The 49th 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 Tucson rapper/tattoo artist/convicted felon/all-around badass Isaiah Toothtaker, who in the past two years has become one of my favorite voices in hip-hop. That he’s from my home state – and reps it to the fullest – makes it all the better.
Toothtaker released Illuminati Thug Mafia – compelling as it is chilling – on Jan. 25 and is scheduled to perform at the Paid Dues festival on April 2 with his Machina Muerte crew. Read more on Toothtaker in a recent interview at Brute-iful.
And if his impassioned words about Ol’ Dirty Bastard weren’t convincing enough, Toothtaker provided a photo of one of his tattoos to show his devotion (click to enlarge).
Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Return to the 36 Chambers (Elektra, 1995)
Fuck the dumb shit, it’s always Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Return to The 36 Chambers” top to bottom all day!
When I first heard “Return to the 36 Chambers” I was so amazed I played it front to back three times in a row and all else that was supposed to occupy my reality completely left me as I returned and returned and returned to the 36 chambers. The unpolished mixing and low fi audio quality added to the aesthetic and made the listening experience seem more exclusive, like I had acquired some rare recording not intended for public attention. Talk about dynamics: Here I was this lost youth with his obscure tape.
I was so mesmerized by the psycho babble of this genius I was more cult follower than fan. I worshiped the album thoroughly and examined every song till I wore the actual tape inside the cassette thin, mostly being stretched when batteries would run down or from constant rewinding. Man I studied this record, STUDIED, over and over…ahh yeah Wu-Tang again and again! ODB was actually dropping lessons, 5 percenter knowledge and street alchemy for one to decipher, I couldn’t fathom. A constant riddle that changed further every time my insight widened but that was the brilliance of the flux! At one instance the beats felt like they were dragging behind ODB’s drunken gibberish only to drift away in disharmonic crooning and at the next a song would enter with screams, threats and sharpened audio dialogue from movies that introduced sped up singing vocal samples. Through the insanity of it was all this talent that regulated a order of the wild, it refined the impossible without restricting it. ODB’s rapping took me to the point of questioning his ability into redirecting that to guessing my own comprehension of uninhibited delivery. “Return to the 36 Chambers” utterly challenged my whole shit, expectations, opinions, perspective, standards and eventually my own approach.
What was so futuristic to me then remains timeless to me now. RIP O’l Dirty Bastard.