Monday, May 31, 2010

Run The Show

Mr. Supreme of the Conmen

Request...
Mr. Supreme makes some amazing beats, as this double A-sided 12" attests. The A-side, featuring Al'Tariq, is a bouncy, funky track reminiscent of Babu at his best. The flipside is what kills it for me, though. "Livin' My Life," with its vibe-heavy, street-wise melancholy tone, evokes the weariness and hardship depicted in the Chrome Kidz' tale perfectly. It's a track I can listen to again and again.
Supreme is a staple in the annals of Northwest hip hop, so more will be shared about him here, no doubt. For now, listen to this great 12".

Run/Livin 12"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Da Nomadic

Nomad: His Chi Is Mad Thick


"Blessed 2 Mic Check," the wax debut from Nomad Da Nomadic, is a quintessential slab of NW wax, and in many ways typified the Seattle area hip hop scene in the late nineties. What that means is basically it was hella dope and you missed it.
With production by Mr. Supreme on the title cut, and DJ Sayeed and DJ Swift on the two B-sides, this record is sonically tight - especially Sayeed's track "Da Movement," which happens to feature Sayeed's group Black Anger. "Shantae," Swift's slower number, comes with its own bonus, as it's blessed by local heroine Felicia Loud on the hook.
Nomad has no problems holding his own amid all this greatness, and in fact his direct and gritty flow is surprisingly complimentary to the bombastic delivery of Black Anger and Felicia's gorgeous crooning. Likewise, the beats fit Nomad's style perfectly, especially Swift's dark and sedated track, with it's murky organ and vibe loops.
From here, Nomad went on to release a couple 12's in 2000 and 2001, as well as a full-length in 2001. His entire output is strong, and worth tracking down. In the meantime, give this record a listen. From '98.

Blessed VLS

Monday, May 24, 2010

North By Northwest

Somethin' nice from the Northwest...To be specific, N/NW, a Bellingham/Seattle crew consisting of six individuals. I have very little info on this group, obviously, but I know that at least a few of them are still active, if not the entire crew.
This group record has some seriously toasty beats, and the rhymes come surprisingly rugged for our granola-crunching corner of the world. Seriously good hooks on some of the songs, too. It's a shame this didn't drop commercially, because it would have made noise. From circa '05.

N/NW

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Jean In Da Front Row

I know you've been waiting for this one to appear....

Thanks to an anonymous benefactor, I received this amazing gift, and I hope I can someday repay the favor. I don't need to say much about this. It's one of those tapes you've heard about for years, but never thought you'd see. It's like the Holy Grail, the Ark of the Covenant, and the Great Pumpkin, or something, all rolled into one. Seriously, getting to hear this was better than winning the lottery for me. And it's at least as dope as you think...Listen....

Jean In Da Front Row

Friday, May 21, 2010

This Is The Life Is Now Free



Ava sent this notification out this morning:


A message to all members of Good Life Love

Hello Family,

Just a quick note to let you know that THIS IS THE LIFE is now streaming on HULU.com. Yep, that means FREE, homie! Watch the award-winning doc on The Good Life Emcees streaming free w/ commercials on HULU anytime at http://www.hulu.com/watch/150135/this-is-the-life.

Of course, you can still buy the full DVD with 70 mins of bonus features at www.goodlifelove.com or via Netflix. You can still download to your IPod on ITunes. But now, you can also watch for free on any computer. Just go to Hulu.com and enter the title or click http://www.hulu.com/watch/150135/this-is-the-life. Then let it play.

The filmmakers get a couple cents every time you watch, so please watch and spread the word. Please support hip hop filmmaking and respect the art. If you're watching a bootleg of this film, you don't really love hip hop, period.

Enjoy THIS IS THE LIFE at Netflix, ITunes, GoodLifeLove or streaming free on Hulu.com. Spread the word!

