[The HardC.O.R.E. editorial staff wishes to apoligize for the delays in putting out the Fe

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[The HardC.O.R.E. editorial staff wishes to apoligize for the delays in putting out the February issue. Due to the transitional state of the e-zine and the new setup on the world wide web, a lot of shit has been going down. However, we feel you will like the new improved format, which lays out columns that will appear on a regular basis, and an editorial section for us to express our views. We also guarantee that next month's issue will come out on time. Thank you for your support in these endeavours, for sticking with the internet's best e-zine, HardC.O.R.E.] --- --- --- ---- ---- CCCCC OOOOO RRRR EEEE | H | / A \ | R | |D \ C O O R R E |---| |---| |--/ | | C O O RRRR EEEE | | | | | \ | / C O O R R E --- --- --- --- -- -- ---- CCCCC. OOOOO. R R. EEEE. Vol. 3, Issue 2 February/March, 1995 The electronic magazine of hip-hop music and culture Brought to you as a service of the Committee of Rap Excellence Section 1 -- ONE ***A*** Table of Contents Sect. Contents Author ----- -------- ------ 001 The introduction A Da 411 - table of contents staff B Da 411 - HardC.O.R.E. staff C Yo! We Want Your Demos staff 002 Monthly Articles A 1995 New Jack Hip-Hop Awards isbell@ai.mit.edu B The Atlanta Scene martay@america.net C Back to the Old School r.macmichael@genie.geis.com D Style Dawg's Literary Review style@gate.maloca.com E Erick Sermon Interview DatDeafG@aol.com F The Singles Scene 3JB3BAUERJ@VMS.CSD.MU.EDU G The Midnight Ramble chharris@email.uncc.edu H Roots-N-Rap: Bob Marley rapotter@colby.edu I Some Shots From the Industry mc78+@andrew.cmu.edu 003 HardC.O.R.E. Editorials A Tribute to Bob Marley bright@access.america.com B Hip-Hop Overseas helmut@cosy.sbg.ac.at C Love in Hip-Hop r.macmichael@genie.geis.com D Malt Liquor juonstevenja@bvc.edu 004 The Official HardC.O.R.E. Album Review Section A Alkaholiks juonstevenja@bvc.edu B Alphabet Soup r.macmichael@genie.geis.com C Catalyst Entertainment 12" juonstevenja@bvc.edu D Concrete Jungle juonstevenja@bvc.edu E DJ Quik 3JB3BAUERJ@VMS.CSD.MU.EDU F Higher Learning rapotter@colby.edu G Laze juonstevenja@bvc.edu H Loud '95 Nudder Budder 3JB3BAUERJ@VMS.CSD.MU.EDU I The Roots ollie@uclink.berkeley.edu J Sha-Key r.macmichael@genie.geis.com K Too $hort 3JB3BAUERJ@VMS.CSD.MU.EDU L 2Pac DatDeafG@aol.com ***B*** The C.O.R.E. creed We at C.O.R.E. support underground hip-hop (none of that crossover bullshucks). That means we also support the 1st Amendment and the right to uncensored music. The C.O.R.E. anthems I Used To Love H.E.R. Common Sense Crossover EPMD Mostly Tha Voice Gangstarr True to the Game Ice Cube Outta Here KRS-One How About Some HardC.O.R.E. M.O.P. Time's Up O.C. Straighten It Out Pete Rock and CL Smooth In the Trunk Too $hort Remember Where You Came From Whodini Access info: FTP: ftp://ftp.etext.org/pub/Zines/HardCORE/ Gopher: gopher://gopher.etext.org:70/11/Zines/HardCORE WWW: http://library.uncc.edu/people/chris/1bumper.html E-mail: to subscribe, e-mail listserv@vnet.net with this line of text in body of your message: subscribe hardcore-l ***C*** Aight, let's say you got a demo that you've been trying to shop round. A few people like it, but nobody with some clout is buying. Or let's say you know someone who's got some skills, but you don't know what you can do to help 'em get on. Suppose even further, that you've got an internet account (chances are you do, else you wouldn't be reading this), and want to give you and your friends' efforts a little publicity. Well, have we got a deal for you... HardC.O.R.E.'s review section isn't just for the major labels. We don't even GET anything from major labels. In fact, some of us would much rather review what the independent folks are making, since they aren't affected by the A&R and high level decisions of major labels. So we want to hear what you guys are making. A few groups are getting their demos reviewed here among the likes of Gangstarr, Heavy D. and the Boys, Terminator X and Arrested Development. Who knows? You might even hear bigger and better things from The Mo'Fessionals, DOA, Raw Produce, and Union of Authority before you know it. With all the people subscribing to HardCORE (not to mention the number of people reading HardCORE via FTP and Gopher), you never know who might want to hear your music. Give us a shout. You can e-mail me at dwarner@cybernetics.net or Flash at juonstevenja@bvc.edu, and we'll let you know where you can send your tape. Keep in mind that we're pretty honest with our reviews (if we think your shit is wack, we'll say so to your face), but if you think you got what it takes, you'll see a review from us before you know it. All you have to lose is a tape, right? Peace... the HardC.O.R.E. Review Staff Section 2 -- TWO ***A*** Charles Isbell -------------- What is the New Jack Hip Hop Awards? A few years ago, everyone on alt.rap and the funky-music mailing list was bitchin' about how lame the Grammy's were in general, and especially how weak they were when it came to rap and hiphop. Thus was born the New Jack Hip Hop Awards. *You* decide on the categories. *You* nominate. *You* vote. All we do is count and give out the Jacks. You can't blame us. Nasty rap Crossover Rap Braggadacio Misc 1: Breaking it Down Misc 2: Awards for Innovation Misc 3: Videos & Such Stuff Whackness and former whackness Gangsta Hip-Hop Political Hip-Hop Progressive/Jazz Hall of Fame Got it? Good. Let's begin, shall we? ====----> Nasty rap Nasty just to *be* nasty folks. Just plain dirty. Nasty. Nasty. As nasty as he wants to be is our counter, Tenderloin Waxx. Phattest Nasty Group 36.2% Gravediggaz 24.7% Outkast 22.9% Dogg Pound 16.2% 2 Live Crew Hmmm. Gravediggas take the first Jack of the day with little fuss. Way behind them are Outkast and The Dogg Pound who duked it out in a very close race for second. Phattest Nasty Male Rapper 44.9% Too $hort 40.8% Snoop Doggy Dogg 14.3% Luke After being the second place prince for the last two years--first losing to Ice Cube(!) and then Snoop Doggy Dogg--Too $hort finally returns to his nasty throne. He had it most of the way, but Snoop was slowing catching up. Luke finishes the list near the bottom, only outdoing Red Hot Love Tone's write-in vote. Phattest Nasty Female Rapper 44.4% Rage 32.2% Bo$$ 23.3% Yo-Yo No contest. Rage had it all the way. And it's worth mentioning that far more folks voted for this award than usual. So, nasty female MCs are finally getting their due... which may or may not be a good thing depending upon how you think about it. Hmmmm. Phattest Nasty Rap Single 60.9% "Me and my Bitch" by The Notorious BIG (Biggie Smalls) 39.1% "Toostie Roll" by 69 Boyz And BIG wins. And with a sensitive title like that, he deserves it. The 69 Boyz never had a chance (and no, technically, this doesn't count as our first majority win since there were only two folks running). Phattest Nasty Rap Album 38.5% _Doggystyle_ by Snoop Doggy Dogg 29.8% _6 Feet Deep_ by Gravediggaz 24.0% _Non-Fiction_ by Black Sheep 7.7% _Freak for Life_ by Luke And Snoop takes home the nasty Jack. The Gravediggas keep a respectable lead over Black Sheep while Luke, once again, is left at the bottom. ====----> Crossover Rap This is not to be confused with hip-pop like Vanilla Ice Cream Cone. This is the rap that really "crosses" to other genres, be they R&B, reggae, hard rock or even pop while actually remaining both good *and* true to hip hop. It was fletch1@mit.edu who counted these. Phattest Crossover Group 47.4% Digable Planets 29.3% Beastie Boys 17.2% Ill Al Scratch 6.1% Spearhead And Digables take it with no effort whatsoever. Although better loved by eMpTyV, the Beastie Boys end up at (a very solid) second. Ill Al Scratch takes third over Michael Franti's Spearhead. Phattest Crossover Male Rapper 27.5% Heavy D 19.3% MCA (of The Beastie Boys) 18.3% Common Sense 14.7% Keith Murray 11.9% CL Smooth 8.3% Michael Franti (from Spearhead) And after a huge fall from grace in last year's awards (a dismal fourth place that left him barely ahead of Father MC), it looks like Heavy D has come back in full swing. MCA and Common Sense tried desperately to make up the gap in the end but as you can see, it was too little, too late. And my main man Franti rounds out the list at the bottom. Doesn't look like the move from Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy has done him well, at least as far as the awards go. Phattest Crossover Female Rapper 54.7% Queen Latifah 25.5% Me'Shell NdegeOcello 19.8% MC Lyte And Queen Latifah takes the first majority win of the day by absolutely trouncing the competition. Last year's first place winner, MC Lyte, is at the bottom, not really even a threat to the soulful, funky tunes of Me'Shell. Phattest Crossover Rap Single 21.6% "Vocab" by The Fugees 20.7% "I Used to Love Her" by Common Sense 20.7% "Sabotage" by The Beastie Boys 17.2% "I Remember" by Coolio 12.9% "Breakfast At Denny's" by Buckshot LeFonque 6.9% "Where My Homies" by Ill Al Scratch And this one was decided on the last day. First place was a back-and-forth thing for the whole race. Really, too close to call, but the contract says we got to call it, so The Fugees win. Common Sense and The Beastie Boys tie for second. Coolio manages to stay in shouting distance but The Branford/Premier mix and the Ill Al Scratch crew come in waaaay behind (Ill Al also got a write-in, btw, for "I'll Take Her"). Phattest Crossover Rap Album 22.9% _Blowout Comb_ by Digable Planets 22.0% _Ill Communication_ by The Beastie Boys 21.2% _Do You Want More?_ by The Roots 20.3% _The Main Ingredinet_ by Pete Rock & CL Smooth 11.9% _Buckshot LeFonque_ by Buckshot LeFonque 1.7% _Home_ by Spearhead Now *this* really is too close to call. The Digables managed to pull it out over the BBs again--this time at the last second--but it's essentially a four-way tie for first. So that only leaves the Marsalis/Premier mixture and the Michael Franti effort. They kinda lost. ====----> Braggadocio Rappin' for your ego rappers go here. Who counted it? Marcell Gabriel, of course. Don't ask silly questions. Phattest Braggadocio Group 57.4% Wu-Tang Clan 25.0% Alcoholics 17.6% Organized Konfusion Wow. I guess Wu-Tang Clan ain't nothin' to f*** wit. A rare majority win here, boys and girls. And it was never even a contest. Phattest Braggadocio Male Rapper 33.1% Nas 20.4% The Notorious B.I.G. (Biggie Smalls) 18.3% Craig Mack 12.7% Casual 10.6% Guru 4.9% Jeru The Damaja And the rookies pretty much dominate the category. Poor old Guru only managed to squeak by Jeru (who only barely just a new jack... but then neither is anyone else up there really). Nas took a big lead early on and it was just impossible for BIG and Craig Mack to ever catch up. And Casual wasn't even tryin'. Phattest Braggadocio Female Rapper 48.2% MC Lyte 29.3% Yo Yo 22.6% Bahamadia Must have been those Janet Jackson and Brandy remixes that put MC Lyte over the top 'cause, uh, what else has she done? Not even close. Name recognition? Phattest Braggadocio Rap Single 47.4% "Flava In Your Ear" by Craig Mack 37.2% "Come Clean" by Jeru The Damaja 15.3% "How Many MCs" by Black Moon And another easy win. This time it's Craig Mack's megahit stompin' all over the competition. He came from a distant second towards the end to make the victory even sweeter. Phattest Braggadocio Rap Album 31.4% _36 Chambers_ by Wu Tang Clan 23.7% _Illmatic_ by Nas 14.1% _Ready To Die_ by The Notorious B.I.G. (Biggie Smalls) 9.6% _The Sun Rises In The East_ by Jeru The Damaja 8.3% _Fear Itself_ by Casual 7.1% _Between A Rock and A Hard Place_ by The Artifacts 5.8% _Stress: The Extinction Agenda_ by Organized Konfusion And Wu-Tang takes it again... with authority. The well-hyped Illmatic comes in secong with this year's larger-than-life MC, BIG, doing third. After this point, it's more of a toss-up. ====----> The Dope Thangs This set was counted by my homeslice, qyz (that's like "quiz" as in The Quizmaster Rapper). Funniest Rap Award for the funniest rap 51.1% "Freestylin' at the Fortune 500" by The Coup 48.9% "Ice Froggy Frog" by Ice Froggy Frog (Fear of a Black Hat) Too close to call, really, but well, we gotta call it. The Coup, our ever-so-serious crew from Oakland managed to make at least a few folks laugh with their take off on Rockefeller, Getty and Trump. And while we're here, let me put a word in for our second prize winner by giving the nod to _Fear of a Black Hat_... a great movie. If you slept on it, go rent it now. Now. All Hip Hop fans must see this film. Go on. Phattest Lyric Phattest lyrics... slammin' beat not required. 