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

The 51st 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 Kokayi, a Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter, emcee and producer.

The Washington, D.C. native, who released Robots & Dinosaurs last year, offers his take two albums, one old and one new.

the great adventures of slick rickSlick Rick, The Great Aventures of Slick Rick (Def Jam, 1988)

Defining moments in the lexicon of hip hop culture are many, especially for artists who both evolve from and are involved in creating soundscapes that attempt to add an indelible stain to the pages of said lexicon. At each milestone of my passion becoming my purpose there have been records that helped me: bridge gaps, realign my focus and set off in new directions.

But there is a singular record that helped me understand that records could be all inclusive and that record is The Great Adventures of Slick Rick. I swear I murdered the tape (yes, “cassette tape”), the vinyl and the CD. All met their doom due to being played until: the tape popped, grooves were worn and the digital data was so badly burned that skipping didn’t happen anymore, respectively. In ’88 you had “gangsta rap” from NWA, PE scaring America, KRS on social justice, Eric B and Rakim on knowledge of self and Slick Rick with the bipolar album. Songs from possibly the greatest story ever rhymed, the brilliant “Children’s Story” the inspiration of “Hey Young World” to tales of illicit behavior “Lick the Balls” and the über misogynistic “Treat Her Like a Prostitute.” It was the craziest thing to hear, all of these emotions captured in a single body of work that told a cohesive story, the production was no slouch either, primarily handled by Bomb Squad members Sadler and Shocklee with an appearance from Jam Master Jay.

Most recently, I have to shed light on the fantastic record of fellow DC-area native and 1/3 of Diamond District, YU’s Before Taxes. The rhymes are solid, the brownswood bubbler “Fine” is positive affirmation in sample/loop/sung form. This album is emotional crack. Grown man on his B.I. shit. From his experiences as an Afro/Native American in “Native,” the anger of “Close,” the thump of the “Up & Up,” all 16 tracks tap chakras, cold brew or apple juice, dank or chew stick. it’s all in there.

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