & Backburner associates to provide the production where previously he'd kept things mostly in-house (I believe he did most or all of the beats on Get Some Friends, while Socks & Jorun handled things on the mixtape). And Socks might be on more of a "killing sucker MC's and taking their chicks/snacks" mission then his last outing, but there is no change in the level of quality, if anything this is his strongest all-around work to date.

That quality comes hard and fast at the album's start as the Dexter Doolittle, Saturday morning cartoon-esque beat and the odd, Too Short-sounding chorus sample on Onlyindamornin' are the prefect kind of opening song oddness for Socks, and the Big jaz homage that is Dreams Of Hawaiian Sophie is just awesome, thanks in no small part to the fact that it samples one of my favorite KRS songs. The floaty, Jorun produced, Out For treats is now my favorite Halifax food-rap, taking the title from Buck65's Food, which was good, but can't compete with "me & my peeps got hot eats in the grotto, fresh meat in the taco, extra cheese on the nacho". If you're looking for a microcosm of the excellence found on this album, you can listen to Ricochet and go no further. Awesome horn, drum & didgeridoo(?) beat from Bix, braggadocios raps from Socks & the legendary El Da Sensei, and the best of scratched in samples from folks like Redman, Joeski Love, and hill fave Greg Nice. Awesome song.

Pink Lemonade is another soul-drenched winner from Bix, which suits Socks & Apt's laid back lady-slaying raps just perfectly, and it also uses perhaps my favorite Guru line ever ("Lemonade was a popular drink and it still is..."), and so this gets an A+. The snake charmer slink of the Fresh Kils' track on U Ain't This is a perfect foil for the sucker MC mashing raps of T.O. MC's D-Sisive, Rich Kidd & Muneshine who join Socks for this one. D-Sisive + solid posse cut = win. Anything that can bring back dual favorite memories like classic Wu and watching Kung Fu flicks in hill co-founder Shawn Lapaix's basement (he actually owned a VHS copy of Fatal Flying Guillotine) gets an old fashioned THD thumbs up from me, and Guillotine does just that. Just an FYI, when we saw Socks do Take Chains Off when he opened for the GZA, kids freaked the f out, so consider yourself forewarned that The Power mixed with the Mash Out Posse is an explosive musical concoction (as if that wasn't enough, the song finishes with the legendary Bernie Mac speech from House Party 3...RIP B. Mac). Rock The Discotech has an awesome name, fun back & forth rhymes from Socks and Timbuktu, and great samples from BDK and Donald-D/The B-Boys - that's win, win, and win if you're keeping score at home.

So, back to what I was saying at the beginning of this opus, we'd like to help create as many Ghettosocks converts as we can, and so hopefully some little bit of this has tempted a few of you to sample what Socks has on offer. Go ahead and treat yourself to Treat Of The Day.

MP3:: Ghettosocks - Don't Turn Around (Featuring Edgar Allen Floe)

Don't Turn Around (Featuring Edgar Allen Floe)

Labels: , , , ,

Posted at 1:31 PM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Old School Mondays:: The (Don't)Stopper Edition

First off, let me apologize for the lack of OSM-age last week. I hate to skip it, but time was scarce last weekend, and we wanted to ensure we got the awesome Paper Bag vinyl contest posted bright and early (as an aside, if you haven't entered that contest, do so now, as today will likely be the last day for it). But now we're back, and I wanted to return with a jumbo version to make up for last week's absence. But what to post? I was a little stumped for ideas, but then I remembered a song I went hunting for last week after writing one of my posts.

The song is The Stopper by Cutty Ranks. I've certainly said this before, but back at the start of the 90's, if you were into hip hop, chances are you were into some dancehall reggae as well. I certainly was, and to this day hearing any of the big songs from back then will bring a smile to my face. This is exactly what happened when I saw Skratch Bastid and Scratch flipping The Stopper-styled funk while preparing for their new T.O. club show. That got me in a Dancehall reminiscing mood, and so I went looking for some other old favorites.

So, like it or not, that's what you're getting: a "here are some old dancehall songs I enjoy" OSM. I'm actually quite happy because while doing this list I finally remembered a song I'd been trying to think of for a while. It's Mack Daddy by Bobby Konders (with chatting from Mikey Jarret - chatting! I know the lingo friend), and I'd been trying to remember the name of this song for a while so I could find it - although this should have been easier, I forgot it was on Red Alert's Propmaster Radio Show mix which I have a cassette copy of. Anyway, this song is classic, I remember there was a period of a fews months where we'd yell "Mack Daddy....Mack Daddy, Mack Daddy...Mack Daddy!" at random intervals because of this song. Well, at least I would anyway.

To go along with this we've got a couple of other all-time favorites, Typewriter from legendary hardman Louie Rankin (who I've talked about a couple times, but I care not, that album is an all-timer in terms of old school herohill lore), and Ghetto Red Hot from the always awesome Super Cat. To wrap things up we have something for the ladies, the classic Flex from Mad Cobra. I actually found this tape in one of my boxes, and I had to laugh because I honestly couldn't remember one other song on it except for Flex - which suggests I might have bought it mainly for that smoothed out dancehall love jam, and that is comical/horrifying.

So there you have it, enjoy. Oh, and BO!

MP3:: Cutty Ranks - The Stopper

MP3:: Bobby Konders & Massive Sounds - Mack Daddy

MP3:: Super Cat - Ghetto Red Hot

MP3:: Louie Rankin - Typewriter

MP3:: Mad Cobra - Flex

Cutty Ranks - The Stopper

Super Cat - Ghetto Red Hot

Mad Cobra

Labels: Cutty Ranks, Dancehall, , , Reggae, Super Cat

Posted at 1:17 PM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Old School Mondays:: Grandmaster Flash Edition

Unless you're like the Ack, and you boycott any video game that requires you to do anything more complicated than repeatedly mashing one button, you've likely heard of DJ Hero. DJ Hero is exactly what you'd think: a DJ-based take on the Guitar Hero or Rock Band music simulation games that have blown up in the last few years. It looks pretty cool, and I certainly want to try it, but one of the more impressive aspects of the game is the song list.

The makers of the game assembled a track list for the game that features nearly 100 mash-ups of pretty well-known songs, many done by DJ luminaries like Z-Trip, DJ Shadow, the late DJ AM, Jazzy Jeff and the immortal Grandmaster Flash, who also narrates the instructional portions of the game. Flash is an interesting character, he's kind of like hip hop's favorite wacky uncle, except this uncle also just happened to pioneer a DJ-ing technique that became requisite part of the music & culture. I don't know about you, but when I think of Flash, I inevitably think of one thing: The Message. Sublime in every way, the original conscious rap song doesn't actually feature Flash doing his cutting & mixing thing, but it is pure, uncut awesome, and I realized I'd never posted it before, and so the main point of this post is to right that wrong.

But I figured it made sense to post something that also shows flash doing his thing, and there's no better example of that then The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel, which is like five minutes of Flash doing his live "quick-mix" thing. And so you're getting that one too. But once I started listening to these old songs, I couldn't stop, and there's a couple more for you. The Genius Of Love-sampling It's Nasty has always been a favorite of mine, so it's here too. You can't really talk about Flash and the Five without mentioning their first single Superappin', and we've got that one too. To finish, we've got a boombox favorite, New York, New York, which has a classic chorus and much more guitar shredding than I remember.

I say this all the time, but it's really true this time: these are some classic songs. If you aren't familiar with Flash or The Furious Five, school yourself, if you are, just let the memories flow.

MP3:: Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - The Message

MP3:: Grandmaster Flash - The Aventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels of Steel

MP3:: Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - It's Nasty

MP3:: Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - Superappin'

MP3:: Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - New York New York

Video:: Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - The Message

Video:: Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - It's Nasty

Labels: Grandmaster Flash, ,

Posted at 9:00 AM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Old School Mondays:: PW Wolf's 45 Live Edition

I hinted at this last week, in my original post for Peanut Butter Wolf's 45 Live box set of hip hop vinyl singles, but the track list for his collection provided too irresistible. So, that's what you're going to get, more songs featured in the set, but first things first, if you haven't heard about 45 Live, go and to check it out.

I said pretty much all I needed to say about the awesomeness of this set in my previous post, but for this one here I just went down the list and picked out some notable songs, and preferably ones I haven't posted before. Rockin' It is just a one of those legendary songs that never sounds old, despite how old school the style it uses is. Earlier this year I posted on Mantronix, but somehow I didn't post Hardcore Hip Hop. Better later than never I suppose. I never managed to get my hands on a JVC Force album back in the day, but it's one of those mythical NY groups I'd always heard about. Because of that, I'd always wanted to post on them, but never got around to it. This is a good enough reason I'd say.

Cash Money & Marvelous is another group I've posted on, but I didn't post Mighty Hard Rocker, and it's a great jam. I realized that I've ever posted The Bridge is Over before. So consider that a wrong now righted.

Some great old school songs from a great collection.

MP3:: Fearless Four - Rockin' It

MP3:: Mantronix - Hardcore Hip-Hop

MP3:: JVC Force - Strong Island

MP3:: Cash Money & Marvelous - The Mighty Hard Rocker

MP3:: Boogie Down Productions - The Bridge is Over

Video:: BDP - The Bridge Is Over

Labels: , , ,

Posted at 12:08 PM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Quick Hitters:: Peanut Butter Wolf's 45 Live

I was going to save this and work it into next week's OSM, but I thought it was too awesome to save (and who knows, it might still be OSM'd), but Stone's Throw head honcho Peanut Butter Wolf has released 45 Live, a set of classic hip hop 45's he re-edited himself. It comes in mp3 and CD format, but the vinyl is the sweetness: ten 7-inch singles, 18 songs in total, all packed up in a snazzy tin (the pic is right up thurr, but check here for the full deets.

If you know anything about PBW and Stone's Throw, you're likely expecting some real classics, and the collection doesn't disappoint. Fearless Four, Spoonie G, Busy B, Dimples D, Just Ice, The Biz, Mantronix, JVC Force, Stezo, Kane, Cash Money & Marvelous, and BDP to name just a few. You should expect nothing else from PB though:

This record is such a great honor for me to be involved with. I’m sure it will hardly sell any units cuz the music industry SUCKS and most people only wanna hear bullshit (just look at which music videos get the most views on youtube or the top 10 sellers on itunes), but regardless, it’s a big deal. I mean, as a kid growing up in San Jose, CA when all this stuff came out, I was hooked and half a lifetime later I still am.

Those of us on the north side of 30 can certainly identify with that, but it doesn't matter your age, if you are into hip hop, I'd be shocked if you weren't as psyched on this as I was. So anyway, let's prove PB wrong and buy some of these bad boys.

MP3:: T La Rock - It's Yours (Radio Mix)

MP3:: Biz Markie - Make The Music With Your Mouth Biz

MP3:: Stezo - It's My Turn

Labels: , , ,

Posted at 12:00 PM by naedoo :: 1 comments

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Reviews:: Mantis - Still Life

Still Life is the title of Southern-Ontario MC Mantis' debut solo album, and I think it's an appropriate choice for a hip hop album. After all, one of hip hop's great strengths is the ability to capture a vivid picture of a specific moment in time. That said, if an MC isn't able to paint a picture that the listener cares about, or can relate to, then that strength can become a weakness. For the most part, the stills that Mantis captures come out on the strength side of that ledger, but like many a young MC these days, he sometimes struggles to find a unique point of view.

What he absolutely doesn't struggle with is production skills, as this album is entirely self-produced, and it sounds fantastic. Mantis' bio makes reference to schooling he's had for production or engineering - and you can tell. The beats are all very polished, warm and crisp, and although I have no idea, it sounds like a fair bit of live instrumentation worked in.

The production might tend to steal the show on Still Life, but the vocals (from Mantis and his guests) are really well done, and some great songs result. Real To Reel pays tribute to the real portion of its name by praising the realness over a thumping beat with a really great drum track. The soul-drenched You Don't Know uses a fine, piano-laced track as the background for a track that discusses something almost any Canadian rapper is familiar with - the search for recognition. There's kind of a Simon Says vibe to the jangly guitar of Warning Shot, but unfortunately I don't think that it is lyrically up to par with that P. Monch classic. Then again, what do I know really, I'm just one of those know-nothing loudmouth critics Mantis calls out in that song.

Not sure what's in the water in the KW area, but there's something that makes MC's feel they need to try the double-time raps on at least one track. I wasn't really feeling it when Justis broke it out on his album, and I'm not a fan of Mantis' Bounce Back either. However, I am a fan of the Justis-Mantis (perhaps there's something else in the water that makes KW MC's choose "-is" ending names?) collabo What, which feels like a throwback, with a sparkly beat and some solid DJ cuts. Lay Low matches its name in tone, as it's one of the more laid back song on the album.

Although I like Still Life a great deal, there was something about it that was bothering me during my first couple listens. I eventually realized what it was: Mantis' "rappin' accent" (for lack of a better term). Now I'm not saying Mantis is a bad MC, I think, technically speaking, he's very solid, but his inflection and slang sound just a little too staged to me. Keep in mind, I could be way off on this, and so if this is indeed Mantis' at his most natural, then I do apologize. But another one of hip hop's strengths is its ability to be a form of nearly un-adulterated self expression, and after hearing Still Life, I can't help but feeling that I have no actual idea who Mantis is.

That last bit said, I don't want to end this review on the express to negative town. Mantis is clearly a talented guy, and this is a good album, so if you're interested in hearing quality Canadian hip hop, I'd search Still Life out. As for myself, I'll be watching for Mantis goes from here and hoping he builds on the promise this album shows.

MP3:: Mantis - You Don't Know

Labels: , , ,

Posted at 3:03 PM by naedoo :: 1 comments

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Old School Mondays:: Giving Thanks for Rakim Edition

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you up here in Canada. I know the whole "Thanksgiving in October" thing usually confuses Americans, but it's essentially the same deal. We may not have the usually mediocre Dallas and Detroit-based NFL games on our Thanksgiving (speaking of thanks, I'm tremendously thankful for the Saints 4-0 start), but we have Turkey and pumpkin pie, and that's really what counts.

So, being a holiday, I hadn't planned on preparing an OSM this week, but the whole notion of giving thanks made me think I should post some songs from a golden ager that I'm thankful for. So I figured we might as well start with the best: the God. Rakim Allah might just be the best to ever do it, so I'm sure I'm far from being the only one who his thankful for his contribution to hip hop. So enjoy some songs from Ra's early career, and have a happy Thanksgiving.

MP3:: Eric B. featuring Rakim - Eric B. Is President

MP3:: Eric B. And Rakim - I Ain't No Joke

MP3:: Eric B. & Rakim - Move The Crowd (Beatmix By The Democratic 3 Feat. DJ Slack)

MP3:: Eric B. & Rakim - As The Rhyme Goes On (Pumpin' The Turbo - Chad Jay In Effect Version)

MP3:: Eric B. & Rakim - Paid In Full

Labels: , , ,

Posted at 12:00 PM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Old School Mondays:: Swayze is Swayze Edition

Due to the busy-ness of the last couple weeks, this post is rather delayed, and I know that a few articles to this effect showed up after Patrick Swayze's death a couple weeks ago, but when I heard about it, I immiediatly thought of OSM. And clearly I'm not the only one, which is impressive, because you'd be hard pressed to find a dude that was less hip hop than Patrick Swayze, yet his name became a commonly used part of hip hop vernacular in the 90's. So, you know where this OSM is going by now, today we've got 5 songs that feature "Swayze".

If you're still reading this, then I likely don't need to tell you this, but the most common use of "Swayze" was as a shorthand way of saying "I'm Ghost", not because it rhymed with "crazy" as some British paper tried to claim. I'm not sure who used it first, but it was big in the EPMD camp, and when I think of the phrase, it's within the context of an EPMD song. So it only makes sense to that we lead off with a couple of EPMD songs, Boon Dox and It's Going Down - I think PMD uses Swayze in both songs, and if you're looking for a textbook usage, I'd look no further than EPMD.

But, the Swayze goodness doesn't end at EPMD -The Symphony Pt.2 features a brief Swayze usage from G. Rap, but this one is just mainly here because it's a fun listen. A rare E-Swift intro verse contains the Swayze ref on The Alkaholiks Can't Tell Me Shit, which is good, because I'll take any reason I can get to post songs from 21 & Over. Ever heard of this Method Man? I hear he's kind of popular. Well he also uses Swayze on his rather excellent Bring The Pain.

So, R.I.P. to Patrick Swayze, but go ahead and enjoy a rather unexpected part of his legacy with these songs.

MP3:: EPMD - Boon Dox

MP3:: EPMD - It's Going Down

MP3:: Marley Marl - The Symphony Pt.2 f. Master Ace, Craig G, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G. Rap, Little Daddy Shane

MP3:: The Alkaholiks - Can't Tell Me Shit

MP3:: Method Man - Bring The Pain

Video:: Marley Marl Presents Juice Crew - The Symphony (Part 2)

Video:: Method Man - Bring The Pain

Labels: , , Method Man, , Swayze

Posted at 12:30 PM by naedoo :: 1 comments

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Quick Hitters:: Speech Debelle

With the Ack and I getting psyched up for our trip to Toronto this weekend for this year's Polaris Prize gala/hootenanny (Ack as juror, myself as his weed carrier/one man entourage), it only seemed right to send some cyber big-ups to the winner of the Mercury Prize, the UK equiv of the Polaris, Speech Debelle.

Now I'm far from the most qualified to comment on this, as I heard almost none of the albums nominated, but I always enjoy when an album like this wins an award like this. Mainly because it always sends the rap haters into a tizzy, but too often hip hop gets overlooked when matched up with white people mainstream music. I've only given the album a listen this morning for the first time, but it's full of honest, introspective lyrics delivered over interesting, jazzy production that mixes in some classic UK hip-hop sounds (garage/grime or whatever the current movement is called). Again, I'm certainly no expert on the UK music scene (and for that matter, outside of Edmonton rap, not on the Canadian scene either), but I do like this.

Now the Mercury has been around longer than the Polaris, so this gives me hope that at some point a hip hop album will win the Polaris (K'NAAN's album is solid, but I don't see him winning this year). I do think it's funny that one of the main complaint streams in the pre-Polaris chatter we've heard is how very white and male the past winners (and a bunch of this year's nominees) are. Well a black female rapper won the Mercury, and what kind of tweet-age did I see from the Canadian music types after it was announced? A resounding round of "Who?" and "I thought x or y should have won!". There's a lesson in that, and the lesson is that 50% of the merds will be unhappy no matter what you do. Something to think about, oh, and congrats to Speech Debelle.

MP3:: Speech Debelle - Better Days revox f. Wiley

MP3:: Pete Lawrie & Speech Debelle - (Black And Blue) That's How I Feel About You

VIDEO:: Speech Debelle - The Key

VIDEO:: Speech Debelle - The Key

Labels: , , , , ,

Posted at 12:27 PM by naedoo :: 1 comments

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Quick Hitters:: K'Naan & J. Period (The Messengers Remixes)

Last week the Ack posted a rather thoughtful opine on K'NAAN's Polaris-nominated album Troubadour. I think one of his main points was that too many guests can even dull the impact of you album if you have a compelling story to tell, as K'NAAN does. I doubt this is what j.Period & K'NAAN were thinking when they devised The Messengers mixtape series, but it seems they've taken the Ack's advice without knowing it.

The Messengers is a remix project done by DJ/Producer J.Period and T.O./Somali MC K'NAAN, and it matches K with three of music's most celebrated "Messengers": Fela Kuti, Bob Marley, and Bob Dylan. And it's free, which is always a welcome message - the Fela and Marley mixes are available now on J.Period's website. They mix both original verses and some of the tracks from K'NAAN's latest album with classic tracks from the iconic musicians, and they're pretty enjoyable. I think K's flow is more of natural fit with Marley's melodies vs. Fela's raw funk, but that said, it's pretty easy to be drawn to a Marley song, and after listening to the Fela mix a couple times yesterday, I think it's equally strong.

Both Fela and Bob, whilst really quite different, are kind of obvious matches for K'NAAN, but I have no idea how the Bob Dylan version will turn out - I'm kind of interested to find out though. For now though, go ahead and grab these mixes, and check some samples below.

MP3:: J.Period & K'NAAN - Let's Start (Messengers Remix)

MP3:: J.Period & K'NAAN - Ololufe Mi (Messengers Remix)

MP3:: J.Period & K'NAAN - Belly Full (Messengers Remix) f. Kardinal, Steele & Bajah

MP3:: J.Period & K'NAAN - Fatima / Stir It Up (Messengers Remix)

Labels: , , ,

Posted at 8:30 AM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Old School Mondays:: Kid N' Play (2 Hype Edition)

Greetings. It's the Labor Day weekend up here (and elsewhere) so today's a holiday and I'm going to keep the writing brief. But I'll make up for it in musical accompaniment, as this OSM is packed with music & videos. I know the following video has made the rounds on the interweb, but it inspired this post, so it's required viewing (props to herohill alumnus Mr. E for sending it over):

Funny or sad? I think for me it was certainly both. Kid N' Play were once megastars where hip hop is concerned. The kick step, House Party, their own cartoon - Christopher "Kid" Reid and Christopher "Play" Martin had it all for a while. But like plenty of Golden Age icons, it didn't last, and now Kid's IMDB profile reads like a B-list celebs wet dream: Host of Your Big Break, playing a celebrity judge in Pauly Shore is Dead, guest spots on shows such as V.I.P. and Sister Sister. Ay yi yi. But oh well, Kid N' Play's 2 Hype played a large role in my Junior High experience, likely being herohill alumnus Shawn Lapaix's favorite album, so we played the hell out of it. I realized we'd nevern OSM'd it before, so here's all the best stuff from it. Enjoy.

MP3:: Kid N' Play - Rollin' With Kid 'N Play

MP3:: Kid N' Play - 2 Hype

MP3:: Kid N' Play - Do This My Way

MP3:: Kid N' Play - Gittin' Funky

MP3:: Kid N' Play - Gittin' Funky (UK 12" Remix)

Video:: Kid N' Play - Rollin' With Kid N' Play

Video:: Kid N' Play - 2 Hype

Video:: Kid N' Play - Do This My Way

Video:: Kid N' Play - Gittin' Funky

Labels: , Kid N' Play, , Suit Sellout

Posted at 8:37 AM by naedoo :: 1 comments

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Monday, August 31, 2009

Old School Mondays:: Stezo

I had nothing in the hopper for OSM this week, so I went looking into my old boxes of tapes for inspiration, and like The Biz in '88, I picked a winner. Yes, Stezo. He's the funkiest Steve Williams New Haven, Connecticut ever produced, a former backup dancer for EPMD, and the creator of the Steve Martin.

Stezo of course moved on to become an MC himself, and put out Crazy Noise, his sole full-length album in 1989. Boy did I love that album. Back in the day I picked up a cassette copy from the US at some point after seeing the video for Freak The Funk, and everything about it was great. It's on a classic old school label (Fresh/Sleeping Bag) and most of the production was really awesome, chock-full of classic breaks (in fact Stezo and his main man Dooley-O introduced the famous "Skull Snaps" break to hip hop on It's My Turn. Stezo might not have been the most lyrical of MC's ("Off the record, this is the anthe-num / And if you're dry, I came to damp 'em") but his cadence and wordplay were pretty addictive.

Have I mentioned that I loved this album? I know it wouldn't show up on anyone's best albums list, but it's one of those under the radar golden age album I still have a fondness for. It does have some great jams though, I'd put songs like Bring The Horns, Freak The Funk, It's My Turn, and To The Max up against anything. The Google informs me that Stezo not only kept putting out the occasional 12" during the 90's, but he has a myspace and appears to still be on the grind. His '94 release Bop Ya Headz has a video and features Jim Slice, who I believe was one his DJ's on Crazy Noise. I'd never heard it before, and it's quite different from the Stezo I know (but it isn't a surprise, just look at the change from the silver lamé hammer pants/red shirt & shoes outfit he was rocking for It's My Turn, to the fatigued-out look in the latter video), but it's a pretty good example of the Das-influenced hip hop that was big in '94-95.

So there you have it, start your week with some Stezo - that's a no-lose proposition in my book.

MP3:: Stezo - Freak the Funk

MP3:: Stezo - It's My Turn

MP3:: Stezo - To the Max

MP3:: Stezo - Bop Ya Headz

Video:: Stezo- It's My Turn

Video:: Stezo - Freak The Funk

Video:: Stezo - Bop Ya Headz f. Jim Slice

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Posted at 2:23 PM by naedoo :: 1 comments

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Quick Hitters:: Mayer Hawthorne & Red

Unless today is the first day you've ever browsed the music blogs (and if it is, you should know that this one you're reading is like, the best! You should read it numerous times a day), chances are you've heard of "soul revivalist" Mayer Hawthorne. His debut single, Just Ain't Gonna Work Out blew the minds of many a blogger, myself included, with its bottom heavy breakbeat drums and street-corner falsetto vocals, most folks couldn't believe it was the newly produced work of a pale faced, midwest-bred twenty-something also known as DJ Haircut.

I played the hell out of that sound, but I don't mind admitting that I wondered if Mayer's throwback soul would work across a full length album. Well now that I've heard his debut, A Strange Arrangement, I can say that any fears I might've had were un-founded. A Strange Arrangement is really a delightful listen - it sounds accomplished both musically and vocally and not at all like anything close to a gimmick. It's clear Mayer has a tremendous fondness for Motown sounds, and I think he's done the musical heritage of his home state proud with this one. I mean really, get yourself a copy of A Strange Arrangement, put it on the ole HiFi, and if thwe soulful, summery sounds of songs like Maybe So, Maybe No, Your Easy Lovin' Ain't Pleasin' Nothin', Make Her Mine, and Ills don't brighten your mood then I'll eat one of the Ack's various hipster approved hats.

MP3:: Mayer Hawthorne - Maybe So, Maybe No

VIDEO:: Mayer Hawthorne - Maybe So Maybe No

This right here is just something fun I thought I should share with you fine folks. Well, seeing as how it's been seen by many of the masses on the interweb, it may not be new to many of you, but I'm sure there are some that have yet to see it. What we're talking about here is Red, the original homeless, G-Funk beatboxer. Well, I don't think Red is homeless anymore, but he was when he was first filmed behind the HVW8 Gallery in the video below that ended up going viral, as the kids say.

Although at the end of the vid Red appeals to his audience to get Warren G. on the horn so they can work together, the fellas at HVW8 got to work on getting Red to record some of his songs. Then of course the fine folks at Stones Throw, who always have their ear to the musical underground in Cali and beyond, got involved to put out a 7" with Red's original version and a remix from 80's Funk Freaker Dam Funk. Now when I first heard Red I was thinking "what the deuce is this, he's going to crush his sternum with all that chest pounding", but after watching the vids I found myself un-explicably humming the tune afterwards, so you can count me amongst the Red converted. Check the vids and the remix below for yourself and see what you think.

VIDEO:: Homeless G-Funk beat boxer behind the HVW8 Gallery

VIDEO:: Red (G-Funk Beat Boxer) - Ghost Ride the Hips

MP3:: Red - I Should Tell Ya Momma On You (Dam Funk Remix)

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Posted at 2:14 PM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Old School Mondays:: (DJ) Hurricane Edition

This is an OSM I've been meaning to do for a while, but how I ended up posting it today is a little odd (but which of my little OSM theories isn't?). Anyway, as you may or may not know, this past weekend here in Halifax was all about one thing: Hurricane Bill. This big, fat underpowered storm had been on track to skirt right by the coast of our fair province, and perhaps bring with it some hectic weather. So we all got in prep/hype mode, only to receive what was essentially a very rainy day. Yes, the wind was rather strong, and for perhaps a 20 minute period, things were almost hurricane-like, but we were expecting something a little more grandiose.

So, sitting down last night to come up with an OSM idea found me trying to come up with something hurricane related. Turns out this isn't the easiest task, but there's one man I kept coming back to: Hurricane. I suppose most folks know Hurricane as the Beasties former DJ, but he's also a fairly successful MC in his own right, both as a member of the cult-famous The Afros and as a solo artist.

The Afros are easily in the gimmick rap hall of fame, as rapping in afro wigs is both ridiculous and awesome to the max. Of course, because acronyms were all the rage back in the day, Afros stood for "A Funky Rhythmic Organization Of Sounds", but it seems pretty obvious to me that Hurra, Kool Tee & co. just put the wigs on one day, thought it was hilarious and created a whole thing around it. Nothing wrong with that, as Kickin' Afrolistics was a pretty solid album and my cassette copy got plenty of run. The were on JMJ records, and I think Jam Master Jay (R.I.P.) produced some/all of the tracks on the album. As one might expect from a group called The Afros, this isn't the most serious album going, but it does some pretty awesome party rap tracks, like Coolin' With The Fros, and Feel It. And then of course, there's the jam they are remembered for: Kickin' Afrolistics. So for those of you out there who are close to my age, these songs will likely make you smile.

As for Hurricane's so work, I actually don't know much about it. His '94 solo record, The Hurra, was put out by Grand Royal I think, and the Beasties are featured on Four Fly Guys, so I have to think the Ack owned this album at some point. I think the B-Boys and Mario Caldato were involved in producing this record, so the tracks certainly feel a lot like the "hip hop" tracks on Check Your Head and Ill Communication - heavy bottom grinders that would pulverize eardrums if they would played through Milk Dee "big as your girl" type speakers. But they don't feel too 90's dated, so here's Elbow Room and Four Fly Guys, enjoy.

MP3:: The Afros - Feel It

MP3:: The Afros - Kickin' Afrolistics

MP3:: Hurricane - Elbow Room

MP3:: Hurricane - Four Fly Guys

Video:: The Afros - Kickin' Afrolistics (Clark Kent Superlistic mix)

Video:: The Afros - Feel It

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Posted at 8:02 AM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Reviews:: Something Good - Just Add Water

Something Good
Tell me something good. For most, that sentence brings to mind a sultry entreaty from Chaka and her friends Rufus, but if you're a hip hop fan of a certain vintage (like myself), it can also serve as a plea to many of today's hip hop artists, who all too often deliver something quite the opposite of good. But all is far from lost where hip hop is concerned, and we can be thankful that hip hop's next generation still contains folks like the four dedicated lads in the Halifax/Montreal collective, Something Good.

Consisting of MC's Boy-ill and Markit, DJ Y-Rush, and producer Focus Aside, Something Good sees four (or perhaps six, as I think SG has added two new permanent members in guitarist Alex Meade and bassist Oliver Cluett) talented members of Halifax's hip hop scene (I think Markit is currently based in Montreal for school reasons) join forces in the name of making quality music that sounds thoroughly modern, but still pays major respect to the classic hip hop they were so clearly influenced by. And they do that classic hip hop proud, as their debut, Just Add Water, is really a great album.

Despite their relative youth, Markit and Boy-ill are both veteran mic rippers, having been at it for years both as part of Fax-4 and as solo artists (I reviewed Markit's last solo album a couple years ago). They have slightly different styles, with Boy-ill having a classic, charismatic east-coast influenced flow, whereas Markit is a little more off-beat and scientifical, but they compliment each other very well, their years of performing together paying off. Y-Rush has a rep as a hrad working club DJ here in Halifax, and he lives up to that rep here, packing the album with one classic scratched-in sample after another. Focus Aside is the one name I hadn't heard before, but he deserves plenty of kudos - his beats are really well done, and they keep the momentum of the album going strong across it's fifteen tracks.

The album starts very strong, with Did That serving as a great intro to the Something Good sound: the MC's happily tackle the addictive piano & horn based beat, with each one doing a verse before they trade lines back & forth on the third, while Y-Rush scratches everything from Lauren Hill to the awesome "da-ticka-da-ticka-da" part from Common's The Light. Rules Of A Star has a rather different premise for hip hop - offering advice on how to keep one's ego in check, but it's also a great sounding track, with a piano riff that sounds like it came from a Guess Who song. Focus Aside shines again on True Fist as his late 90's sounding banger reminds me of something you'd hear from Jedi Mind Tricks. The dreamy beat on Amazement is a bit of a change of pace, but it suits Markit and his philosophical flows to a T.

The jazzy boom-bap of Define Rap Quotable features a guest verse from the always welcome Ghettosocks and also contains a brief Dream Warriors sample, which is always welcome, and a dead giveaway that you are listening to a Canadian hip hop album. Grow also has another great beat, with some slower-paced piano paired with peppy percussion and xylophone sounds providing the backdrop for a coming of age style song that features a perfectly used Ahmad sample near the end. In case you think the straight-ahead bangers are all Something Good have to offer, Funky Time, a 60's soul inspired ode to cutting a rug shows a different side of the group.

If you were to ask me to conclude this review with a nonsensical, golden age comparison, I would have to say that Something Good is like a modern day, melanin-deficient Ultramagnetic, with Markit as Kool Keith, Boy-ill as Ced Gee, Y-Rush as DJ Moe Love and Focus Aside as TR Love (that would, I guess, make Quake their Tim Dog, which kind of suits him). Is this comparison even close to being non-ridiculous? Well I guess you'll need to get yourself a copy of Just Add Water and find out. Or if you're in Halifax, check Something Good live at their release party at Coconut Grove Saturday Night, it should be a great show.

MP3:: Something Good - Did That

VIDEO:: Something Good - Did That

Labels: , , ,

Posted at 9:07 AM by naedoo :: 2 comments

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Quick Hitters:: Lyrics Born

I mentioned Lyrics Born's new mixtape in this week's OSM, so I thought it only made sense to give LB and The Lyrics Born Variety Show Season Pho whatever teensie bit of shine we can offer. I must confess, I missed the first three installments of LB's mixtape series, but the 4th makes me think that were probably some solid listening.

In case you weren't aware that the Japanese James Brown is one of the most hard-working and versatile fellows in indie hip hop, then Season Pho will certainly put you in the know. The mix opens with a rarity - a modern, yet humorous, rap skit, but soon finds LB blessing a Tribe beat (I should look it up, but I'm gonna trust my instincts and say its Lyrics To Go, which seems appropriate anyway) with some social commentary on the The Divide Is Widening. This is kind of the exception though, as the majority of the rest of the album find LB deploying varying styles of the melodic, sing-songy flow he's known for. In fact the transition of styles between songs is impressive, as you can find LB in regular MC mode on one song, and then paying a proper homage to soul greats like the aforementioned JB on the next (The World Is Calling (Remix) & Beautiful Bowlegged Lady).

About half the songs on LBVSSP are guest shots LB has done with other artists - ranging from the souful hip hop of producer J. Boogie's Revolution, to a trio of neo-soul-ish tracks with his wife Joyo Velarde at the mix's middle point, on down to adding his Bay area flavour to the middle eastern funk of Put 'Em Up, a collabo with Tel-Aviv DJ crew Soulico. But the jewel of the whole thing might be Funky Hit Records, a sneak peak of what we can expect from LB's forthcoming new album AS U WERE. The remix version here, from DJ Erb, is solid, but LB was kind enough to offer the original as a free download on his site, and it's just a classic, knee-buckling throwback party track that you'll have stuck in your head for days (and if you were like me, you'd have the "funky, funky, funky, funky, funky hit records" bit bouncing around your skull until you finally remember it comes from My Philosophy). I also enjoy the video much more than I think I should - that Lyrics Born is just an entertaining guy I guess.

