Our friend Pseudzero at TIL.INFINITY has just released his Afterlife Recordz Megamix as a very limited Mix-CD. 54 minutes in length, this very amply represents one of the most essential yet underrated movements in hip hop. He also released a sampler on soundlcoud of said megamix at
I fell in love with hip hop full-tilt in 1991.It had been building up for a while by that point, but ’91 broke the dam.I was in middle school, and when I heard “By the Time I Get To Arizona” for the first time, it pushed me over the edge into hip hop appreciation head first. With Public Enemy as the sounding board, I then branched out, forwards and backwards, and across the map.Ice T and Ice Cube, LL Cool J, Naughty By Nature.Cypress Hill, Gangstarr, Digable Planets, the Native Tongues.Artifacts, Boot Camp, Wu-Tang, Mobb Deep.And each new tape I picked up just made me more excited to cop the next one.Hip hop was vibrant, it was fresh and progressive, it was building and growing; each artist and producer had unique style, and identity, and crazy visions.To my young ears the music was limitless.
There are things that happen with the passage of time, and with age:Looking back on the landscape of my life, from the midway point of an almost 40-year-old, I see the gradual and inevitable shift I’ve taken from active participant to spectator. I’ve moved away from the city and it’s frenetic creativity, my family and I now live in the woods, and I do my best to show my three young children those things I’ve discovered throughout my life, that I feel are important, and want to pass on. I play them music whenever I can. They've danced to Blowout Comb. Inner City Griots and Project Blowed. Kingdom Crumbs and Colored People's Time Machine. Apocalypse ’91 has definitely still been on rotation… my crazy children know all of these albums. And recently, I’ve introduced them to a new one I feel is more than worthy of inclusion in this elite group of classics:David and Goliath’s The Scepter and the Sword.
I’ve been fortunate to have been listening to this album in its various incarnations for a while now.It’s inception began way back in 2013, when a particularly face-slapping track from rapper/producer Dawhud and rapper Ace-One caught the attention of the one and only DJ Premier.The track, “Battle Anybody”, which got a lot of airplay on Primo’s “Live From HeadQCourterz” program, is a slouchinginly self-assured, boot-stomping show-stopper of a track, and acted as a catalyst for their creative energies as a duo.By 2015 a full-length Dawhud and Ace-One (collectively known as David and Goliath) album was born: a raw, heavy-ass, two-headed monster of a record, with production handled by Dawhud and the Beatminerz. Although Dawhud hails from the Pacific Northwest and Ace-One is from Indianapolis, this album was full-on Brooklyn, circa '95. As Dawhud called it, a "Tims and baseball bat video" of an album.
This early version, although bearing some alternate universe-resemblance at times to the finished product, might as well be an entirely different album.Dawhud is an all-but self-professed perfectionist, and with edits and re-edits, re-recordings and new material, The Scepter and the Sword continued to evolve. Becoming more sonically and thematically cohesive, the album coalesced into one brilliantly coherent and confident; adding participants, spawning the aptly titled mixtape Something’s Coming, and eventually eschewing the Beatminerz tracks until a later release. With Dawhud's intricate and full production featured exclusively, through trials and tribulations the album moved forward until its release in July 2017.
And the product is sublime.Look up the definition if you’re unsure of what it means exactly. It's the perfect balance of craft and wild spontaneity, of humble artistry and classic hip hop bravado. As a young kid, consuming tape after tape, chasing after each artist and each release, on through the 90’s and as an adult into the new century, The Scepter and the Sword stands out as a beacon; an album that remains true to the art while simultaneously advancing it.Here, in 2017.
