Friday, August 17, 2007

New Jersey Rhymes

Bordering New York it is no surprise that New Jersey is huge for hip hop, and without going into the history of their scene (as I don't know enough about it), I've decided to focus on 5 dope releases that come to mind when I think of the garden state. Some of the artists hailing from the east coast state that I haven't featured but are worth mentioning are Naughty By Nature, Redman, Joe Buddens, Lords of the Underground, YZ and the JVC Force (no doubt I've missed alot out but they're some off the top of the head).

Tony D - Droppin' Funky Verses
First up I'm placing my attention on a guy who needs no introduction, but primarily due to his production efforts with the likes of the Poor Righteous Teachers rather than for his own music. I'm talking about Italo-American Trenton native Tony Depula, better known simply as Tony D. In 1991 Tony D dropped his 'Droppin' Funky Verses' album on the 4th and Broadway division of Island Records, an album that for whatever reason is slept on by alot of people. Just like he claims in the title, Tony drops funky verses throughout this album, all rhymed over the top of his own top draw sample-based production that made him famous and the album's also packed with quality cuts. It was hard choosing a track to put up with this post because there's just so much quality on this release, but seeing as we've uploaded the 3rd Bass diss for another post, I've gone with 'Tony Don't Play That'.

Krown Rulers - Paper Chase
Secondly, here is a release that many people rate as one of the definitive hip hop classics of all time, I'm talking about Krown Ruler's 1988 album 'Paper Chase' that dropped on Warlock Records. With quality cuts from DJ Royal Rocker and hard hitting rhymes courtesy of Grand Pubah (not Brand Nubian), this Camden, NJ hip hop duo managed to leave an everlasting legacy on the hip hop world with their relentless energetic style that grabs you by the balls as soon as you press play. Krown Rulers were down with Phillie's Tuff Crew back in the day and although I prefer the Phildelphia crew, these dudes held their own and the only downside I can think of is they didn't drop enough material, however that might explain for their high standard of quality control? The track I've put with this post is the 'B-Boy Document' that High and Mighty remixed a few years ago.

Lifers Group - Lifers Group
When it comes to real lyrics, I can't think of any album (or EP) that can claim to bring the reality than the Lifers Group 1991 self titled EP that dropped on Hollywood Basic. Formed by inmate Maxwell Melvins and with support from Hollywood Basic CEO Dave "Funken" Klein, life sentence in mates from New Jersey's Rahway Prison put their wealth of experiences down on track to let the world know what goes on behind bars in the belly of the beast. The EP only has 2 real tracks, 'The Real Deal' and 'Belly of the Beast', however both are nearly six minutes long each and resemble posse cuts in their format. In 1993 the Rahway lifers returned with a full length album titled 'Living Proof' that is also well worth checking out. A documentary also came out about the Lifers Group but unfortunately I've never been able to find a copy to check it out.

End Time Warriors - Let's Stay Together
Hailing from South Trenton comes ETW, a Christian rap trio consisting of Johnnie, MC L King and MC Free. They droppedthe 'Let's Stay Together' album in 1993 on Forefront Records, who you may know as the label that unfortunately unleashed DC Talk's music onto the world. Anyway, this is ETW's 3rd album and although it definitely has an abundance of religious messages, it also brings with it the feel of classic funky sample based hip hop and can be listened to without feeling your getting bible bashed, which is my main issue with alot of religious hip hop. The track I've uploaded for the post is simply titled 'South Trenton' and serves not only as a track to rep where they're from, but it also sees the trio put forward that everyone goes through their own struggles and that you've just got to keep on keeping on to get ahead in life. This is by far my least favourite release mentioned in this post, but I added it for something different and due to it being a good chance to mention an artist that wouldn't fit into many other topics.

Chino XL - Here To Save You All
Finally, the lyrical jesus himself, former Art of Origin member Chino XL and his 1994 American Recordings release 'Here To Save You All'. What this certified MENSA member lacks for in quantity he more than makes up for in quality, and listening to this album a whole 13 years after it dropped, you think to yourself how crazy it is that his lyrics back then burn 99% of what rappers can come up with today. With dark sinister production providing the backdrop for wordplay wizardry, it's not a big surprise that this album wasn't a mainstream success, but more importantly it blew up in the underground scene and raised the bar of lyrical standards. Chino gained notoriety in the hip hop world due to his habit of using other rappers in his punchlines, which was the cause for his well publicized beef with 2Pac who in turn dissed Chino back on the 'Hit Em Up' track. The only downside to this album is that the production doesn't really do it for me at all, but the lyrics are what take centre stage on this album and it's those lyrics that seperate Chino from almost all other rappers dead or alive.

Tony D - Tony Don't Play That
Krown Rulers - B Boy Document
Lifers Group - The Real Deal
ETW - South Trenton
Chino XL - Many Different Ways

Friday, August 10, 2007

You Are Now About To Witness The Death Of Street Knowledge

In the last couple of weeks I've been listening to my old Ice Cube records a fair bit, I rarely put any Cube on these days. However, Ice Cube, WC and DJ Crazy Toons are heading to Melbourne next month and as a huge WC fan we got tickets and airfare to checkout the show, should be interesting for me seems the last (and only) time I saw Cube was in 94 which in my opinion was when his music stopped being enjoyable (even that 'Lethal Injection' was average except 'Ghetto Bird'). Anyway, like I said I've been listening to his old shit again and it just reminds me on how much better early 90's west coast hip hop was then than it is today.

Looking back at that early 90's west coast feel, I remember the Nitebreed ontop of their game, Ice T was running shit, South Central Cartel were fresh out, Quik and Eiht were battleing it out on wax, the king of Gangsta Rap still had breath in his lungs and Ice Cube and his crew were dropping quality albums. Ive titled this post under the banner of 'Street Knowledge' however infact their were fuck all albums that actually got the Street Knowledge label on the back, so this post is actually Street Knowledge/Lench Mob Records etc. Although their really wasn't that many artists and releases for that brief moment in time the 'Street Knowlege' posse were dope.

Kam who dropped 'Neva Again' in '93 ended up beefing with Cube and dissing him for various reasons such as accusing Cube of stealing his 'W' sign that stood for 'Watts' before Cube modelled it for his 'West Side Connection'. He dropped the track 'Whoop, Whoop' on DJ Pooh's 'Bad News Travels Fast' album. Not sure what happened with Yo-Yo, but when was the last time you heard her name mentioned? Kausion who released 'South Central Los Skanless' ended up beefing with Cube for some reason too and had Gonzo put out the track 'Fairy Tale Gangsta' which is the continuation to Cubes 'Gangsta Fairy Tale' tracks (with a difference). Lastly was Da Lench Mob, Take a guess how that ended.... I've put up 5 tracks from the golden era of Street Knowledge, They only had three or four of years but some real good quality music was released in that time.

Ice Cube - My Summer Vacation
Kam ft Ice Cube - Watts Riot
Yo-Yo ft Ice Cube - What Can I Do?
Da Lench Mob - Who Ya Gonna Shoot Wit That
Kausion - What You Wanna Do?