So enjoy Funky Hit Records courtesy of Lyrics Born, and get The Lyrics Born Variety Show Season Pho or AS U WERE (when it drops), if you like what you hear.

MP3:: Lyrics Born - Funky Hit Records

VIDEO:: Lyrics Born - Funky Hit Records

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Posted at 9:15 AM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Old School Mondays:: Funky Hit Posting Edition

Well, I'm not going to write a ton for this one, but I think a plethora of quality songs will make up for that. Last week I finally got around to listening to Lyrics Born's new mixtape, which I'd been sent info on a while ago. LB made a video for what I guess can be considered the first single (if mixtapes have singles, although I think it will appear on his next album as well), Funky Hit Records, and if the staccato drum track on that one doesn't make you think of old school hip hop, well then I'm not sure what to tell you. Anyway, it got me thinking about other classic songs that start with "Funky", and so that is what I'm giving you today.

That seems like a pretty broad category, or at least one that would yield a lot of potential songs, but I struggled with it actually. In fact I almost forgot all about one of the best songs on the list below, Three Times Dope's uber-classic Funky Dividends. Anyway, it's been included, so crisis averted, and the rest of the list is pretty damn good I think.

Funky Lemonade has one of the best titles of the 90's, and must be the top in the most intriguing back-story category (Chi-Ali being 14 and in the Native Tongues, killing a guy in '99 over $300). The eternally underrated Lord Finesse with a funky take on the guitar lick that diggety-das would make a big splash with soon after, and LOTUG, who many feel were overrated and blessed with solid Marley production that brought them their 15 minutes back in the early 90's. To wrap things up, we have an eternal classic from the duo that may be only second to the legendary H&O; as far as the hill's love for musical duos goes: Nice & Smooth. Funky For You is awesomeness in melodic, old school hip hop form, we will accept no debate on this. It remains one of the only songs I've done an in-depth lyrical analysis for on the hill, and it only gets better with age.

So there you go, some funkiness for your Monday. Enjoy.

MP3:: Chi-Ali - Funky Lemonade

MP3:: Three Times Dope - Funky Dividends

MP3:: Lord Finesse - Funky Technician

MP3:: Lords Of The Underground - Funky Child

MP3:: Nice & Smooth - Funky For You

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Posted at 12:00 PM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

BOX:: Buff1, The Beatnuts & Warren G.

Well, due to hectic-ness here at the hill as of late (some of the hectic-ness is of the very welcome variety), we've been hitting you with plenty of one & done style posts. Well, I wanted to try and get in a post that involved more music for you fine folks, and since none of my semi-regular features contain more music than BOX!, and because it's been a while since the last one, BOX! it is. I think we've got a good one for you, so enjoy.

MP3:: Buff1 & Danny Brown - Go Off (prod by J Bizness)

Buff1 seems to have arrived on the scene recently along with a bevy of other new school MC's that are setting blog-hearts all aflutter (or PR company hearts at least). But Buff has a couple things going for him that separates him in my eyes: 1. He's an MC who is not only damn good, but he appears to be interested in being an MC - not an actor, a fashion icon, or a professional celebrity. 2. He's from Ann Arbor, and a Michigan fan such as myself will always be won over by such an address. Facetiousness aside, hip hop needs MC's whose main interest is MCing, and Buff has a bit of a Nas quality to him, which is also plenty welcome. Buff is joined on this braggadocios track (provided by Cali producer J. Bizness) by fellow Michigan MC Danny Brown, and I have to say, it's pretty good stuff.

MP3:: Warren G. - Swagger Rich f. Snoop Dogg & Cass

The G. Child returns! From that futuristic Detroit funk, we head out to Cali to re-visit one of the pioneers of the infamous G-Funk sound that is equal parts revered and reviled when looked back on now. I always like Warren though, obviously his melodic flow and simple yet appealing flow made for some catchy songs, but Warren & Co. just seemed to have more fun than Dre & them. That said, I can't say I had a ton 'o fun listening to his latest offering. It isn't bad by today's "club banger by numbers" standards, but it's a little boring - the beat isn't really up to Warren's old standards, and the female vocals are not getting it done. And using "swagger" that much in a song seems to make it sound dated even before it gets a proper release. But hey, it's good to see Warren back in the mix.

MP3:: Alexipharmic - Stardust f. P.O.S., Grynch, Cas One and Sarah Smalley

Ok, something still from the West Coast, yet completely different is up next. I knew nothing about the complexly named Alexipharmic before being sent this song, but he seems like an interesting guy. His latest album as written while on a 30 state roadtrip where he interviewed random people along the way, and he weaved the resulting stories into his songs. He's also donating 50% of the proceeds from his music to charity, which it certainly admirable. If the rest of the songs on the album are like this guitar-laced track, he deserves to generate a nice chunk of charity change. Fellow indie MC's P.O.S., Grynch, and Cas One join Alex, and Sarah Smalley's sultry vocals provide a good example of how female vocals can enhance a hip hop song in certain circumstances.

MP3:: Outkast vs Ratatat - Wheelz of Steel (Dave Wrangler Remix)

This is kind of cheating, as I usually don't include remixes or mashups, but oh well, I like this. And Wheels of Steel is a great song that I hadn't heard in a while, in fact, I haven't heard ATLiens in a while, so I should go do that. I suppose I should also mention that this remix was done by a fellow named Dave Wrangler, who has a remix album coming out soon. So check him out.

MP3:: The Beatnuts - Watch Out Now

MP3:: The Beatnuts - Hot

Now this is really cheating, as I wasn't sent anything from The Beatnuts at all. However, the Nuts are playing here in Halifax tonight at The Paragon Theatre, and that's pretty awesome. And if I can't play some Beatnuts when Psycho Les & Juju are in town, I don't know when I can. Right, so you've got one of my favorite Beatnuts jams, Watch Out Now (Which is also their second best flute usage), and Hot, which features frequent Nuts collaborator, and Hill favorite, Greg Nice.

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Posted at 9:00 AM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Old School Mondays:: Welcome Cillian Acker Edition

It's a long weekend up here in Halifax, perhaps the only really nice and sunny one we'll have this summer, so under ordinary circumstances I might not have even prepared an OSM, but what we have here are circumstances far from normal. This weekend, the Ack and his lovely wife Nic welcomed their first child to this world: Cillian Christian Acker. The Ack has alluded to the fact that their little guy has some sizable challenges ahead of him, but now that he's finally here, I just want to say welcome to Cillian and congrats to Bry and Nic.

So what to welcome Cillian with? Well, in my opinion, there is no better OSM-way to welcome a new baby boy than with the The Ruler, and It's A Boy. But this is your average baby boy, this is the Ack's boy we're talking about, so we've got the original version AND the Large Professor Remix. That's just how we roll on an occasion such as this. But that's not all. We need something else for the Ack, and so of course when the Ack and hip hop are concerned, we have to visit the Beastie canon. So, even though it was kind of a ridiculous song, in this case the title has plenty of meaning, so a remix version of Fight For Your Right it is.

Congrats again Bry and Nic.

MP3:: Slick Rick - It's A Boy

MP3:: Slick Rick - It's A Boy (Large Professor Remix)

MP3:: Beastie Boys - Fight For Your Right (Junkie XL Mix)

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Posted at 9:00 AM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Video Hits:: Shad, Buck 65, D-Sisive

I've gone the All-Canadian route on BOX!, our semi-regular rap single round-up, quite a few times actually, but I'm not sure I've ever done it for our video segment. Well, no time like the present I say, and that's all the more true when you consider I just so happen to have accumulated some videos from the creme de la creme of Canadian hip hop (milestone: first time I've used creme de la creme in a post I do believe). Shad, Buck 65, and D-Sisive, does it get any better when you're talking Canadian hip hop? Well perhaps Devon, HDV and Local Dre would be better, but I don't have any of those videos, so we'll go with the previous 3.

Considering I'm a huge fan of his, I always look forward to anything new from Shad (speaking of which, anyone know the status of a new Shad album? Hopefully one is well in the works), and so I was excited to post his latest video for Compromise. It's really kind of a stylized affair, with Shad and his lovely partner playing the role of sophisticated secret agents on the hunt for crooked white collar crooks. So it's a cool video, but one problem, I've just noticed that it's not embeddable, soooo, I'll just link to that one, and post the video for Brother (Watching), which I don't think I've posted before and also happens to be one of my favorite Canadian hip hop songs ever. So it's not a bad stand-in.

Shad - Brother (Watching)

MP3:: Shad - Brother (Watching)

Buck 65's Situation has been out since '07, but animator Benjamin Logsdon has created a new video for Buck's James Dean-esque track, The Rebel, and it's pretty awesome. Is the video related to the subject matter? Not exactly, but it's just damn well done, so check it below and enjoy.