27.9% "One Love" by Nas 25.2% "I Used to Love H.E.R." by Common Sense 23.4% "Come Clean" by Jeru the Damaja 14.4% "Time's Up" by O.C. 9.1% "Mental Stamina" by Jeru the Damaja Jeru had this one for quite a while, but he lost some steam. Nas and Common Sense (who will duke it out later as well) come up from behind to take first and second. Another close call. Maybe if Jeru hadn't had the votes split... but who can say? Most Slammin' Beat Make my head bop. I need no wordz. 27.7% "Come Clean" by Jeru 20.2% "Natural Born Killaz" by Dr Dre and Ice Cube 14.3% "9th Wonder" by Digable Planets 12.6% "The World is Yours" by Nas 10.1% "Code of the Streets" by Gangstarr 8.4% "Recognized Thresholds" by Boogie Monsters 4.2% "Stress" by Organized Konfusion 2.5% "Herb Is Pumpin'" by Keith Murray Votes went every which a way. In the end, Jeru manages to beat out the competition to emerge at the top with Ice Cube and Dr Dre pulling in a definite second place. After that it gets a bit murkier with Digables actually beating Nas and Gangstarr by a point or two. It is Keith lookin' none too beautiful in the basement. Phattest Remix Now, this is a fine art. 38.5% "Flava in Ya Ear" by Craig Mack 20.5% "Nappy Heads" by Fugees 17.2% "I Got Cha Opin" by Black Moon 12.3% "What Can I Do?" by Ice Cube 8.2% "Oh My God" by A Tribe Called Quest 3.3% "Stress" by Organized Konfusion No big surprise, I guess, that Craig Mack's remix--featuring help from everyone from BIG to LL Cool J--manages to come out on top. Still he manages a nice solid lead--so he gets extra props. More props to the Fugees who manage a solid second over the popular Black Moon. Phattest DJ Another fine--and not lost--art. 47.2% DJ Premier for _Hard to Earn_ 24.4% Pete Rock for _The Main Ingredient_ 18.6% Terminator X for _Superbad_ and _Muse Sick N Hour Mess Age_ 9.8% Pam The Funkstress for _Genocide and Juice_ Well, damn. Premier manages to do this again this year (if not by as big a margin as last time). A solid victory. What to say? Phattest Producer(s) Award for those producing people 50.8% DJ Premier for, well, everything 18.5% Dr. Dre for Snoop Doggy Dogg's _Doggystyle_ 16.9% Rza for Wu Tang Clan, Method Man and others 8.5% Beatnuts 5.3% Pete Rock for _The Main Ingredient_ Well, damn, again. Unlike last year, DJ Premier manages to take this category... and with serious authority. Too much for me. The rest of the votes went to Dr Dre and Rza with Beatnuts beating out(!) my man Pete Rock by a hair or two. ====----> More Dope Thangs Alta--a truly dedicated New Jack vote counter--counted these. Leaders of the New School Award for the most innovative rapper/group this year. Doesn't have to be someone new, might be an old dog learning and teaching some new tricks. In any case, should take hip hop in a new direction. The folks starting the new subgenres. 33.6% _Illmatic_ by Nas 12.1% _The Sun Rises in the East_ by Jeru the Damaja 10.3% _Genocide and Juice_ by The Coup 10.3% _Blunted on Reality_ by The Fugees 10.3% _From the Ground Up_ by The Roots 9.5% _Resurrection_ by Common Sense 6.0% _Boxcar Sessions_ by Saafir 4.4% _Stress: The Extinction Agenda_ by Organized Konfusion 3.5% _Hiphopera_ by Volume 10 A lot of nominees in this category and Nas takes it handily. Jeru just barely takes second, escaping the three-way tie for third place. After that, it's really only Common Sense as the rest have only token votes. Best fusion of Hip-Hop with non-Hip-Hop Being the experimenters that they are, Hip-Hop artists are often trying to merge their styles with stuff from other genres, be it heay metal, jazz or country. Who did the best thing this year? 41.7% _Ill Communication_ by The Beastie Boys 31.7% _From the Ground Up_ and others by The Roots 26.6% _Red Hot and Cool_ by Various And with Digables on their heels, the ever-present Beasties finally take a solid first place... followed by the jazz stylings of The Roots. Last year, the hard-rock-and-rap fusion didn't fare very well, but this time it's on top (still, the jazz-fusion takes 58.3% of the votes, so maybe it was just split voting). Phattest Non-USA Artist Often, Hip Hop Heads in the USA never get exposure to the phat ones outside the border. 66.7% _Prose Combat_ by MC Solaar 20.2% _Subliminal Simulation_ by The Dream Warriors 13.1% Rascalz Without Us3 to siphon off votes, MC "I've got more name recognition that you" Solaar takes it to the hoop this year and wins with severe authority. The Dream Warriors, Canadian's finest, from whom we haven't heard since, man, _And Now The Legacy Begins_ manage second place. Phattest Reggae Hip Hop artist 'Nuff respect to all dancehall massive and crew. 37.3% "Take it Easy" by Mad Lion 31.4% "Romantic Call" by Patra with Yo Yo 12.7% "Destinaton Brooklyn (Nika)" by Vicious 10.8% _Kids from Foreign_ by Born Jamericans 7.8% "Make My Day" by Buju Banton Patra had the race locked up early on, but it is Mad Lion who wins the day. After those two, it was pretty much a crap shoot with everyone making a respectable showing. Provider of Phattest Samples Everyone from James Brown to The Gap Band to Chick Corea have been so kind as to provide hip hop with dope samples. Who's provided the best stuff *this year*? 37.3% Parliament/Funkadelic/George Clinton (for examples, see every song released this year) 29.7% The Isley Brothers for "Between the Sheets" (for examples, see every other song released this year) 18.6% Slick Rick in "La Di Da Di" (used in a couple of places this year) 14.4% Michael Jackson for "Human Nature" (see "IT Ain't Hard To Tell") We've done this before: The P-funk dominates again, as they have the last two years. Can this keep going? The number two spot is held by the Isley brothers, among the most oversampled group of 1994. Most Innovative Use of a Sample Award for the artist who used a sample (be it music, voice or whatever) in the most innovative or unexpected way to great effect. 51.5% Craig Mack for using the Days Of Our Lives theme in "Real Raw" 48.5% Pete Rock for KRS-One's "woop, woop" in "The Main Ingredient" Not a lot of nominees this year, but Craig Mack just barely gets the props on this one anyway. I guess I'll have to listen to "Real Raw" again. Let's see what's the shiznit and what's not. ====----> Dope Videos and Other Visual Stuff Mark Nyon sat in front of the screen for quite a while to qualify to count these votes. Thanks, man. Phattest Short Form Video Award for the phattest video. 25.4% "Natural Born Killaz" by Ice Cube and Dr. Dre 22.2% "Sabotage" by The Beastie Boys 15.9% "Can't Stop The Prophet" by Jeru The Damaja 9.5% "Give It Up" by Public Enemy 9.5% "Flavor In Ya Ear" by Craig Mack 8.7% "Never Seen A Man Cry" by Scarface 4.8% "Light Sleeper" by Saafir 4.0% "Strange" by The Boogiemonsters And the first Jack of the day goes to the Ice Cube and Dr. Dre effort. "Sabotage" just *barely* made the voting form but almost managed to grab it away from them. "NBK" managed to cause a little bit of controversy here and there (it was featured on a local news station here in sunny Boston) but was more notorious among Hip Hop fans for being the first indication that *maybe*, *maybe* _Helter Skelter_ really, truly will come out. Smif-n-Wessun managed a write-in. Phattest Long Form Video Award for phattest long video release 44.6% _Sabotage_ by The Beastie Boys 31.7% _Murder Was The Case_ by Snoop Doggy Dogg 23.7% _Enemy Strikes Live_ by Public Enemy And this was pretty clear from day one. The only real surprise was that somehow we let _Enemy Strikes Live_ in the final form this year *despite* that fact that it's older than dirt (it won the 1991 Jack for best long form video with over 70% of the vote). Whatever. Fans *still* voted for it in droves (hmmmm, it *was* a good tape). Phattest Hip Hop Video Show Award for the phattest video show (or was this obvious?). 54.1% Rap City (on BET) with Big Les & Joe Clark 26.5% Yo! MTV Raps! (Friday) with Dr. Dre and Ed Lover 10.2% Yo! MTV Raps! (Friday) with Fab Five Freddy 6.1% Hip Hop Fridays on California Music Channel with Andy Kawanami 3.1% Yo! (MTV daily) with Dr. Dre and Ed Lover And Rap City takes it for the second year in a row--with authority, I might add--finally ending the dynasty of Yo!. Hmmm, much props to Hip Hop Fridays for doing pretty damn well, all things considered. I'll have to give it a peep when I'm California way. Best live performance/tour/live album Award for, well, what it says. 57.6% De La Soul/A Tribe Called Quest (various tours) 32.3% KRS-One (various tours) 10.1% Organized Konfusion/Artifacts/Rass Kass (various tours) Yes, well. Yes, well. I guess De La ripped it up elsewhere as they did in Boston. They win. ====----> Whackness and former whackness Our counter this time was the ever humble Ravindra Pillalamarri. Biggest Sellout For the suckas that go pop. Should have been at least vaguely hip-hop in the first place. 40.6% Hammer 19.8% Dr Dre 17.9% Warren G 15.1% Eazy E 6.6% Nice & Smooth And this one went exactly like the nominations. Anyway, Hammer ought to be ashamed of himself for that last album. He actually managed to copy every single selling trend of the last two years. I usually let Household Tool slide on these things, but it was just plain silly listening to him try to convince the Hip Hop Nation that he was *harder* than all the other MCs in the world. Damn, he played himself like solitare. Whackest Rapper The weakest, but visible, whackster of the year. 31.1% Vanilla "I can be hard too" Ice 17.0% Snoop Doggy Dogg 14.2% Da Brat 13.2% Shaq 12.3% Hammer 8.5% Warren G 3.8% Nice & Smooth So, anyway, Vanilla Ice Cream Cone actually produced an album last year; he was sporting something like dreds and he may have even been acting like he was smokin' some weed. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! He deserves everything he gets. Biggest Disappointment This is different than the biggest sellout. Sometimes old favorites just plain fall off without even getting the money for selling out. 38.2% PMD 14.7% Big Daddy Kane 14.7% Public Enemy 12.7% Black Sheep 12.7% Ice Cube 7.0% Nice & Smooth Well. If someone's keeping score, it looks Erick Sermon has come out of the EPMD break up ahead of his estranged partner. Cough, cough. Um. Well, a special nod goes to Kane. At least this year he didn't end up in both the whackest and sellout categories. No half steppin' here. And, of course, I have to say something about Public Enemy. *I* liked the album, but I guess some other folks didn't. Will PE ever live down _It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back_? Anyway, Black Sheep(!) and Ice Cube(!) tie for fourth while Nice & Smooth hit the bottom... in this case, of course, that's good. A lot of big names this year. Most Overrated Rapper Yet another bit of semantic subtlety. Now there are whack rappers in hip-pop and we know who they are. But sometimes we get rappers who produce a strong split in The Underground. Who gets all these mad props but shouldn't? 48.2% Snoop Doggy Dogg 14.5% Warren G. 13.7% The Notorious BIG (Biggie Smalls) 12.8% Da Brat 4.5% Nas 3.6% Craig Mack 2.7% Keith Murray *Almost* a real majority win. This Snoop and Dre backlash is in full effect. No one else even came close... not mega-played Craig Mack nor Warren "every-other-video" G. Hmmm. What's up with that? Best Comeback On the good side, sometimes folks we had written off as dead, come back like hard. 27.4% Public Enemy 26.3% Slick Rick 17.9% Black Sheep 16.8% Rza 8.4% Dougie Fresh 3.2% Hammer And Public Enemy fans speak out. It's worth noting that Slick Rick had this one all the way until the very last batch. Looks like PE still has a strong base somewhere. Now, someone want to explain two things to me: 1) where Rza cameback from? and 2) how did Hammer get in here? Hardest and Ugliest Dis' Award for *the* hardest most diggum-smack dis of the year--the one that made you screw up your face and go "damn!" Ha. "Diggum-smack dis". I love that. Anyway, the results are: 66.7% "Don't get mad; UPS is hiring" (Flava remix) by The Notorious BIG 23.2% "Dollars & Sense" by DJ Quik 10.1% "The Wake Up Show" by Saafir This year's batch of disses are a bit different since we don't really have head-to-head battle records competing here (like the Cube v NWA battles), but it doesn't much matter. The Notorious BIG gets a rare majority win. Saafir did pretty well, too, considering that he's still pretty much way underground. ====----> Progressive/Jazz Rap Well, I still don't know how to define this category but groups like De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest as well as Souls of Mischief, Digable Planets and the like fall into this class. La Tondra--Tondar the barbarian to her friends--counted these up. Phattest Progressive/Jazz Rap Group 37.4% A Tribe Called Quest 26.0% Digable Planets 20.6% The Roots 9.1% De La Soul 6.9% Fugees Let's see. That'd be A Tribe Called Quest... again. They've won it every single year since the New Jack Awards were started (they won it when we called it Bohemian Rap). But the margin is getting smaller. I think Q-Tip et al had better look out for up-and-comers The Roots.... In the meantime they can revel in their clear-cut victory over their once-dominating cousins De La Soul. They did pretty badly, just barely topping The Fugees and the Souls of Mischief write-in. Phattest Progressive/Jazz Male Rapper 44.6% Q-Tip 20.1% Guru 12.9% MC Solaar 11.5% Jeru tha Damaja 9.4% CL Smooth 1.5% Prince Paul Prince Paul? Anyway, Q-Tip does it again. Only Guru has ever stopped Q-Tip in this category and then only last year (and then just barely). I think Q-Tip has gotten his revenge. Speaking of Guru, MC Solaar should definitely be thanking him for making him such a visible and recognizable presence. I'm sure that had it not been for his guest appearance on Guru's jazz-rap solo effort, he'd've never had a chance against Jeru. Phattest Progressive/Jazz Female Rapper 44.5% Ladybug Mecca 27.3% Me'Shell NdegeOcello 19.5% Lauryn Hill 8.7% Simple E And Ladybug Digs her way to an easy first place... followed by the anti-alternative hip hop singer Me'Shell NdegeOcello. Ladybug is definitely becoming a staple in this category (she won last year, too). Alone in the basement is Simple E, playin' wit her funk. And where's Queen Latifah? Phattest Progressive/Jazz Rap Single 30.5% "9th Wonder" by Digable Planets 24.4% "Distortion to Static" by The Roots 19.8% "Oh My God" by A Tribe Called Quest 13.7% "Got a Love" by Pete Rock and CL Smooth 11.6% "Stress" by Organized Konfusion And The Digables take it again following up on last year's singles victory. But this time, there wasn't quite the struggle. This is a solid victory. Phattest Progressive/Jazz Rap Album 55.7% _Midnight Marauders_ by A Tribe Called Quest 26.7% _Blowout Comb_ by Digable Planets 17.6% _The Main Ingredient_ by Pete Rock and CL Smooth And ATCQ wins with Midnight Marauders which came out some twenty years ago, but still got airplay last year. And it's an ugly win, one of those majority wins. They regin supreme. ====----> Gangsta Hip-Hop This is Hip-Hop that's, um, Gangsta: everyone from Ice Cube to Geto Boyz to Ice-T to Snoop and back. We all know more or less what we mean. William David Hass counted this one up for us. Phattest Gangsta Group 62.1% Wu-Tang Clan 18.5% Outkast 17.7% The Dogg Pound 1.7% South Central Cartel And the Wu-Tang style defeats, well, everyone else with a stunning majority win despite protest from the crowd that they ain't gangstas. Oh, well, I bow to the will of the people on this one. Hmmm. Let's move on. Phattest Gangsta Male Rapper 48.1% Ice Cube 20.6% Snoop Doggy Dogg 19.1% MC Eiht 12.2% Scarface Ice Cube takes this one convincingly. The comeback kid in this category was Snoop Doggy Dogg, whose fans got together at the last second to help him take second over a slightly surprised MC Eiht. Scarface rounds out the pack ahead of write-ins Spice One and Big Boi. Phattest Gangsta Female Rapper 40.5% Rage 31.6% BO$$ 27.9% Yo-Yo Rage took it from the giddy-up while Bo$$ and Yo-Yo fought it out for second. Bo$$ wins that battle over the veteran lady gangsta. Phattest Gangsta Rap Single 27.8% "I Never Seen a Man Cry" by Scarface 27.0% "Natural Born Killers" by Ice Cube and Dr Dre 12.7% "Really Doe" by Ice Cube 11.1% "Murder Was the Case" by Snoop Doggy Dogg 8.7% "Gin and Juice" by Snoop Doggy Dogg 7.9% "All For the Money" by M.C. Eiht 4.8% "Game Recognize Game" by JT the Bigga Figga It looked like Ice Cube and Dre were going to pull it off towards the end, but Scarface held on to his slim lead, thus redeeming himself after coming in last in the male category. Snoop manages to fall behind Ice Cube again and takes fourth and fifth. Phattest Gangsta Rap Album 35.1% _DoggyStyle_ by Snoop Doggy Dogg 33.3% _Lethal Injection_ by Ice Cube 16.2% _Bootlegs and B-Sides_ by Ice Cube 15.4% _The Diary_ by Scarface Those Snoop fans managed to make a big difference. Despite the fact that Ice Cube's _Lethal Injection_ seemed to have it wrapped up by a narrow margin, Snoop pulls it out with the last batch of votes. An upset! And it's a hard one to take since if some of those Cube fans who voted for _Bootlegs and B-Sides_ had instead voted for _Lethal Injection_... but that's not what happened. Snoop wins the Jack. ====----> Political Hip-Hop Rap with an explicit social and political message. Who counted? That Jamaican knockin' out Ja-fakin's: mass@theory.lcs.mit.edu, of course. Phattest Political Group 42.6% Public Enemy 19.1% The Coup 14.7% Fugees 11.0% Organized Konfusion 9.6% Digable Planets 3.0% The Goats It went pretty much like the nominations. Well, at least this time Public Enemy actually released something during the year in question. Oddly, this time, their usual majority win did not materialize. Given that it *was* Public Enemy they were up against, The Coup, that mad phat mau-mau posse from Oakland, did pretty well by securing a strong second place showing. Meanwhile, the even-more-political-for-94 Digable Planets got squished by the Fugees and OK but did better than cult-faves The Goats. Phattest Political Male Rapper 23.9% KRS-ONE 23.2% Chuck D. 13.8% Ice Cube 13.8% Jeru The Damaja 13.0% Paris 12.3% Boots (from The Coup) And with a last-minute surge, Hip Hop Elder Statesman KRS-ONE, manages to snatch the Jack from Chuck D. Things were much tighter for KRS-ONE this time around than for last year when he rode _Return of the Boom Bap_ to massive victories. The race for third was interesting as Ice Cube came from out of absolutely nowhere to steal the sun from Jeru. Meanwhile, Paris and Boots round out the list with respectable showings. Phattest Political Female Rapper 49.2% Lauryn (from the Fugees) 42.6% Queen Latifah 8.2% Nefertiti It looks closer than it was. Only Queen Latifah's last-minute surge makes this look like a contest. Lauryn has it from the first vote. Phattest Political Rap Single 36.1% "Can't Stop The Prophet" by Jeru The Damaja 27.1% "Give It Up" by Public Enemy 19.5% "So Whatcha Gone Do?" by Public Enemy 10.5% "Takin' These" by The Coup 6.8% "Guerilla Funk" by Paris I dunno. Looks like Jeru benefitted from the split in the PE vote this time around. Head to head, he might have lost. Phattest Political Rap Album 35.5% _Muse Sick N Hour Mess Age_ by Public Enemy 32.3% _The Sun Rises In The East_ Jeru The Damaja 25.0% _Genocide and Juice_ by The Coup 7.2% _Guerilla Funk_ by Paris And it looks like that really might have been the case. Despite a late tie and the momentum, Jeru fell before the mack truck that is Public Enemy. Meanwhile The Coup did a solid third place. ====----> What you've been waiting for And I saved the best batch for me. And I enjoyed every damn minute of it, too. Most Unfairly Slept On Album Ever year some artist comes off proper but is ignored by the community. Here we remedy that. The nominees are: _Resurrection_ by Common Sense _Genocide and Juice_ by The Coup _Stress: The Extinction Agenda_ by Organized Konfusion _Muse Sick n Hour Mess Age_ by Public Enemy _Between a Rock and a Hard Place_ by The Artifacts _Riders of the Storm_ by The Boogiemonsters And the results are: 30.4% _Muse Sick n Hour Mess Age_ by Public Enemy 17.9% _Genocide and Juice_ by The Coup 17.0% _Stress: The Extinction Agenda_ by Organized Konfusion 15.2% _Resurrection_ by Common Sense 13.3% _Riders of the Storm_ by The Boogiemonsters 6.2% _Between a Rock and a Hard Place_ by The Artifacts There were many frustrated Public Enemy fans on alt.rap since many posters there decided that they were unimpressed with the newest PE joint. Those frustrated fans have made it clear that they think this is unfair and that ya'll ought to give them another chance. Supporters of The Coup's newer brand of political stylin' have also made their recommendations known (and I have to admit that I agree with them: The Coup is all that and a Thanksgiving dinner like your grandmomma used to make) just a bit louder than fans of the newest OK effort. Are you going to listen? Phattest New Hip Hopster The best New Jack to arrive on the scene this year. The nominees are: _Illmatic_ by Nas _Project: Funk Da World_ by Craig Mack _Ready To Die_ by The Notorious B.I.G. (Biggie Smalls) _The Sun Rises in the East_ by Jeru the Damaja _The Most Beautifullest Thing In This World_ by Keith Murray _Boxcar Sessions_ by Saafir And the winner? 38.3% _Illmatic_ by Nas 20.9% _The Sun Rises in the East_ by Jeru the Damaja 13.9% _Project: Funk Da World_ by Craig Mack 12.2% _The Most Beautifullest..._ by Keith Murray 9.6% _Ready To Die_ by The Notorious B.I.G. (Biggie Smalls) 5.1% _Boxcar Sessions_ by Saafir No contest. Nas' had first and Jeru had second from the get-go. And that was that. The only race was between Craig Mack and Keith Murray and Craig took that one... again. Hall of Fame Award for that person or persons who managed to make hip hop history and has/have stood the test of time. We're talking about those back in the day who helped make our current dopeness possible. Note: Public Enemy, Run-DMC and KRS-One/Boogie Down Productions, our 1991-1993 winners, were ineligible this year. Our nominees were: Ice Cube Eric B and Rakim Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five Slick Rick A Tribe Called Quest and our winner was: 29.9% Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five 24.1% Eric B and Rakim 23.4% A Tribe Called Quest 13.8% Slick Rick 8.8% Ice Cube About damn time. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five--responsible for such great singles as "New York, New York" and "The Message"--represent hip hop history as well as hip hop greatness. Despite being a distant fourth last year, they managed to jog the memories of enough hip hop heads to make it in this time around. This race wins the award for biggest surprise. Slick Rick actually lead the way for the first few batches of votes. It was only in the last week that ATCQ, Eric B and Rakim and, finally, G5 managed to pull ahead. There were a few other surprises: noticeably absent is a nomination for George Clinton/Parliament/Funkadelic. They've been pretty much a staple of this category ever since the beginning. And next year? Well these things never seem to be predictive, but it looks like the fight next year might be between Eric B and Rakim and A Tribe Called Quest. Album Hall of Fame Award for that album that has managed to make hip hop history and has stood the test of time. This is for *the* best and most influential hip hop albums *ever*. The nominees: _It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back_ by Public Enemy _Criminal Minded_ by Boogie Down Productions _By All Means Necessary_ by Boogie Down Productions _Straight Outta Compton_ by N.W.A _3 Feet High And Rising_ De La Soul _Paid In Full_ by Eric B & Rakim _AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted_ by Ice Cube And the first inductee is: 39.1% _It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back_ by Public Enemy 14.1% _Criminal Minded_ by Boogie Down Productions 13.3% _By All Means Necessary_ by Boogie Down Productions 10.2% _Straight Outta Compton_ by N.W.A 12.5% _3 Feet High And Rising_ De La Soul 7.8% _Paid In Full_ by Eric B & Rakim 3.0% _AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted_ by Ice Cube As if you're surprised. It probably would have made more sense to just declare this an automatic inductee and vote on the second album instead. This was never even a contest. This is not only everyone's favorite Public Enemy album, it's on everyone's top ten list. _Nations_ had the first vote and the last. At this point I'd explain to all of you readers just what this album is and tell you of it's enormous impact on Hip Hop when it dropped in 1988, but why bother? You all own it. I have to give special dap to both second and third. Perhaps next year the race will be between Boogie Down Productions and BDP. Or maybe not. I get the feeling that Eric B and Rakim will be in the mix next time as many of their fans seemed torn between them and PE. And maybe we'll see this year's write-ins--EPMD and 3rd Bass--give it a run. We'll see. Phattest Rap Single Phattest single to drop last year. Period. The nominees: "Flava in Your Ear" by Craig Mack "I Used To Love HER" by Common Sense "The World Is Yours" by Nas "Give It Up" by Public Enemy "Stress" by Organized Konfusion "I Got Cha Opin" by Black Moon And the winners? 26.2% "Flava in Your Ear" by Craig Mack 21.4% "I Used To Love HER" by Common Sense 18.3% "The World Is Yours" by Nas 15.9% "Give It Up" by Public Enemy 12.6% "I Got Cha Opin" by Black Moon 5.6% "Stress" by Organized Konfusion This one came down to the wire. At first it was Craig Mack... then Common Sense... then Mack... then CS... back and forth, forth and back. But finally Craig Mack won the day with his muchly played summer jam single (now ask me what people thought of the album). I guess that was a foregone conclusion, but is anyone as surprised as I am with the strong showing of Common Sense's nostaligic criticism of the current state of affairs in rap? And over "The World Is Yours" no less? What does this bode? Hmmmmmm. Well, before we go to the last award, let me mention the write-ins: "Goin' Down" by Scareface, "Code of the Streets" by Gangstarr and "Put Em on The Glass" by Sir Mix a Lot. That's done. Now for our last award: Phattest Rap Album The award for the phattest Album. Period. No more, no less. Our nominees for this year are: _Illmatic_ by Nas _Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik_ by Outkast _The Sun Rises in the East_ by Jeru the Damaja _Hard to Earn_ by Gangstarr _Blowout Comb_ by Digable Planets _Muse Sick N Hour Mess Age_ by Public Enemy And the winner? Well, the winner is: 29.7% _Illmatic_ by Nas 16.1% _Blowout Comb_ by Digable Planets 16.1% _Muse Sick N Hour Mess Age_ by Public Enemy 15.2% _Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik_ by Outkast 12.7% _The Sun Rises in the East_ by Jeru the Damaja 10.2% _Hard to Earn_ by Gangstarr And I'm happy! Why? Because now I get to say: And it looks like the world is Nas'! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! Oh, I'm hilarious. Get it? Get it? Who's world is this? It's Nas'! HA HA HA! And it was no contest. This was clear from the first vote cast. But this year was a bit different. Usually it's very clear who's second, who's third and so on, but this time everyone is actually pretty close. And, in fact, The Nas win is by no means particularly large for this category. A Tribe Called Quest had a bigger shut out for first last year and Ice Cube's _The Predator_ completely devestated the competition in the 1992 awards. The big surprise for me was _Blowout Comb_. It got very little video time as far as I could tell and not too many folks talked about it on the netwaves, but whoot, there it is tied for second. And, overall, the trend hinted at last year seems to be getting stronger. I don't see too many gangstas nominated this time around. No real presence by Dr Dre and even Ice Cube did kind of poorly compared to his usual showing. Maybe the "I used to love HER" crowd are getting ready for a coup? We'll see next year. I'm out of here like last year. Peace ya'll. ***B*** Martay the Hip-Hop Wiz ---------------------- THE ATLANTA SCENE Common is comin', hooray! Chicago's finest MC be at the Velvet Thursday night as part of the rebirth of cool that just keeps goin' and goin'. Dose and Talib will be spinnin', as always. The last show was rather lame, however. MC Breed and his crew(s) were in the house. First up was One Puff (with Gansta Pat, who if you haven't heard of him you didn't miss anything, ditto if you miss this new group) and they bit Bone Thugs rhyme style and the Goodie Mob's dress style. Oh, well. Chapter of Madness took the stage next and reminded us of their home addresses (Decatur & 285) several hundred times and talked about something totally original, Blunts! The last group had the benifit (?) of MC Breed performing with them, who wanted us to know how spontaneous everything was as they proceeded to kick a very choreographed stage routine, I swear I heard the voice on the instrumental track too, however they yelled on the mic enough to make it impossible to distinguish if their lyrics were already on the tape. Anyway, Common is comin'! Infamous Jacksonville bass guru, DJ Trans was in town helping to produce the upcoming J. Bond & DJ Goldfinger LP from Bahari records. That shit booms, and I don't even like bass too much. Kaper records has finally put out a halfway decent group. I think. I saw the video and heard the first song from Question ? Society recently, and it wasn't half bad. It's called "Look Away" or something. They're gonna open an upcoming AIDS awareness benefit at the Roxy with Craig Mack, Notorious B.I.G. and Outkast. That's about all the latest news from Atlanta, just remember, Common is Comin', and you will get the whole story from Martay. Peace. ***B*** Ryan A. MacMichael ------------------ BACK TO THE OLD SCHOOL I recently read an article saying that old school artists should just give it up and not bother making "comebacks" because their attempts were lame and off-point from what people were doing today. I have to admit that, yes, some of the comebacks of late have been kind of weak -- but who could have the gall to tell the godfathers of hip- hop to step off?! Do fans of Joshua Redman tell Stanley Turrentine to give up the saxophone? Would fans of Harry Connick, Jr. tell Frank Sinatra to hang up the mic? I don't think so. In jazz and other music forms, the founders and artists who made the greatest advancements are praised and welcomed back with open arms. I think one of the major problems with a lot of hip-hop fans is that they are so closed-minded to one particular style ('92 -- Das EFX style, '93 -- Onyx style, '94 -- Dre) that they refuse to give any attention to the pioneers. After all, they argue, when you have something that shakes your whole damn block with the maddest lyrical styles ever, who needs to listen to the old school? These are the same kids that will never know the feeling of hearing "Here We Go" or "Rock Box" for the first time. And I'm willing to bet they couldn't name the members of the Sugarhill Gang. And would they have any idea who originally said "sometimes it's like a jungle / it makes me wonder how I keep from going under?" I'm going to go as far as saying that many of the old- schoolers still have it. Take RAIDERS OF THE LOST ART, for instance. The Furious Five, The Treacherous Three, Busy Bee, Kurtis Blow, and Afrika Bambaataa all make good showings. Granted, they might not be the ultra-slickly produced tracks we're used to hearing, but pehaps Whodini put it best on "Do It Again": Now I remember in the days of way back, with just a 4-track and no SP-12 to make tracks. Wearin' leather suits and boots was the gear of live bands and hip-hop stars of the year. These kids remember being told that rap would never be more than a fad. But after 20 years, kids take the music for granted and think that not being able to sign with Warner Bros. is a struggle for a group. I was never at a block party to hear Kool Herc on the wheels, but I've made myself aware. Too many bandwagon fans couldn't tell you who the fuck Kool Herc was. They probably think he's some dead guy who played disco music (scary considering he's still around). So I'm gonna take the time in my mixes, on my show, in my rhymes, wherever, to pay tribute to the people that came before. "I won't forget y'all...even when everyone else does." ***C*** Style Dawg ---------- STYLE DAWG'S HIP-HOP LITERARY REVIEW S.H. Fernando, Jr. "The New Beats: Exploring the Music, Culture, and Attitudes of Hip-Hop" If you want a concise, realistic analysis exploring the Music, Culture and Attitudes of Hip-Hop Culture, both Afrika Bambatta, leader of the Universal Zulu Nation, and Samuel G. Freedman, author of "Small Victories" and "Upon This Rock" suggest S.H. Fernando, Jr.'s "The New Beats." The book is undoubtedly the best work published on the urban culture to date, for though its principle focus is mainstream hip-hop, the book does not pander to the interests of corporate America's music industry. While newspapers and magazines gloss and pander to the style and passions of hip-hop, "The New Beats" accentuates those styles and passions. This fact is evident when Fernando describes the sources of hip-hop. Unlike other publications, which simply paraphrase that "hip- hop" is the music behind the lyrics, which are "rapped," a form of sonic bricolage with roots in "toasting," a style of making music by speaking over records; Fernando truly gets to the origins of the music, journeying back to precolonial Africa. He informs us that, "Today's rappers bear a striking similarity to the griots (or gewel, the Senegalese term), West African bards who played an especially important role in precolonial society, orally passing on the cultural history of their people." He goes on to allude comparisons between modern-day rappers and precolonial West Africans by stating "The art of the griot required music and song skill and also an unerring memory. The spiritual life of the citizens of the community, past, present and future, rest in the virtuosity and unerring exactness of the griot. The songs of the griot are more precise than any history book." The book is quite an informative resource due to its analytic approach in dropping commentary on the hip-hop culture. The book defines mainstream hip-hop through the utilization of social history. Fernando consulted with many contemporaries in the hip-hop industry such as Cypress Hill, Public Enemy, Dr. Dre, Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth, and many others to gage opinion on what hip-hop means to them. This