GoodLifeLove,
Ava DuVernay
Director | THIS IS THE LIFE

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hard Times

Yusef and Nouka

I wish I could provide at least a little definitive information about this 7-song ep from The Nonce's Yusef Afloat, but beyond the name, Hard Times, I got nothin'. I can tell you that I've listened to this bitter-sweet recording through my headphones more times that I can count, and it never grows old. Partly it's due to the short length - at 22 minutes it's over almost before you know it, but also it's due to the wide diversity present. The jazzy, rough sound that typified the Nonce's style can be heard on tracks like "Life (Hard Times)" and "At Tymz," elements of soul are present on "Dancinthedark," and reggae is a strong influence on "No Justice" and "Been Waiting". The cool "Oceans," a Mo'Wax-like lo-fi instrumental track, is a poignant close to this work entirely written and produced by this late great talent. RIP

Hard Times

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ghetto Life CD

Ghetto God: I Smooth 7
Thanks to Gfunk over at G-Funk and Rap Reviews, this album, which previously had only circulated as an unmastered tape rip, made its cd-quality debut: I smooth 7's Ghetto Life, professionally mastered, featuring some different beats, and with bonus tracks! Unfortunately, the horrible album cover didn't get a facelift, but you don't look a gift horse in the mouth.
This album is a great piece of mid-'90's gangsta. Produced by master producers Battlecat, DJ Slip, and Fat Jack, Ghetto Life seemed like it had all the right ingredients to be a big seller, but for whatever reason, Mad Sounds Recordings decided to shelve it. It's ridiculous when you listen to the record, as it has some insanely good tracks.
The crews Black Clan and Ghetto Gods feature heavily on this album, as do several other Goodlife veterans. Virtually no information can be found about these cats online, so I thought I'd do my best to break down who appears on what tracks.
First of all, Black Clan, according to Smooth 7, consists of himself, Stress, Mr. Man (or Mad?), Mista Mad Pup, Happy Face and DK Toon. Ghetto Gods consists of Smooth 7 and DK Toon.
OK? So now here's the track list, as best as I can figure it.

1. Intro
2. So Much Love
3. Ghetto Life
4. Coolin N Da Ghetto feat Mista Mad Pup
5. Interlude
6. Nina
7. What's the Real feat Happy Face and Mr. Man
8. Thought You'd Be Here feat. Abstract Rude
9. I Smooth 7
10. Interlude
11. Going All Out
12. Kings & Queens feat. DK Toon, Medusa, and Mista Mad Pup
13. Witness a Death feat. DK Toon, Mista Mad Pup
14. Love 4 Tha Ghetto
15. Sets In The West feat. Happy Face, DK Toon, Mr. Man
16. Interlude
17. Strugglin; feat. Ganjah K, Minister 2Bad, Lil Juggsta, Volume 10, and Abstract Rude
18. My Hood In The Summertime feat. DK Toon

If anyone out there has more definitive information, please let me know! The above info is based solely on guessing...

Ghetto Life CD Version

And here's the original tape version, for all you completists out there.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I Smooth 7

Rap Slanger

This release by Goodlife OG/Mass Men member I Smooth 7 has been making the rounds online for a little while now, but it still remains somewhat of an enigma. From all accounts it came out in '94, a year before his great unreleased debut, Ghetto Life, but I don't know how substantiated that is. The anonymous beats and production sound later than that to me, and the last track, "The Life", was on the '98 Portrait of a Ghetto Raised comp. And perhaps most telling, Smooth 7 calls out the year '96 on the track "A T.H.U.G.'S Story". Beyond that, there is some debate if this is even an official release. The cover, at least, is the same as his '95 single for "Coolin' In Da Ghetto," and some folks online have accused it of being a bootleg.
In any case, for those of us who know how rare Smooth 7 material is, it doesn't really matter. Here are 8 tracks by the man whose career has been hindered by everything from label politics to incarceration, so to have any unheard material, no matter where or when its origin, is like gold in the hand.
Sonically this album is much different from Ghetto Life. The production is spare and underground, rather than the slick g-funk on his previous release, and his voice is a lot less low and growly than what I'm used to hearing. With the unpolished quality of the music, it is possible that this is a collection of demos - although if that's the case, these demos are much more professional-sounding than many underground records out there.
With spiritual salvation and the trials of ghetto living as the central themes to this collection, Smooth revisits a lot of the material from Ghetto Life, but without the militant edge that was ever-present on that record, making this sound like a more mature effort from this artist. I personally think it's a dope release, official or otherwise. Thanks go to whomever originally put this up on the web (not me).
T.H.U.G. Poetry

