Category Archives: hip-hop

The Stop the Violence Movement: Self-Destruction

Once I discovered the blog/photo journal of old-school rapper D-Nice, I couldn’t help but click through his archives. He was (is) one of my favorite rap artists. I came across one of his posts about the single Self-Destruction, a track recorded under the Stop the Violence Movement that featured some serious hip-hop heavyweights from the East Coast and was produced by D-Nice at the tender age of 18. (Read his post for more on that.)

Anyway, it got me digging into my vinyl because I own the 12″ single and I thought I’d revive it here. Recorded in 1989, it seems pretty incredible (perhaps in a sad way) that the track still carries a worthwhile message. I didn’t find a whole lot about it on the Internet, other than this one line at Wikipedia that tells how the Stop the Violence Movement originated. You might also remember the West Coast All-Stars’ similar project We’re All in the Same Gang. (If anyone has this, I’d love to hear it again.)

Besides the strong message it carries, Self-Destruction is just a great song with a singable chorus. And all proceeds of the record were donated to National Urban League “to support and develop programming dealing with Black on Black crime and youth education” (taken from record cover).


Here’s a rundown of the emcees (in order they appear):
KRS-One, M.C. Delight, Kool Moe Dee, M.C. Lyte, Daddy-O and Wise, D-Nice, Ms. Melodie, Doug E. Fresh, Just-Ice, Heavy D., Fruit-Kwan, Chuck D and Flavor Flav.

I’ve included three of the four mixes from the single (excluded the “single edit”). Still trying to decipher the difference between the “extended mix” and the “special remix.”

Stop the Violence Movement | Self-Destruction (extended mix)
Stop the Violence Movement | Self-Destruction (special remix)
Stop the Violence Movement | Self-Destruction (instrumental)

Pete Miser video

Thanks to Mallie at South of Mainstream, I’m already a huge fan of underground hip-hopper Pete Miser now. I posted on him just about a week ago and I’ve been listening to his latest LP Camouflage is Relative non-stop.

Yesterday, I stumbled across a video for his song Scent of a Robot, courtesy of 15 Minutes to Live (another cool blog with clean design). A previous post there shows that Miser is Prince Paul-approved, which is all I needed to know.

Anyway, peep the video. The whole concept of the song is kind of intriguing: He finds out he’s a robot by accident through an e-mail at work. It almost has a Blade Runner influence to it: Pete Miser, a hip-hop replicant.

Pete Miser | Scent of a Robot (video)

Boom Bap Project

OK, I just purchased Boom Bap Project’s full-length debut Reprogram last night and had to share. A member of the absurdly cool Rhymesayers roster (hello, Atmosphere anybody?), this Seattle-based trio is on tour with Hieroglyphics right now, which is validation enough in my mind. And Reprogram is exactly the kind of hip-hop I love: fresh beats and energetic emcees on the positive tip. Guest spots include Gift of Gab (Blackalicious) and Rakaa Iriscience (Dilated Peoples).


Boom Bap Project: Welcome to Seattle
Boom Bap Project: Rock the Spot (recommended … highly)

BONUS:
Boom Bap live on KEXP (performance + interview)

Pete Miser


“Emo” isn’t the sole property of indie rock. B-boys have feelings, too. Check Pete Miser for proof. The New York emcee, via Portland, Ore., wears his feelings on his mic on his newest release Camouflage is Relative.

Narrative prose — a la Slick Rick — is Miser’s strength. He embodies the hip-hop culture but eschews the machismo posturing that is so transparent in commercial rap. He’s an emo emcee, but he can flip a phrase with the best. On I See You, Miser raps to the object of his affection: “I’m so grimy in comparison it’s embarrassin’ / You got me weak in the knees like Nancy Kerrigan.” Final is like a diary entry about his ex in which Miser tries to excuse his emotions: “I bet this is going to seem a surprise / but I still catch them feelings when I look in her eyes.”

