For a jam-packed four year stretch, The Sugar Hill Band was the most powerful force in recorded rap, providing the beats for The Furious Five, Funky 4+1, Treacherous Three, Crash Crew, Spoonie Gee, The Sequence and more. With it’s core membership consisting of guitarist Skip McDonald, bassist Doug Wimbish, drummer Keith LeBlanc, percussionist Ed ‘Duke Bootee’ Fletcher and arranger Clifton ‘Jiggs’ Chase, the Sugar Hill Band were assigned to replay and re-arrange the hot breaks of the day, as advised by the likes of Grandmaster Flash based on what the crowd responded to when he deejayed. Unfortunately, some of their finest work such as ‘Funk You Up’ and ‘It’s Nasty (Genius of Love)’ was never issued in instrumental versions, but I’ve done my bets to cobble together what I could from the vaults.
As most of you already know, long-time indy rap champion Pumpkinhead passed away this week at only 39 years old, tragically leaving behind his pregnant wife and two kids. I’m not really qualified to speak on the man’s numerous contributions, but Chaz Kangas has put together a fitting tribute to the man for Complex, while some of his friends shared their fondest memories on Facebook:
DJ Eclipse: Some of us spend countless hours, days, months, years and even decades promoting others more so then we do ourselves. PH was one of those guys. Even though he made a name for himself in the battle scene and even made some records, it was his work here in NYC that I’ll remember even more. An integral part of the 90’s indie movement as well as today’s battle scene and a promoter of authentic acts and events, PH cared about the culture of Hip Hop. For him it was about your skills and how to improve on them. He was one of the ones that helped keep the foundation strong for others to go on and build careers. (more…)
The fifth solo album from The Live Guy With Glasses finds L.P. in a reflective mood, as he revisits cherished musical memories from his childhood (‘Dreams Don’t Die’), salutes the achievements of Nas (‘In The Scrolls’) and demands respect for his generation of rapper dudes (‘New Train Ole Route’). It’s a short album that doesn’t outstay its welcome, managing to feel like his most focused and cohesive project since The LP. Where as Main Source and Professor @ Large both offered some stand-out tracks, they felt more like collections of songs rather than the fully-realized long-player that Breaking Atoms was in terms of pacing and covering a wide range of topics. (more…)
My old drinking buddy Phillip Mlynar penned Lyricist Lounge: An Oral History this week, which reminded me of just how disappointing the actual album dedicated to that place was. As a record buyer during that period, I fondly recall that period in the mid to late 90’s when MF Doom, Juggaknots, Jigmastas and Scaramanga were releasing some cutting-edge music. But I also remember that, as it’s always been, 85% of the singles released during the ‘indy rap renaissance’ were either generic, corny Backpack Rap or weirdo Company Flow type nonsense. When the Lyricist Lounge, Volume 1 album in 1998, there was a fair amount of hype behind it and in what would turn out to be one of my more regrettable purchasing decisions I decided to shell-out for the 4 LP edition only having heard the breezily enjoyable ‘Body Rock’ single with Mos Def, Tash and Q-Tip. (more…)
This sounds great but I can’t help but wonder why Chopped Herring and other labels don’t offer stuff like this on CD as well. It’s not like a bunch of demos off an old cassette are going to playable in a club, is it?
DJ Spinna and Kriminal provided the 1996 indy stand-out single, ‘Beyond Real’/’Dead Man Walking,’ which proved to be the one of the highlights of an extensive discography over the next six years. Spinna was in high demand during this period for his signature lush production style which combined restrained sampling and original riffs for an atmospheric canvas of sounds, while Krim provided the most compelling verbal contributions from a wide range of vocalists who utilized the Beyond Real catalog. Ignoring the hackneyed ‘conscious’/’underground’ cliches that came to sully much of the ‘independent as fuck’ mantra of the day, Kriminal maintained a refreshingly honest style of Brooklyn brag rap that wasn’t afraid to boast of of ‘putting a dick in your girl’ during a time of tiresome politically correct posturing and underground flag-waving. (more…)
It’s almost as if this Clay Skipper guy read the entire Weed Carriers website from front-to-back and tried to act like he birthed this shit. First Google obliterated all traces of my Guide To Glo Gang Weed Carriers post after Blood Money was murdered the day after I profiled him, and now this? This is actually the second time I’ve caught the Gentleman’s Quarterly trying to claim the Weed Carrier term as their own. It’s enough to make me want to get my Fury Road on and start spitting petrol into my car engines air intake so I can cut this fuckery off at the turn. Thanks to the eagle-eyed NuJerooz for the tip.
Every music nut has a tale of the time they found some crazy shit at a record shop, for some reason didn’t cop it, and the memory remains the ether that burns their soul slow to this very day. For me, it was seeing what I recall to be a copy of Big Daddy Kane‘s ‘Wrath of Kane [Live]’ on a Cold Chillin’ twelve inch but not having the money to get it. Apparently the record doesn’t actually exist on vinyl outside of this bootlegs which I eventually grabbed. Has my memory failed me? Did I just imagine a record that never existed, or get mixed-up with the ‘I’ll Take You There’/’Wrath of Kane’ single?
Regardless, what has been the record, CD or whatever that you held in your hands for a moment but failed to bring home with you?
I didn’t get hip to Stetsasonic‘s brand of BK brilliance until I heard KRS-One shout them out and tracked down their In Full Gear album, but On Fire is worth your time for the classic ‘Go Stetsa’ and ‘My Rhyme.’ Here’s the stripped down demo version of their debut single, ‘Just Say Stet,’ which eagle-eyed Unkut reader P_gotsachill just put me up on. Now with added Human Mix Machine Wise!
I had the good fortune of connecting with Paradise The Architect from X-Clan on the phone last week for an interview, which gave me cause to revisit the Blackwatch discography, since he was heavily involved of producing everything under the banner until Brother J started Dark Sun Riders in the mid 90’s. For extra good times, try and play a drinking game where you have to go a shot every time you hear the word ‘sissy’ or any variation thereof.
Thank fuck. It’s taken five months, but 2015 has finally delivered not one, not two, but three great rap albums in the space of a week. I’m in such a state of shock that I had to cop a bottle of Jameson and break my own anti-review policy to give these releases some light.
Eff a Fatman Scoop, the only old guy you need yelling on your records is Greg N-I-C-E. While recent years have seen king of the human echo chamber reduced to consorting with the likes of Jason Nevins and Talib Kweli, there was a time when having this man on your hook was money in the bank. Just ask The Beatnuts, who enlisted his help on no less than four album cuts and two outside projects.
If you’re nerdy enough to collect records and comics, then the Power Records catalog would be your holy grail. In my newest Cuepoint article, I’ve researched the label responsible for some classic childhood memories and some great samples for rap records.