Friday, April 30, 2010

The Wet Lands

Pacific Northwest Yes Y'all We Rock Fresh
More greatness from Word Sayer and Negus I, aka Source of Labor. Here they present their Northwest hip hop anthem "Wet Lands"(with Vitamin D making a well-deserved appearance on the turntables), along with "Interstate Translate" on the flipside, featuring I Self Divine from the Micranots. Take a careful listen to Negus I's production on both cuts. His style is distinctive and dense, with layers upon layers of percussion. Over the years he's become one of my favorite beatmakers, and these two tracks demonstrate his style well.

Wet Lands 12"

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tilson

Knight of the Turntable
Here's a release from Tacoma emcee Tilson, from 1999 on K Records' Impact imprint. He had an additional track on the Northwest comp Classic Elements, and then went under the radar for a few years, only to pop back up alongside Oldominion emcee Barfly in the excellent NW third-wavers The Saturday Knights. If you've been living under a rock and haven't yet checked them out, please do so. It's hotness. To check out Tilson's beginnings as a solo artist, click below.

Action/Kisses 12"

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I Guess

This Is Dedicated To All Vinyl Collectors

Awol's 2nd single for Speakerface sports some great artwork, as well as two of that album's many highlights. The A-side ("I Guess") shows Awol at his most haggard and resigned, while the B-side ("The Last Song") is classic hip hop, with such an infectious beat (provided by Mike Nardone) that it would have been completely fitting if it had been the first track on the then-upcoming record. In 2000, back when this came out, I put one song or the other on many a mix. To hear why, just give a listen.

I Guess 12"

Thursday, April 15, 2010

NME

Awol One: Forever MC'ing 'Til The Night He Retires

Records Broken/Celestial release "NME" from Awol One and Mike Nardone. This was my first exposure to Awol One's grumbly-old-man style after "Little Piece of Heaven" from Beneath the Surface. I really dug that track, but I wasn't about to get my hopes up for this 12". What I loved about "Little Piece" was how weary and stark it was. Awol sounded like he had one foot in the grave, and OD provided that elliptical, redundant beat that complimented Awol's exercise in existential futility to a T. It sounded like a fluke, and I just assumed that Awol One couldn't, and more likely wouldn't want to, keep up that level of buzz-kill in the future. It would just be too good to be true.
How wrong I was! Little did I know is that's what Awolrus is all about. He's the 1,000 year-old MC, getting up every day and doing his stupid thing, although every arthritic bone in his body is screaming at him to give up and die already. This is what I loved about "Little Piece of Heaven" and here he was on this 12", essentially repeating the story three more times, adopting the role of Sisyphus for all the 90's Gen X slackers out there. How perfect.
"NME", "Sleepin' All Day" and the haunting "Skye" are a perfect snapshot of Awol One's message, style and delivery. He mumbles along about death, lack of ambition, and self-loathing (with a healthy dose of apocalyptic imagery); while Mike Nardone provides ragged, sloppy beats that fit the mood as well as OD's did on "Little Piece". Kool Keith and 2MEx do what they can to liven the mood on the title cut, but it's a short lived attempt. It's like trying to raise the dead.

So I love this 12". I wound up playing this a ton after I got it. And when I played it for my friends, and they said he was just doing the same thing over and over, I just had to laugh.

NME 12"


Monday, April 12, 2010

Anti-Christ

...huh.

This is OD and Spoon Of Iodine's track from the great Tags of the Times compilation from 2001. Spoon's a distinctive lyricist to say the least; from his appearances on Innercity Griots and Project Blowed, to his notorious track "I Bash", to his later work with Omid on Tags and Monolith, the reclusive Spoon has provided lyrically dense, extremely intense, and oftentimes controversial and disturbing material. "Anti-Christ" is no different. Here he presents his view on the Americanization of Christmas and the materialism inherent in it, and treats it as not only as sacrilegious, but satanic. Let's just say Omid provides an appropriate backdrop.
Omid reported last year that he and Spoon were at work on a full-length album, slated to drop sometime this year. I know not to put too much stock in reports like that, but I can still hope - even if I don't agree with everything Spoon has to say!
This is the one-sided 12" from label Mary-Joy from 2000. Vocal and instrumental track included.

Anti-Christ 12"

Mayday

Self Jupiter's Encouraging Notes
It isn't often when forces come together as strongly as on Self Jupiter's debut solo 12". Here he teams up with not one, but two of my favorite producers: OD aka Omid, and Elusive. Elusive handles the title cut, an almost pastoral salutation to everybody's health, good fortune, and well-being; while OD handles the flipside - both literally and figuratively, with the creepy, disturbing sex/snuff track "It Was On This Night."
Jupiter has had a troubled life, not to mention career. He's held in almost god-like esteem by his fans as the mad genius of a group of mad geniuses, yet much of the acclaim he deserves has been denied to him due to one unfortunate circumstance or another. The two songs on this 12" sum up this duality perfectly - the bright and the dark sides of Jupiter.