is a respectable approach in comparsion to other books of notoriety such as "Bring the Noise!: A Guide To Rap Music and Hip-Hop Culture," by Havelock Nelson and Michael A. Gonzales, which simply appeared as press material from record companies with an introduction by Fab 5 Freddy. And "Lyrics? You need lyrics..." Lyrics are dropped for your enjoyment with full analysis. Fernando also succeeds in achiving the impossible: illustrating reflections of Black historial imagery in N.W.A. lyrics. If the book's focus is the pursuit of truth, it manifests itself in the words of the Brooklyn journalist. Check out "The New Beats." It's quite a read for any hip-hop fan. ***E*** Dat Deaf G ---------- THE E: A HARDC.O.R.E. INTERVIEW [Editor's note: This interview was conducted before the release of Redman's current album, "Dare Is A Darkside."] Erick Sermon has been very inclusive and tight-lipped regarding the EPMD break up. He stays focused on his career, helping others get phat tracks courtesy of his production company. Needless, to say, I wanted to get the scoop on Sermon for all the fans out there who had been wondering, and I was pacing the floor like crazy waiting for the call. He finally called me through the relay service from his home which is near Atlanta, Georgia. DeafG: You've been crazy busy producing a lot of serious tracks for various artists/groups. What has that experience been like for you? Sermon: Well a while ago - I've been moving back 'n forth to Atlanta when I was in da Boondocks. I met with Dallas Austin and worked out of his studio. I got the vibes of producing while I was in his studio and it just caught on. A group called Illegal which is managed by Left-Eye of T.L.C., she asked for my help on Illegal's debut album. From there on, I've done production work for Boss, Shaquille O'Neal, my R&B group call 309, as well as others upcoming and ongoing projects. I figured I'd keep on producing more than rapping. Definitely want to keep making hit records for people as well as myself. DeafG: You basically help Redman blew up on da hip hop scene on a larger scale. How's the second album for Redman coming along and when do you think that it will come out? Sermon: Well, right now were working on the production tip. As we speak, we have most of the charts completed; just getting the songs together. As far as the format for his second album Redman is coming back harder than before. Reggie is doing most of the production this time around, but believe me Duane, I'll be here just be there just to make sure that things are correct. DeafG: I really like the song "Tonight's Da Nite" by Redman, 'cuz it was all that. Oh, I understand that you did some dope, mad production for Illegal and they made Chi-Ali look like .... Sermon: (laughs) Well that is funny! They were not dissing anyone, but they were making statements for rap since we are hardcore. Illegal just thought that whoever was not hardcore in da game, they were going to get served! Sometimes I felt they didn't have to do it and they are very happy about it. The song went to the top of the charts. DeafG: You're basically starting to use live instruments and easing off the sampling. Will the use of live music make the track music better or will it hurt rap music - since there is a lot of sampling going on these days? Sermon: Oh no, I'm still sampling - it's just off of Illegal's record. On the album No Pressure, I worked it with P-Funk, Zapp and Roger Troutman, who used to be with Zapp. Roger really made the EPMD's music foundation. EPMD used the clap sound and that started the trend. When I get tired of sampling, in other words used it up, then I would go totally live. DeafG: Ever since the beginning - back in the days of EPMD, your laid-back style has been very consistent and you tell it like it is in your rhymes. When you were with Sleeping Bag, did they ever ask you to change your style? Sermon: No, they never asked us to change the EPMD sound. We were very original and something new at the time. After the first single went gold, they let EPMD do what we did as a team. We went number one with the first album and second album as well. Again they didn't ask us to change our style, they just said here's some money to go buy yourself something. DeafG: Word, I heard you. Now you send out a very strong message to all fake MC and groups that they need to get out the game, because they're are not legit. Yet a line in "Stay Real" almost threw me off. I thought you were dissing' LL Cool J. Cuz you said "when he was rockin' da bells" - I was like oh snap! Then it hit me that there were some problems on the "Rampage" video regarding his decision not to appear. Could you clarify that one for me please? Sermon: Oh no that was no diss to LL, I was quoting the rosters that EPMD went on tours with back. LL Cool J and others were the one around when I was coming out with EPMD. DeafG: So what do you think about the R&B scene - its seem it is using a lot of guest rappers, which is cool in apporiate cases. Do you think da soul is drifting away from the true purpose of R&B or is its an experiments gone out of control? Sermon: Oh people do diss R&B a lot these days. But most people don't seem to realize what's up with that. All raps music that contains samples are from old records that were strictly R&B in the first place. If I was doing an EPMD's album, I'd call it R&Beats. DeafG: I hear you and that's a good point to bring out. I want to know what was it like working with Colin Wolfe on your album? Sermon: The boy is a musical genius! Basically he can play bass, guitar, piano, and he's very talented with other musical instruments. He knows how to do a drum loop around a song. He deserves massive credit for what he have done so far and as well as the future projects he does as well as the cuts on my albums. DeafG: I understand that you've moved from da Boondocks to da Big A in Georgia. How is was the transition from your old home in Strong Island to da deep south into Chocolate City? Sermon: Well you know that I've been down here there several times before, so I knew what it was about. Back in '90 and '91, I want to move down here, but I couldn't do that with EPMD in effect. I want to do my own thing you know what I am sayin'? So really I knew what it was going to be like and I'm expecting to enjoy it down here in my new crib. DeafG: That's good that you were prepare for the change in the scenery. What do you think the future of rap is going to be like? Sermon: Well I hope the future of rap is like it was back in '88, when EPMD first came out with Eric B. & Rakim, Whodini, Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff, and LL when he was rockin' bells. DeafG: What was it like when you flew out to Cali to chill and work with Cube, Kam, and their set? Sermon: Man dat was the illin' day! When I got there, I was greeted and treated with respect like a senior like Run DMC is treat these days. They grew up to my music (da EPMD's tapes). Not only we work on tracks for my album, we also play basketball. I was bustin' Cube's ass on the court. DeafG: Who's better at b-ball, Cube or you? Sermon: Cube wasn't stickin' me that much - one of KAM's boys was. I was doing the boy badly, yet when Cube was shootin' it would seem like it would always going in. I was on top of my game. It was a cool day and I was wearing my street clothes - jean and a street shirt and my Lugz and playing some mad basketball. Ice Cube's crew and Kam's crew are a fun bunch! Cube has always been my boy since his days with NWA. Because he was rapping with me and tell me what was going on and the next thing I know when I went to the record store I saw his first album, "AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted," and that made him crazy large! It was really good vibes in Cali! DeafG: If it wasn't for rap music, what do you think you would be doing now? Sermon: I would be in the landscaping business with my uncle. When I was like 15 or 16 years old, I was doing that from time to time. But I wasn't ready for work. I did held only one job in high school at a supermarket call C-Town. On the first day on the job, it was raining. The boss told me to mop the floor. I did that but I got fed up because people were coming in and were tracking the floor up. I told the boss to "Kiss my Ass!" and then left after 4 hours on the job! That was when my rap career with EPMD was about to take off. DeafG: (laughing real hard) Oh damn! But I understand -- you did what you have to do. What do you want most from this debut album - other than go gold in 2 days and get paid in full? Sermon: I just want the respect and my fans to understand what happened with EPMD, it was an ego thang. But EPMD show that longevity occurs when you keep it together. What happen between me and Parrish is really personal. And the people close to it know what's up with the split. I just want to be like Teddy Riley, when the fans would go to the record store and pick it up and they know what they're getting. I want that same thang with me, but it will make them know its Erick Sermon's on the tape/CD. DeafG: Da question everybody wants answered is what lead to the break up of EPMD? You've been offer to tell your side, but you declined. People who are close to you have stated you were bitter and saddened by the turn of events. Sermon: Alright, D - I give you the exclusive cuz I trust you not to do me wrong. As you know I was always the quiet type when it come to the interviews in the past w/EPMD. I trusted Parrish to speak for me and the group. I cannot take nothing from Parrish. He's a smart fellow. I fell behind on the business end and that's partly my fault. If it was a 50/50 agreement, partners would let each other know what's going on. Toward da end of '91, I didn't know about people who were being hired by Parrish, and I was not involved in the payroll process. I just want to have fun and make music. Material things aren't important to me, even though I can afford them. You got to keep in mind that my life or your life could end at any moment, and you can't take the material stuff with you. I was just living you know. On the taxes and finances, I did not play a role in that either. Communications was the biggest problem between Parrish and me, also the way he deals with people. He can be very mean. I just want to help people and have more of a family vibes. I never threatened people. I guess the hip-hop media threw that in. I guess they figured I was involved in those rumors that were circulated a while ago. I never threatened nobody's kids or family. That story that The Source ran a while ago was blown out of proportions. It put my career on the line. I was under a lot of stress, went to the hospital a lot because of stress. People start wondering what was up with me, because I was not speaking about it. I was keeping myself busy and occupied with my production company. I did not want a war to start and doing albums by myself. A lot of things were negative. I realized the fans were still out there, and before it was too late, I want to bring this album out and let them know what's up with me. I rather go broke myself. Yet I'm very happy as a solo artist. My parents has never seen me so happy before. In the past, I was faking it when I was smiling, but deep inside I was stressed out. Now this is all behind me and I learn from my mistake I just look forward to be very successful now and in the future. DeafG: I hear you and understand what really went down with the split. Thanks for the exclusive! Any last words for the EPMD's loyal fans and the readers of HardC.O.R.E.? Sermon: Tell the readers and fans that I ain't gone no where. I'm still here. I want them to accept Erick Sermon for Erick Sermon like when back in '88 I had a lisp, which is my trademark and still had it going on into the '94. Stay