Wednesday, December 21, 2011

12.21.11...We Just Dancin'

Ok, here it're either shaking your head in shame, or you're yelling "ooohhh shhhiiit!!".
There's no middle ground on this one. If your opinion is of the former, I feel sorry for you, because this movie is hip-hop in it's most innocent form.
Kid & Play, have to love them. If you grew up in the 80s and 90s, I think it's almost a given as to how much FUN these movies were to our generation. The entire cast does a perfect job.

Bilal - Martin motherfuckin Lawrence....
I laughed every time he was one screen. Straight up laughed myass off. EVERY line this dude had in HP 1 &2 was golden. His rant about "The DJ" while he's in the record store, trying to get Play to hok him up with a deal on some 12"s is classic....and it's a perfect freakout that probably made 99% of the DJs out at the time give him a standing ovation.
Favorite line:
Ain't gon' be too many more of those "Shut the Fuck Up"s, cause I'ma kick both ya asses"
If you didn't put all your money in that damn pussymobile, we wouldn't be in this shit!

Stab, Pee-Wee and Zilla - Full Force
The freestyle these do in the record store after their grandma hits them with a purse and orders them to.....CLASSIC. "Butta on what?", "Say what?" "A popcorn!"
They were simply the quintessential thugs in a comedy. The brothers were always out hunting down Kid & Play, as if that was their lives' purpose. When they were able to confront them, on numerouse occassions, the following quotes were at the top of my list:
Do you smell somethin'? Oh definitely, I smell somethin'? What's that smell? I SMELL PUSSY!!!
Pee-Wee dives into a church, thinking they're about to catch K&P throwing the party. He leaps forward and falls down. Getting back up and beginning to head back outside he shouts to his brothers, "Guys, I think I busted my ass." You just have to hear how he says it. Hysterical. I watched this at a friends house back in my freshman year of high school. His parents decided they wanted to monitor our movie selections and watched this with us, completely horrified the whole time. When this part came on, I laughed sooo hard, and they looked at me like I had just stabbed someone.

and, of course, Jamal - Kamron of Young Black Teenagers
The obligatory white kid to make fun of in a hip-hop comedy, but it was done so well.
"You want some been pie?"
I mean, hey, he did the role and he nailed it. And they knew he had skills, otherwise they wouldn't have let him hold the mic at the jammy jam.
Let's face it.....he was the ultimate white boy at the time. But you can't give him too much shit....don't forget, YBT made "Tap the Bottle" and you can't fuck with that song.

Other memorables:
Mr. Lee - Are you saying I look good with a damn plastic on my head?
Kid's response to Professor Sinclair's question of what Malcolm X stood for
Play's excuse for spending Kid's tuition money, with Kid doing an extremely frustrated nod while Play stutters his way through
Dean Kramer's near breakdown during his "Time waits for no man" speech to Kid

It was an era of hip-hop that was pure. These movies had heart. They had a way of addressing social issues at the time and it was done with an undertone of intelligence disguised as slapstick comedy. The era of bright colors, African heritage pride and party rap, all rolled into one.
Kid & Play blew up after the original House Party, making this sequel and then the underrated movie, "Class Act" (Doug E. Doug's breakout before Cool Runnings)
It holds a special place in my heart and always will. My freshman year of high school, I got really sick. The first few weeks was an actual physical illness, being food poisoning simultaneous with a flu, and it fucked me up bad. If you haven't already realized, I'm of the chemically imbalanced persuasion, and after the physical health issues cleared up, the mental health problems took over. I slipped into a depression that left me in a pretty bad place, becoming slightly agoraphobic and not leaving the house for two months. I missed a lot of school.
I spent all day and night on a couch or in my bed. In five weeks, I lost 60 pounds and kind of withered away to nothing. But I had hip-hop. I watched this movie every day while I was home. Every fucking day...and it was my best friend.
I had this movie and a stereo in my room, where I hid from the world and listened to De La Soul, Main Source, Back Sheep and KMD. Maybe this is why the golden era means so much to me....I had a hundred artists making their landmark records and giving me something to latch onto.

As far as hip-hop comedy movies go, there will never be a movie like this again. They can try, but it'll be like when they had Woodstock 25 years later. It'll never be the same. It was a time and place that can't be touched. If you were there, you were there. If not, thank your lucky stars for DVDs. You can find this movie for pennies as part of a 4-pack collection of all of the House Party movies. Buy it, and skip 3 and 4. Throw those discs out the window, because 1 and 2 will be all you never need.
To encourage you, here's an Amazon link:
The Jammy Jam

Monday, December 19, 2011

12.19.11.....Zombie Rap

One year later.
Sorry, folks....time flies when shit gets heavy.
Now that it's cold and rainy in Emerald City, I think I may be able to get back to my initial intentions with this here site.

So, being that we're at Christmas time and shit (I decorated the inside of my apartment as if I was possessed by Clark W. Griswold), here's a few treats:

NOTE - I am not a fan of downloading a gazillion gigs of shit. Odds are, if you want a certain album from the golden era, there's a 75% chance you can find it for super cheap. However, there are quite a handful of releases from that era that are waaay out of print and impssible to afford on our low money income. I'm posting these sites because they have a bunch of records that are far gone to find. Plus, if it was on a major label, download the shit out of it, because they took advantage of quite a few of these MCs/DJs, ripped them off, made some money and then left them with contracts that wouldn't allow them to release any more music on other labels.
The dudes in the 90's got fucked over. Big time. A lot of them are still around and have found a way to release new music or still do shows. Support them.

Golden Age Hip-Hop Videos! - Not really anything to download, but some forgotten classics
Underground Hip-Hop - hands down, one of my favorites to find the long gone shit. Who else would have the Bustin' Melonz record? Sham & The Professor? The DJ Premier Golden Era revisited mixtapes?
The Hip-Hop Collection - Another completist's wet dream. Some pretty cool stuff, although I wish he didn't waste time posting stuff from dickheads like Kanye

There you's like a gift of thousands of hours of gold.

