Monday, October 22, 2007

The Cream of The Top 10 REALLY BAD Ideas/Trends In Hip-Hop #5-1

Let's continue/cuz I got more"-Cool Chip


5. Horrorcore:
Abortions with rusty hangers? Check! Impregnation by demons and sex with corpses? Check and DOUBLE CHECK! Carrot Top? Ok, he doesn't have shit do with this but have you seen him lately? He scares the hell outta me. Around 1994, Russell Simmons coined the term when describing his group Flatlinerz and their type of music. He said it was the next phase of Hip-Hop. I think he also said that he and Kimora would last forever around the same time as well... Anyway, other than the Gravediggaz and RA The Rugged Man's Crustified Dibbs experiment, it amounted to little more than a bunch of cats trying to outgross each other and alot of A&R types signing anyone who could rhyme something with "fish hook up the ass". In one way, I think guys like RZA pushed themselves creatively to do this stuff...but then again the original title of the Diggaz album was Niggamortus. Fortunately, a little album called Ready To Die changed alot of people's tastes that year and Horrorcore took it's rightful place in the morgue...or the .99 cent bin at Tower Records.

4. New Jack Swing:
Damn you Teddy Riley! I love Heavy D. and Redhead Kingpin was my shit back in the day but Wreckxxx N Effect? Guy? Christopher Williams? Hip-Hop had an affair with new wave R&B in the early 90's. They used the same breaks and beats as rap but they sang over them with an occasional "guest rap". In one way, it was very radio-friendly and softened up MTV and other stations (VH-1) for the urban-heavy rotations that would come later on. However it was mostly forgettable, rapidly dated stuff that didn't stand the test of time. Does anyone realize that this music is responsible for Color Me Badd? That's like knowingly dropping a cannister of Ebola in Times Square! You're out of you're frickin' minds over there at Viacom. Hip-Hop Honors my ass.


In 1993 this happened:

...YES that's big homie from Juice...yes...Steel!

In 1995 THIS HAPPENED! Do I have to say anything else? DO I? There's a Ron Jeremy and DJ Polo single out there too. BAD IDEA? Nah, I'm buggin'...

2. Ballas "Rappin' ":
Now I'm not talking about the immortal Jewelz LP by the lyrical dynamo known as A.I. This even predates the Roy Jones Back in the early 90's, Shaquille O'Neal launched a multi-media camapign the likes of which no one had seen before. Shaq was in movies. He had action figures, a Pepsi deal, there was even Shaq-condoms (which he never took advantage of...OK I'm lyin'about the hats but dude got swimmers.) He even released an album with some decent rhymes that had some top shelf producers at the time. So what happened next? B-Ball's Best Kept Secret, a collection of really (below) average NBA player/ rhymers paired with the likes of Grand Puba, Diamond D, Warren G., Clark Kent and few others. Shaq appearing on this collection was like a guest appearance from Hov. They were all that bad! What did it produce? A Cedric Ceballos single and an in depth interview on Inside Stuff about his upcoming album and single "Ain't That Type of Party" *shudder* A MERCIFULLY SHELVED SCOTTIE PIPPEN ALBUM! Dude talks like the illegitimate son of Cleveland from Family Guy and Barry White. Manure like this is the reason why people even entertained the idea of Iverson or Jones. Bad Hip-Hop! *slaps its hand* Bad HIP-HOP!

1. Nice & Smooth team up with...NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK!?! A collab is a collab, right? The Fat Boys teamed up with The Beach Boys and Chubby Checker! Big Daddy Kane looked like the black member of Sgt. Pepper when he teamed up with Patti LaBelle in that video! PE did a song with Anthrax! This however is like going to a cemetary, digging up a corpse re-burying it face down and then taking a steaming dump on the site. This is the unholiest of unholies. Here's the story: After a bit of a layoff, New Kids got tired of being a running joke in the industry and tried to make a comeback. So what did they do? They Bin Ladened my Hip-Hop. Just look at the video with all the cliche's(hoodies, bonfires, Timbs, ROTTWEILERS!) The unkindest cut was listening to Greg Nice deliver this gem: Yo (yo) why you wanna act like a tramp? (tramp)/a wet food stamp. That was like getting kicked in the nuts by Hercules. Even worse...the production isn't half bad. They even sampled James Brown's Papa Don't Take No Mess and DWYCK. Still, definitely one of the darkest days in music and an ENORMOUSLY BAD IDEA. Just watch:

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Famous Firsts: They Let The Roadie Kick A Rhyme?