focused on your goals, go with first instinct. Don't let nobody tell you to change your format. Like trying to be something that you aren't; so "Stay Real" to yourself. Peace! ***F*** Jesse Bauer ----------- THE SINGLES SCENE Thus far in 1995, a large number of albums have yet to be released. Luckily, to give you something to nibble on while you wait for the main corse, plenty of hella nice singles are out there. Some old timers, some newcomers, and even kids that haven't been heard from in years are dropping phat singles. Here's a brief look at several of my favorites: Jemini: Brooklyn Kids b/w Funk Soul Session I gotta start off with Jemini The Gifted One because I like this kid so much. I'm greatly anticipating this New Yorker's debut EP "Scars and Pain." The "Brooklyn Kids" single is straight as all hell -- the kid can flow, and the beat is nice. Flip the shit, kid, 'cause it only gets better. "Funk Soul Session" hit me hard from the first time I listened to it. Jemini uses two voice tones and goes from one to another during each verse. Track drives me crazy. Notorious B.I.G.: Big Poppa b/w Who Shot Ya You already know about that "Big Poppa" joint. After hearing the remix, though, you'll find out that they indeed could have taken out that "Between the Sheets" sample used in the LP version and it still would have been on hit. The main concern with this 12-inch, however, is the flip side. "Who Shot Ya" is ill. Its a good song whose beat hits and lyrics hit, and the overall mood is freaky. Some more good shit from Biggie. The Roots: Silent Treatment "Do You Want More?!!!??!" has dropped, and it has dropped heavy -- the shit is dope. This single takes one of it's songs and gives you more different mixes than Betty Crocker. Check it: Da Beatminerz, Kelo, Black Thought, and Brother Question all have mixes on it. Also, there is a street mix and bonus beats where you get a little over two minutes of some tight instrumentals. Ain't no denying it, the shit is nice. Keith Murray: Get Lifted b/w Pay Per View If "Pay Per View" was just a little bit longer I would be much happier, but its only three minutes long. Still, this previously unreleased cut is hella good. In the three short minutes, there's four rappers so they gotta be quick, but they still represent. LBM (excellent delivery), Kel Vicious (he just straight up sounds like the whole Death Squad), and female rapper Passione (nice) all team up with Keith and they do their thing lovely. It's just not long enough, though. Old Dirty Bastard: Brooklyn Zoo I gotta give it up to all the members of the Wu for putting out one of my all-time favorite LPs. Old Dirty is giving the solo thing a shot (like so many others from the group) with the upcoming "Return to the 36 Chambers." "Brooklyn Zoo" gets better with every listen. First time I heard it I was like, "Nah, this ain't even good." Not anymore. The single gets much well deserved play now. Also included is the Lord Digga remix. E-40: 1-Luv b/w Fed+ "In a Major Way," E-40s upcoming LP hasn't been released yet, but a lot of eyes are on him and his big record contract. "The Million Dollar Man" has a fairly unique delivery. Sometimes he sounds a lot like fellow Bay-man Spice 1, but a lot of times there's just something about his fast flow that you don't ever hear. "1-Luv" features Leviti and is alright, but nothing I'm crazy about. On the B- side is "Fed+" which is better. Funky ass beat makes this one. Finally he gives you a little sampling of his LP with excerpts of four songs on it. From this single I'm interested in the LP, but far from being hooked. Saafir: Just Riden b/w Pull Ya Card Let me make this simple: I love "Pull Ya Card". Fresh beat, fresh lyrics and rhyme schemes, fresh song. If you're sleeping on Saafir, stop it -- he may take a while to get used to, but its worth it when you start really hear it. King Tee: Way Out There b/w Super Nigga While we wait and wait for "King Tee IV Life" to finally drop, we've got the second single released from the album. "Way Out There" is fine, but the biggy on this single is once again the b-side. "Super Nigga" features D.J. Pooh (who comes the fuck off... Damn!) and Rashad from The Boogieman. There's even a Richard Pryor sample on the track which tops it all off. Very quickly, there's a couple other notables. Kam is back also with "Pull Ya Hoe Card" b/w "Nut'n Nice". Kam's tracks seem a little less stiff than some of the stuff on "Neva Again." Rashad of the Boogie Men seems to be keeping busy as he produces a song for Kam and raps on King Tee's new LP. And last, but definitely not least, a kid by the name of Frankie Cutlass has one out called "La Boriquas" that is ear-catching. I heard it once and said, "Damn, this kid can make records". Check it out... ***G*** Sl...y (pronounced Sleepy) -------------------------- THE MIDNIGHT RAMBLE What's rambling at the midnight hour this month? KRS-One's stop at St. Augustine's in Raleigh, NC, that's what. David J. and I went to check this shit out, and it was truly pHat. The music was two full hours of Boogie Down Productions, non- stop. They covered the entire ten-year era, from 1985 to 1995. Kenny Parker was on the tables and he cut it down nicely. One member of the BDP crew, Willie D., was on point, but it was KRS who broke down all the musical meters of rhyming styles. 20 minutes of that alone, with the crowd getting quiet to listen, and then get live on cue. KRS One did some smooth-assed accapella on black-history month that was dope as fuck. Then he just freestyled for about 5 minutes or so, indescribable type shit. The sound system could've been better (sound man, not the equipment), but it was still all the way live. Supernatural was scheduled to perform, but he didn't show. Also on the bill was Blackgirl (she showed) and Vicious (who was a no show). I've got no complaints though; the show was money well spent. sl...y [Editor's Note: Sleep still owes me $40 for the tickets. -- David J.] ***H*** Professa R.A.P. --------------- ROOTS 'n' RAP Bob Marley: Global Black Revolutionary Most people think Great God will come from the sky Take away everything and make everybody feel high But if you know what life is worth You will look for yours on earth And now you see the light, Stand up for your rights! Jah! Get up, stand up! Stand up for your rights! Get up stand up! Don't give up the fight! - Bob Marley, "Get Up, Stand Up" (1973) --------- I funnel through the tunnel, disgruntled Tryin' to find me some light In the rim of darkness, a'ight you see I may not be the darkest brother But I was always told to act my age, not my color Not knowing that my color, was that of the original So now I sing the new Negro Spiritual It goes: Get up, stand up! Stand up for your rights! Get up, stand up! Don't give up the fight! -- Common Sense, "Book of Life" (1994) Bob Marley is the most revolutionary Black voice in music in the past three decades, and his death in 1981 has done nothing to change that. It's not without reason that Common Sense talks about the "new Negro Spiritual." What's new about it is that, unlike songs about the sweet by-and-by, it demands justice in the here and now. It's a legacy that stretches from the alleys of Trenchtown to the streets of the South Bronx, from the tin shacks of Soweto to the mean streets of Compton. And, however different the hip-hop beat may be from reggae riddims, the message remains the same: Don't give up the fight! It's a message that echoes through the history of hip-hop; as Kool DJ Herc says, "Yes, a de Yardman start it, yes it came from de roots, de island..." The story of Bob Marley is bound up with the history of 'slavery days,' the Trenchtown ghetto, and the struggles of oppressed people around the world. Robert Marley was born on February 6, 1945 in a rural area in the north of Jamaica; his mother was a young Black woman named Cedilla Booker, and his father was Norval Marley, a white quartermaster for the British army. As a teenager, he moved to Kingston with his mother and settled, like many new arrivals from rural Jamaica, in the neighborhood known as Trenchtown (named after the long open sewer that ran through its midst). It was here that Bob met Bunny Livingston (later Bunny Wailer), and here that they began their long musical collaboration. At the time, American R&B, particularly of the New Orleans school, dominated the music scene. DJ's with portable speakers and turntables, the so-called "sound system men," ruled at local parties. While most of them spun imported American vinyl, a few had begun to make their own recordings. Marley first hooked up with Leslie Kong, a small-time entrepreneur (and arch-rival of Prince Buster and Duke Reid, then the major forces on Kingtson's Orange Street music row). Marley cut only a few sides with Kong, only one of which -- "Judge Not" attracted much attention. Discouraged by the poor support Kong offered, Marley went to Clement "Sir Coxsone" Dodd, the undisputed king of the system men. This time, he brought Bunny, as well as Peter Tosh, with him to the studio, and Dodd was duly impressed. The new group, known as the "Wailing Wailers," released their debut on the Coxsone label in 1963, and within a few weeks it rocketed to the top of the Jamaican charts. This was the only the first of many sides the Wailing Wailers recorded for Dodd, though eventually the group grew dissatisfied with the rigid house style Dodd tended to impose on his recording artists. Marley himself produced some of their final sessions in Dodd's famous Studio One. After leaving Dodd, Marley re-organized the group, and set up his own independent label, Wail 'N' Soul, in 1966. Yet like many other such efforts, Wail 'N' Soul was unable to stay afloat financially. Marley and the Wailers floated around in chaos for a while, working with different producers, including a brief return stint on Kong's Beverly label. After another falling out with Kong (legend has it that Bunny put a curse on him, and Kong in fact died not long after), the Wailers went in search of a new producer. In the meantime, the musical tide had turned; a new generation of Rude Boys preferred the slower, bassier beat of rock-steady to the more upbeat ska rhythms. The optimistic spirit of Jamaica at independence was fading along with the hopes of the thousands who came to Kingston only to find that the jobs they sought were nowhere to be found. The Trenchtown ghetto was growing along with the frustrations of this new generation. It was at this time, in a fateful alliance, the Wailers hooked up with the legendary Lee "Scratch" Perry. Perry, then as now a producer with a strange mix of genius and insanity, brought a new sound to the Wailers. Check out 1970's "Soul Rebel:" I'm a rebel Let them talk! Soul rebel! Talk won't bother me! The Wailers/Perry tracks -- among them "Soul Rebel," "Sun is Shining," "Don't Rock the Boat", "Small Axe," and "Duppy Conqueror" -- opened the way for a new, conscious style of music that was built around a larger ensemble, with driving bass and vocal choruses. It was music built on a Rastafarian foundation, but with an international message to oppressed peoples everywhere. All that was missing was the kind of distribution that would enable the Wailers' music to reach the global audience. It's hard to imagine in retrospect, but in 1970 only a few Jamaican records broke into the international market, and they were all singles (or compilations of singles). In many cases, the licensing fees paid were substandard, and even that tended to enrich the producers more than the musicians. The idea of a reggae artist cutting a studio *album* was unheard of -- but all that changed with "Catch a Fire." Island Records, which at the time was one of the largest independent labels in the world, provided the backing and distribution. Given the money and studio time, Marley created