This album, and actually quite a few others in the last 12 months, have signaled a sea change in hip hop, a return to detailed, powerful production and dedicated lyricism.But nothing I’ve heard yet has grabbed me like this. To say it's solid, and full, and beautiful in its intricacy and depth, doesn't do the album justice.It’s lean, no filler, no skits, no weak cuts, just a double lp's worth of beautifully crafted songs - each as satisfying a listen as the one that comes before.There are heavy, HEAVY beats, the kind the push against your rib cage, and underneath them flow these incredible gems dug up from crates, of horn sections, vocal samples, pianos played like percussion instruments, and fuzzed-out basses.Complimenting the music, Dawhud and Ace-One’s lyrics and raps are the best either have ever laid down.Trading rhymes, alternating verses, and pulling out line after line of fresh new Rhythmic American Poetry, they easily stand aside peers (yes, PEERS) such as Masta Ace, Sadat X, and Rock from Heltah Skeltah (who all just so happen to appear on the album).
The Scepter and the Sword is a record that is years in the making, and only released in the last month, and is surely going to become more revered as time goes on. It's an incredible achievement; it's the most exciting release I've heard in a long time, and gives me hope for a new revolution in hip hop. Head over to Dawhud's site Illin' In the Basement or his Bandcamp site to pick up a copy (I copped the cassette-shaped USB drive, but the limited double Vinyl [with bonus tracks] is truly a thing of beauty). Black wax is available through Fat Beats. Listen, dance to it like my children do, and be excited for the future!
Check out the new underground hip hop blog by long-time Beetbak supporter John Henry from Brazil! There are some gems on there, and I'm sure there are more to come. Welcome! http://lostfilezoveternia.blogspot.com/
Thank you once again, Cody, for the hookup with this fat underground release! Sporting one of the dopest covers in the history of album artwork, Dojah released this tape back in 1998. I'm not sure if he was doing this on the anonymous tip, or if he just had really poor marketing skills, but his name is absent on both the cover and the tape, as is that of all guests. Either or, I like to think the music speaks for itself. Half of this tape was posted up way back on the mighty Ghetto Tyylit, with the exclusion of the intro, outro, interludes and instrumental pieces. While it's true those excluded pieces don't do much for the album (covers of "The Banana Boat Song", the "Pink Panther" theme, and "Don't Worry, Be Happy" would be strange inclusions on any release, especially on a project which is otherwise so accomplished), I think it's important to present this album in its entirety, warts and all.
Big Shawn from Bored Stiff appears on "R-A-P", and a couple emcees I can't identify show up on "Let' em Have It". Beats are appropriately stoney and sample-based in that '98 flavor.
"The Co-Op Vol.1" is a classic underground tape from 2000, aptly named because of it's many wonderfully gratuitous group efforts on the mic. Before the "Chuck Taylor Presents the Capitol's Best Collection" album, this street level production (along with the Cuf's "Cufilation" release) represented the voice of the Sacramento underground. Led by emcee-producer Anonimous, The Underated Collaberated collective was home to a gang of talent, including members of the afore-mentioned Cuf; as well as of Verbatum and Socialistik, plus many others. The label, Sound Cultivator Productions, I believe, was also Anonimous' project. Along with two other emcees on this release, Fiasco and Kgee, Anonimous went on to form The Rebels Of Rhythm (not related to the J-5 Rebels), and also Hollywood Kill (also with Kgee). His name is also attributed to production work for L'Roneous and Hieroglyphics.
Sonically, this release is as beautifully gritty as you want it. Anonimous' beats are sample-based, unadorned, and heavy. They are unnerving - sometimes they're jumpy, sometimes they shamble forward, dragging their feet, shaking their chains. Unexpected, jarring sounds often enter the mix, raw and scoured. Listen to the opener, "The Most Hated", or "A Story" to catch the meaning. Musically, it's captivating, and a perfect backdrop for these emcees, who aren't really the wine and roses type. Krush is on this piece after all. They spit raw - there's nothing very glamorous about The Sac anyway.