Buck 65 - The Rebel

MP3:: Buck 65 - The Ready

I've been pretty effusive in regards to D-Sisive and his output over the last year or so I'm not going to say much more here - except to say that I think Let the Children Die could have easily replaced the hip hop album that made the Polaris short list. Anyway, D has since released two new videos for the album, and they are certainly both worth a posting, so enjoy.

D-Sisive - Wonderful World

D-Sisive - Mr. Daydream

MP3:: D-Sisive - Veronica Vaughn (One Piece of Ash)

MP3:: D-Sisive - Like This f. Guilty Simpson

** Bonus Time **
I just realized these three dudes are all on Classified's Loonie, along with DL Incognito, so I figured even though I've posted this vid before, he deserved some run.

DL Incognito - Air Play

MP3:: DL Incognito - Air Play

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Posted at 10:51 AM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Where Are They Now:: Craig G. & Marley Marl

The Deal
Ok, here's the debut post for a new section here on the hill. Basically, it's a companion feature for OSM: we're gonna follow Nas' lead and post on any new music that we come across from the Golden Age MCs we all loved. I've talked before about posting any and all new music from any old school MC that either Ack or I loved, and so I've finally got around to doing just that. So if you've got any suggestions for artists you think we should feature here, send them our way. But let's get to the debut edition of WATN here on herohill...


Who:: Craig G. & Marley Marl
I know I'm not alone, but I've always viewed Craig G. as one of the Golden Age's more underrated MC's. He's a natural who makes MCing sound easy, and a legendary battle rapper. The legendary Marley Marl, if I need to tell you who he is, well then you're on your own.

Why:: Well Marley has earned the right to bend ears no matter what he puts out. If his next collab album is with Skee-Lo, I'm still going to check it out. As for Craig G., I still consider his second album, Now, That's More Like It an old-school favorite of mine (U R Not The 1? Classic). He was on The Symphony. Oh, and he wrote most of the battle raps for 8 Mile, and I know you loved the 8 Mile.

What:: Operation Take Back Hip Hop
Last year's collaboration album between these two juice crew legends is intended to do exactly what the title implies: put wack MC's in place and bring real hip hop back to the forefront. I didn't hear this album until early this year, but it's a perfect candidate for the debut of this here section.

Highlights:: Marley's production: Marlon is still the master of beats that are essentially minimalist, but still knock just perfectly. Today's beatmakers would do themselves a favour by giving this a listen - sometimes less is in fact more. Guests are kept to a minimum, but Rakaa of Dilated Peoples, Talib, Sadat X & KRS all make welcome appearances. Notable tracks: Reintroduction, We Gets It In, All Seasons, Stay In Ya Lane & Not A Word. Craig is still one of the best at kicking the battle raps, but to his credit, he never comes across as a bitter old-timer just hating on the new MC's - his lyrics are thoughful throughout the album:

Operation take back hip hop's begun
My fun comes from fake thugs being shunned
A lot of these false profiteers had their run
What happened to miuzi weighs a ton? Are we done?

Verdict:: The Dopest Duo to come out of Queensbridge still has it, in my opinion anyway. "Real hip hop" has been said so much that it's beyond cliche at this point, but I'm not sure what other phrase works better. Anyway, this is the kind of thing I mean when I use that phrase, so give it a listen.

MP3:: Craig G. & Marley Marl - We Gets It In f. Talib Kweli

MP3:: Craig G. & Marley Marl - All Seasons

Labels: Craig G, , Marley Marl,

Posted at 11:00 AM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Reviews:: Grand Analog - Metropolis Is Burning

Not too long ago, mentioning "hip hop" and "live instruments" in the same sentence was kind of like using "baseball" and "steroids" together in the late 90's - it was a bit of a taboo. But these days hip hop has changed a bit, and just like steroids in baseball, (yes, I know you saw this coming) everyone is doing it. This move towards mainstream hip hop embracing live sounds, and even gravitating somewhat towards the indie rock scene, has been going on for a while, but things have already changed a great deal since Grand Analog came on the scene in 2006.

So it seems appropriate that GA, the hip hop band/collective helmed by Odario Williams, has evolved their sounds since their last release. I was a big fan of their '07 release, Calligraffitti, but right from the first paragraph of that review, I was classifying it as experimental. And with good reason, I mean the name suggests as much, and upon reflection, the songs, despite many being really rather catchy, maintained a rather eclectic, yet serious, tone (something like Touch Your Toes being an exception). This time out, it seems that Odario & Co. are content to just make music they enjoy, and not feel like they have to justify the inclusion of guitars and such in their sound.

At least that's my take on their new album, Metropolis Is Burning, and that shift seems apparent from the get-go, with chunky guitar riffs and sweet horn sounds taking the lead on "be yourself" anthem I Play My Kazoo. Not sure if it says more about me, or hip hop in general, that the kazoo solo outro doesn't seem as novel as it once would have. Whereas the reggae sounds on Calligraffitti seemed to have been mixed down into a number of other influences, they are out in front on the feel good city-escape endorsing Take It Slow (Spaces & Places), and the radio-ready song (well, if your radio station starts & ends with "C" and has a "B" in the middle) is better for it I would say.

The radio-friendly vibes continue on the bouncy I'm On Fire, which features guest vocals from Maiko Watson (ex-...ahem...Sugar Jones) and a scene-stealing guest verse from Winnipeg MC Len Bowen. I'm a big fan of this jam, really catchy stuff, good use of the female vocals on the hook. I'm afraid the same cannot be said of Stir Crazy, which also features vocals from Maiko, but feels like something is missing - not even the Nice & Smooth homage in Odario's opening verse can get it over the hump for me. However, the K-Solo homage found on the raucous Her Daddy (Don't Like Me) is certainly welcome, and had me hooked before the harmonica outro reeled me in for good.

Electric City features the always-solid Shad, and that alone pretty much guarantees my approval, but it also happens to be a pretty great song. The latter half of the album feels a little subdued, as it's dominated by more bottom-heavy, hip hop oriented tracks like Not Enough Mondays/Crunch and Videogames (which incidentally, isn't the best title if one were worried about being perceived as a nerdy/intellectual, not that Odario cares about that, purely an observation on my part). Everyday Always and Brothers Gotta Eat bring the reggae vibes back again, and the shifty Light So Bright unfortunately doesn't sample Corey Hart, but it does feature a cameo from Edmonton's new Poet Laureate.

So the verdict on Metropolis Is Burning? It's certainly a solid album, with a number of songs that stand out as singles (well, they would if Canada's hip hop industry wasn't so barren), and it strikes me as an album that would appeal to a wide-range of musical tastes. For me, I think the first GA album hit with a bit more impact, but really, what act can't you say that about? If you're new to Grand Analog, get this album and play it loud the rest of the summer. Or better still, check the dates below and catch Odario & Co on tour with Toronto electro outfit Lioness in Various Canadian cities over the next month.

MP3:: Grand Analog - Electric City f. Shad

Jul 23: The Montreal House - Peterborough, ON
Jul 24: The Ford Plant - Brantford, ON
Jul 25: Toronto Day Show @ Dundas Square - Toronto, ON
Jul 25: Club Absinthe - Hamilton, ON
Aug  2: Cutting Edge Music Festival - Kitchener, ON
Aug  6: Media Club - Vancouver, BC
Aug  7: Habitat - Kelowna, BC
Aug  9: Shambhala Music Fest - Salmo, BC
Aug 11: Henotic Resto Lounge - Lethbridge, AB
Aug 12: The Hi Fi - Calgary, AB
Aug 13: Pawn Shop - Edmonton, AB
Aug 14: Amigo’s - Saskatoon, SK
Aug 15: The Pyramid - Winnipeg, MB

VIDEO:: Grand Analog - Her Daddy (Don't Like Me)

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Posted at 12:00 PM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Quick Hitters:: Wordburglar & The Dirty Sample

It's Tuesday, I'm back from a 4 day weekend, and as the Ack mentioned earlier today, the record pool here on the hill is a little shallow. So what to post? Well after enjoying The Les Kils EP from Backburner crew members More Or Les & Fresh Kils last week, I thought I'd pass along some more Backburner news, this time from Haligonian and king of the humorous one-liner: Wordburglar.

It seems SJ is heading out on the road for a series of shows across the Eastern portion of Canada. There will be plenty of Backburner representation accompanying him, with Jesse Dangerously, Toolshed & Fresh Kils also playing each show, and they'll be joined by special guests at each show. Pretty solid chance to see some quality Canadian hip hop live and in person, so check the dates below and check them out in your town.