When did he know? When do you think Tupac Amaru Shakur or Lesane Crooks (according to some "documents" of dubious origin) realized he was gonna be one of the greats? Not just a good or passable rapper as this first song shows but a titan. If you played Same Song from Digital Undergrounds This Is An EP Release and said that to me, I would have slapped the looney clean out of you.

In 1991 Digital Underground was on top of the world off the strength of Humpty Dance and Doowutchyalike. They could basically write their own ticket and release throw away material that people will buy anyway...and they did. Between Sex Packets and Sons of the P, Shock G., Hump and the boys released This Is An EP Release to satisfy DU fans cravings for new material. The first single was Same Song which was released to coincide with their cameo in the Dan Ackroyd/Demi Moore crapfest Nothing But Trouble. The video was the usual underground craziness but they had another dude. It was a young X Clan-ed out Tupac being carried on throne as he delivered a rhyme that was anything but spectacular. My man Humpty was talking about "sweat drippin'/girlies in the limo eatin' chicken" and this cat was talking about clowning around with the Underground? Whatever, but like I said in the Common steps, man.

Later on that year a month or so after DU dropped Sons Of The P, Tupac (now 2Pac) dropped 2Pacalypse Now. The album came out at a bad time in rap when every politician was scapegoating rap for damn near the cause of hunger in 3rd world countries. Even with Brenda's Got A Baby and Trapped, the album was a dud at the time and we wouldn't get an album from him for two years until Strictly For My N.I.G.G.A.Z. We all know what happened after I Get Around and Keep Ya Head Up came out so it would be redundant to retell it. It's safe to say that average XClan rapping cat stepped his game up and poured his heart into a pen and then put it to paper. He is maybe one of the 10 greatest rappers of all time but you wouldn't guess it by his first display. Then again, Kobe averaged 7.6ppg his first year and he turned out decent.

Although 'Pac only rhymes on one track, it's an important part of the puzzle for 2Pac completists. The album has only two exceptional songs: the Jimi Hendrix sampled The Way We Swing and the very jazzy R&B-esque remix to Sex Packets. If not for it being the world premiere of one of the gods of rap, I'd definitely tell y'all to leave it alone.

Digital Underground-This Is An EP Release

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I Shouldn't Have Done It: The Top 10 REALLY BAD Ideas/Trends In Hip-Hop #10-6

When you love something, you love it warts and all. You take the good and the bad. If you have a funny Uncle Cleofus who's funny as hell but he smell like ass, you still hug him at the cookout but you keep it movin'...FAST. Well, I love Hip-Hop in all it's forms (even New Jack Swing but VH-1 was out of their flippin' minds however...) and even if there is an Uncle Cleofus or two, I'll hug 'em and keep it movin'. These guys get the Hug n' Move treatment:

10. LL Cool Thug, Gangsta Hammer & The Blue Cheese Guys Carry Machetes:

People do things to stay in the public eye. Britney shows that twizzy whenever she gets in and out of cars. Other celebs call the paps everytime they step out to go throw out the trash and rappers change their style. Fruits of Nature was dope! I understand that there was more to them than that image but Unleashed with the bonfires, hoodies and machetes? Come on man. I found out that lack of label support had a lot to do with this by third party accounts as well as reading stuff from Kool Kim but Timbo Hammer and Grimey L? Bad judgment. I understand this all happened Post-Wu and Pre- Shiny Suit but you can't introduce yourself wearing Genie pants and Solid Gold dancer gear and then all of a sudden you embrace your inner Treach and start stompin' in a speedo with boots and a skully. Uncle L? The man who made earrings jingle and needed love talking about shooting people in the head? Survey says: "ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"