It's hard to imagine this release being as old as it is. It's from 2000, 15 years ago now. If this was rock music, it would officially be fair game for the classic rocks stations on the radio. Listening to this tape tonight, I'm struck by that sneaky, persistent passage of time. Not because of the music - to me, this still sounds fresh and undated - rather it's due to the mannerisms, lyrical content and subject matter of the various voices here. At some point in time, I'm not sure when, I stopped feeling that almost tangible connection to the underground in a current sense, and began experiencing it as a dear period of time in my past - in a nostalgic sense. And by the grey hair growing on my temples and the wrinkles forming on my face, it's clear I'm no longer 20 years old. Listening to the trials and tribulations of the various performers on this release, I can see they can only come from the unhindered and unburdened shoulders of young people, with just one foot out the door. However, I listen to this without any sense of mourning for my youth - and its the reason I keep coming back to music like this, made my young people, or people who were once young - because it takes that kind of young energy for me to be inspired. This music is rough, sometimes abrasive, but it's also beautiful and breathtaking - this is music made by minds that aren't afraid to experiment (in fact, it never occurred to them to be afraid), with naive reflections on life that are almost painful in their unguardedness.
I'm also struck listening to this music, that I've been living and loving hip hop for the great majority of my life. I was born in the seventies, became Aware Of How Shit Is in the eighties, and once I heard Public Enemy there was no turning back. I've seen the passage of time and how hip hop has changed with it, and I appreciate more than words can express how it has embraced with open arms people of all ages, races, and cultures as it too has grown. It is with this, as I listen to The Underated Collaberated, that, despite hearing it through a tunnel of age and experience, I feel as in tune and supported and in love with the culture as ever - despite the fact I'm probably twice the age now as some of the voices on here. I can't claim to represent or speak for hip hop in any way, I would never presume that, but I think it's safe to say hip hop is not a fad to just grow out of. It's not a young man's game. It's for life. There are children practicing their battle raps, there are kids in their teens making their own recordings, there are the grown folks who keep it working, and there are the elder statesmen, like Chuck D, whose voice I still find as crucial as it was back in '91. Hip hop is infinite. No matter where I am or where I will someday be, I call it home. And for that I have infinite thanks.
William Rider of Ghetto Chilldren uploaded this unreleased Tribal joint today, and I had to share. It's actually two cuts; the B-Self solo tip "Born 2 Cree8" and the Marvel Team-Up of Ghetto Chilldren and Narcotik known as "Free Enterprise", from back in '97. Although I never heard either of these tracks at the time, listening to these songs makes me feel absurdly and buoyantly happy. There's nothing else like the pure joy that good music brings - especially if it's unheard jams from your favorite hip-hoppers from back in the day. Tribal Records has slowly been releasing stuff from the vaults, and I pray to Baby Jesus that they keep doing so. For now, just feast your ears on this healthy portion from B-Self, Vitamin D, C-Note and Tizzy T (RIP). Tribal Legacy
Thank you once again, Cody, for hooking me up! This time we have the legendary Chicago Chapter 1996 tape from Anacron's Peanut Gallery Network. Atop of 4-track production and analog hiss rides a slew of young lyrical talent and seriously propulsive beats. Perv One, Jahn the Baptist, Funsho, Astrobwoy, and several others join Anacron on crew cuts, freestyles, solo joints and interludes. It's a truly accomplished and impressive effort, showcasing what a force of nature Anacron can be when he puts his mind to something.
The Peanut Gallery isn't a movement that I've spent a lot of time exploring, and the more I hear, the more I realize I have been missing out. Well, 20 years still isn't too late, is it? For all of you who are in the same boat, this is a perfect place to start. PNTGLLRYNTWRK
Thanks again go out to the homeboy Cody, who sent me this tape, with the intent to have it posted. I had never heard this before I received the tape in the mail, and I have to admit I was seriously missing out. Totally out of left field. Let's get one thing clear, this isn't a beat tape. This is a fully-realized instrumental head trip of a record. They are complete works unto themselves, and they don't invite you to freestyle over the top of them. And although it's only six tracks long, it's a full album's length. Songs stretch out, slow, and raw. Percussive rhythms move in and out of the mix, taking the forefront, then disappear to let lonely samples become the focus. Murky bass lines poke out here and there. These compositions suck you in, slow your head nod to a standstill, and instead spark inward movement. This is music to stare at your shoes to, or to contemplate your navel with. This is music for turning inward.