24 Jul 2009 22:00 TORONTO - Rancho Relaxo Toronto, Ontario
29 Jul 2009 20:00 MONTREAL - Green Room Montreal, Quebec
30 Jul 2009 21:00 OTTAWA - Lotus Lounge Ottawa, Ontario
1  Aug 2009 22:00 LONDON - Rum Runners Lounge London, Ontario
2  Aug 2009 21:00 BAYFIELD - The Black Dog Village Pub Bayfield, Ontario
8  Aug 2009 22:00 HALIFAX - The Seahorse Tavern HALIFAX, Nova Scotia
13 Aug 2009 20:00 CAPE BRETON - Governor’s Pub Sydney, Nova Scotia

Video:: Wordburglar - The Route

MP3:: Wordburglar - The Route

MP3:: Wordburglar - End Smartly (The Dirty Sample Remix)

Now that I've posted two songs from the album, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Beauty & Poison from Calgary producer The Dirty Sample. As a teaser for a new remix album he's releasing later on this summer, TDS has teamed up with the good folks at Hand'Solo to give away a completely different remix album featuring plenty of Canadian talent:

A new remix album is on deck for Hand’Solo Records, with Calgary, Alberta producer The Dirty Sample remixing a great selection of songs from rappers in Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and Japan. In order to celebrate the upcoming (summer) release of Joshua’s Dreamixes, Hand’Solo Records and The Dirty Sample (through his Work Turkey label and production company) is offering up this little promo album, Beauty & Poison, as a free download. It features 18 remixes that are 100% completely different from those found on Joshua’s Dreamixes. Download it now. You won’t be disappointed!

It is indeed good stuff, both the jazzy Wordburlgar jam above and the More Or Les song I posted with the Les Kils review sound great, and check out the songs below - Going Out On A Highnote is a fantastic Canadian posse cut with a prototypical posse cut beat. So no need to delay, go ahead and get your free copy of Beauty & Poison.

MP3:: Toolshed - Wookie Boots (Dirty Sample Remix)

MP3::Addvice - Going Out On A High Note f. Cadence Weapon, Touch, Stray, Chris Plus & Chazmo (Dirty Sample Remix)

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Posted at 12:00 PM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Reviews:: More Or Les & Fresh Kils - The Les Kils EP

I think it's safe to say that the MC/Producer combo has replaced the MC/DJ as the preferred hip hop combo in the 00's. In days gone by, in order to create hip hop, whether in the studio or live on stage, a DJ on the 1's & 2's was a pre-requisite. At some point though, the DJ role became more about creating instrumentals, not playing them. MC's certainly recognized this sea-change as much as anyone, and so from their perspective, it made sense to get aligned with someone whose beats play such a major role in their success or failure.

Is this a positive development? Well it's debatable, because while I think it's sad to see the DJ's role reduced, there's no denying that some quality music has resulted from these new-school MC/Producer unions (Soul Position, Madvillian, DangerDoom, and 9th Wonder & almost anyone you can think of spring to mind immediately, but there are tons more). Canada is not immune to this phenomenon, and the latest evidence of this is a collaboration between Backburner crew mates More Or Les & Fresh Kils with their new EP, The Les Kils EP.

Not sure if this is intended to be a one-off collab, but I'll go ahead now and cast my vote for more music from Les & Kils. The two mesh perfectly, with the snap and thump of Kils MPC-laced beats providing a solid foundation for Les' lyrically intensive lyrics that he delivers with a sly grin. From the thump and bounce of the EP's first proper song, Rip Rap and its bluesy guitar riffs, More Or Les grabs your attention with his speedy, yet melodious, flow. Put It Together follows, and while it remains similar in subject matter (the bigging up of true hip hop and its accompanying culture), the beat has more of a "hard & soft" feel - with floaty chimes playing a major role, but being counter balenced by solid drums and plenty of well-timed scratched samples.

Which reminds me, although I spent the whole intro of this post talking about the MC/Producer dynamic, Les & Kils certainly haven't forgotten about the DJ. It's The DJ is a song dedicated to exactly that purpose, reminding folks that the DJ still has a major role to play in hip hop. More to that point, Les & Kils recruited Haligonian (and fellow Backburner associate) Uncle Fester to provide the cuts & scratches for the majority of the songs on the EP. He does fine work too, providing a ton of classic samples over the course of this short album.

In case I haven't quite convinced you of the merits of The Les Kils EP, here's one more thing to like. These days the throwback, nostalgic track is as trendy as rocking high tops with the tongue sticking out seems to have become. So sure, everyone does the high school "when I first got into hip hop" song, but Les, with the help of Timbuktu and the Grand Wizard Ghettosocks take it back to middle school with Pop N Chips. The three MC's kick tag team raps over an 80's fast rap & horns beat, and there are also mentions of the Zit Remedy, Edison Twins, and Hyper Colour. What's not to like there? Nothing friend.

Considering I've enjoyed the work of both More Or Les and Fresh Kils in their previous, separate endeavors, it's no surprise that I'm a big fan of their EP. It does what a good EP should, provide nothing but quality songs, and leave the listener wanting to hear more. It's also further proof that, as far as crews go, Backburner is one of, if not the most prolific producers of quality hip hop in Canada. If your knowledge of Canadian hip hop begins and ends with what ends up on the various Polaris lists, this is the kind of thing you need to hear.

More Or Les & Fresh Kils - Rip Rap

More Or Les & Fresh Kils - Pop N Chips f. Ghettosocks & Timbuktu

MP3:: More Or Les - Comedy Two

MP3:: More Or Les - Talk To The Hand (Solo) (Dirty Sample Remix)

Labels: Backburner, , Fresh Kils, , More Or Les

Posted at 10:14 AM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Old School Mondays:: The Grunt Edition

Hopefully you caught my late Friday post on Skratch Bastid's new mix 110%, cause it's might good, and it's a free download, so go back and check it out if you haven't. Anyway, there was so much good stuff on that mix that I figured I'd get an idea for this week's OSM from it. And I thought it was going to be easy too, as I immediately planned on posting some Positive K, considering Bastid included I Got A Man on his mix, and I love the Pos K, it was a done deal. That is until I realized that I've already posted on Pos' one album two different times.

So it was time for a plan B, and luckily it was easy to find. The Public Enemy-The Grunt Mega-Mix from 110% cuts and splices PE with one of the breaks they are most associated with: The Grunt by The J.B.'s. PE's Nation Of Millions was the album that essentially got me addicted to hip hop, a habit I still can't kick today - regardless of how bad for me that product may be today. But anyway, anytime I hear the wailing horns laid down James Brown's posse, I get flooded with awesome memories. Night of the Living Baseheads, Rebel Without a Pause and Terminator X to the Edge of Panic (props to the Bastid for including the transformed Flash Gordon intro, awesome stuff) all use the Grunt,so that go me wondering what other songs have sampled it? So there you have this week's OSM, top 5 jams that sample The Grunt.

Night Of The Living Baseheads leads us off, because A) It is one of my favorite songs ever and B) I have never posted it. So done deal. PR & CL Smooth's Soul Brother #1 also features The Grunt's wailing horns, and I don't think I've posted nearly enough PR & CL for OSM, so this is a good call. I've said this before, and I'll say it again, you can never post too much Ultramagnetic, so Ease Back, which also features those same horns, is up next. The Jungle Brothers U Make Me Sweat is a more subtle sampler of The Grunt, but it's perfect for this, because not only have I always loved this funky track from Done By The Forces Of Nature, but the song that proceeds it on the album, What U Waitin' 4? is also included on Bastid's 100% mix. We'll finish up with more of an obscure one: Van Full of Pakistans from Y'all So Stupid. Honestly I'm not sure where this ties in, but the interweb tells me it does indeed sample The Grunt, and I'm 99% sure I have this tape in a box somewhere, and that made me smile, so I'm putting on here. Not a bad list in my humble, so enjoy.

MP3:: Public Enemy - Night of the Living Baseheads

MP3:: Pete Rock & CL Smooth - Soul Brother #1

MP3:: Ultramagnetic MC's - Ease Back

MP3:: The Jungle Brothers - U Make Me Sweat

MP3:: Y'All So Stupid - Van Full of Pakistans (Skeff Uncensored)

Video:: Public Enemy - Night of the Living Baseheads

Video:: Y'All So Stupid - Van Full of Pakistans

Not strictly hip hop per se, but if you ever did the running man at a school dance, then you'll enjoy this next one. I know hill co-founder Shawn Lapaix will at least.

MP3:: Joe Public - Live and Learn

Labels: , James Brown, Jungle Brothers, , , Ultramagnetic

Posted at 10:31 AM by naedoo :: 1 comments

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Old School Mondays:: Michael Jackson Sample Edition

Perhaps you were done reading MJ-related posts? Not so fast friend. Not to worry though, I've already done my little tribute post, so this right here is more like 40% tribute, and 60% not being able to pass up a solid angle for OSM. So yes, today we've got for you a top five of old school hip hop that sample Michael Jackson.

Now Michael Jackson didn't seem like the most hip hop guy going, but after hearing him mentioned by countless MC's through the years, I think hip hop dudes were drawn to him a lot more than one would suspect. I think if you listen to his music, older stuff especially, one would certainly surmise that buried somewhere deep under the layers of whatever MJ had done to himself over the years, was a large reservoir of soul, and rappers have usually responded to soulful types, even the non-traditional ones like Prince or MJ. And yes, they also sample from them, but like most huge artists, the samples stopped quite a while ago when the songwriter realized they could charge an MC their first-born to let them use even the most inane thing, like the Orson Wells laugh from Thriller (didn't stop NWA or PE though).

