Wednesday, June 30, 2004

M.C. Space

CNN: Cassini races toward Saturn orbit
"...Cassini must navigate a hazardous passage through Saturn's rings and insert itself into orbit, at times passing just 12,000 miles above the clouds of Saturn."

"Will space probes in the next century / discover extra-terrestrial analogues to the seesaw staircases / when they explore the atompshere of Jupiter and Saturn?"

Dr. Octagon
"On Production"
Dr. Octagonecologyst

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Production Squads of a Bygone Era

SD50s: The Stimulated Dummies were a trio of hip-hop misfits with very un-hip-hop names: Dante Ross ("Dante is a scrub!"), John Gamble, and Geeby Dajani. Together, they laced upbeat jazz-inflected productions for KMD's Mr. Hood, 3rd Bass' Derelicts of Dialect, remixes for Brand Nubian, Grand Puba's debut Reel to Reel, Hard 2 Obtain's slept on debut, and the list goes on and on. Somehow, the SD50s remarkable talent was perennially buried on poorly-marketed albums destined to be crate digging classics.

The Beatnuts: They're still out there, releasing their own albums, but long gone are the days when a Beatnuts remix was a given. They defined the loping bassline, lazy horn blast, and "psycho dwarf" mentality in the mid-90s, relishing the role as the evil twin of Pete Rock's more upright and precise jazz sound. Notable third party albums that featured their production: Kurious Jorge's Constipated Monkey, Prime Minister Pete Nice's solo Dust to Dust, and Chi-Ali's Fabulous Chi-Ali. Countless remixes on vinyl demand a Beatnuts remix retrospective box set!

The Bomb Squad: We all know the Bomb Squad's legendary sonic work supporting the bombastic vocals of Chuck and Flav, but their freelance work outside of the Public Enemy house was just as pivotal. Hank and Keith Shocklee (what a great last name), along with Eric "Vietnam" Sadler fine-tuned the sample-thick formula for each artist: Ice Cube's Amerikkka's Most Wanted was a west-coast funk-soaked version of the PE prototype, while their work on Leaders of the New School's "Sobb Story" was low key enough to let Busta Rhyme's burgeoning personality get some shine. At their peak in the early 90s, the Bomb Squad was producing for everyone including Paula Abdul (!), Sinead O'Connor, their side project Young Black Teenagers, and the obscure Son of Bazerk. And all the while reinventing the sound of hip-hop through four undeniably classic Public Enemy albums. Bring that beat back!

Sunday, June 20, 2004

De La Double

Two "new" albums from one of rap's greatest of all time (hard to argue, come on now) have come out in the last month. Manifest Destiny breaks it down:

Artist: De La Soul
Album: De La Mixtape: Remixes Rarities & Classics
Label: Rhino Records
Year: 2004

Rhino Records, the label that's brought us such classic compilations as The Very Best of Dr. Demento and The Very Best of Frankie Vallie & the Four Seasons, is now getting into the rap game with releases by Naughty by Nature, Big Daddy Kane, Brand Nubian, and now De La Soul. You all know what this means, right? Rap's getting older, ahem, more mature, and so are its listeners.

Tommy Boy Records, of course, had a hand in these releases too. Plundering De La Soul's vaults after dropping them from their label is a classically wack label move (anyone remember Fu-Schnickens' Greatest Hits album?). However, some labels have done a nice job of providing listeners with new classic material by releasing b-sides and hard-to-find records, while paying respect to the legacy (Del tha Funkee Homosapien's recent The Best of Del was abundant in memorable rare tracks). The De La Mix Tape is a little of the good and a bit of the bad--the "remixes and rarities" part is what we all want, while the "classics" part is what we already have in our collection and fills up the album needlessly.

The album shines when it delivers the goods: both remixes of "Stakes is High" are nice to have, as is the lovely "Trouble in the Water" from the DJ Honda album. Unfortunately, it's difficult to give this album a full recommendation for a few reasons. Number one, it's not a "mixtape" as advertised--there are no blends between tracks, and the sequencing seems almost random. Number two, the prevalence of pre-released songs ("Oodles of O's," "Three is the Magic Number," and "I.C. Y'all") makes one wonder for whom this album is targeted? Causal listeners would have little interest in picking up this collection of De La Soul oddities, and serious fans already have most tracks. We know that there's a full album's worth of "remixes and rarities" in the vaults--imagine if Maseo was charged with the task of collecting the finest and producing a mixtape worthy of one of the most innovative groups in hip-hop history!

