The 41st installment of I Used to Love H.E.R., a series in which artists/bloggers/writers discuss their most essential or favorite hip-hop albums and songs, comes from Vito Roccoforte, drummer for New York-based dance-punk group The Rapture. Roccorforte recently was in town for a DJ set at Shake!, and we talked about two of my favorite topics: baseball and hip-hop. His California roots show here with a great selection of an overlooked gem.
Fear Itself (Jive, 1994)
I moved to the Bay Area in the summer of 94. I was starting to listen to a lot of hip-hop, and before I moved, one of my friends gave me list of essential Bay Area Hip-Hop Albums that he cut out of some magazine. I took the list folded it up and put it in my wallet and when I got to the Bay Area I went to some of the record stores on Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley. I bought some of albums on the list that day and by the end of the summer, I had bought everything on that list and much more. There were some amazing albums that came out of the Bay Area around that time. Some of my favorite albums came from members of the Hieroglyphics crew who included Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, who released No Need for Alarm in 93, and Souls of Mischief, who released 93 til Infinity in, you guessed it, 93. One of my favorite and lesser-known albums to come out of the of the time was from another Hiero member, Casual, who put out an album called Fear Itself in 94.
My favorite thing about Fear Itself is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It is not just a collection of great songs but a great album. From the very first track, “Intro,” it’s got a strong flow and line that keeps building throughout. Casual’s got a great voice and is a strong lyricist and there are also many strong guest appearances by Del, Saafir and others. Also what really got me into hip-hop in the beginning was the production, and on a purely instrumental level this album is a classic. The production was super tight, the instrumental tracks for “Chained Minds” and “I Didn’t Mean To” are still a couple of my all time favorites. The beat for “Me-O-Mi-O” rules, and listening to the album again I realized how much it really seeped into my subconscious. The sequencing of the album in the way songs cut into one another and are ordered is also superb and by the time it hits the last four songs from “Lose in the End” to “Be Thousand” I want to hear the album all over again.
Video for Me-O-Mi-O: