Monday, February 27, 2012

Greatest Bumps Vinyl Box Set

Bumpin' Contraption

Beetbak received a request the other day for a few Blackalicious singles I sadly didn't have, but it got me thinking about this amazing compilation - The Solesides Greatest Bumps album from 2000.  Back when I first heard Blackalicious' Melodica EP I knew I had stumbled onto something serious and brilliant, and the feeling was only compounded by my introduction to DJ Shadow's work and the Latyrx album a little while later.  It made me a die-hard Solesides fan, and I was a sad little wreck of a human when I learned that the original dream had dissolved.  Sure they reformed right away into Quannum, but that initial rawness that I loved about the early work of those 5 core members was lost with the original name.  
That's why I just about popped a blood vessel in happiness when this came out; a "greatest hits" comp of early Solesides material, both heard and unheard.  That great double cd can be found elsewhere, but I thought I'd post up the vinyl box set with the different tracks.  Herein you find the full version (well, one of the full versions) of Shadow's 16-minute "Entropy", plus instrumentals and vox tracks from the entire crew.  Track list can be found here.  This takes me back, not only to 2000, but beyond to the '90's and my incredibly neurotic youth, when every corner I turned found me face-to-face with something new and exciting.  Listen to this, and hopefully you will get a sense of it.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

West Coast Scavengers

Hungry Buzzards

This 12" Ep from 2004 features some great, dusty psychedelia courtesy of beatmakers Manik Amidst, Hackmaster Derk, Chez Rock, Ao-Repose and the Instrumental Ward.  Radioinactive joins Instrumental Ward in the incredibly synergistic effort "Begging For Change", while Seattle emcee Asun (aka Suntonio Bandanaz) and turntablist Sessions do their crazy thing over Chez Rock's "Telepathy."  Suntonio is an emcee worth searching out; he's a mainstay of the mighty Alpha P/First Platoon massive here in the 206 with an impressive catalogue stretching back over the last decade.  He's first-rate, as are all the talents on this vinyl.  Listen


Monday, February 20, 2012

Bring That Beat Back Vol. 2

Another 206 Hip Hop Compilation

More Pacific Northwest hip hop from the beetbak frequent rotation.  Music for super heroes.

Track List:
1. Bandanaz! - Suntonio Bandanaz
2. 45 - The Saturday Knights
3. A Lotta Rappers - Dyme Def
4. Pulamic - Dume41
5. No Ordinary - Black Stax
6. No Good - Vitamin D
7. Run - Cancer Rising
8. The Myth - Fatal Lucciauno
9. Gogh I - Specs Wizard
10. Time's Running Out feat. D. Black - SK
11. Tears Of Ice feat Knuckleheadbanga - Several Active Minds
12. The Closer - The Building Project
13. Tulalip Blood feat. Payote and Treaty- Redskin
14. Ooh THEES Bitches - THEESatisfaction
15. Anchorman Blues - Cherrywine
16. Home feat. Vita, Note, Maneak, Ish - Jake One