Oh, by the way....yesterday, sitting on a self in a local record store, I found an original CD pressing of C-BO's "Gas Chamber" record on AWOL Recs from 1994. For $8. If you know what I'm talking about, then you're saying to yourself, "Holy shit..." right now.

Last and's been a year in between posts. Here is the new and old that have soundtracked me through 2011.

I'll try to give a little detail, just in case you're bored and feel like killing time.

Big L "Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous" - Took me a while, but I've finally grown to appreciate this record. The beats were great, it was just something about his voice that didn't work for me. The guy was good, though. Unfortunately, he's another MC we won't have an opportunity to hear from ever again.

Boogiemonsters "Riders of the Storm" - I had bought the record back when it was released because of their affiliation with Digable Planets or something. Sooo good. "Honeydips in Gotham" is one of my favorite tracks from this era. I wish they had kept a good thing going. They released only one other album, 1997's "God Squad". Ugh. I've erased it from my memory and have continued to hold this gem close.

Boot Camp Clik - EVERYTHING. Black Moon and all associated acts. All of it. Sean Price's "Monkey Bars", Heltah Skeltah's "Nocturnal", Smif-N-Wessun's "Dah Shinin'" and "Reloaded" records....this was a crew that rarely disappointed.

Channel Live "Station Identification" - KRS-ONE's verse on "Mad Izm" is a perfect example of why the Golden Era rules supreme.

Cypress Hill "III:Temples of Boom" - The first three records are quite simply amazing, but this one....goddamn. "Black Sunday" bummed some people out, whining about catering their sound to the Lollapalooza generation. Fuck that. It was great. They got weird, and it worked. On "III...", they took it to a complete opposite end of the spectrum and made this bleak and dark, straight up hip-hop record. I listen to this record, and all I can visualize is black. "Throw Your Set in the Air"

De La Soul "Buhloone Mind State" - Totally forgot how fun this record is. I'm usually distracted with my iPod and go straight to "...Is Dead". Pressing play on this one and hearing the first couple seconds of "Eye Patch", I slapped myself for forgetting.

Diamond D "Stunts, Blunts and Hip-Hop" - Dude's lyrics are corny as shit, but his beats make up for it. This record's a good time.

DJ Premier - Too much to list. Golden age mxtapes 1-4, Salutes James Brown 2CD mixtape, Crooklyn Cuts tapes A-D

DJ Jazzy Jeff - Golden Age mixtapes vol. 1 + 2.....I wish this guy was still given more credit / attention

Fat Joe "Jealous One's Envy" - Pulled this out yesterday. Not a timeess classic, but a pretty solid record, nonetheless. He lost me after this record, becoming another victim to the whole "I'm the hip-hop Scarface kingpin" bullshit. He WAS on the remix of Raekwon's "Firewater" 12" with Big Pun and that track was badass.

GDP "Useless Eaters" - Yes, it's new....and it's golden. This guy gets better and better with every release. Someone hook this guy up with a deal that will give him the attention he should be receiving.

Goodie Mob "Soul Food" - This record is why I'm willing to let Cee-Lo slide for Gnarls Barkley's world takeover. I really wish I could get into them.

House of Pain "Back From the Dead" - Still a gritty as fuck record. The change in Everlast's voice from the debut to this one is legendary. Plus, they put "Who's the Man?" on here as a bonus track. Amazing song, amazing video.

M.O.P. - All the records from the 90's. These guys were insane. Saw them once in a 400 capacity club and it was chaos. "Buckwild" is the only term to describe how the crowd was, and when they did "Ante Up" it was like armaggeddon was unfolding.

Method Man "All I Need" remix - Goddammit, Mr. Combs....why couldn't you stick to your early 90's glory? You produced some great shit....including:

Notorious B.I.G. "Ready to Die" - Here's the deal....I never gave this record a chance at all. Never bothered. I knew it would be good, but I was always put off by the videos for "Juicy" and "Big Poppa". I have no problem admitting I slept on it for like 18 years or whatever, because now I have old shit that's new to me. There's still a select few tracks that I'm not into, but the majority of this record is rightfully the reason of classic status.

DJ Muggs "Dust" - It was out of left field, that was for sure. The guy who produced "How I Could Just Kill a Man", "Jump Around", "Dedicated" and slew of my other favorites, created this TRIP-HOP record that rules. It starts out with a distorted, feedback-drenched guitar, and morphs into this gloomy, brooding beast. I love it. It's in constant rotation for me.

Onyx "All We Got Iz Us" - The first one? Insane. The second one? Bitter, angrier, darker....better.

Pete Rock & CL Smooth remixes from "Mecca.." and "Main Ingredient" - I had no idea about this until six months ago. Oh, how I loved this duo. "Mecca.." is still a weekly part of my playlist. I can't decide on a favorite song by these guys. Every one holds a moment of brilliance.

Sham & The Professor "Split Personalities" - Woah. I remember the name, but never heard them or saw the record in stores. Found it in a dollar bin about six months ago. East coast early 90's hip-hop in all it's glory. Track it down. Love it.

Stezo "Crazy Noise" - Oh, thank you, world of re-issues. I didn't think I'd ever get a chance to hear this. It was worth the wait. Connecticut hip-hop should be proud of the groundwork this guy laid out.

Tricky vs. The Gravediggaz "Hell is Round the Corner EP" - Four creepy tracks. It's mosly a Tricky EP, but it's still awesome. See at the bottom of this entry to help me out with this one.

Ultramagnetic MCs "Critical Beatdown" - Shiiiit. Kool Keith was insane even back then.

3rd Bass "Derilicts of Dialect" - Pete Nice and MC Serch. Awesome white dudes. I don't care what anyone says, they won the battle with the Beasties.

