The second installment of I Used to Love H.E.R., a series in which artists/bloggers/writers discuss their most essential hip-hop albums (introduction), comes from Joel Hatstat, who played bass and recorded on Cinemechanica’s The Martial Arts, which was released earlier this year to positive reviews (Pitchfork | Coke Machine Glow | Tiny Mix Tapes). Hatstat, also working with Athens, Ga., project Pegasuses, offers incredibly insightful and inspiring thoughts on a terribly overlooked album of the ’90s. (Coincidentally, Cinemechanica plays at Modified in Phoenix on Oct. 3.)
Sex Packets (Tommy Boy, 1990)
(Note: Cassette version includes four bonus tracks.)
“I don’t credit myself as a thief, but sometimes you just gotta grab what grabs at you, right? Sometime in 1990, when I was about 10, it struck me that rockin’ some tunes while mowing the lawn would make for a far more pleasurable experience. The only tape I knew about in the house, aside from various Weird Al records, was my brother’s copy of Sex Packets by Digital Underground. I didn’t know where it was, so I rifled through a few of his drawers in his bedroom until I found it. I never gave it back, and he never knew what happened to it. To this day I still rock that record and it still comes across as listenable and entertaining.
“Sex Packets was not only my introduction to Digital Underground, but also P-Funk, Jimi Hendrix, and Rap Music in general. The underlying brand of their ‘crew’ was impeccable. There was character depth; verses flowed from Humpty Hump, Shock G, Money B, Kenny K, MC Blowfish, Schmoovy Schmoove, and later Tupac Shakur. There were stupid costumes, party-tinged videos, and high concept. The “Sex Packets” themselves served as the vehicle for the entire album, as well as the 9-minute songs with bridges, verses, choruses and jazzy piano interludes. The best part of their style was that the characters and the music didn’t really seem to fit anywhere in the context of what was popular. Extreme, EMF, Guns and Roses and Scorpions are probably more in line with what was playing in my room at the time. To hear a Hendrix guitar line scratched on a turntable over top of a kickin’ 808 beat really made everything else just seem pointless. Then to pour a bucket of cred onto the whole mess, 7 minutes into Doowutchyalike the Packet Man comes in and shreds some of the nastiest piano I’ve heard for about 2 minutes over top of just straight beat. There is melody all over this record, there is even a slowjam that is sung instead of rapped. I haven’t heard a rap crew come forward with so much versatility and respect for music in the 15 years since its release. It set a bar long ago that I strive to achieve with all of my projects, most of which have nothing to do with the genre whatsoever.”
Peace, and Humptiness forever,
Digital Underground | Doowutchyalike