9. Rigeddy-Rawr!!!:

Who started it? Who igiddy-ed in my biggidy? Some people say it was Jaz and Jay-Z. Other people claim Das took it to the next level but due to HEAVY jock riding, it got tired real quick. Chip-Fu gave me a headache and Original Flavor (feat. Jay-Z) was more of the same. When this cat started doing it weekly on 90210 (hey my sister used to watch that shit...) and had the cajones to "drop" a RAP ALBUM? NO MIGGIDY MAS!!

8. Female Versions of Male Groups:

Aquaman had Aqualad. Flash had Kid Flash. Then there was BWP, H.W.A. and The Ghetto Girlz...*channeling Nancy Kerrigan* WHY!?! I don't remember thinking to myself: "Golly I wonder how Scarface would rap if he was a chick?" This was a cheap marketing ploy made up by dumb ass record execs who would rather jump on the back of something than create from scratch. I remember in that wack ass "My Man's Playin Tricks on Me" video that they had a midget there...TO BE A MIDGET! That's it! Word to Bushwick, that chick didn't say shit. She just completed the group! Good news is that the guy that signed them now has a part time job testing bullet proof vests. Ok...well...he should...

7. Kid Rappers Mean Muggin' and Growin' Up Fast:

Remember Illegal? Remember how frightened you were when you saw Malik and Jamal on camera and thought: "Where the hell are their parents?" Remember when Da Younstaz decided that they weren't gonna pass the mic but crack it over your fuckin' head? The saddest part about that was I remember listenin to No Mercy (Where the oldest one had to be 16) and on one of their songs, they "reminisced" about "goin' in raw without wearin' a hat." I guess nobody wants to Miss The Bus anymore? Jesus.

6. The Hip House Movement:

Don't kill me! I don't mean the legendary I'll House You or "dance rap" like Doug E. Fresh's Summertime or Rob Base's It Takes Two. I'm talking about the shit that had me and my friends puttin colors in our flat tops and wearing big ass leather shoes with metal tips on them and baggy open shirts (Ahh..shut the hell up!). House music was big and at one point alot of artists had a house cut on their album (see: The House That Cee Built or EPMD's It's Time To Party) but I'm sorry most hip house music was boring and repetitive and most importantly had extremely short shelf life. You'd bus' out Rock Box in your ride today but you wouldn't dare pump any of that nonsense. Even De La Soul was sick of it as evidenced by Kicked Out The House off the De La Soul Is Dead LP. I get it, "Get up dance, shake your butt...etc." but Do It To The Crowd? Neneh Cherry on Video Music Box every week? KYZE (The Stomp! Move Jump Jack Your Body dude)? Kill me...No seriously...KILL ME!


Saturday, October 13, 2007

You Can't Have That: The Art & History of Beatboxing

"Yeah but...HE AIN'T NICE LIKE JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE!" I never understood why adults wanted to slap the shit out of teenagers on principle until that moment. I was on the bus with some cookie cutter wiggas (don't like the word but can't find another one that fits...) and heard the tail end of a conversation about BEATBOXING and JT was being considered as ONE OF THE BEST? If you want to pretend to know about a culture you so recklessly steal from, at least watch some old stuff or crack a book. The knowledge is out there. The legends deserve better than this.

Modern Beatboxing (the true 5th element of Hip-Hop) really took hold in the early 80's. A young MC by the name of Doug E. Fresh appeared on a single called Pass the Budda with Spoonie G. in 1983. Fresh would claim that he invented beatboxing even before the release of that single. Fresh was known for his rapid and deep bass sound as well as his tongue clicks. Now there is dispute and even a little friendly beef from back then as Darren "Buffy" Robinson of the Fat Boys had come out around the same time and was called "The Human Beat Box". It was his style that helped the then Disco 3 win a talent contest and record contract. Robinson's sound was very bass heavy and relied more on heavy exhaling and clapping his hands closely to his lips. It was unique in that he liked to talk and say his name while doing it. In the legendary La-Di-Da-Di/The Show single, The Get Fresh Crew (Chill Will, Barry B. and Slick Rick) referred to Doug as "The Original Human Beatbox". For many years, these two were the standard that all were measured by.