Viewing Pleasure:

Onyx "15 Years of..." DVD - I wish every act from the 90's was able to release a comprehensive DVD like this. EVERY video. It's unreal. Live footage of their first show, interviews, etc. It's like 3 hours of bald headed madness. After I watched this, I went to their website. There's a free download section which offers every non-studio album track they've made! Remixes, instrumentals, rare b-sides and more. The site is extremely well done, with a ton of info.
Side note: I was on tour in Europe and at our show in Zurich, Switzerland, these guys were playing upstairs. I caught five songs. The Swiss crowd was in a frenzy. So crazy to watch.

Who's the Man? - Dubbed as"The First Hip-Hop Whodunit?". It's just a great time capsule of te early 90's. Dre and Ed Lover fun dudes. Dennis Leary's character is hysterical. The donut segments and the "did you just touch my badge?" freakout still make me laugh out loud. I hadn't seen it for a good 10 or 12 years before I said "screw it" and bought it online.

All the old standby's that I need to view on a monthly basis. All of them will be given proper treatment in their own posts.

Some questions to ponder until the next entry:

1- Where is Ego Trip's book on white rappers that they have been talking about for a few years?
2- When will "Juice" be given a special edition version on DVD? Mr. Epps...take a few hours from your acting job as a doctor and give me a commentary track. Bring the rest of the dudes...I KNOW they are't too busy.
3-Why won't VH1 release DVD box sets of the actually good hip-hop related shows they did?
4- When will the 33&1/3 book series show a little more love to hip-hop?

I'll be posting a list of things I have been looking a shithead out.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

neglection as a result of touring infection

As a tide-me-over, here is a recommendation:

consider this my Christmas gift to you.

GDP is a young man from New Brunswick, NJ who has captured the essence of the golden era and created something, in my opinion, all his own. I first got exposed to him through playing his basement (where some of our wildest shows have occurred. All rules a burnt to a crisp, just the way we like it.). Dude is extremely nice and an all around great guy. He was nice enough to pass on his last full-length "Realistic Expectations", which I popped in the van on an overnight drive a few days later. Cue: jaw dropped.
Seriously, I fell in love immediately and spun it about five times in a row. I won't keep gushing, I'll just tell you to check out his tour diaries and order you to buy his stuff and support him on his neverending touring cycles. When they say "Keep hip-hop alive...", they're talking about this dude.
I fucking pray that this is the future of the genre.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday Was My Day pt.2

To further my earlier post about YO!, I think it's necessary to break down a few instances of my the program was so important to that era. I think YO! had the same problem as Headbangers Ball ran into, which was MTV controlled what was played and the selections were, mostly, never left for the host to decide. Between Ed Lover in the first hour, and Fab Five Freddy running the second, I hold MTV in question as to why they didn't think these guys knew what they were doing. I mean, I get it....the network needs to make money. Therefor, they're going to run videos where the label invests a lot of money into the channel.
Luckily, that age was almost void of untalented MC's, so even the MTV selections were quality. I could have done without seeing shit like Positive K, Triple X Posse and K7. On the other end, the surge in popularity of hip-hop, and specifically NYC affiliated artists, made every week a must watch. The weekly countdown was actually something that I'd considered my personal lottery, hoping to have another chance at watching such gems as DAS-EFX's "They Want EFX", or EPMD's "Headbanger" remix video.
These were played on the regular. What was always the most important part of each hour was whatever premieres of new videos were aired. More times than not, it was your one chance to see that video before it fell into oblivion forever. Luckily, as DVDs started to raise in popularity, a lot of these forgotten pieces of hip-hop history have been unearthed, cleaned up, and put on compilations of some sort. Some artists have bootlegged all of their videos that were both aired and unaired. For those of us that loved a song that we thought should have had a video, it turns out there was one and it just never saw the light of day.

This post will mainly cover a selected few videos, both popular and not, that I remember vividly watching. Some ended up being huge, propelling the artist into platinum status. Some suffered crib death and the artist had to settle with wood in the hood. Either way, this was when hip-hop videos were videos and not episodes of Cribs, or a five minute journey into self obsession and arrogance.

In no order whatsoever, here's a bunch of awesomeness:

Pharcyde "Otha Fish"

First off, how perfect is the "Passin' Me By" video. Fuck! Fatlip hanging upside down, the entire video filmed gritty and dark. It was the epitome of what that song needed visually. I loved this group. It seemed like it was that song and then, poof!.....nothing else.

I remember being tired as all hell, fighting to stay awake through both hours. I dozed off about 45 minutes into the first hour, dead to the world. As my sleeping pattern has been for as long as I can recall, I groggily wake up off and on, half coherent.

My ears heard it first, without my eyes being open, that chorus, "There's otha fish in the sea, that is....There's otha fish in the sea...". My eyes popped open, blurry as all hell, and there was this psychedelic freakout blaring from the TV. My sight focused in and out over the next few minutes, knowing I HAD to see the whole video. I just remember it being totally bizarre, which was typical of The Pharcyde's personae back then.

I woke up the next day and cursed myself out, knowing I missed my chance to witness it in full. Sure enough, by the following week, it was gone. Never to be seen again.

Miraculously, about nine years ago, I found a Pharcyde VHS bootleg, that contained a ton of their videos from over the years and some pseudo-documentary tour and studio footage.

A lot of people turned their backs on these guys once Labcabincalifornia came out, not liking the r&b influence that found it's way into most of the songs, but I think the album is pretty damn good. It's no Bizarre Ride..., but it'd be pretty hard to repeat that one.
Fatlip, man.....where the hell are you?

