Monday, May 28, 2012

Jewels Hunter

A Heavy Burden

From Jewels Hunter, one of the masterminds behind the legendary Black Lab in Seattle, comes probably one of the most ambitious records in hip hop history, A Moment In Time.  At nearly 80 minutes, this album plays out like a well-scripted primer on race, class, metaphysics, religion, art, science, and time; and the way their paths all interconnect and fold in on top of one another infinitely...  Humans always know how to complicate shit.  
I love this record.  Dark, broody beats reminiscent of Shadow, Geoff Barrow or Blockhead, with plenty of fascinating dialogue and found-sound experimentation throughout.  Jewels handles most of the emceeing and production, with some help from Graves 33, Phreewil, Ricky Pharoe, Tru-ID, Robust, Rufio, and others.  I had been wracking my brain for a while now, wondering how I would go about adequately explaining this record in writing, until I realized Jewels had already done so.  His explanation follows the link:

Right now, in the present day, the very moment that you read this, I'm writing it; in another dimension parallel to your own. These dimensions are virtually identical. They both have air and water, they both contain gravity and light, they both are abundant with life and teeming with intelligence; THEY BOTH ARE EARTH. The only difference between these two realities, is time. The past and the future are only constructs of the human mind. All we have is now, this present moment. No matter where you've been or gone, no matter what you've done or what you've experienced in life; whether or not it was within a past moment or an obscure, future moment that has yet to come, everything is always happening in the present. These MOMENTS IN TIME are spread out like a wave, creating infinite possibilities, forming an opposite for every choice you have ever made. Some of these dimensions of space/time, are made up of decisions that you never had to make, but all are manifesting different variations of yourself perpetually. Some of these variations are so closely woven together, that it can give one, an incredible sense or feeling, that what they're experiencing in the present moment, has already occurred. We refer to this phenomenon as Déjà vu. 
Try to visualize a piano, with many keys and every key signifies a single note; all remain separate from one another, all are unique and have their own individual tone and characteristics; but at the same time, every key on this grand piano is connected with the other. All remain smaller parts of a bigger whole. Even though these keys might play different notes, they can, in certain moments, become entangled through a chord. It is through the harmony of these magic chords, that all separateness and chaos become order. It is the will of the chord, that allows the subconscious mind to effect the conscience; and, it is through the will of conscience intent, that many separate notes become a single chord(E. Pluribus Unum/Out of Many, one). All of this is possible through vibration. Therefor, just as two separate notes can become entangled through vibration, two separate moments can become entangled, no matter how far apart they may seem; the straight line that connects these past and future events together, Doesn't exist. The shortest distance between two points isn't a straight line and time is not linear. 
To demonstrate this philosophy, the majority of this material was created from sampling old records and taking from many new sources as well. That was very important to the theme behind the album as a whole; because the music itself is always being created in the present. So, each sample that was taken, whether it was from the past or more modern, becomes a piece of captured time. There is only a few ways to actually capture time and it is very important to note, that all, have they're roots deep within the arts. Paintings, drawings, sculptures and writing are some of the earliest ways of capturing a moment. Photography, film and recording are the most advanced ways of containing the very essence of an era and holding it, so that future generations can share the same moment, any time, at a later date. And it is this very point, that brings us to the meaning behind this work; THE TIME CAPSULE. 
Every time you see a portrait, watch a film, or listen to a recording you are making a mental, spiritual and emotional connection with another dimension of space/time. In fact, art is the only way of containing these fragments of time and this is why the artists are so influential in the trends, ideas and social development of our society; artist are a kind of archetypal icon, that are imbedded in our psyche and admired by millions. The artist never dies, but lives on through captured moments that we cherish and love. This is why the art of sampling is so important and has become the head cornerstone of the Black Lab. Every sample that we take, is a way of documenting history and preserving an era; and since this project is likened unto a vessel, with many compartments, every one, holding a different captured moment; this work becomes a time capsule. Hip Hop is a memorandum! 
So, let us end this section of the memorandum, by giving a summery with a few more quick examples. There are tracks that were conceived, produced, written and recorded in 2007, 2008, 2009 & 2010. There are songs that were written, but I waited to record the song until the following year; I even waited a full year to record the dub tracks on the songs, A Moment in Time and The Lack Thereof. I would even record half a verse or song, then record the other half, on completely different days or months. I waited almost three full years before recording any of the scratching and almost every live instrument throughout. This was all done, so that each song would be made up of multiple moments and truly embody the full essence of the project's theme. The song writing for this album was very unorthodox, in that, I wrote each verse to reflect the many views that one may have, on the same subject, at a different time; because as one moves forward through life, he or she's views may change as apart of their growth and development. That way, on every track, you're not just getting one experience or feeling that made up a single moment or event, but you're actually hearing a mesh of feelings and perspectives, some of which aren't mine at all, but hopefully yours. The subject matter and topics actually become collages in Super Position with one another. All of these things, have really confused a lot of the people that have been watching me piece this album together over the last four years. Creating an album this way, was not only very experimental to say the least, but took a lot of patients as well. All of these little, subtle things were done, as a way of adding a touch of ritual magic, to the process of this alchemical experiment. 
It is my intent, that every person reading this, has a better understanding of the principles and philosophies therein; this explanation was provided to serve as a foundation, to help you become better equipped, so that your ready to take this Quantum/Alchemical Journey with me. And so goes the theory of time and captured moments. WRITTEN BY JULIAN MILES HUNTER (2009-2011) 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Git On The Bus