Thursday, May 13, 2010

This One Goes To Eleven

Volume 10: You Won't Get Much HIIGHAAAAAAAAHH

I don't understand how folks put this record down. People complain about how it didn't live up to the heat "Pistolgrip Pump" sparked, but I totally disagree. To my ears, this record not only captures the intensity of Volume's debut single, but expands on it in multiple directions to create an energetic and diverse slab of classic west coast hip hop.
Coming out in 1993, Hip-Hopera occupied a unique spot in the then rapidly-evolving world of thug rap. Reaching far beyond what had become the stereotypical themes of violence and misogyny in gangsta, Volume 10 also spoke of fidelity, cultural self-destruction, and the joys of fatherhood - all the while keeping shit heavy. Similarly, the musical vibes employed on Hip-Hopera are varied as well - From the thunderous beats and violent imagery of "Pistolgrip" and "Flow Wood," to the oldschool flavor of the title cut, to the nearly psychedelic nature of "Sunbeams." But the biggest distinction Hip-Hopera had from the other records of the time was the vertigo-inducing lyrical styles Volume and his cohorts employed.

His bombastic delivery is equal parts unnerving, innovative, frightening, and humorous. He seems on the verge of tripping over his own lagging lines, only to rush ahead quadruple-speed to catch up to the beat, yelling at the top of his lungs all the while. And while his attempts at freestyling on the album can be a little painful at times, he makes up for it by being funny as hell, and for having a few other cats on deck to take up the slack - J-Smoov, RKA, Smooth 7, and (most notably) Ganjah K, who absolutely kills it.
Employing one of the more far-out rap deliveries at the time, Heavyweight and ex-U.N.I.T.Y. Committee member Volume 10 seemed at first as likely to be a novelty act as become a major player in the LA scene. And although it's true that "Pistolgrip" was his first and biggest hit, he is far from a flash in the pan. He has remained a consistent member in the LA underground, and still puts out awesome records. And I consider this album to be among the very best that fertile movement has to offer. Producers include Massive, Fat Jack, the Baka Boyz, Cut Chemist, and DJ Homicide.

Hip-Hopera

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Who Stole The Soul?

The Soul Assassins Mega-Post

Taking a slight departure from the underground shiz...
The Soul Assassins are a huge, loosely connected bi-coastal group of artists and musicians revolving around producer Muggs and his group Cypress Hill. Historically, members come and go, and the roster has included everyone from rap kings Dr. Dre and the Wu-Tang, to underground artists like Sick Jacken and Dilated Peoples. However, when I think of the Soul Assassins, it's always of their early days, when their roster was small and their sound was unique and fresh.
Back in the early nineties, Soul Assassins hit it big with House of Pain's "Jump Around" and Cypress Hill's "Insane In the Brain". The two songs were sonically similar - the irritating shrieky whistles and dense, claustrophobic production couldn't help but get under your skin. I instantly got sucked in with "Insane In the Brain," and soon became a huge fan of the archetypal sound Muggs had crafted. The sound was dark, ominous and nocturnal. Car alarms and sirens fought to be heard over trunk bass and gun shots. All the early Soul Assassins releases subscribed to Muggs' sonic post-urban wasteland, and even when the songs took a more light-hearted turn, the music still carried a dangerous and nihilistic undercurrent.
The line-up: There was Muggs and Cypress Hill. They sung songs about killing people and smoking weed, all done in a Dr. Seuss delivery. There was DJ Lethal and House of Pain, white boys who overdid it on street cred. There was Ralph M. and Funkdoobiest, basically a paler version of Cypress Hill. And there was the teen-aged Whooliganz, who never really got off the ground, and is more well-known now for being the Alchemist's old group. Add to that early Cypress member Mellow Man Ace, and you have what I consider the original Soul Assassins crew.
Keep in mind there isn't a shred of gospel to this. This was just what my 14 year-old brain could gather at the time that all this erupted. So what I've done is compiled a bunch of stuff from these early members from the late eighties and early nineties - B-sides, alternate versions, non-album tracks, demos, remixes, guest appearances - and stuck them together with a bunch of other stuff that Muggs, Lethal and Ralph M. were also working on at the time. Sixty tracks spanning what I consider the heyday of the Soul Assassins. It's by no means exhaustive, and if I had thought about it more I would have included a few of my favorite album cuts as well. but whatever. I hope you enjoy!