Kurious "Walk Like a Duck"

This dude should have blown the fuck up. Seriously. A Constipated Monkey is a bonafide classic, in my opinion. The Beatnuts produced a lot of this record, if remember correctly. I thought Jorge's voice was badass from the moment I heard him on the Prime Minister Pete record. Dude was great.
The record itself had a good handful of songs that could have been video-worthy singles. "I'm Kurious"....which actually did have a video:

Also "Nicole".....something about that song, man. It was perfect. Just a hysterical tale of a dude being scorned. The best part was as the music trailed out, one of Jorge's friends shots something along the lines of "Ayo, Jorge, man, don't worry about it. Skins come a dime a dozen, man....let's go grab some chicken wings."
I laughed my ass off.
But, unquestionably, "Walk Like a Duck" was the jam. One of the beats beats to ever come out of NYC.....thundering, crisp snare, horns.....all the essentials.

This video was my favorite type.....the crew video. A bunch of dudes hanging out on a basketball court while Kurious busts a rhyme, walking back and forth giving props to everyone, including cameos of a ton of top MC's in the 1992 era. This shit is just awesome.

Notice the fashion accessories? This was an era that I can identify with.....slightly over sized hoodies of pro sports teams. Backwards fitted caps, leather jackets, sprouting, non-ironic 'fros.

.....and almost no vision whatsoever of shiny diamond watches.....actually, nothing shines at all in the video. It's grit, it's uplifting, and it's pure hip-hop. Bless the early 90's.

Gang Starr "Mass Appeal"

Just because you're an amazing and trailblazing duo armed with, arguably, the best DJ of all time and an MC with one of the most recognizable voices ever, that doesn't mean you'll get a shit ton of airplay. I heard this single first, bought the 12", and then waited for the chance to buy the album. I bought it when I was a sophomore(?) in high school. A friend and I went down to visit someone we knew in DC. The first day I was there, I made her drive me to a record store. I found "Hard to Earn" immediately and bought it with Milk's "Never Dated" LP (c'mon...."Get Off My Log" was the shit!).
We got back in the car and I begged her to let me hear it. Now, you have to understand....I knew I was white, but I wasn't white bread. The moment the intro into "ALONGWAYTOGO" came on, you would have thought someone let off a stink bomb in that packed car. It lasted for three songs before I was cut off. The tape was ejected and I was stuck listening to shit 80's pop.
Didn't matter. I had a walkman.
So, when I finally saw the video, I flipped out. It was great to have a visual to the audio. Simple video.....Guru walking and driving around with Primo. It was very.....Gang Starr. It was so laid back, but you know so much went into it, much like every song this group put out. I saw it once on MTV and once on BET.

Funkdoobiest "Bow Wow Wow"

Son Doobie. This fuckin' guy. I was hooked on this group the moment I saw this video. I was on summer vacation and was at a friend's house for the night. After a day of playing pick up and an evening of watching the Red Sox and the NBA Draft, we got our fortress of snacks and soda ready and planted our asses in front of his TV. YO! came on and "Bow Wow Wow" proceeded to steal the show. I kept thinking, "'s like a bizarre version of Cypress Hill...". Then I found out that Muggs produced most of the "Which Doobie U B?" LP and that they were part of the Soul Assassins. My ears were good.

The debut LP was great....even the songs Ralph M was allowed to hold the mic on. But, their second LP, "Brothas Doobie"? Unfuckwithable classic. I know it wasn't as popular as their first, but this record is golden. I bought the first single, "Dedicated" on a cassette single at Strawberries.

If, for some chance, you never gave them a shot, do yourself a favor and buy the first two records and go watch a ton of videos up on youtube. Specifically, "Rock On".

Tha Alkaholiks "Daaam"

Such a good song. Such a criminally underrated record. "21 & Over" was a good debut.....not a great one, but it was pretty solid. If you ask a lot of hip-hop enthusiasts, it was their best. I, shockingly, disagree and think "Coast II Coast" blew it away. This video pretty much sums up the overall feel of the record...much darker than the party album they stormed out of the gates with. It was matured, the production was insane, and every MC was given enough time on the record.
The video had minor success on YO!. I saw it a few times, shoved into the last fifteen minutes. This wasn't where i remember it from, though. I used to subscribe to "Rap Video Monthly", a VHS 'zine that would send you a new tape once every two or three months. There would always be like 7 videos of the worst hip-hop artists to ever exist, and then 4 or 5 videos that were awesome, the kind you never got the chance to see on TV. This was one of them. I didn't even know the record had come out when this little 4 minute bastard showed up in the mail. I fast forwarded right to it.

I think that's all for now. If I dive into every video I remember seeing, this post would take until 2012 to put up.
Much more sooner or later.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hip-Hop is Read

Over the past few months, I've found the time to read some pretty amazing books that are dedicated to the subject of this blog. Some extened farther back into the late 70's and early 80's, and some caught up to mid 2000's and modern day. All of them had great bits and pieces that further solidified this era as THE definitive era of hip-hop.

To help promote literacy, I've attached a hyperlink to the title of each book that will take you straight to it's page on Amazon, where you can buy most of these, used, for extremely cheap.
If anyone is about to tell me how "evil" Amazon is, then here's my response: Life is evil. Try boycotting that.
I've also left out the author's names....mainly because if you're interested enough, you'll have to click the link anyways for more details. Then you buy the book and read it. Then you lend it to a friend and they read it.
Here's the shit:

And It Don't Stop: The Best American Hip-Hop Journalism of the Last 25 Years

I was curious as to what this would detail, seeing as if I were about to read twenty articles on Master P, the east coast-west coast rivalry and Eminem, as told through the eyes of some dipshit that worked for the New York Times, I'd throw the book in the trash. Turns out, the book was focused on everything but the negative, which made it alot more digestible.
Starting in the early 80's, the articles were spread over every sub-genre of hip-hop, highlighting artists you would hope they bring attention to.
80's graf artists, Afrika Bambaataa (the best article in the book....the stories told are legendary), Naughty By Nature (s/t -19naughty3 era)....shit, they even made Diddy look impressive again, even after I had given up on him.
The great thing about collections like this is that you can skip around....there's no cheating, no peaking at the back page to see what happens. You KNOW what happens, and now you get to see why and HOW it happened.
It's worth the read.....some articles do drag, but the others make up for it.