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Constructicon Mathematics


I picked this up a few months ago in a used bin after years of searching, and I've been keeping it bumping since that fateful day.  I can't really say what it is that I find so compelling about this 2005 cd (besides the thrill of getting that sought-after prize), but I do know it obviously caters to my particular tastes.  It has that sound I crave; any of you that know me or read the blog probably know what I mean.  It's raw, R-A-W, rough, unmastered, youthful, murky, unpolished, all that stuff that I love the most in my hip hop.  Beyond that, it has that jazzy, depressed, caffeine-and-zoloft-ingesting sound so indicative of oldschool Seattle music, also a big plus in my book.  
I guess I could say what I like most about this record is how obviously their influences are mirrored in their music, but how distorted and cracked that mirror is!  Right off the bat, you can hear RZA.  He's there in the loops, the low-budget sound quality, and in the thematic elements of the musical content and vocal samples (all taken from Transformers cartoons).  Likewise the combination of hardcore and consciousness found in the Wu is approximated here.  But where RZA's beats effortlessly burst with energy and drive, the music the Several Active Minds make is clunky, subdued, and endearingly awkward.  Beats seem cluttered or too slow, the loops at times seem arbitrarily chosen.  Don't get me wrong though: despite how that may sound written, I love the way it works out.  The music has a life of it's own, it's fresh. The music chugs along like a coal-burning locomotive, mechanical and oldschool, in contrast to RZA's silent, ambient-light-and-magnetism-powered bullet train.  Mood and color are present in the music, but not the gloss.
Strangely, the personalities so explosive in the Wu Tang are absent here.  Nearly everyone in the Wu is a celebrity in their own right, instantly discernible in a crowd.  With Several Active Minds, the emcees don't hype themselves up, there are no endless name-checks, and all have that similar sedated voice and flow.  These guys rap from the shadows - it's a very anonymous undertaking.  I could guess this is due to Seattle mainstay Dume 41, the obvious engineer of this particular engine, who produced most of the beats, and who I have the feeling orchestrated the image.  And it's evident that the various emcees present on this album (and there are a lot listed) are pretty unpolished, (except for Dume) when this record was made- again a good thing.
According to their bio, Several Active Minds have existed since '92 as a graf crew, and with various changes in roster have been putting down tapes and cd's since '96.  On this album the Minds consist of Dume 41, Abu Dar, M.O.D., Sincere Wudu, Skiez, and Severe Influence.  Specs One joins on the mic on a couple tracks, and provides beats on "1st Duel", "Sub 0 Transmogrification" and "Overpros".  Vision 20/20 is also listed as a member on their website, but in all their promo photos I only see Dume 41 and a couple other dudes.  They also name-check Gang Starr and ATCQ as influences, but I only hear that as far as their oldschool aesthetic and conscious subject matter.  Really, I honestly think they're selling themselves short by making comparisons - Several Active Minds is dope, unique hip hop.  I tracked down their 2007 release, Shogun Craftsman, and was pleased to hear their sound hadn't changed much - at times, they even got rougher!  Rad.  I bump it a ton.
Strangely enough, many of the songs on Constructicon Mathematics were reworked for Dume 41's 2008 solo joint God Save the King.  Much more polished, but still owning that sedate NW sound, it's a dope record.  Like this one.  Listen.

Constructicon Mathematics

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Request... Earthtones

Nobody For Everybody

Request... Real quick, I got a request for the Z-Trip remix of "Planets Ain't Aligned" this morning, and since I had that, and the rest of Nobody's great Earthtones EP  already on file I thought I'd post it up between gulps of coffee.  Nobody is one of my favorite beatmakers out there, he's really earthy, with layers upon layers of sound, and this is some of his best work in my opinion.  


Friday, February 10, 2012

No Good

Ain't No Good, But That's Alright With Me

Seattle hip hop renaissance man Vitamin D put out this lone 12" on Rhymesayers back in 2003.  Handling beats, rhymes and scratches, Vita brought an updated sound to his murky, stoned production work that was Tribal's signature. Cleaned up and jazzy, with thinly-sliced guitar samples,  vintage dialogue, and spare percussion, this release takes a few steps towards Madlib's sonic territory.  
The title track is all Vita, while the B-Side, "Touch Da Sky" has a guest appearance by Sinsemilla's H-Bomb.  The bonus joint, "Enstramental", is produced by Jake One.  This 12" was to be the leadoff in Vita's illustrious career on Rhymesayers, but unfortunately nothing more came of it.  Their loss.  I believe other tracks from these sessions eventually surfaced on his free Bornday EP from 2010.

No Good  

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Specs One Makes Regular Music