Vol. 1
Put Your Hands Up - The Whooliganz
Put Your Head Out feat. B-Real - House of Pain
Ain't Got No Class feat. B-Real - Da Lench Mob
Where's It At (Muggs Remix) - Funkdoobiest
Latin Lingo (Blackout Mix) - Cypress Hill
Clouds of Smoke - Call O' Da Wild
Bow Wow Wow (Remix) - Funkdoobiest
Shamrocks and Shenanigans (Muggs Main Mix) - House of Pain
Conspiracy of Silence feat. Son Doobie - Paris
Hit the Deck - The Whooliganz
Phunky Feel One Demo
Caliente Demo
Real Estate Demo
Light Another Demo
Psychobetabuckdown Demo
Phunky Feel One Unpolished

Vol. 2
Stoned Is the Way of the Walk Reprise feat. Son Doobie - Cypress Hill
Shoot Em Up - Cypress Hill
How I Could Just Kill a Man (Blunted Mix) - Cypress Hill
Get the Fist feat. B-Real
Hypest For Cypress - Mellow Man Ace
Wopbabalubop (Soul Assassins Remix) - Funkdoobiest
So What'cha Want (Soul Assassins Remix) - Beastie Boys
House and the Rising Sun feat. Son Doobie - House of Pain
Put Your Handz Up (Qdii Remix) - The Whooliganz
Across the Map - The Whooliganz
Lucifer - 7A3
Ricky Ricardo of Rap - Mellow Man Ace
Goes Like Did (Dub) - 7A3
Whooliganz (Original) feat. B-Real - The Whooliganz

Vol. 3
Lick A Shot (Vocal Ud) - Cypress Hill
How I Could Just Kill a Man (The Killer Mix) - Cypress Hill
Freak Mode (XXX Remix) - Funkdoobiest
Whooliganz (Remix 1) feat. B-Real - The Whooliganz
Jump Around (Master Mix) - House of Pain
Babalu Bad Boy - Mellow Man Ace
Real Estate (Alternate Lyrics) - Cypress Hill
Goes Like Dis (7" Remix) - 7A3
Spill the Wine (Muggs Wine Remix) - Lighter Shade of Brown
Track 2 feat. B-Real - The Whooliganz
The Phuncky Feel One Extended Version - Cypress Hill
I'm Flippin On 'Em - Funkdoobiest
Under Mi Sleng Teng (O.G. Bass Remix by Muggs) (feat. B-Real) - Wayne Smith
Hand On the Glock - Cypress Hill
Scooby Doo - Cypress Hill

Vol. 4
Good Hit - Funkdoobiest
Hand On the Pump (Mugg's Blunted Mix) - Cypress Hill
River Cubano - Mellow Man Ace
The Funkiest (Lethal Dose Remix) - Funkdoobiest
Whatta You Know - Cypress Hill
Under Mi Sleng Teng (Soul Assassins Remix) (Feat. B-Real) - Wayne Smith
Throw Your Hands In the Air - Cypress Hill
Riddimwize (Muggs Remix) - Danny Red
Check It (Dj Muggs Remix) - Dana Barros
Boom Biddy Bye Bye (Fugees Remix) - Cypress Hill
The Program (Soul Assassins 7" Remix) - Bad Yard Club
Illusions (Harpsichord Remix) - Cypress Hill
Intellectual Dons - Cypress Hill and Call O' Da Wild
Hits From the Bong (T-Ray's Mix) - Cypress Hill
Track 1 feat. B-Real - The Whooliganz
Throw Your Set In the Air (Slow Roll Remix) - Cypress Hill
Under Mi Sleng Teng (Muggs Old School Remix) (Feat. B-Real) - Wayne Smith

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Do4Self

Bedroom Produksionz
More greatness from the Northwest, this time coming from Bedroom Produksionz. Consisting of two-thirds of Black Anger, BP drop consciousness and Afrocentricity like their hometown counterparts Source of Labor, but with a distinctly harder edge. Sayid's beats are tight, driving and prominent in the mix, while Kendo's delivery is equally intense and raw. "I Know Ways" features a signature verse from Silent Lamb Silas Blak. Once again, here's an act that probably would have been a whole lot more successful if they had come from a different city. From '98.

S.E.L.F.