Check the Technique: Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies

Amazing. Simply, and utterly, perfect. If you even remotely like the golden era, you should read this. If you're like me, and you love it? You HAVE to read it.
Liner notes in hip-hop records are void.....they never exist. No back stories, no lyrics, no explenations for anything....nothing. This book is the answer.
36 classics given the chance to tell the back stories that deserve to be heard.
Want to know the samples Pete Rock used on "Mecca and the Soul Brother"? It's in there.
Want to know Cypress Hill's original name? In here.
Why The Pharcyde let everyone know, "Quinton's on His Way"? In here.

This book is like a bible.

Some of the information that's thrown out is just plain awesome. One example: Onyx did the entire Bacdafucup album on acid. Really. That explains so many things.

Nas' Illmatic (33 1/3 series)

One hundred plus pages devoted to one of the most perfect hip-hop records ever made? Yes, please. The real selling point for me was realizing the book was going down every avenue I hadn't expected it to. I wondered how the author was going to spread this over 128 pages. Every song was given a story, every growth in the early career of Nas was told, from his first breaks, his first appearances, even the first attempts at rhyming. By the time you finish, Illmatic breathes a whole new breath. It's like a documentary through words, and it left me fully satisfied.

Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique (33 1/3 series)

Another in the series, but with the same result. I never liked License to Ill. I tried....really hard, but it was too corny for me. Rhymin' and Stealin' was the only song that I enjoyed. Maybe that record was the reason I had never really given Paul's Boutique too much of a chance until maybe a decade ago. Now, I am under the opinion that it is absolutely fucking bonkers in the best of was. The Dust Brothers, man....The Dust Brothers. What they did on this record was brilliant. And, consequently, the Beastie Boys are brilliant for letting them do it.
The story surrounding this record is fascinating.....what led up to it, why they made it as fucked up as it was, and the aftermath. Reading how pissed Capital was with them is hysterical, as is finding out what the three dudes were doing with their money. A landmark record for a group that has lasted around three decades, and it's given proper treatment.

Yes Yes Y'All: The Experience Music Project Oral History of Hip-Hop's First Decade

While not a book surrounding the golden era at hand, it spends all of it's 350+ pages focusing on the first era itself. Learning the roots of an artform that has blossomed into what it has become is something I've always enjoyed doing. Reading about early battle raps and DJ wars, about the competitive nature of house parties and shows throughout the five boroughs, it all seems so primitive compared to modern dayhip-hop. The birth of scratching, of sampling, of ghettoblasters....all of it has a story, and all of those stories are in here.
The book is filled with old photos and flyers that had probably been buried away until the perfect time to reminisce.....which happened to be around the time Jim Fricke and Charlie Ahearn decided that this book was necessary. I agree.

Ego Trip's Book of Rap Lists

Okay, remember a few lines up where I said Check the Technique was an absolute must? Same here, multiplied by a billion.
I don't even know where to begin, and I'm not sure I really need to very much. The contents within the front and back cover live up to the title. Every list you could possibly think of is in here, and about another fifty that would never even cross your mind.
Biz Markie's list of favorite toys he owns (he has two to live in, and one for collectibles.)
Stuff like worst follow up record, most disappointing debut, top b-sides, the best song titles mentioning food......everything. There's not one page that isn't entertaining.
Ego Trip was one of the best hip-hop magazines to ever exist (I'd throw old volumes of The Source, and every issue of Mass Appeal and Wax Collective in there as well. I'm sure I'll think of more...). The was an air of no bullshit and unapologetic bluntness that those pages held. Like many things that underappreciated, the mag folded after thrirteen (or fourteen?....maybe fifteen) issues. Evidently, if they ever get their shit together, there's a website on it's way, along with a new book devoted to white rappers. Oh, how I can't wait to see how that'll more than likely be like everything else they've done.....classic.

Reading list for the immediate future:

Ego Trip's Big Book of Racism
Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation

Wish list if anyone has extra holiday money and wants to make me happy:

33 1/3 series:
DJ Shadow's Endtroducing...
Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
A Tribe Called Quest's People's Instinctive Travels And the Paths of Rhythm (Why is there not one for Low End Theory or Midnight Merauders instead? Are you kidding? This is the Tribe album they choose?)

Everything else:
That's the Joint!: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader
Hip Hop Matters: Politics, Pop Culture, and the Struggle for the Soul of a Movement
Where You're At

I've been distracted lately by making my own music, but these records found their way into rotation quite a few times when the distortion became unbearable:
Redman - Whut? The Album
House of Pain - Same as it Ever Was
De La Soul - Dead
Stezo - Crazy Noize
Nas - Illmatic
Public Enemy - Fear of a Black Planet
Del - No Need for Alarm
Gang Starr - Hard to Earn

Up next (or at least, very soon.......or as soon as I can):
Cinema......where lines such as:
"You got the juice, now..."
" A-yo....anybody want a cheeseburger?"
"Money talks, bullshit runs a marathon."
etc., ......yeah, they blew my little white boy mind.

....and we'll discuss the pajama jammy jam, because I fucking love the shit out of House Party 2.
I love you, Martin Lawrence:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Friday Was My Day pt.1

I'll start this from the end and then work my way all around, Tarantino style. I wasn't exactly sure of the date, so I had to look it up to keep this as accurate as possible.