Anacron is no slouch on the mic, and I'm not well-versed in everything he's done, but I have to say this is my favorite work I've had the pleasure of hearing from him. Listen!
Bobby Gibson, brother of Existereo and Innaspace, made this dope graffiti documentary whilst living in Europe 10 years or so ago. Featuring a wealth of great footage from Portuguese graf writers, and a great soundtrack of European hip hop, this was unseen on my radar until the the man Dylan hyped me to it. Seriously, give it a watch. This is shit you never knew. Major shouts to Hazard for making such a unique and crucial testament to the art.
Massive thanks going out to Cody, who sent me a phat collection of underground tapes recently, this being one of them...
1998 was the year. Zion I always had a unique style; they had those DnB rhythms and that slick, slithery flow. It was evident even on this early tape. It's great to hear all that slickness coming through the scratchy, hissy noise you get from a tape, it roughens it all up nicely. 8 proper tracks long, with an intro and a shout out as well.
Here's the fresh Tommy V joint - and it's quite the many-layered onion! (or parfait?) Here we see the signature Tommy V thrift-score loops and production we all know and love, along with several classic collaborators (Gajah, Awol One, EXII, 2Mex and Maleko). Partnered to that is the solid musicianship, intricate song craft, emotional depth, and beautiful harmonies that Tommy V is known for since his musical rebirth. More focused than the predecessor Mockingbird, but no less progressive, TV has come into his own in this brave new post-underground world.
This is the real shit. Several Active Minds are a long-standing Seattle graf/rap crew that have that raw vibe that I love - impassioned voices, dusty loops, and the power to focus that wild energy that comes from any group effort into a finished, singular product. That singular product, I might add, also has another raw vibe that I love - the feeling that this is something new, something fresh, something uncut. And really, that's what it is. They may reference elements of BDP, Public Enemy and X-Clan, and borrow aesthetics pioneered by the Wu, but the SAMsquad do things only they can do, and speak in a way to make you listen.
This isn't really boogie-woogie music; it's designed to be listened to, consciously. Specs One shows up, so that should tip you off somewhat. Headphones, no outside stimulus. It's challenging and it doesn't pull its punches, and that's how art should be, right?
I never posted this up so here it is now. This, the fourth installment in the CVE 2000 era canon of crappy-ass homemade CD-R's with the MacPaint graphics, is another album of gritty, digi-distorted homegrown beats and sick, sick, SICK flows. The fact that such incredible talent operated on the absolute bare minimum; without management, advances, or outside producers, struck a familiar cord with me at the time, and is still something I find endearing today. Nothing out there back then seemed as rigorous and ernest as what these guys were doing. Next to them, they made other underground acts look positively mainstream.
Next to Declassified, this cd was my favorite of the 4 co-released CVE albums (Declassified and Gotta Cumm Up came out along with Unclassified and Unreleased at the same time back in 2000), for a few reasons. One, it had a solitary production credit by OD on the short Wreccless track "Virtuosity". I tracked down everything I could from OD back then. Secondly, it had a couple of CVE's strongest tracks in "Crack Kills" and "Simulated Show (Part 1)". Just listen to see why. And third, the cover art was so pathetic. That poor old CVShack. I couldn't help but feel akin to these struggling artists seeing a picture like this, done on a crappy computer at Kinko's, showing what I could only assume as their living/working quarters, which weren't that different from mine back then. Although CVE had been going for a easily a decade by this point, it all seemed fresh and inspired and youthful. Which is, as I continue to become more and more of an old codger, what I find I love best about hip hop.