Rating: 3/5

Artist: De La Soul
Album: Live at Tramps NYC 1996
Label: Rhino Records
Year: 2004

Second up to plate is the live recording of De La Soul at New York City's Tramps nightclub from 1996. Tramps no longer exists, but many a hip-hop memory has been made at the venerable establishment off 6th Avenue. Having seen De La Soul four times, Mike C will be the first to admit that the trio has never been the strongest of live acts. In fact, they're distant, poorly prepared, and slip too easily into cliched crowd-involvement chants instead of digging into their rich catalog of songs to deliver a dope show. I had seen De La Soul on this tour, only a month before this recording, at The Cubby Bear in Chicago, and considered it perhaps the best live show that the group had delivered. Common spit his rousing "Bitch N Yoo" diatribe in front of a home crowd, De La Soul thrived off the ensuing energy. Quite a contrast to their 1993 performance in Pittsburgh where the group lazily appeared on stage backed by a DAT (!) and sleepwalking through a 45 minute set. Despite the disappointments, I was really hoping that this live album would capture the more positive memories. I mean, it must be good if they decided to print up thousands of these discs and distribute it nationwide, right?

Well, yes and no. The good news is that De La Soul is indeed performing at their peak of energy and live show experience, delivering the same amount of focus and creativity that I had seen at The Cubby Bear. Unfortunately, the recording is spotty at best, sounding more like it was captured through a smuggled-in tape recorder than a professional line through the mixing board. The bass drops out, the vocals come and go, and the mix is so variable that it distracts from the performance. Some may value the "authenticity" of the grimy recording, I'll argue that it's poor quality control, and yet another case of Tommy Boy plundering the vaults. The CD packaging is better produced than the recording, nuff said. Lucky for us, De La Soul is no ordinary group, and their renditions of "Potholes in my Lawn," alongside "Shwingalokate" and "Buddy" (featuring the JBeez!) shine brightly in spite of it all.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, June 18, 2004

Biz, Slick Rick, and Doug E Fresh for $6?

Blink, Blink:

The Vic Theatre
Thursday, June 24, 2004
Ticket Price: $6.00

SIX DOLLARS? That's less than a mixed drink to see three of hip-hop's greatest architects!

I suppose I could take the $8 Amtrak train from Grand Raggidy down to Chicago for the'd be cheaper than going to a movie.

props to AGCee for the link

Monday, June 14, 2004

The first great rap album made by an old man.

Artist: KRS-One
Album: Keep Right
Label: Grit Records
Year: 2004

From the opening shot of "Club Shoutouts," KRS-One embodies an energy that's not been heard from him since I Got Next from '97. With a career that spans decades, one of the most influential voices in hip-hop returns with one of the best albums of the year. You read that right--KRS-One has finally put together an album that's relevant, with beats that bang, and serves as an updated blueprint to prove that hip-hop can still deliver thoughtful club bangers. The T'cha identity is in full effect, and enables KRS-One to remain in the game without sounding dating or playing catch-up. Backed by some of the most solid beats heard yet this year (courtesy of Domingo, soul supreme, and other second-tier artists who stepped up their game), KRS-One sounds invigorated, focused, and ready to slap-up cornball emcees that have been running the game for too long.

Illegal Business: KRS shines light on the shady dealings that are actually running shit..."Diamond business controls America...Oil business controls America...KRS-One still causin' hysteria."

Phucked: One of many gems that grace this album. The T'cha brings the hammer down on all the nonbelievers who went the easy route of bling, only to find that "Now you're phucked." Rolling bassline, horns come in the chorus, and the knowledge rain comes down like KRS-One never left. "When advice is in your life you need to take it / cause frankly, everybody ain't gonna make it / Back in the days we showed em the way / put it there in the music / but you weren't amazed / you would criticize the bait and basically hate / but let it be known I wanted everyone to be great / but you were dissin, not even tryin to be better".

Here We Go: DJ Q-Bert (!) gets ill on the wheels with a montage of many of KRS-One's finest moments in a turntablist interpretation.

Feel This: KRS rocks a classic breakbeat and takes it back to '89 on this one--and SOUNDS like he's 15 years younger too.

I Been There: A two-note piano loop, stuttering bassline, chorus moans, and sharp beat underlines KRS-One's revisit of the "Outta Here" theme. "I talk how I talk when I talk cause I been there / I walk how I walk when I walk cause I been there / On your own sleepin in the park, yeah I been there..."

Let Em Have It: Horn hits must be back in effect, because this one flips a college-band horn sample that's too ill. Tight lyrics spit sharply with an amped chorus makes this track irresistable.