The Holy Trinity: Darren "Buffy" Robinson, Biz Markie & Doug E. Fresh

As the 80's rolled on, a young DJ by the name of Biz Markie started beat boxing for Roxanne Shante and a group of friends known as the Juice Crew. Biz did the usual bass, treble and clicks as the guys before him but by adding what looked like a light chop to his throat, he was able to greatly distort the sound that came out. He would often name his crew, himself and other things while "choppin" and later mimiced beats from popular songs by artists like Nu Shooz and Whistle. This inspired a whole new legion of beatboxers to try and improve upon what the men before them did and catapulted it to the mainstream. It is being kept alive today by innovators like Rahzel, Kenny Muhammed, Click The Supah Latin and a host of others.

For a real treat, try to pick up or rent Breath Control: The History of the Human Beatbox, a documentary by Joey Garfield. It has interviews from the aforementioned trinity and other experts at their craft such as Emanon, D.O.A. and Scratch. It feels short at 73 minutes but it's crammed full of good info and anecdotes. And to those Ecko wearing walking stand up routines, Justin Timberlake is NOT Hip-Hop! Those two idiots in the McDonald's commercial are NOT Hip-Hop! Sweater vest from American Idol IS NOT HIP-HOP! Don't let some corporate a-hole from the 'burbs tell you what is. Know your history and respect the culture. As a favor, I've included a Beatbox Sampler that includes:
Stick 'Em-The FatBoys: Buff overhsadows the 'Boys with a fierce beat boxing sessions that starts off with his version of The Star Bangled Banner.

La-Di-Da-Di-The Get Fresh Crew:The seminal hit which features Doug's signature bass and clicks.

A-One-Two-Biz Markie: The Inhuman Orchestra starts off with the naming of his crew but then gets ridiculous by singing in between and doing his versions of Just Buggin' and I Can't Wait.


...And It's Still All Good Presents: Da Beat Box Sampla

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Hey, That Sounds Like...: Justin Warfield vs. Q-Tip

They say (whoever "they" are) that "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." If that's the case, then Q-Tip must have been rendered speechless after he heard Justin Warfield's Season Of The Vic. I know I was.

Now in Hip-Hop or any musical genre there is always someone emulating a style. From half the groups in the 60's trying to sound like the Beatles to most of the industry trying to riggety-rhyme like Das EFX at the height of their popularity, if a sound or style is catchy or profitable it will be recycled ad nauseum. What was peculiar to me was that wasn't the case with Vic at all. Tribe was big at the time ('91), with everyone feeling the Low End Theroy but people moreso tried to emulate the Native Tongue Posse's style than their flow. Other MC's rocked funky shirts and beads with medallions but no one tried to sound like De La, The JB's or Quest for that matter.

I believe that when I first heard Warfield it was on the New Music Report, a late night video show that was affiliated with RUSH/Def Jam. I said "What album is this on?" It quickly became: "Oh shit...that's not Tip!" QD III crafted a listenable, soothing track but it was Jus' flow that was throwing me off. Either consciously or subconsciously (I hope) he was pretending to be Mr. Davis. Not just in vocal tone but even cadence of the rhyme. If you listen to Quest's Pubic Enemy (Saturday Night Virus Disco Mix) on the b-side of I Left My Wallet In El Segundo after the second verse, you can seamlessly lay it down in Vic. Was it a tribute that they used samples from Beyond This World and yes, Description Of A Fool or just young Quincy thumbing his nose at them?

In any event, I find it funny that Warfield's song warns people to "watch their booty" for jackers, thieves and grubbers as it thieves and jacks from another group. Don't get me wrong though, IT'S A GREAT SONG! Although it's bereft of any originality, it's a song I liked because I wished ATCQ had made it. Eventually Warfield rejected the style on his next album and went on to found the group She Wants Revenge. Tip did OK too. Tribe cemented their place as legends in Hip-Hop and broke everyone's heart when they called it quits in '97. Even though it was attempted, what they did cannot be imitated or duplicated.