But no track jumps like the opener, So Sensitive, even if — or maybe because — the stuttering guitar loops recall N.W.A.’s If It Ain’t Ruff. This is where Miser flaunts his verbal prowess but bares his soul, too: “Weigh a buck fifty with a backpack / still dumb enough to slap Shaq and tell him he raps wack.” But on the chorus, he opines: “It ain’t easy being me / with all these insecurities / I’m such a sensitive emcee.”

Topped by tight production, Miser is an underground hip-hop gem.

So Sensitive (mp3)
Scent of a Robot (mp3)
Table Scraps (mp3)
Final (mp3)

Hip-hop don’t stop

In about a matter of a day, this DangerDoom album — a collaboration of MF Doom and Danger Mouse – is all the buzz. I first got the news at Gorilla vs. Bear, where Chris has two tracks. When you’re done there, head over to Freemotion for three more tracks, including one apiece with cameos by Ghostface and Talib Kweli. FPSA also has one of the songs, Crosshairs. At this rate, you should be able to piecemeal the album together in about, oh, 48 hours.

Gotta love Epitaph (which released Sage Francis’ A Healthy Distrust) picking up the hip-hop buzz. Epitaph’s news release on DangerDoom can be found here.

Company Flow — for the weekend warriors


It came to my attention that I might not have put my quickie post on El-P the other day in proper historical context. So to wrap up a heavy week of hip-hop, I’ve got a little more.

El-P (short for El-Producto), who’s running the hot Definitive Jux label, first came on the scene in about the mid-90s with his group Company Flow, which included Bigg Jus and Mr. Len. The group pushed 30,000 copies of the original Funcrusher EP on its own, leading to a record deal with Rawkus. Co. Flow’s uncompromising style — “independent as f*ck” was their mantra — gave rise to the label Rawkus, which later went on to deals with Mos Def and Talib Kweli.

But Co. Flow’s Funcrusher Plus (released in 1997) was the foundation. It was harsh, confrontational and defiant — not for the faint of heart. El’s dark production underpinned the cerebral, in-your-face lyrics.

Rawkus’ desire to head for the mainstream led to a falling out with Co. Flow. El sums it up nicely on Deep Space 9mm on on his solo album Fantastic Damage:
“Signed by Rawkus? / I’d rather be mouthfu*ked by Nazis unconscious.”

Nevertheless, Funcrusher Plus is an underground necessity.

Company Flow: Collude/Intrude (feat. J-Treds)
Company Flow: Vital Nerve (feat. BMS)
Company Flow: Blind

BONUS BEAT:

Latyrx feat. El-P: Looking Over a City

Flashback Friday


Well, I had a group all lined up this week for Flashback Friday, but I’m changing course. Yesterday I got an e-mail informing me of my impending 10-year high school class reunion. So (for a fleeting moment) I thought of high school. And then I thought of the music I listened to in high school. It pretty much ran the gamut, including a love affair with all things grunge.

But the flashpoint for me had to be A Tribe Called Quest’s Low End Theory. I’ll stand my ground and say that Midnight Marauders is actually my favorite Tribe album. However, Low End opened the floodgates of hip-hop to me. I know I’m not alone in this. There’s probably a case to be made for Low End’s inclusion in all-time top 10 lists. I just know that all my Tribe cassettes got worn out from constant playing. Is there a better bassline to start a song than the one in Buggin’ Out?

It’s actually kinda strange to be hailing Tribe as my flashback for the day — because I still listen to them constantly to this day. Nevertheless, something must be said for staying power. But instead of rehashing all the tunes I know you’ve heard, I have some remixes. I’ll stick to remixes of songs off Low End, one of the more important albums in my collection.

A Tribe Called Quest: Jazz (We’ve Got) (re-recording)
A Tribe Called Quest: Check the Rhime (Mr. Muhammad’s mix)
A Tribe Called Quest: Check the Rhime (Skeff’s mix)
A Tribe Called Quest: Scenario (Remix)

BONUS BEATS
A Tribe Called Quest: Hot Sex

The Shapeshifters


I know I’ve been on a hip-hop binge lately, but we’re all about opening minds here. Another show I’ll sadly be missing tonight is the Shapeshifters at — of all places — a Phoenix art gallery called the Paper Heart.

