While I was trolling Jadakiss apologists today for calling his new album Top Five Dead or Alive, lamenting his complete inability to ever make an official album with more than three good songs, a thought struck me – maybe you don’t actually need a certified classic album to be considered one of the best of all time. While Rakim, KRS-One, LL Cool J, Biggie and Kool G Rap all have revered LP’s under their belts, many of the best to ever rap into an amplified vocal device never actually delivered amazing albums.
For rappers from the early days, such as Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee and Grandmaster Caz, this can be attributed to the music being a singles medium during when they were recording. It wasn’t until the time of Radio, Raising Hell and Criminal Minded that long players outgrew the pattern of simply being a padded-out collection of singles and were capable of a focused concept. As rap got bigger and the costs of releasing a major label project skyrocketed by the end of the nineties, we saw the emergence of the ‘street album’ aka ‘mixtape,’ which allowed rappers stuck in a shitty deal to still keep their name buzzing as they flipped popular instrumentals and uncleared samples without fear of reprisal. (more…)
Concluding my talk with eskay, we cover his time at XXL, the Nah Right comment crew, why his detractors just don’t get it and future plans for the site.
Robbie: So how was your time XXL? Was it a 9-5 kinda role?
eskay: I was gonna run the content on the Scratch website, because the XXL website was already up-and-running but the Scratch website didn’t really have any content, so they wanted me to come in and handle that. But then Jerry Barrow – who was the Editor-In-Chief at Scratch at the time – left, and they appointed Brendan Frederick in his place. Brendan of course had launched the XXL site and he had been running it since it’s inception. I had already accepted the job at Scratch, so when I got there Elliott was like, ‘OK, there’s gonna be a change of plan. Brendan is doing Scratch so I want you to do the XXL site’. I felt more comfortable working at the XXL site ‘cos it was more general hip-hop than the sorta niche site that Scratch was. I was amped that Elliott gave me that job – I got to work with a lot of talented writers and editors. I didn’t learn as much as I would’ve liked to learn when I was there, but I definitely learned a lot. (more…)
If you want to check the newest/latest in the rap world, you’re first stop on the intehnets is probably gonna be Nah Right. As the originator of aggregate-style content back when your average hip-hop blog was usually an article with a couple of mp3’s at the end, eskay has carved-out his own lane in the blog game over the past four years, reaching the point where even you’re favorite rapper is checking it on the daily. I spoke to eskay about a month ago, starting off with some discussion of his life before blogging.
Robbie: What can you tell me about your graff days?
eskay: I started writing in 7th grade. I was a little toy, I didn’t know how to write – that’s how most writer’s start out. I actually stole my name from Subway Art. That was my graffiti bible, basically. I was 11 or 12 and I didn’t know shit about graffiti, other than what I saw on trains when I went to the city or what I saw on walls around my way. So I got Subway Art, and it had that SKEME piece on the cover and I was like, ‘Oh, I like that name’. I’m gonna take it’. I didn’t really understand that that’s not how it works! You could get killed for taking another writer’s name at the time! [chuckles] I was only writing walking back-and-forth the five blocks to school, or going up the park where there was a bunch of graff, so I wasn’t really violating like that. I quickly learned that you can’t do that, so I just shortened it to SK and I’ve had that name ever since. I used a bunch of different spellings nowadays I use ESKAY, although I’m kinda retired from graff now. In my high school days I started chilling in the city more. I ran around in Washington Heights and Brooklyn a lot and started to link with the more famous writers. I could go on for hours about that… (more…)