a new sound, what Linton Kwesi Johnson has called "International Reggae." The bass was funkier, the keyboards more up front, guitars alternated steady riddims with rock riffs, and Marley's rich voice drove it all home. Part of this sound was in fact due to Island's owner, Chris Blackwell, who felt Marley's raw sound might turn off white audiences. He re-mixed the original Kingston sessions, pulling back the bass, pushing up Marley's vocal and bringing in British session guitarists to add fills. Yet, while true reggae fans may still prefer the Kingston versions, aspects of this new sound were soon incorporated into the Wailers' recordings and stage shows; check out the live 1975 recording of "I Shot the Sheriff," where scathing guitar fills dynamize the rhythm, at no expense to the pulsing bass. The Wailers' albums crossed into the U.S. market with increasing success, and by the time "Rastaman Vibration" came out in 1976, Marley showed that he could drive a single straight up the charts without any need for a cover version. Trouble was brewing, though. On a return trip to Jamaica to hold a free concert in Kingston to promote peace among warring gangs in the city, Marley was shot and wounded. He survived the gunshot, but left Jamaica for an extended time, settling for a while in London where he recorded the "Exodus" album. The UK had long been home to a large community of Jamaican emigres, and reggae was beginning to have a powerful influence on the entire English music scene; the album spent over a year on the UK charts. Marley finally had the full international audience his music deserved. A return concert in Jamaica, along with full-fledged American concert tours, brought the energy of the Wailers' live performances to tens of thousands. Concerts in Africa followed, along with a European tour of stadiums, including a crowd of 100,000 in Milan. Yet it was just then, at the pinnacle of his career, that Marley found he had cancer. He tried various herbal treatment, but they proved of no avail -- Marley died on March 21, 1981. Marley's death left a huge vacuum in the international reggae scene. There was no other artist with his stature, and in fact while the audiences in the U.S. were still swaying to the Wailers' beat, music in Jamaica has already taken many different turns. The development of dub (remixed instrumental tracks) by the legendary King Tubby had opened the door in the early '70's to many new kinds of artists. Sound system DJ's who were pumping dub began to use more elaborate rhymes and toasts, and some took on stage personas harkening back to the days of King Stitt and Count Machuki. Among leaders of this new school of DJ's were U Roy, I Roy, and Big Youth. While some early DJ hits such as U Roy's "Wake The Town" (1970) were filled with crazy rhymes or slackness, there were many conscious grooves as well. U Roy, the microphone madman, dropped "Dread Inna Babylon" in 1975, as heavily Rastafarian as any Marley album, and I Roy's "Black Man Time" (1974) was still more militant: I talk to break oppression and set the captives free So you got to understand I talk to rule the musical Nation with justice and equality. So black man you got to be free like a bird in a tree And live in love and unity for I and I So maybe you can make it if you try Say it's a black man time. It a black man time. At the same time, the spread of dub led to a new school of conscious "dub poets," led by Linton Kwesi Johnson, who brought together the deepest dub grooves with lyrics that, like Marley's, give voice to the "sufferin' man" (and woman -- dub poets such as Ranking Anne, Queen Majeeda, and Breeze have been on the forefront of political poetry in Jamaica in the UK, though they are less well known in the U.S.). Check out Johnson's "De Great Insurrekshun" and Ranking Anne's "Kill De Police Bill" for their powerful comment on the Brixton uprising of 1981. When rappers have stepped to the mic to talk about Rodney King or the L.A. rebellion, they are following the footsteps of these dub poets. The deeper instrumental strands of dub have interwoven with all kinds of music, from the almost catatonic "ambient dub" of Bill Laswell and his various groups (Material, Praxis, etc.) to the high- bpm UK "Jungle" school. Dub continues to evolve and expand its territory, carrying its bassy meditations to every corner of the globe, and among DJ's and dub poets alike, Marley's influence was still strong. But back in the dancehalls, a different kind of DJ's ruled -- and in his hands, the tempos grew faster and the beat more insistent, and the toasts and shouts were more likely to be slack than conscious. By the late '70's and early '80's, dancehall artists like Yellowman, Frankie Paul, and Tenor Saw held sway on the Jamaican charts, even though their music had a much harder time finding any airplay in the U.S. Rock stations which had played Marley scorned them, and Black radio tended to avoid anything that violated its silk-sheets R&B flow (this even though the Wailers often toured with R&B groups, from Sly and the Family Stone to the Commodores). In fact, Marley's death showed up another strange twist in the airwave apartheid of the music industry; while Marley and his imitators were certified "safe" for white radio, the dancehall sound was taboo, while Black radio outside of NYC hardly ever played reggae in the first place. It was in some ways the death of Bob Marley that challenged these exclusions, renewing the connection between Jamaican music and urban Black audiences. The return to the "raw ghetto sound" in both New York and Kingston signaled the reclamation of riddim by urban Black youth. The historical connection between hip-hop and dancehall became a tactical alliance. Jamaican emigres in the New York area were part of the earliest hip-hop scene, and many Bronx DJ's, like KRS-One, put a strong taste of ragga flavor in their rapping. The New York club scene was a formative ground for hip-hop and dancehall alike, and hits such as CJ Lodge's "Telephone Love" (1988) proved that there was an immense overlap between the two audiences. But it wasn't just musical style that linked Jamaican DJ's with their New York and Cali brothers, it was the sense of music as a form of cultural expression and resistance in the face of oppression. Marley was the one who forged the way, turning Rude Boy antics into global Black consciousness, and while in its early days the dancehall scene was heavily into slackness, the underlying energy was still the same. As Beres Hammond said, the music was still "puttin' up a resistance." By the time Shabba Ranks was officially hailed by the industry powers-that-be with his Sony debut, he was a sure thing, and in his wake numerous other acts from Buju Banton to Tiger to Terror Fabulous have broken into the U.S. market. In the fertile crossroads between ragga and hip-hop, collaboration and competition have forged all kinds of likely and unlikely alliances. Doug E. Fresh and Papa San, Asher D and Daddy Freddy, KRS-One and Shabba Ranks, Ice T and Black Uhuru, Scringer Ranks and Queen Latifah, Tiger and Q-Tip -- the list goes on and on. Switching in and out of the Jamaican patois has become a test for prowess on the mic, and ragga rhythms and casio keyboard sounds are as much a part of the hip-hop mix as P-Funk loops and Malcolm X samples. In recent years, crews such as Worl-a-Girl and the Born Jamericans have proven that hip-hop and dancehall are part of the same transatlantic mix. A new generation of artists, such as Mad Lion, Jamal-ski, Red Fox, the Poor Righteous Teachers, the Fugees, and Mad Kap are as at home with ragga riddims as they are with hip-hop breakbeats. Yet while breakneck riddims and roughneck rhymes still rule in the East, West Coast beats just seem to get deeper and slower every year. Is the metronome swinging in the other direction? One thing's for sure - whether it's the ganja or the Chronic, that blunted feeling is back, and it's not just a Cali thing, as the Philly sound of groups like the Roots and the Goats proves. But it's at times like this that you realize that it's not the tempo, the bass lines, or the horn riffs that make the music, it's a consciousness, an awareness, a solidarity. The music industry wants to put it all in bins with labels like "Hip-Hop," "Reggae," "Dancehall," "Dub" or "World Beat," but true listeners know that the same heartbeat that pulsed through Bob Marley's veins is still pumping out speakers all around the world. It was Marley that led the way, that provided the model without which a wide range of artists -- from KRS-One, Queen Latifah, or the Fugees, to Patra, Buju Banton, or Beres Hammond -- might never have commanded the massive audiences they do. -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Selected Discography Bob Marley: Songs of Freedom (4 cd's) -- Island 512-280-2. Tougher Than Tough: The Story of Jamaican Music -- Mango/Island 162-539-2. Word Sound 'Ave Power: Dub Poets and Dub. Heartbeat CD HB 15. Ranking Anne: A Slice of English Toast. Ariwa/RAS ARICD 002. Linton Kwesi Johnson: Making History. Mango/Island CCD 9770 Ice T and Black Uhuru: Tip of the Iceberg. MESA R2 76003. Funky Reggae Crew: Strictly Hip-Hop Reggae Fusion. Warner 9-26011-2. World-a-Girl: Worl-a-Girl. Chaos/Columbia OK 57549. ***I*** Mike "C" -------- SOME SHOTS FROM THE INDUSTRY Back from exploring the shallow depths of hip-hop in Italy, where the closest thing to hardcore is a goatee'd lyricist named "Frankie Hi-NRG MC," I return to see the hip-hop industry is still as entangled as ever in over-promotion, deep sleepers, and record execs who give wack deals the green light from the 14th tee, just before he lifts the Titleist with his 1-Wood. My service here is to comb through all the distracting, illusionary tactics used by every single record label, and bring to you the information necessary to remain a month ahead of the kid who lives downstairs. Just read the column. Duran Duran--wait, is this the right column?--yes, Duran Duran is covering the hip-hop classic "White Lines" with Melle Mel, Grandmaster Flash, and the Furious Five. The original creators are presumably in it for the cash, but I haven't figured out what's in it for Duran Duran. I'd recommend that all parties involved in this embarassment should take the advice of the song itself and "don't do it." MC Eiht is starring in the lead role of the soon-to-be- released film "Reasons." Similar to his persona on his records, Eiht's character Neva can be summed up as "I kill, I deal, I steal." And that's according to MC Eiht himself. The Large Professor has completed his first solo album. No release date has been set. "Illegal Business" was the title of Mac Mall's highly successful independent release, selling nearly 120,000 units. Now, the Bar Area native has signed to Relativity. We can expect the first single in March, and the full LP in May. Masta Ase's second album on Delicious Vinyl has been complete for some time. Carmelita Sanchez, promo rep at DV, describes the album entitled "The Ride" like this: "Oh my god...That shit is incredible. For all you non-believers out there that thought it was over...it ain't over, even if that fat lady sings like Aretha. Ase has kept his crew tight and this project is really extraordinary. No fucking joke. You are all going to flip." Normally, with 100% of the label reps, you don't believe a word they say about the quality of the upcoming album. However, I would like to believe this is true, considering the overall quality of Ase's last album, "Slaughtahouse." "Pump Ya Fist," the upcoming Mario Van Peebles film dramatizing the rise of the Black Panthers, is being accompanied with a formidable hip-hop line up for the necssary dope soundtrack. KRS- One, Chuck D, Speech, Grand Puba, the Fugees, and Ahmad are a few of the set for the album, which