Mayday

Friday, April 9, 2010

Moon Music

Psycho Outro

More madness from Adlib aka Thavius Beck. Adlib constantly amazes me. He's managed to create a ton of music over his career, always progressing, always sounding unique and different and new, and always making sounds that are unmistakably his. I covet his music; I don't like to listen it too much, in fear of becoming too familiar with it. His music is fresh, and so his music is for fresh ears.
Coming from 2002, this instrumental noise-fest is sometimes abrasive, oftentimes melodic, and always intriguing. Also, the album is named after a Kids In The Hall skit (I'm talking the Canadian tv show here), requiring you to love it.

Advanced Sound Unit

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Now You're Tuned In To The Sounds Of Jasiri

Beyond Reality W/Source Of Labor

Kylea comes out strong on this slab of hot wax from 1998. Blessed with one of the smoothest voices in hip hop, she could be found all over Rain City releases for years, from 14 Fathoms to Choked Up to Stolen Lives - and often times I felt her guest appearances outshone the featured artist. With an impeccable delivery and imagery-filled lyrics, she is definitely an artist in command of her art. This collaborative 12" features two stellar tracks from Kylea with Negus I on beats (two of his best, in my opinion), and an additional track by Source Of Labor. The A-side, "I reality", has to be one of my all-time favorite Northwest tracks without a doubt.

I Reality

The Four Bad Brothers From The Northwest

Sureshotsingles Vol. 1

Seattle hip hop godheads Source of Labor dropped this vinyl debut on their own Jasiri Media Group label back in 1995. Emcees Blahzay Blah and Word Sayer come with the lyrical consciousness, while producers Negus I and Kamikaze provide some classic rhythm to rhyme over. Comparing this early release to SOL's later work, it's a shame that Blahzay didn't stay on, as Word Sayer's dense and crowded delivery worked well as a contrast to his smooth and even style. Jasiri family members Kylea (of Beyond Reality), and Felicia Loud (currently of Black Stax) join in on vocal duties, with beats provided on "Come With Me" by producer extraordinaire Vitamin D.

Sureshotsingles Vol. 1

Monday, April 5, 2010

Veganz Want Beef

The Sickest, The Sickest, Crazy-Mad Psychos The Slickest
One word: Sleazy.
To elucidate: One illa crew album from BLX (Bassline Xcursionists), featuring a bunch of great lyricists throwing caution and morality to the wind. This album is sick, nasty and hilarious - Luther Campbell would be proud. Omni, Otherwize, Zig ESP, Mol Man, Black Silver, Resek, Universal, and Mum's the Word, among others, leave their slimy trails all over this release.
You want this beef.

Veganz Want Beef

Sunday, April 4, 2010

R.E.A.L. Ghetto Soldiers

Stranger and Wolfish: R.E.A.L.
If you know the name R.E.A.L., it's probably due to Fat Jack's legendary Cater To The DJ album. The sibling duo of Stranger and Wolfish had not one but two coveted spots on that comp, and for good reason. They came with two of the strongest cuts on that record, and it wasn't due to lyrical density or emcee acrobatics (which is what that album, and Project Blowed in general, is known for); on the contrary, R.E.A.L. stood out due to the restraint and straight-forwardness of their craft. The craft being flow. They have it like no other act out there. And listening to their music you can hear the dedication they have to their craft. There is a disarmingly effortless quality to it, which only comes with passion for the art. And one thing is certain, they are a couple of pros at this - it's as if they're in each other's heads. The outcome of this is that their voices collectively are unmistakable, but I can never tell when one emcee ends and the other begins. Stranger and Wolfish play off each other in such a subtle and tight form that it's no wonder for years I thought R.E.A.L. was only one man. It's also no wonder they named a later record of theirs The Art Of Flow.
Immortalized is their debut EP from 2000. The two tracks from Cater are here, as well as two other bangers. It's a great introduction, or reintroduction, to this awesome team.

Immortalized

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Get Ya Mind Right

Massdog
This is a great underground record by workingman producer/emcee Massive aka Massdog. From 2005, this album features several members of the Blowed/Street Life Family, including Dutch, R.E.A.L., Blaze, and Fist Ta Cuffs. There's even a special appearance by Rappin 4 Tay (whom Massive has produced for in the past). Atmospheric, world-weary and dark, this is a classic slab of west coast gangsta.

Mind Right

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Shinin'

Take One And None Present The Director's Cut
K Records puts out some surprising stuff now and again. Take this one, for example: The Shinin's Directors Cut EP. This west coast release, produced entirely by Take One and None, featured the rare combination (at least at that time) of both Cali and Northwest emcees. PM, Universal, DR. OOP, and J-Thorn represent the south, while Samson S, Vitamin D, and Bedroom Produksionz stand up for the north. 8 tracks in all, 5 vox and 3 instrumental. From 2000.
This post, incidentally, marks the first time I've used my turntable in months - I just fished it out of storage. Expect more vinyl soon!

Director's Cut EP