I don't think CVE is selling these any more, so here it is. NgaFsh, Riddlore?, Wreccless, and Tray Loc are joined by Rifleman, Latrenda, Shoshawna and a few other voices. Never forget how dope it all was.
Gotta Cumm Up 1999
P.S. I've been looking for the original Gotta Cumm Up from 1990 since the stone age, basically. if anyone is sitting on it out there, I would give you a kidney for it. Just kidding... Actually I'm serious. Bright, shiny kidney here, folks...
Gabriel Teodros' new album, produced entirely by AirMe, is a mature, restrained, and beautiful record. It's his most solid work to date, pushing hip hop forward as few can. I hadn't heard about this release until only a couple nights ago, and since that point I've been enjoying this surprise immensely. For those familiar with this particular Seattle cat, suffice to say it won't disappoint; for those new to Mr. Teodros, it's a perfect place to jump in. His work has always demonstrated a passion for the art like few others, and here it shines distilled and crystal clear. Truly, this is a work of beauty. Check out his website below, as well as links to listen and buy all his music.
Producer Jake One put out this unofficial Seattle hip hop compilation back in 2008. I think it was up on cocaineblunts, and it spread around from there, but now all the links are down. So let's revive it! It's a short set, but it's all gold.
Vitamin D - No Good
Jake One and Kutfather - No Introdeezy
Boom Bap Project - Welcome To Seattle
DMS - Back Up Off My Tip
Samson and Swift - Watch Your Words
Source Of Labor - Wetlands
Sinsemilla - Kaboom
Foul Play - Nightfall Round The Way
Blind Council - Only When I'm High
Ghetto Chilldren - Questions
Jace and the 4th Party feat. B-Mello and Specs One - Shit Hits The Fan
Black Tek Produced By Born Supreme - Sic Ill Shorty
Sadly I never saw Company Flow perform live, but I did get to see El-P when he came to town after Fantastic Damage was released. He brought with him a gritty entourage of like-minded emcees and Dj's, including MHz and assorted Def Jukies. The show was of course live as fuck, and everyone was on point. At the end of the proceedings, I got his attention, and slipped him a few cd's from me and my homies. He took one look at the covers, festooned as they were in images of weed fields and B-movie actors, and burst out laughing. Then he very carefully tossed them at RJD2. And that was as close as I ever got to fame. Here's Volume 2 of early El-Productions from 1994-2000. Pre-Jukie days. Noisy, experimental, and hip hop as heck.
Deception, Part 2: Turmoil - Blackalicious
Trapped In 3 Dimensions (El-P Remix) - Ice
Bladerunners (Company Flow Mix) - Mike Ladd Feat. Co Flow
Juggle Tings Proper (El-P Remix) - Roots Manuva
Gametime - Sir Menelik
Workers Needed - Company Flow
Looking Over A City - Latyrx and El-P
End To End Burners (Remix) - Company Flow
Linda Tripp - Company Flow
Offspring feat. El-P - Del Tha Funkee Homosapien
Blackout - Company Flow
Juvenile Technique (Essentials Mix) - Company Flow
I compiled this for my own listening pleasure this last weekend and thought that I would take the time to post up. El-P is one of my favorite producers and MC's, and I've enjoyed his claustrophobic, paranoid vision since I first heard a scratchy "Funcrusher" dub on my friend's tape deck back in the days of yore. So here is the first volume of early works by the man, from 1994-2000. Co-Flow non-album cuts, b-sides, remixes, production spots - all early El-P productions. Noisy, cramped, and distorted tracks from the master. I know it's not west coast, but whatevs, it's still dope music.
Tatiana No Namida - Yasushi Ide
Hit Me With That Shit - Company Flow
Juvenile Technique - Company Flow
Dammit - Dominant Species
People Are Shady - Company Flow
The Fire In Which You Burn (With Intro) - Indelible MC's
Check out our limited cassette label by clicking the image!
Listen, My Friend:
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