In the summer of 1995, I was celebrating the fact that by fall, I would be a senior in high school. This meant, of course, barring an extraordinary act of idiocy, that nine months after that, I would be a high school graduate and able to pursue.....whatever the hell I decided I wanted to persue.
That summer I had a large group of townie friends that I hung out with most nights. Every night was mostly the same routine. If I wasn't working at the local grocery store, I would walk downtown (with my headphones....) and see who was hanging out at the corner bench on Third and Main. Saying, "on the corner of Third and Main" makes it seem cooler than it actually was, though. Truth be told, it was the only place that had any life to it. There was a coffee shop behind it, the movie theater down the street, and a Store 24 a block away. Yeah....crazy times, I know.
I'd meet up with anyone who was down there, and we'd figure out what shit we were going to get into for the night. Lots of walking, wandering, visiting people with their own apartments....all the dumb shit we could do. If I had the car for the night, we'd drive around instead of using our feet, which gave us more distance to cover. There were occassional parties that we ended up at, which soon resulted, on those nights, in me dipping out early, due to complete lack of social skills and fully developed panic-inducing paranoia.
Whatever. We did dumb shit. We were kids. To correct: not dumb shit that I should be ashamed of. I was still scared of the world and the small town power-trip ladened police officers that just loved to attempt to instill fear in high-school boys. This dumb shit was more of the boring variety.
It was either this, or I went down to the local schoolyard and played pick-up until it was so dark we couldn't see the ball or the rim. Sometimes, just to squeeze an extra hour, anyone of us with a car would take turns putting on our headlights and directing them towards the court. Out of anything I did with my free time that summer, I think this was the thing I enjoyed the most. Once in a while I get the urge to try and do this out here in Seatlle. Even though I'm only thirty-two, I still have that feeling I'd be ran around in circles, and the first kid to call me "old man" would probably cause me to drop my head and walk off the court, Charlie-Brown style.
With all of these things involved, I filled up my days and nights pretty damn good. I found ways of making my summer a personal success. Every Friday night, however, my outside world would come to a screeching halt. No matter what I was doing, at 11;15 I headed home. I'd stop by a corner store on the way for a Mountain Dew or Barq's two liter, and some sort of snack....these were the non-vegan days, so most times it was a cornucopia of Little Debbie peanut butter chocolate wafer thingies and Doritos or Fritos......basically, I bought myself stuff that, once consumed, should have been my calorie intake count for the next three days. Yeah. Fat kid.
I'd get to the house by 11;30 or so and plant my ass down, straight in front of the television. I'd have a brand new VHS tape unwrapped and already labeled and would put it in the VCR to prep. At 11;55 I would press that little red "record" button.....and at midnight, I turned to channel 23, and I went to my church. The holy wonder of YO! MTV Raps.

Over the years, there would be, of course, a few times that there was no way for me to be home. I'd have the occassional date, which happened so rarely that it actually was an occassion. There were friends' birthday parties (also to be considered a rare occassion, based on my limited amount of acquaintences) or instances as simple as a long day of school followed by a long night of work....sometimes the sandman slapped the shit out of my by 11. You really can't fight the sandman.....that is, until I discovered coffee.
My saving grace in these situations is that, in one of my isolated moments of conquering electronics, I was able to figure out how to set the timer on the VCR. This meant that if I were to miss that weeks YO! sermon, I could watch it the next morning. I'll never figure out TiVo or DVR, so the timer on the VCR is my crowning achievement, which is fine by me. I had to do this once or twice, that summer of 1995. Attempts to come out of my social shell made me sometimes force myself to sacrifice my Friday night ritual.

The night (that is taking me forever to get to.....sorry) in question was August 17th, 1995. I had a date......yes, the rare occassion had happened. It was the dinner-and-a-movie type of date. I was pretty sure I'd be back by 11;30, but, just to be safe, I set up that timer. I picked her up early and we headed off. I don't remember the dinner, but I'm pretty sure it was chinese food from somewhere. It was always chinese food from somewhere. It was easy date food. That is, until the grease hits the bottom of your stomach and ten minutes later, you're about to pull a looseyes (DAS-EFX reference, anybody?........anybody?).
I do, however, remember finishing the date watching Species, a perfect date film if she showed up in a gold bra and called me her Han Solo. This was not the case, so Species helped make my first date become my last. Thanks, Species. The one redeeming part of the night was that I dropped her off at 11:45, which still left me time to get home and only miss a couple of minutes of YO!. We said our goodbyes and awkward glances, questioning whether a kiss goodnight was needed (it wasn't), and then I drove off, trying desperately to get home in time. Remember earlier when I said small town cops are power hungry? Well, they're also bored, and nothing cures boredom for them like catching someone going six miles an hour over the speed limit and then pulling them over.
Blues on and full swagger headed towards the car, I already had my mouth zipped and my license and insurance ready. It should have taken no more than five minutes to either write me a ticket or send me off with a warning, but this bored and sad little prick grilled me for twenty minutes, flashing his light in the back seat, asking where I was coming from, where I was going, where I lived, where I thought I'd be in fifty year, etc. He gave me his speech on how fast I was going, how unsafe it was, all of the usual. I just sat and nodded, trying to wrap this up as soon as I could. He walked back to his car and proceeded to let me sit there for another twenty minutes, and there is no doubt in my mind he had a shit-eating grin on his face the whole time. When he came back to the window, he handed me my license and insurance information, gave me a yellow slip and said something along the lines of, "Hope you're late for curfew...", got back in his car and strolled off. I looked at the ticket, realized it was just a warning, and hauled ass home the opposite way of the cop.
I made it home at about 12:45, made a dart for the bathroom to piss and then went straight to the livingroom. I had to be somewhat quiet, as my parents were already in bed, and waking them up would just distract my focus.
I turned on the television and immediately recognized Erick Sermon doing a freestyle in the YO! studio. As the camera moved around, I spotted Redman, KRS-ONE, MC Serch.....everyone seemed to be there. The green-eyed bandit passed the mic to Chubb Rock, who then passed the mic to Serch. All of a sudden, it occurred to me that maybe I was going to see all of these artists freestyle in one show, and that I missed almost all of it. As I was thinking this, Dre and Ed Lover jumped in front of the camera for a commercial and said, "Seven years of history...." and my over-reacting jaw drooooped. This was, obviously, the final YO!. I kind of just sat there looking at the screen, muttering, "...No way...." to myself, over and over. Commercials ended, YO! came back on, and I sat and watched Redman, Method Man, Craig Mack, et al do their thing. At the very end of the episode, holding his kid, Ed Lover said "seventh anniversary", and then those dreadful three words..."and last show."
And just like that, it was gone. I immediately went to press "stop" on the VCR to rewind Except, on this particular night, "record" wasn't on. Out of any Friday in history, I screwed up the timer on that night. I had nothing. I had the memory of the last fifteen minutes of freestyles and no knowledge of what the other forty five minutes that led up to that entailed. The fifteen minutes I saw were enough, but at the same time, they weren't. I was crushed. This wasn't a favorite sitcom or film, that was a weekly dose of an artform, hosted by two colorful characters. Every week, another of my favorites would be the guest, and I was able to have alone time, quietly watching YO! by myself and loving every minute of it. I'd hang out with my friends in the screen, Ed and Dre, for an hour and then hang with Fab 5 Freddy for another hour. Now, it was gone. I literally had no idea. I don't remember them telling their vewers the previous week. And now, the goddamn timer wasn't set correctly and I ruined my documentation of the last show.
So, needless to say, I was pissed. I went to bed pretty much fed up, considering my night consisted of a bad date, a bad cop, and a bad move on leaving the house when my ass should have been in front of the TV at midnight.
Do you want a slight happy ending? Here it is: I woke up the next morning and ate breakfast in the living room. I got up early back then, so I was flipping through the channels, food in mouth and, lo and behold, saw Ed Lover's face on channel 23. It was only a few minutes past the hour when in a split second, I was already out of my seat, running for the VHS tape and shouting, "No one touch the TV for two hours!!!". They were repeating the last episode at like eight in the morning. Who cares? I was up. I had the VCR on "record". I watched the whole final episode. I. Fucking. Win.
I watched that tape an average of once a week for about three years, noticing the decline of the tape started to slow down, it started to shake. Finally, I put the tape in, pressed "play", and heard the snape. Tape=dead. I should have given it a proper burial, but it just went in the trash.
It wasn't until a few months ago, when I thought to look it up on Youtube, that I was able to see part of that episode again. I typed it in the search, and up came those last minutes of freestyles that, even today, are hands down a major part of hip-hop history. I watched the last half of that session over and over. It's amazing to look at the crowd that was there. If you mattered to hip-hop at all in 1995, you were in that crowd. Simply, purely unforgettable. It had been a good ten to twelve years since I had been able to watch this. Now, thanks to the evil internet, I can watch this any time I want.Do you here me, bad date? Do you hear me, shitty cop? Do you hear me, lousy VHS tape? I've found the whole episode again, and I can watch it any time I want. I. Fucking. Win.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Side A

