I Used to Love H.E.R.: Belief

The 38th 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 Belief, who in 2006 dropped his great debut Dedication (featuring the likes of Murs and C-Rayz Walz and previously discussed here). Belief’s newest project is a 40-minute mixtape, Let It Breathe, available as a free download at his MySpace page.

In talking about his mix, Belief said he was “hoping to create a combination of the formats of Dilla’s Donuts and Girl Talk’s Night Ripper.”

“As an artist who had been limited by sample clearance issues, I needed to find an outlet for all this sampled music I’ve created that feels very meaningful but has been left to get dusty in my hard drive over the years due to not being able to find the right artist to write the right song, or labels not being willing to release sampled music.”

In his entry, Belief sheds some light on an overlooked Los Angeles gem by Freestyle Fellowship, a group that gave us, among others, Aceyalone.

innercity griotsFreestyle Fellowship
Innercity Griots (4th & B’Way/Island, 1993)

This album represents the L.A. underground renaissance that I am a product of. The album came out during a time when people in that scene only respected innovativeness. Fellowship were the clear leaders of that movement. The beats were not 100% incredible on every song, but the ones that were are still some of my favorite beats ever. It took me a year or so to totally get into it, but eventually I realized it was somewhat of a Bible for me and other L.A. kids that were into underground hip-hop at the time.

They had a combination of street consciousness, artistic relevance and really pushed the envelope. This is what hip-hop music is all about to me, and especially West Coast hip-hop. It was a four-man group but they all were great and important to the sound. The production on Six Tray is so hard. P.E.A.C.E’s verses are chilling. Shammy’s is the ultimate booty anthem of all time and still gets love by L.A. DJ’s in the know. Mary is the ultimate weed classic. Bullies of the Block was too hard. DJ Kiilu’s little sister gave me the cassette when we went to Palm’s Jr. High together but I didn’t really understand its relevance until I went to high school and joined a crew called Suns of Kneeshak with some Living Legends members and our homegirl Faith. They are the ones who really put me on to it. Eventually I started hitting up the Good Life Café with them and to this day I’ve never seen a hip-hop movement so alive and innovative. Its what got me inspired to start making music.

Eventually I moved to NY and pretty much 100% across the board that album got dissed for being too out there. People preferred their hip-hop to be more meat and potatoes, simpler and more grounded. I would come home on breaks from school and our older homies who only listened to East Coast shit or Dr. Dre were finally coming around, 4 or 5 years later. I still take a listen to this album every once in a while for inspiration.

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