I never noticed the reflection of the Elephant Man until now.

Here's some light, sunny, fluffy hip hop courtesy of young Bus Driver.  This is the debut solo single by this household name, long before he got all serious and counter culture.  I remember seeing him live around this time, and being amazed at how much his eyes popped when he rapped.  I was afraid they'd fall out of his skull.  This was during a tour with top-billing Abby, grumbly Awol, angry 2Mex, bitter Dj D, and eye-popping Bus.  It sent chills up my spine thinking about all of them stuck in a van together for hours on end.  I did not want to get on that particular bus.  This one here is okay though.  I long for the good old days...

Get On The Bus 12"

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Da 5 Footaz Again

5 Years Can Be A Lifetime

Here is Da 5 Footaz official debut album, after the bootleg/mixtape/whatever/The Lost Scrolls material from 5 years previous.  2000 sound here, with a broader pallet to work from.  The music is updated and expanded, incorporating underground, new school, and hardcore elements to the g-funk formula.  Also, the entire crew represents a lot more on this record than on The Lost Scrolls - Neb Luv and Jah Skillz still obviously run the show, but Cobra Red, Knee High and K-Bar can be heard throughout, as well as MC Lyte, Sticky Fingaz, Warren G, Kurupt, Xzibit and Nate Dogg (RIP).  I honestly prefer the earlier stuff of theirs more than this record, and I think that has to do with the focus presented by the narrowly-defined musical style and the energy worked by the Jah, Neb and Warren G triumvirate that was apparent in their earlier work.  The material presented here is a little more scattered, and although all 5 emcees spit heat, Neb and Jah have a synergy that is hard to beat, and certainly difficult to maintain when part of 5 distinct voices.  
I know Da 5 Footaz have more material out there.  For example here's the video for the brilliant track "Gimme Sum" from some tape or something.  Hopefully more surfaces from this unfortunately looked-over crew.

Lifetime /Lifetime...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Da 5 Footaz

G Funk Era

Da 5 Footaz' The Lost Scrolls is a guilty pleasure of mine.  Planted firmly in the g-funk soundscape, yet avoiding much of the cliched posturing and subject matter that drowned the genre; and possessing more clout and legitimacy than 99% of their compatriots, Da 5 Footaz could have been huge.  The beats on this album are deep and cavernous, punching away under smooth, synthed-out melodies and Dj handiwork.  The lyrics are hard, but not dumb, and the delivery comes as tight as you'd expect from these Blowdian heavyweights.  I hear vintage Acey in Jah Skillz' delivery, and Abstract Rude even makes an appearance on track.  Besides that, Warren G and the Twinz are frequent guests.  So why this group never went huge is a mystery and a shame.  
I was never a big fan of g-funk when it was a current commodity.  I felt like it was forced down my throat, and never could get away from it long enough to really appreciate it.  Even now, when I hear a song like the ones here, I appreciate it mainly in a nostalgic sense.  So, although I admit I'm no expert in the genre, I can say that I appreciate this album more than many others I've heard.  With Neb Luv and Jah Skillz, they would have crafted a great record no matter what the subgenre.  Their voices, their flows, the subject matter - it's just great shit no matter how you look at it.  The fact that they were part of Warren G's G-Funk Era is almost an afterthought.  This is just great, 90's Cali hip hop, and I know you know what I mean.  Although Da 5 Footaz officially consisted of Neb, Jah, K-Bar, Cobra Red and Knee-Hi, I think the entire crew only pops up on one track.  But Jah and Neb are quite capable on their own.  Give a listen to this overlooked gem.