Keep Right will be released on July 13, 2004. Pick it up and support the real hip-hop.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

WRQR: Rap Quote Radio

Tune in to Rap Quote Radio for hours upon hours (actually, 1.7 days) of no-repeats, all classic, hip-hop music. We've just doubled the size of our playlist, adding classics from Big Daddy Kane, Gangstarr, Kool G. Rap, KRS-One, and more. If you don't hear the station, or if you've got a request, get at me!

Blowin' up the spot

Create your own
props to AGeeCee

Monday, June 07, 2004

Lest we forget...

"Now let's go back to the past / The muthafucka who needs to be tried is Ronald Reagan's ass / Appointed Bush to the C.I.A. / That shit was cold / Put Noriega on the payroll / All of a sudden shit changed / Right after '88 / Hm - ain't that strange?"

Song: City Under Seige
Artist: Geto Boys
Album: Grip it! On That Other Level

Sunday, June 06, 2004


"I GET RAW LIKE BLOODY LIVER / my cousin sports a fade and a half moon"

(taking it back to the old school)

Artist: Harry O
Song: Show Em How We Do Things
Album: Lord Finesse's Return of the Funky Man

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Driving Up the Market

A recent visit to Ebay's Music > CDs > Rap, Hip-Hop revealed the high-price cost of getting caught up on the oldies. Fortunately for Mike "C", these are already safe and sound in the giant collection. Others may not be so fortunate...Still, is it really worth dropping $40+ on a disc?

$46.00 Showbiz & AG: "Goodfellas"
$41.00 Main Source: "Breaking Atoms"
$34.33 The Genius: "Words from the Genius"
$31.00 Pharoahe Monch: "Internal Affairs"
$28.00 Nice & Smooth: "Nice & Smooth"

Classic Unheard: Hard Knocks

Artist: Hard Knocks
Album: School of Hard Knocks
Label: Wild Pitch ("you don't want to make a Pitch that's Wild")
Year: 1992

Excerpt from Spine Magazine's review:
The formula was simple, but many could do with taking a note out of their book - funky hip-hop with a hard edge and conscious (but not preachy) lyrics. 'Nigga For Hire' was the lead single and had everything to make it popular: its fast rhythm and catchy chorus was backed up with no-nonsense lyricism
True dat.

Solid early 90s head nodding beats with lyricism that's reminiscent of Large Professor's flow with the consciousness of The Intelligent Hoodlum, "School of Hard Knocks" is one of the best releases of the era. Album highlights include "A Dirty Cop Named Harry," "Nigga For Hire," and "Thoughts of a Negro." Currently only available as a high-priced OOP release on Ebay...but keep scanning the used bins, it'll turn up.

Catching Mad Wreck

CNN: Bulldozer rampage gunman dead
"The machine had a half-inch steel plate with a layer of concrete, and another steel plate," he said. "On the front of the machine, there were two rifles mounted where he could shoot straight ahead."

"I am what I am / And I do what I do / Puff mad lah / And catch wreck with my crew"

Artist: Smif N Wessun
Song: Wrektime
Album: Dah Shinin

hip hop

hip hop has become too HIP for it's HOP, seems like everyone from AOL to McDonalds is getting into the frey, although it's nothing new, it just adds to the conjexture that it ain't a passing fad, but a fad that all true fans wished went back into the underground, so we don't have to see it basterdized even more than it is. Half a ways into the year and only Ghost Face and Kanye West have blessed us with Albums worthy of a top ten this year. Migth have to look for the top 5 instead.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Opening Shots Heard Round the World (Updated)

Great debut verses in hip-hop history. Here are 6 "illiotic" verses to set it off...

Canibus, "Beasts from the East"
Source: Lost Boyz's "Love, Peace, and Nappiness"
Suggested by: Mizzensch
Choice selection: "Been rockin longer than niggas twice my age / back in the days before Bob Marley was rockin a fade / before Honest Abe signed the paper that freed slaves / before Neanderthals was drawing on walls in caves / I existed, in the garden of Eden gettin lifted / stickin dick to Eve before she was Adam's mistress"

Snoop Doggy Dogg, "Deep Cover"
Source: Deep Cover Soundtrack
Suggested by: Wifey
Choice selection: "...Hmmm, let me think about it / Turned my back and grabbed my gat / and guess what I told him before I shot it / 'If you don't quit, yeah, if you don't stop, yeah / I'm lettin my gat pop - cause it's 1-8-7 on a undercover cop!'"