The Uncrowned King of the Northwest

Back when I lived in the city, I used to see Specs lurking around Capitol Hill now and again.  Tall, dressed in the Northwest signature strata of thrift-score layers, seemingly taller even due to his lankiness, with nappy hair and a Fu Manchu mustache, the man struck an immediate image - instantly memorable, a little off-kilter, but with everything impeccably in its place.  The same can be seen in his visual arts, and heard here in his music and poetry.  The man is an artist, let there be no doubt, but moreover you could say HE is art, and his work is just an extension of the man.  In everything I've ever encountered regarding him, there is a rock-solid deliberateness and deep sense of craft.  Listen to any of his records, it's easy to hear if you're looking for it.  Just the fact that he makes all his own beats, and has few, if any, guests is a testament to his unique vision.  And let there be no doubt, Specs has a vision, regarding hip hop and most likely beyond, and he has no interest in diluting it or becoming  more mainstream.  I get the feeling he really doesn't care if you feel what he's doing or not.  It just has to come out; he just has to lay it down.
Not that his music is inaccessible at all.  It may be rough and scratchy (purposefully of course), but the music Specs makes is instantly memorable, with unanticipated hooks and steady, headnodic beats.  His vocal delivery is likewise steady, mellow, confident and immediately likable.  And no other release of his demonstrates this like this one:  2005's The Long Awaited Mega EP.
From the intro track "North Again", to its closing Reprise "H2O" this vinyl is the smoothest and most even Specs has ever put down.  The signature off-kilter beats, vinyl pops and tape hiss present in all his music is copiously heard here as well, but the noise is curbed a little, and the layers of sound go deeper and sound cleaner (thanks to engineer Bean One, I imagine).  "North Again" is a fitting opener, with its low organ loop, sustained synth note, and rain and bong hits in the background.  Specs waxes over the sporadic beat, laying down who and what he's about.  "It's all future with the outlaw Buddha," he speaks quietly about, and probably to, himself, before launching into a name-check of many of his NW hip hop compatriots, that continues until the song fades out (the list continues with the fade-in of "H20" on side B).
The most frenetic track, and also the most difficult to listen to, is the follow-up to the hypnotic opener.  "Unusual" features Stymie, Specs' hype man, (who Charles Mudede says is the size of a G.I. Joe) doing what he does over a short, hiccuping track, and is probably placed in the coveted 2nd spot on the record to keep the listener on his toes and guessing.  "Regular Ish" follows, which has to be one of the most infectious tracks Specs has ever made (and also, at 2 minutes, one of the most criminally short).  Somewhere between Paul Horn and Omid, the song is a heavy, Doc Marten-stomping, psychedlic celebration.  
Perhaps the most standard song in Specs entire catalogue, "Finer Things", is his take on the classic hip hop cliche about blowing up, making money, and spending it on his girl, except when I listen to this, the personal nature of his music makes me feel like he's talking in the mirror here.
Side two opens with the sinister Atari-instrumental "2k5", before breaking in with the seriously danceable low-fi masterpiece "Concrete".  The music sounds like it's coming from a film strip (remember watching those slide shows in elementary school?  I'm dating myself here); even the drums sound empty and warbly, but I swear nothing has ever been more groovy.  I could put this on loop and listen all day.  If I could dance worth a damn, I'd do that, too.
"H20" follows, and acts as the bookend to the album, followed by a instrumentals of "Unusual" and "Concrete".  All told the EP is just over 24 minutes in length, but what a strong set of songs it is!  I can't believe he limited this to only 500 copies.  Sure, he posted most of it up on myspace, but still... 
After this smooth, relatively clean-sounding record (an aesthetic in common with its predecessor, Return of the Artist) Specs turned over a couple pages and came back deliberately more psychedelic and spaced-out for the incredible Original Space Neighbors album (under the alias Mic Mulligan and S. Future).  His following work has delved even more into the abstract, rough, scratchy, well-worn sound, which fits the man perfectly.  Listening to his aged loops and his whispered delivery, it's obvious he wants the listener to cue in and be explicitly aware of the history behind the sound, the history of the art of hip hop as he sees it, and the history of the man presenting it.  After being in the industry for more than twenty years, Specs is the rarest of cats: one that has consistently stayed true to his vision, and kept his signature sound, while constantly changing and ever-progressing.  Perhaps he accomplished this because he never subscribed to a particular genre or niche in hip hop.  Specs One has always just sounded like Specs One.  For those who wonder how this may be, check out his current releases here and here.

Long Awaited Mega EP

Long Awaited Mega EP

New Jedi Knights Circle!

From the forthcoming album "Are We There Yet?"  This track features Riddlore, Cosmic, White Mic, Optimus Rhymes, and Maleko.  JKC, CVE and Bored Stiff Reprezent!

Sunday, February 5, 2012


One of our all-time favorite emcees and human beings needs some help.  Let's all contribute what we can!  Our thoughts are with her here at beetbak.

Hey beautiful people, Please spread the word! I need to raise 5,000 to pay bills and keep my job but more importantly MY BENEFITS as I am still at the hospital once a week! To do this I am offering my record or my book for donations as low as $1 each but you would have to pay for shipping and the box if you are getting vinyl the box is $1 and it ships for about 2.50 and the book ships for about 2.35 and the envelope is .75 cents so keep that in mind! ANY orders would help, every dollar counts...THANKS so much and I LOVE you all!To order send me BOTH your email and physical addy to my mailbox:)
 ·  ·  · 3 hours ago ·