The Lost Scrolls

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bring That Beat Back, Vol. 5

The Boz In Your Face

Here's the 5th installment in the monthly soiree into current PacNW hip hop from the beetbak frequent rotation.  This volume features some bright, sunny summertime jams in the first half.  Spark some purple, sit on a beach somewhere, and celebrate existence.  The second half is still summery, but more nocturnal and hallucinatory, thanks mainly to the nearly exclusive content from OC Notes and Tay Sean and the Cloud Nice crew.  Tay and OC are geniuses, and I can't get enough of them right now.  Enjoy.

Track List:
1. Photosynthesis - Saturday Morning Cartoon
2. Chipping Away - Ricky Pharoe & Tru-ID
3. I Just Wanna (At 4:20 AM) - Jarv Dee
4. Def Yoda Pt. 3 - Kung Foo Grip
5. Suicide City feat. Kublakai - Phil In The Blank
6. Rap Life - Sol
7. Don't Worry feat. Maya Jenkins - Candidt
8. Ready For We - The Physics
9. For The Birds - Kingdom Crumbs
10. Chocolate Grills For Cavities - Metal Chocolates
11. Stomp (Sax G Mix) feat. Tay Sean - Sax G
12. Let It Loose - Thaddeus David
13. Everything Stays Dipped - Metal Chocolates
14. Pick Both Sides Of My Brain - Kingdom Crumbs
15. Live Up - Mikey Nice
16. Dreamin' - Jamil Suleman

Friday, May 4, 2012

RIP Adam "MCA" Yauch

We'll miss you.



E-Real Asim of legendary 206 crew Black Anger presented the world with these tracks via social networks, and they are absolutely amazing.  Remember when hip hop was dangerous?  I remember the first time I ever heard Public Enemy, and the uncomfortable feeling that formed in the pit of my stomach.  That certainty that these people were genuinely upset, upset at me, my family, and every other sheltered, privileged bovine/porcine like me.  This was music and energy tensed upon a knife-edge.  The sense of violence and righteous retribution was thick with vintage PE, and even as a young kid, I got that loud and clear.  I didn't feel safe listening to them.  Well, E-Real's tracks here bring that sense back like no one else I've heard.  He holds nothing back, and it's a real shame that there aren't more emcees willing to go the full distance like he does.  Fuck complacency.  Brilliant lyricism brought to you from a freight train crashing through your ears, brain, defenses, and ego.  Great thanks go to Kevin for letting me know E-Real had done more work, and for sending it my way.  Some of the tracks come from an album entitled The Pacifier.  I'd love to hear more, if anyone out there knows of it.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Off the Map...

Hello all, I just wanted to check in really quick and explain about my lack of posting for the past while.  I moved.  Yep, out of the Seattle area, out of the King County area, and out to the sticks.  I'm surrounded by woods now, acres and acres of it. This has been in the works for a while, as we decided long ago that my family and I can get more in touch with what is real and concrete in this environment.  Hopefully this is where my kids can grow up feeling a sense of communion and responsibility for the earth they walk on.  I'm going to miss city life tremendously, and Seattle is a city unlike any other, but I know this is the right step for me and mine.  So, the last month or two has been spent packing and finding a new job and generally slogging through all the sewage that goes with life upheavals.  The move happened last weekend, and I imagine for the next month or two we'll be unpacking and wondering why we (okay, I) own so much stupid crap.  I'll post ill treats when I can; I've got quite the backlog going now.  So stay with me, folks!