I clearly haven’t been keeping my ear to the hip-hop ground because I missed the Shifters’ newest release, Was Here, when it dropped last year. The eight-man crew — AWOL One, Existereo, Die, Life Rexall, Akuma, Radioinactive, Circus, and LA Jae — has been likened to the Pharcyde for its animated topics of rhyme. Like a lot of emcees and deejays — Kool Keith as Dr. Octagon, Invisibl Skratch Picklz — the Shifters are preoccupied with all things alien and extraterrestrial. And that’s not a bad thing because a little imagination goes a long way in a genre sorely lacking it. (Have you seen the schlock on MTV lately?) On Pindar, they “wouldn’t be surprised if our own president was actually a space alien … really a reptilian clone lizard.”

And if you need any proof of the Shifters’ indie cred, peep American Idle, a track that features Slug (he of Atmosphere) and Busdriver. As for the music … well, Run the Crowd has to be one of the hottest party tracks out there, and check Circuit City for a sample of Eddy Grant’s Electric Avenue.

The Shapeshifters: Circuit City
The Shapeshifters: Message 4 Yer Planet
The Shapeshifters: Run the Crowd

Hieroglyphics


Sadly, I’ll be missing Hieroglyphics in concert at the Clubhouse in Tempe tonight. If you ask me, Hiero — which consists of Casual, Del the Funky Homosapien, Souls of Mischief, Pep Love and producer/manager Domino — is one of the most important crews to this generation of hip-hop, and not just for its music.

Long story short, Casual and Souls (with Jive) and Del (with Elektra) all had fallings out with their labels (i.e., they were dropped). By that time, the Bay area collective had enough of a following and they started their own label: Hiero Imperium. Along with crews like Living Legends, Hiero followed the DIY ethic, proving groups could choose their own path, independent of major labels. “Control is key, and as an artist, to control your masters and have ownership is important. Each artist owns their own records,” Domino told remixmag.com.

The Hiero brand — stamped by the famous three-eyed logo — has expanded, with members of Souls branching out into solo efforts. Del remains one of the most sought-after guest spots: Check Handsome Boy Modeling School and the first Gorillaz album for proof. The extended Hiero family now includes Encore, Z-Man and Goapele.

I’ve seen these guys so many times and it never gets old. You won’t see a shortage of their music on this site. So many songs to choose from. When I get really ambitious, I’m going to digitize some cassettes of freestyles I own by Hiero. For now, we’ll break you in. Enjoy the selections.

Hiero crew: Burnt (which Web site says “introduced the world to the Hiero Crew.”)

Del and Dinosaur Jr.: Missing Link (from Judgment Night soundtrack; only an emcee like Del can rock it with Dino Jr.)

Souls of Mischief: Unseen Hand (digitized from Hiero Oldies tape)

Casual (w/Del and Xzibit): Three Emcees (from Beats & Lyrics comp.; yeah, Mr. X to the Z did some hot shite before Pimp My Ride.)

Pep Love: After Dark (from Third Eye Vision)

Apsci (Quannum)

Without a doubt, Quannum Projects has been at the forefront of pushing progressive hip-hop, and it’s great to see how the collective — anchored by DJ Shadow, Blackalicious and Latyrx — has expanded. Admittedly, I’ve been slow to keep up with the label’s latest roster additions. Apsci, a husband-wife duo of vocalist Dana Diaz-Tutaan and emcee Raphael LaMotta, is the label’s newest project. The album, Thanks for Asking, is the epitome of the Quannum spirit: keeping true to the basics of hip-hop but at the same time pushing it in different directions. Apsci brilliantly incorporates an electronic feel to the vocals of Diaz-Tutaan and raps of LaMotta, and they do it without potentially scaring off the more traditional hip-hop fans. Guest spots include Mr. Lif (the Perceptionists) and VURSATYLE of Lifesavas (also of the Quannum clan).

Apsci: Tirade Highway
Apsci: See That? (feat. Mr. Lif)