This is all I have left.
It's a shame, really, considering the amount of room my collection of cassettes took up at one point. At it's peak in around 1998, the grand total was around five hundred full lengths, EPs and singles from the golden era. Most were from my weekly excursions to any record store I could get to, whether by bus, car or walking. This was before Best Buys or Circuit Citys had invaded New Hampshire, so I was stuck with the pricejackers elite, such as Strawberries, Record Town, Tape World and a few others that would get away with charging somewhere in the neighborhood of $11.49 - $12.99 per title. Cassette singles were a priority, seeing as most of them were around $1.99 and contained the b-side of the 12" version. I was never really in need of the instrumentals, so two songs (maybe three if there was a remix) for two to three bucks sounded good to me. Granted, when a slab of wax was able to be afforded, that was first on the list. But with not a lot to work with, you had to spend your money in the most conservative way you could find.
The saving grace in my pursuit of finding every possible release in existence was the infamous Newington, New Hampshire flea market, a sunday ritual that I almost never missed out on. A friend and his father went early, much earlier than I should have ever forced myself to get out of bed on a weekend for, knowing I had less than twenty four hours until I had to be forced back into a classroom.
The Newington flea market was where the buried treasures were found, where almost every other visit I'd somehow walk out with four or five new gems to put on the shelf. I was a record hunter before I knew what record hunting was....I was a tape hunter. The odds of finding a 12" there were slim to none, but the cassettes flowed endlessly. In 1992, when I finally got a cd player of my own, the bounties were even more amazing for two reasons: first, CDs would be sold second hand there for anywhere from two to five bucks, and second, once CDs emerged, no one cared about cassettes. No one cared about cassettes except those of us that were smart, and would be able to go through boxes and boxes. It wasn't unusual at that point to come home with ten tapes of gold and to have only spent, at the most, six or seven dollars. Yes, cassettes were the backbone of music loving tightwads in training.
The process went something like this:
Alarm set for 6:30 AM, every day of the sabbath (I seriously don't know what I was thinking....). Alarm would be hit for the next twenty minutes until I realized I'd have to be ready by seven or they would leave without me. I'd crawl out of bed and throw on clothes, looking out the window, knowing that ninety nine times out of a hundred, they'd be in the driveway at exactly seven in the morning.
The drive was about twenty minutes from Dover and would be spent discussing the previous night's basketball, baseball, football or hockey scores, depending on the season we were in. The flea market was year round, such as sports, so the drive was never void of conversation, no matter how tired I was. We'd enter the parking lot and, without fail, my excitement would rise to a boiling point. You have to understand.....Dover, New Hampshire wasn't that exciting to a teenager. There was a movie theater, a Store 24, a YMCA for pick-up basketball games, a sports card shop and.....well, not much else. This being said, a flea market out of town was a sort of utopia, filled to the brim with bizarre characters. It was everything I enjoyed all wrapped up into one large indoor building.
As soon as I would walk in, I'd be bombarded with endless tables of forty year old men selling sports cards, which was the only hobby/love of mine that competed with hip-hop at the time. I would usually have a box full of cards with me in hopes of trading in to random dealers for more packs of whatever new released series were available. This is what I considered my "first round". There was never a hurry. My friend's father could spend hours in there, chatting with anyone and everyone, giving each table a good once-over before moving on and finally making a decision what he wanted at the end of the day.
So, my "first round" would last anywhere from an hour to two or three. As soon as I had nothing I walked into the building with and had exchanged for a mish-mash of new cards, there would be a sort of halftime. My friend and I would go over to the food counter and, being a fat kid, would gorge ourselves. Depending on the day and my hunger level, it'd be either an egg, cheese and bacon sandwich (smothered in grease....I should have had a heart-attack by seventeen) or a maple round.....or sometimes both. For those of you that aren't familiar with maple rounds, it consists of a large, round donut stuffed with the most sugary creme you can imagine and then the donut is topped with a thick layer of maple flavored frosting. The pastry would be usually three to four inches from side to side and about two inches tall. It was, without a doubt, the most sickeningly beautiful "breakfast" treat to ever exist. It's even funnier to think about my diet at those flea markets, considering my present day self eats an almost all vegan diet (except for peanut butter cups.....Reese's owns me for life.). So my friend and I would sit and discuss our scores for the day so far and recharge for the next endeavor.
Immediately after "breakfast", there was a large room adjacent to the food counter and tables, consisting of nothing but VHS tapes. Thousands upon thousands of them. They were usually four for ten dollars, so I would spend about a half an hour hunting down every horror movie I could find and then searching out a few WWF events, considering I'd also argue that the golden age of WWF paralleled the golden age of hip-hop. Wrestlemania, Summerslam, Survivor Series and Royal Rumble VHS tapes also filled my shelves.
Sports cards? Check. WWF and horror films? Check.
And now was the final sweep.
A mental note was taken during my "first round". Every table with a box of cassettes or CDs would be revisited and combed over. I'd take my time, not wanting to miss anything. Some weeks I struck out, but those days were few and far between. More often than not, there would be at least five or six young adults or twentysomethings that would bring their unwanteds in and rent a table for the day. Most of them had a garage sale compacted onto an eight foot table and most of them had grown out of music in one form or another. This is where I'd swoop in and score. Another man's junk was absolutely my treasure.
These tables are where I'd finish my RUN-DMC collection, where I found Paid in Full for a dollar. It was where I could buy soundtracks for films that had at least an unreleased song or two from some of the best artists of the time.....soundtracks for films such as Mi Vida Loca (tracks from Funkdoobiest, A Tribe Called Quest, and Boss), or Trespass (tracks from Gang Starr, Public Enemy, the DITC family....everyone), Who's the Man? (again.....everyone)......the list goes on and on, not even including the soundtracks for movies that were made almost specifically for the hip-hop community (New Jersey Drive, Juice, New Jack City, Menace II Society, Boyz n the Hood, Clockers, The Show, Fresh, One Million Strong (which wasn't a film)....even the House Party films. I know I'm forgetting a ton, but they'll all be talked about in time....I sure as hell listened to them all enough.
There were gems upon gems on a weekly basis. From the flea market itself, I'd go home with a few hours of new music to listen to and a box of cards to look at and organize while the beats and rhymes took me away. Maybe an hour or two of classic WWF as well.