Nice try though...
Season Of The Vic-Justin Warfield
Pubic Enemy (Saturday Night Virus Disco Mix)-A Tribe Called Quest

Friday, October 5, 2007

Know Your History: Pop Goes The Weasel...So The Bass Goes Pop

Looking back at the lyrics to Pop Goes The Weasel off 3rd Bass' second LP Derelicts Of Dialect, you have to smile at the unintentional naivete of it all. With lines like: Gettin' paid to peddle sneakers and soda (pop pop pop!)/Pop goes the weasel them draws (drop drop drop!) , Serch and Pete would have had beef with the entire industry today. With the Vitamin Waters, clothing lines and reality shows, the line between selling out and "stayin' real" has become almost invisible.

The song however is a statement. Not just on wack MC's gettin paid for being company men but also taking someone's beat and loopin' it (loopin' it.). On the surface, it seems like a straight up jack of Peter Gabriel's huge 1986 hit Sledgehammer but it's so much more. The song is in fact layered with quite a few beats and samples.

Stevie Wonder is actually credited as a writer on the songs Universal Music entry on Youtube as well as he should be. The song borrows greatly from his hit You Haven't Done Nothin'. It also encompasses portions of The Who's "Eminence Front" and other groups. This song was an obvious response to Ice Ice Baby which is one of the best examples of straight up jacking with no creativity. To make it worse, Ice Van Winkle lied and said it wasn't the same beat and ended up getting sued. The underlying message of the song I believe was: "If you're gonna take something familiar and use it, this is how you do it! Make it interesting." Which is exactly what they did.

I'm pretty sure their approach to the use of the samples( and the video with Ice catchin' a good ol' fashioned mash out) is the reason why the song was so well received. At first listen it seems simple enough to get where the sample came from. It's after a few more listens where you realize the complexity that went into getting all the samples to go together just right. For that I salute the 3rd and their producers...I'm still mad as shit about that White Rapper Show though.

Damn Serch...

Pop Goes The Weasel-3rd Bass
Sledgehammer-Peter Gabriel
You Haven't Done Nothin'-Stevie Wonder

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Have You Seen Me?: Roxanne Shanté

Assuming Nas doesn't do a 1985-89 Where Are They Now? remix, there's a few people I'd like to know about. As amatter of fact, he could do just a Juice Crew mix. Those are the cats that I want to catch up with. They were like A Hip-Hop Justice League. You had Kane who was their Man of Steel. The quintissential Supa MC whose weakness wasn't Kryptonite but corny lover man raps. Marley and MC Shan, the Dynamic Duo. Masta Ace who was like the Green Lantern, mad powerful but he didn't necessarily have to tell you. You'd find out when it was too late. And you had Roxanne Shanté who at the time was definitely rap's Wonder Woman. Strong enough to take on UTFO but still too young to drink.

What happened to Wonder Woman though? She came on strong with Roxanne's Revenge and Have a Nice Day. I remember when she came back in '89 with Bad Sister and the hit Live On Stage (which was in HEAVY rotation on Video Music Box at the time.) However, after that...poof...she's gone. Chick pulled a Keyser Söze. Finito. Or was she? Unlike a lot of rappers in her day, Shanté took the initiative. She knew fame was fleeting but knowledge lasts forever as this Youtube clip will attest to.

Yup Dr. Roxanne Shanté, bitches! Appearantly, she still gets down with a guest appearance here and there but the girl is no fool. Pregnancy didn't stop her. A changing rap game was a momentary speed bump. And she took that advance money and didn't buy a car or a house, she bought herself a future. Which at least assures her of not ending up on VH-1...unless she chooses.

What she did:

Roxanne's Revenge-Roxanne Shanté

What she's been doing:

Yes, Yes, Y'all-Mekon feat. Roxanne Shanté