Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Block Drama


You Might Experience a Little Trauma

From Conception Records here is the Diamond Mercenaries' Block Drama 12" from 1997. I have no info on these guys, so if anyone out there has any to share, I'd love to hear it. This 12" showcases Jake One's production on the A-side, with a remix and bonus beat on the B-side courtesy of Mr. Supreme.

Edit:  Reupped with the rare joint "Diamonds Are Forever" tacked onto the end...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Moments Of Life


Reality Check

This EP from the band Deuce Mob dropped in 1993, and that's about all I can tell you about this release. Apart from the title track appearing on the Sounds of the Good Life tape, they've also had tracks pop up on various oldschool and lowrider comps. There is a full-length album out there attributed to Deuce Mob as well, but I'm not sure if that record is by the same group or not.
As far as the content of this EP goes, it's gangsta, but definitely occupying its own unique corner of that cosmos. The delivery of the emcees flip flops from the standard Eazy-E copycatting, to rough and ragged double time flows - sometimes even skirting ragamuffin. But the beats are what make this release really weird. Some of you might remember the wide-eyed 80's synth-pop band Sly Foxes - they had one hit, "Let's Go All the Way." Well, it's not what I'd necessarily call gangsta material, but Deuce Mob go right ahead and use it for one of their beats, to good effect. Low budget Casio keyboard tones are predominant, and the beats are cluttered and dense with Baka Boyz-worship. "Moments" is really the only track that calms down enough to give the listener a little breathing room, but I actually like the other three songs better. The emcees just seem more at home in a higher-energy environment, and it shows lyrically and stylewise.
No info on the producers or the emcees, so let the music speak for itself.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Narcosis


Off Into That Ass Like Richard Gere's Gerbils

Another Tribal 12" from 2000. Tizzy T and C-Note are the sharp-edged Narcotik, one of the harder acts in the Tribal Productions collective. Lyrically they keep it streetwise, and their style is direct, which makes them somewhat of an anomaly when compared to Ghetto Chilldren or Union of Opposites. They represent here with two classic Vitamin D - produced tracks, "The Narcosis" and "Makes Me Wanna Bust". Vita really demonstrates his versatility as a beatmaker with this release, as he puts his usual penchant for mellow, jazz-inflected tracks on hold in favor of a cleaner and more dramatic score. "Bust" features a sick verse from Silent Lamb Silas Blak. Another ill offering from the formative days of the 206.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Venom


It's National Onry Ozzborn Appreciation Month

According to the cats over at Vinyl Fluid, every Monday this month Oldominion major player Onry Ozzborn is releasing three free tracks off his new album No Hoax. Jumping on the bandwagon, I thought I'd post up an oldie-but-goodie from this NW artist. From 2001, this is his Venom EP, released shortly before his explosive Alone cd. I'm not the biggest authority on Oldominion, so I can't tell you too much background info except that this is one of my favorites from the Seattle/Portland massive. For those that don't know Oldominion, their dark, brooding vibe has been dubbed "the Northwest Sound" by some. The title track, featuring Toni Hill, Snafu, Nyquil, Anaxagorous, and Ezra, is a smooth, atmospheric near-masterpiece courtesy of beat-man Pale Soul. "Immortal" and "Daredevils" are two tracks that I feel are fine examples of the Oldominion sound (angry, desolate imagery; references to grunge and metal bands), and "Lights Out" (featuring Sole of Anticon) is a classic from the dark underground. It's a perfect record for December in the Northwest. Six tracks altogether (Four vox and two inst).

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tribal Sinsemilla


Tribal 12"

With this 12" release, H-Bomb and Topspin dropped two of their unmistakable tracks - I say unmistakable, because as blenders of the oldschool party jam aesthetic and newschool consciousness, they were unparalleled. Listen to H-Bomb's delivery, his rhyme stanzas, and on which syllables he places the emphasis; and you get the sense that he pays homage to the originators of the art with every verse. But both lyrically and musically the vibe was firmly imbedded in the current style (at least, for 2000-era hip hop). "Destiny" is a melody-driven, achingly beautiful track, and a Tribal Production through and through. "It is our destiny to be the best we can be, while the rest will be trying to learn our recipe," they rap without a hint of irony - I say that because in 2000, the writing was on the wall for Tribal Productions, so for Sinsemilla to rap about success in the game would have normally come across as absurd posturing. However, the "destiny" they speak of has nothing to do with making ends or high rolling - it's about personal skill, staying true to the art, and ultimately leaving behind a legacy that one can be proud of. And the b-side, "Haters," might as well have been the official 206 hip-hop anthem in the '90s. It's been said many times, the Northwest couldn't catch a break back then no matter what.
This was the last I saw of Sinsemilla. It's a fitting and poignant end to this crucial and historic NW duo, at least collectively. As for now, Topspin is still producing and dropping ill mixtapes, while from what I hear H-Bomb is active with studio work.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Who Woulda Thunk?


Play That Thunky Music

From 1999, this tape finds Tommy V up to some new tricks. The usual 4-track sound and fresh tv beats are still there, but this is a tape with harder edge than his previous efforts. This is mostly due to the numerous appearances of EX2 and the Shapeshifters, who are on nearly every track. Beyond that, his old Imprints compatriots (Hedgehog, Nonaim, Nori, Chump Change Charlie, etc) are strangely missing. With his old crew gone, and with all the battle emcees present, Tommy V's quiet and meandering delivery makes him seem almost out of place on his own tape.
Even if it doesn't have the sound of past Imprints releases, it's still an awesome 4-track album from the long, lost cali underground. Besides the Shifters and EX2, the Full Time Artists, Anticon, and Joe Dubbs make appearances as well.