Depending on the week at hand, one of two things would happen at the final conquer of the flea market. We'd either get back in the truck and drive to Dover, or every couple weeks my friend and I would walk down the street to go see a movie. That would be followed by a trip to the mall, where it would be time to flip through all the cassettes and records at any one of the price-gouging holes in the wall. I had no choice other than this. I had no license, hence, no freedom to travel anywhere outside the small provided circle. This was still good enough, though. I had my checklist ready every week, taking down notes on new artists from the once very reliable The Source magazine in the unsigned hype and reviews sections. (This magazine was THE bible at that time for supplied me with quite a bit of reference to track down new artists, etc. If anyone who may stumble on this blog has any back issues from the years 1990-1994, please get in touch and we'll talk deals. I'll have a very full "want list" up on here soon.)
After stumbling around the mall for a few hours (which usually included me having some sort of Burger King feast that was super-super-sized, complete with a shake and whatever the hell else was on the menu.....jesus, I was a pig), I'd make my final decisions. I'd usually keep myself to somewhere around $25 a week, paper route money, and would end up with two full lengths and a cassingle or two. We'd sit outside on the bench until my mom or dad would come pick us up and bring us home. Every Sunday night when I got back to my room, I'd know I had enough new music to tide me over for another week until the next flea market day arrived.
I remember some of the releases I was so happy to finally get on those mall runs, reading about them on a Monday and having to wait a whole week to hear. I remember tearing the plastic off of Kurious' A Constipated Monkey before I was even given a receipt. I remember special ordering Gang Starr's Daily Operation and De La Soul is Dead and having them show up on the same day. Finding Mecca and the Soul Brother on vinyl on the same day as DAS-EFX's Dead Serious came out and being able to buy them both......going to three different stores to find EPMD's "Head Banger" single because them remix was INSANE. I remember all of it and, slowly, more and more keeps creeping back. Pennywise the clown scared the shit out of all of those kids from Derry, Maine and then they tried to forget. In one quick moment it all started to rush back into their minds...all the memories. Hip-hop is my Pennywise, but the only difference is I'm not scared to let all of those memories sink back into me.
It went on like this for years. Once I finally had a license, I took it a step further, hunted down even more flea markets, and made an entire day out of bargain hunting, always eyeball-fucking every table and leaving no stone unturned. I did this up until 2005 when I was around twenty eight years old. My goals shifted as time went on, but any time I saw a pile of cassettes or CDs, you can bet your ass I made a sprint to them. I'm looking forward to fifteen years down the line, where I will revisit my days as a fat kid by turning into a fat older man, still tape hunting. I may start collecting sports cards and rewatching WWF matches just to immerse myself even further into nostalgia.....and maybe I'll find all those Source mags again and finally hold onto them.