But that's ok, there's still some awesome songs that were able to use some MJ material, so let's go through the ones I picked. Our lead-off track, the bon-kares Just Keep Rockin' by Brits the Double Trouble and the Rebel MC serves a dual purpose - not only does it sample my fave jam (Don't Stop Till You Get Enough), but hill alumnus Mr. E has been requesting an OSM appearance by these dudes for ages. So there you go, done and done. Chubb Rock. Vocal sample from Off The Wall. Need I say more about the Chubbster's Enjoy Ya Self? If you know my history, then I think not. Mental Stamina was always one of my favorite Jeru songs, and up until now I never knew the beat sampled Billie Jean. Well then, that makes it perfect for this list doesn't it? Speaking of favorites, De La's Breakadawn from the cult-ishly beloved Buhloone Mindstate also fits squarely in that category, and it also happens to sample I Can't Help It from Off The Wall. And to wrap things up, perhaps the penultimate MJ sample, the sublime sampling of Human Nature by Large Pro for Nas' It Ain't Hard To Tell. That's good stuff, so enjoy.

MP3:: Double Trouble And The Rebel M.C. - Just Keep Rockin'

MP3:: Chubb Rock - Enjoy Ya Self

MP3:: Jeru The Damaja - Mental Stamina

MP3:: De la Soul - Breakadawn

MP3:: Nas - It Aint Hard To Tell

Video:: Nas - It Aint Hard To Tell

The cutoff for OSM inclusion is '95, otherwise I'd certainly have included the jam below, Big Pun's You Ain't A Killer, not only because I love the song, but also because it samples MJ's With A Child's Heart, which seems like as unlikely pairing as one could get, in just about every way.

MP3:: Big Pun - You Ain't a Killer

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Posted at 11:00 AM by naedoo :: 2 comments

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Old School Mondays:: Easy Mo Bee - Part 1

I'll be honest, I have no idea where the inspiration for this week's OSM comes from. Well that isn't entirely true: somehow last week I came across the Easy Mo Bee interview below, but I don't exactly know how or why I came across it. It matters little though, as I've always enjoyed Mo Bee's work, and this is gave me a chance to dig into some of his earlier work. As you might've guessed by the title, I'm expecting to do a second Mo Bee OSM at some point, so go ahead and bate that breath in anticipation of that.

But who exactly is Easy Mo Bee? I hear some of you asking. I'm disappointed in those of you asking that question, but the Coles notes version reads something like "producer from Brooklyn, started his career as a member of hip hop & doo wop group Rappin' Is Fundamental, got his break as a producer on BDK's It's A Big Daddy Thing, won a Grammy producing Miles Davis' final album, and got hooked up with Bad Boy to do important early records for Craig Mack & Biggie." That's the general gist, but Wiki and the interview below have more info for you. I'm not sure exactly what it is I like about Mo Bee's work, but I've always found it to be really soulful - always with plenty of thump for the trunk, but at the same time retaining a really melodic feel.

So, a rundown of the songs amassed for part one of our OSM Easy Mo Bee retrospective:

Rappin Is Fundamental' - Rappin Is Fundamental - As mentioned, Mo Bee's original group, and he was not only the producer, but one of the MC's. This is lead track from their one and only LP, breaking down what RIF is all about - which happens to be a mixture of hip hop and doo wop backing vocals. Despite how semi-ridiculous that concept sounds, this album has aged better than one would guess. The beats are tight, and Mo Bee actually has some MC-ing chops.

Big Daddy Kane - Calling Mr. Welfare - This was always one of my favorite BDK tracks, it's not one of his most well-known jams, but anyone who loves It's A Big Daddy Thing likely loves this song too. The legendary Red Alert makes an appearance, and I had no idea Mo Bee produced this, but the killer bassline & horns combo always had me hyped. BDK was feeling it to, as he's in fantastic form here "Talking about 'Whaddup', can't even pro-nounce your words correct, now in retro-spect that's a shame." Great stuff.

GZA/Genius - The Genius Is Slammin' - I talked about Words From The Genius late last year, so I'm not going to go into any detail about it here, but it's the Genius and Easy Mo Bee, you can do the math.

3rd Bass - The Gladiator (Easy Mo Bee Remix) - Pete & Serch's last recording effort as a group, kind of sad, but an Easy Mo Bee remix is a good sadness antidote I'd say. The youngsters amongst our readers likely have no idea that this was from the soundtrack for Gladiator, a hip hop-flavoured boxing flick that featured Cuba Gooding Jr. I know what you're thinking, "that sounds awesome!" You would think, but sadly, no.

Prince Rakeem - Sexcapades (DMD Mix) - This song appeared on the EP with Ooh We Love Your Rakim, so unfortunately it played second fiddle to that awesome RZA/Rakeem jam, but it's pretty excellent in it's own semi-raunchy for '91 way. Mo Bee's Pete Rock-esque organ-laced track is also a winner.

J. Rock - Let Me Introduce Myself - I had no idea who this dude is, but he's become blog-famous (so, in reality, not famous at all) due mainly to the DJ Premiere and MO Bee production on the album this comes from, Streetwize. It's kind of old school, NY gangster stuff, but this one has a solid Humpty Hump sample, but no I won't do the Humpty dance for you, so stop asking.

Biggie Smalls - Party and Bullshit - Biggie, from the classic hip hop flick Who's The Man? Need I say more about this one? Likely one of Mo Bee's crown jewels.

Easy Mo Bee Interview

Rappin' Is Fundamental

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Posted at 8:41 PM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Reviews:: Modulok - Cities And Years

It seems somehow fitting that although this is the third album involving Toronto MC Modulok that I've reviewed in a relatively short timespan, I've only now realized that Modulok was also the name of a He-Man villain. I say fitting because Cities and Years appears to be the most revealing record Modulok has put out to date. Certainly Moe's lyrics on this album have more interesting things to reveal than a connection to a popular 80's cartoon, but the comparison works for my purposes.

You know what else works? This album. I have to say, if a young MC were to ask me what a hip hop album should look like in '09, this is the one I might point to now. It's eight songs of straight forward hip hop goodness: no fifty guests and no un-necessary gun talk or forced, tight-pants hipster rap nonsense. Solid beats and thoughtful rhymes are enough for me. I know this isn't enough for most folks these days, but it really should be.

Cities and Years also does something not enough albums do these days: its opening song sets the pace for the rest of the album. Cool and Deadly has a laid back, yet thumping, beat, which is augmented with some guitar licks and scratched snippets of classic hip hop tracks, laced with some contemplative lyrics from Modulok (and Apollo Creed on this song, who I enjoyed after first encountering him on his last outing with Modulok. He drops "stay gold Ponyboy", which should also endear him to the Ack). I have to admit, this kind of hip hop is pretty much exactly in my wheelhouse - the Premier-esque, 90's combo of rugged drums and scratched samples, so if you can do it well in this day & age, I'm on board. Modulok and producer Leon Murphy, who I think produced this whole album, have done it really, really well here.

I think I'll go out on a limb and say Your Boyfriends' A Cokehead might be one of the better hip hop songs you'll hear this year. The almost comical name is in contrast to the wistful, almost sorrowful, tone of the song, created by the mournful horns and Moes lyrics that find him opening up about his wish that the object of his affection would drop her sniffy boyfriend and let him take his spot.

Your boyfriend got a flimsy handshake.
Your boyfriend dresses like Justin Timberlake.
Your boyfriend won't take you to rap shows.
Your boyfriend snorts white shit up his nose

I can't do the lyrics justice without Modulok's deadpan, matter-of-fact delivery of them, but this is really a great song in my humble. As is the confessional A Certain Time Of The Day, built on a static-y bed of thumping drums and twinkly piano loops, it is certainly a more personal view of Modulok as more than an MC - admitting he feels down from time to time, but hip hop and the buzz of the city pulls him out of his funk.

Honestly, just listening to the cut-up samples in Timewalker (Jay, DOOM and (I think) The Grand Wizard Ghettosocks!) and Miserable Existentialist (Mobb Deep, Mos Def, and an awesome Cee-Lo Green) makes me very, very happy, but the beats and rhymes on both are also really solid, so it's win-win. Album closer Keep Moving offers some light-hearted hip hop life philosophy from Moe, Apollo Creed, and Abyss, but I have to say, I think Apollo steals the show with his Blueprint-esque flow.

Quite often we say things here like "I hope this album reaches a lot of ears", but in this case I mean it in spades. I'm not sure how well-know Modulok is in Canada, outside of Toronto, but he and his crew at Takaba Records are doing the kind of hip hop purists are always clamoring for, so here's hoping they reach as many ears as possible. You should do your part and get a copy of Cities and Years.

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Posted at 12:42 PM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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