Nas, "Live at the Barbeque"
Source: Main Source's classic "Breaking Atoms"
Choice selection: "Nasty Nas is a rebel to America / Police murderer, I'm causin hysteria / My troops roll up with a strange force / I was trapped in a cage and let out by the Main Source"

Andre the Giant, "Back to Back Rhyming"
Source: Lord Finesse's "Funky Technician"
Choice selection: "Brothers ain't half stepping, they're walking backwards"

2Pac, "Same Song"
Source: Digital Underground's "This is an EP Release"
Choice selection: "Now I clown around when I hang around with the Underground / Girls used to frown, say I'm down, when I come around"

Big Pun, "Watch Out"
Source: Fat Joe's "Jealous One's Envy"
Choice selection: "I doom the world like I was God and throw my gun away / Then snatch the moon out the sky, and blow the sun away"

Keith Murray, "Hostile"
Source: Erick Sermon's "No Pressure"
Choice selection: "The most beautifullest thing in this world / Is my notion, for murderous poetry in motion / And the illiotic shit I come across"

Jeru tha Damaja, "I'm the Man"
Source: Gangstarr's "Daily Operation"
Choice selection: "...When we rock knots and got props like Norm Peterson / Lots of friends, lots of fun, lots of beers / Got the skills, kreeno so I always get cheers / Troop on like a trooper no tears for fears / I'm a get mines cuz the crew'll get theirs / Cut you up like Edward Scissorhands / You know the program I'm the mutha fuckin' man..."

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Ya heard?

"I'm so def, I need a hearing aid with an equalizer"

Song: Yes You May (Remix)
Artist: Lord Finesse featuring Big L
Album: From the Crates to the Files

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

WEHT DITC? (Updated)

Inquiring minds want to know! If any of Manifest Destiny's loyal readers have additional info, get at me.

One of the most dominant crews in the early-90s golden era, Diggin In the Crates crew held their own alongside more well-known rap collectives like the Wu-Tang Clan. Featuring the ill lyrical abilities of Big L, Lord Finesse, and Fat Joe...backed by the head nodding soundscapes crafted by Diamond D, Buckwild and Show, the DITC always came correct. Ten years later we ask, "What ever happened to the Diggin in the Crates crew?" Manifest Destiny investigates.

Last heard: ???
from mizzensch: I believe is mainly doing club DJing these days

Last heard: ???
from mizzensch: Check out "Deceived Me" from the latest Thirstin Howl album. AG in effect!

Lord Finesse
Last heard: Released a great retrospective of his work, "From the Crates to the Files," this past year, highlighting both his production and lyrical talents.
from mizzensch: Also doing alotta DJing. He spun at Joes Pub last Wed night w/ DJ Scratch - and I heard it was off the meter.

Last heard: Fell off lyrically with his last effort, entitled "Bon Appetit." Looking forward to the return of the OC that created the timeless "Time's Up."
from mizzensch: I thought had an album after Bon Appetit - some total indie shit that also tanked. Not sure though. Check out though for the skinny on an apparent 3 way beef between Monch, Prince Po & OC following their attempt to unite for an Organized reunion LP...

Diamond D
Last heard: The father of DITC, and "the dopest producer on the mic," came out with a new album "Grown Men Talk", haven't heard it yet though.

Big L
RIP. Performing nightly with Biggie and Big Pun in the posthumous super group "Big AfterLyfe."

Fat Joe
Last heard: The only member of the DITC who has performed with his shirt off at MTV Spring Break. Blown up, crossed over, but may yet return to his roots.
from mizzensch: Yeah hes blown up and crossed over. BUT - once in awhile comes thru with some signs of his grimy Bronx roots. Dont sleep on the new Terror Squad shit -"Lean Back" and "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah" which freaks an ILL hard as f*** old school breakbeat...

Last heard: Hmmm...hard to say. Certainly the most under-appreciated producer in the click, Buckwild has laced some of the most lovely vibes and drums I've ever heard. Case in point: his remix of the Alkaholik's joint Daaaam!.
from mizzensch Last I heard was signed to Bad Boy's Hitmen production camp and was churning out shit for their artists. This happened after he produced "Whoa" for Black Rob in 2000. Not too much memorable after that from him - he did a joint for Faith's 2001 LP though that was lovely, forget the name though... but if you check the credits of any 2000+ Bad Boy release you'll likely see some Buckwild credits...

Sanitized Rhyme

"Rap janitor, suckaz I'm mopping
Germs...I'm using Pine Sol
Ajax...and cans of Lysol
For parasites...metropolitan termites"

Song: Kool Keith Model Android #406
Artist: Ultramagnetic MC's
Album: The B-Sides Companion