is to be released on March 21. All royalties from the sales of the album will be given to the International Committee to Free Geronimo Pratt. These monies will be put toward a legal fund to bring justice to Pratt, allegedly framed by the FBI. Reggae artist Bouty Killer and Special Ed, the Magnificent One, have just finished a joint project in Jamaica. What's next for Milk after the quiet release of his EP "Never Dated"? A full length LP tenatively titled "Paid and Laid." Now that the Pharcyde's recent string of soundtrack and compilation singles have been pressed, their attention is focused on their follow-up LP to 1992's "Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde." If you listen to Dr. Dre, of "Yo! MTV Raps," he'll tell you that the next movie he and his partner Ed Lover will be in is called "Death of a Fat Man," about a big, fat guy who shrinks down into a little guy, and nobody can find the big guy, so they say the big guy dies. However, according to Ed Lover, a different plot is in the works, entitled "Masters of Disguise." Employees of a rhythmic scientist in a lab, the duo find themselves caught up in an FBI bank robbery scheme. Believe what you want. And so ends another installment of Shots From the Industry, hip-hop's most reliable courier of accurate news. This month's column has been derived from word of mouth, street corners, shady alleys, stinky garbage bins, industry cocktail parties, underground heads together, Billboard Magazine, CMJ, Props, and record company personnel in key postions who can't keep secrets. Peace. Section 3 -- THREE ***A*** B-Right ------- BOB MARLEY, 1945-1981 All thanks and praises due to the man called Bob Marley. The prophet, honorable Robert Nestor Marley, born February 6, 1945 and passing on to Zion on May 11, 1981. No other has made such a lasting impression on music, especially hip-hop. Sure James Brown's sound dominated the 80's hip-hop scene, but the sound has changed. Today the sound is different while the message is still the same. A music to raise consciousness and condition, these of course traits of Bob Marley's music. Unfortunately, money has corrupted this original intent of Hip- Hop, but the real still exists. The intent? To have a good time and uplift. It can be done, Bob Marley proved this already. He sang of having fun "Lively up Yourself" and of upliftment "Redemption Song" while remaining strong spiritually in his beliefs. Marley was a pioneer like the originators of hip-hop. He started on an independent label and worked his way up to Legend status. Marley didn't glorify violence, degrade women, or claiming some mythical street credibility. He had it, no need to discuss it. He came up by bringing those around him up through his music and spirit. The tragedy was that he was cut short. Bob would love true hip-hop, because in his own way he was true hip-hop and will always be a symbol of its spirit. Massive respect to the man call Bob Marley. One Love, B-Right, the Bestower of Righteousness East Coast Tribe Represent... ***B*** Helmut Mayer ------------ CAN I CALL MYSELF A MEMBER OF THE HIP-HOP NATION? I am not sure, because I am white. Moreover, I live in Europe, Austria, where not too many people are at least familiar with the word hip-hop. Nevertheless, I've been listening to the real thing since 1982, when I first heard "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five and though it might sound exaggerated. I don't know what I would have done without hip-hop at some stages in my life. Brothers and sisters were telling the truth without compromising to anything or anybody, talking about the real necessities of life: unity, love, peace. But never stop to keep a very sharp eye on reality which is light years away from the hypocritical statements of fake people all over the world. You might wonder what it means to me listening to the stories of ghetto reality, guns, drugs and hundreds of other problems. First of all, it keeps me aware of the fact that I am blessed with the place I have been born. Going deeper, my white brothers and sisters live in a ghetto as well, an immaterial ghetto consisting of ignorance, hate and greed. People don't give a fuck about their neighbors, their co-workers and even their "friends". They walk around in the streets like it was their last day on earth, they lack positivity, warmth and love. Nobody gives love, so nobody can get love. And I use 'nobody' in a way not to disrespect those few who do act differently. There is also racism. Foreign workers coming from southern, relatively poor countries like Turkey or the countries of former Yugoslavia are often blamed for the increase of crime and insecurity. It is often these people, especially the young ones, who get into hip- hop doing their own stuff in their own language. Many German rap groups feature foreigners or German kids with foreign parents dealing with racism, ignorance and conformism. As you might guess they are labeled with the same attributes like U.S. rappers: violent, rude and this is no music. One of the most popular German white rap groups are "Die Fantastischen Vier" (The Fantastic Four), who had been emulating American hip-hop without success until they went to the States for a few months and realized that they have to speak about their own problems in their own language. Four white German middle-class guys can't talk about crack, but about decreasing moral values in their own surroundings. They were the bomb, and people suddenly said that this music is for little kids, because they don't deal with some very explicit lyrics about sex, relationships and people in general. The Four also do some crossover with Heavy Metal which, of course, earned them some "falling-off"-comments. One of my favorite lines: "Respect, this is our task and not wearing a false mask." I see more and more ski caps, hoodies and mountain boots in our streets. Mostly kids and often skate-boarders who bring their stereos to play some hip-hop while skating. For many of them, though, it is just fashion. They're somehow fascinated by the fearless gangster image of rappers, by their outfit and by their moves, but they do not get the message behind it, and at this point I am well aware that it is ignorant for a white European to imply that he understands. But as Big Rube says on Outkast's Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik (I couldn't stop listening to it over and over again, every word is right on the money) "If you think it's all about pimps and hoes and slammin' Cadillac doors... maybe you just don't understand. An outcast is not considered to be part of the normal world. He's looked at differently, because of his attitude, beliefs or skin color... Are you an outcast?. I know I am! As a matter of fact, fuck being anything else." To me, that is a great definition of hip-hop and I have heard many rappers explain things very accurately to the interviewers, but mostly they refuse to understand. This was the case with Ice-T. I didn't know much about him until he got big media in Europe with his Cop Killer, and after all the negative stereotypes I didn't appreciate him very much, but then I saw an interview, just five minutes, and I was totally impressed - a real brother. Yes, I know about the controversy about Ice-T, and this is one of the few things I don't like with hip-hop -- brothers and sisters dissin' brothers and sisters. They might not like each other, but still there should be unity and basic respect. With all the money coming into the rap game, this is obviously a tough task, but hip-hop will survive everything, because it is true. Finally, a short note on my use of the word brother (or sister). I don't feel exactly comfortable when I use it, because I know what it means to black people, but when I am starting to have these thoughts I segregate people in black and white or any other color. This would brand me a racist. I'm not. We are all brothers and sisters. Keep the vibes going. PEACE Helmut A. Mayer ***C*** Ryan A MacMichael ----------------- LOVE IN RAP Feburary is considered the month of love, and as we have just exited this month, I'm going to take a few minutes and look back at a part of hip-hop that is rarely covered: love. While "love of rap" is a topic often covered, a true down-to-earth love is rarely expressed in these days of being hard and toting nines. Now, sure, there were some that were flat out wack. MC Shan's two from "Play It Again, Shan" ("I Want to Thank You" and "How I Feel About You"), Nice & Smooth's "Something I Can't Explain" (and they shouldn't have tried!), and pretty much all of Big Daddy Kane's attempts were way off. Fortunately, there have been a few love rap songs worthy of notice. The first one that we certainly must touch upon is L.L. Cool J's 1987 "I Need Love." A lot of people like to jump on this as the point at which he went soft. However, this particular cut was on "Bigger and Deffer," which, besides "Radio," is by far his best effort. "I Need Love" added a dab of sensitivity and counteracted the beginning of "bitch" and "ho" era that was beginning on the West Coast with the jump-off of the Compton crews. It wasn't soft -- it was true from the start: When I'm alone in my room sometimes I stare at the walls, And in the back of my mind, I hear my conscience calls. Telling me I need a girl who's as sweet as a dove, For the first time in my life, I see I need love. L.L. went on to do several love songs on "Walking With A Panther," but none were quite as potent. Also an impressive showing was Grandmaster Slice's 1991 "Thinking of You" (and yes, he's the same one that did the hip-hop version of "Electric Slide"). His is also a very heartfelt song with a similar sound to "I Need Love," but a very good song in itself: People like to talk if you have a good thing, Especially if they're single and they don't wear a ring. 'Cause you'll have me, and they'll have none, We'll have a table for two and they'll have a table for one. In 1990, MCA released a forgettable artist named Mark Dee who's mediocre sound never really went anywhere. However, he did have a decent love song in "Just Give Me Romance." Well complemented by background vocals, Mark Dee shifted away from the sex-for-sex's sake flavor: Spend the day together walking on the beach hand in hand, Playing in the water, kissing on the sand. Love is yours to cherish, faithfulness makes you feel proud, As your heart skywrites "I love you" in the clouds. It's not S-E-X, it's L-O-V-E I stress, As a new day evolves, begin the same process. Indeed I plead let my emotion enhance, Sex comes next, but for now just give me romance. It may be odd to imagine, but hardcore Just-Ice had a love song on his 1990 Sleeping Bag release "Masterpiece." "I Write This in the Dark" really had Just-Ice departing from his normal image: I think about you so I write this in the dark, Walking in the streets or take a stroll through the park. Many things went wrong to the plan that had no pattern, Pain, worry, fear, and concern. To try and make amends for all the bad that was done, I'd be saying "I'm sorry" until the end of time to come. There's no other way to say this, old or new, Simple and plain: I love you. Perhaps the best love rap song of the late 80's/early 90's era was Raheem's "You're the Greatest" from 1988's "The Vigilante." Despite the off-tune beginning, Raheem delivers powerfully: The mood is right and I'm excited, it's time for romance, My mind says, "Yo Raheem, buddy, here's your chance!" I make the move to get you ready, break out in sweat, But still I wait another night because it ain't right yet. The best thing about this song was not only the veracity of the lyrics, but the fact it was delivered with the classic Raheem style (which, in my opinion, is one of the most underrated). Advancing things a couple of years is 1992/93's "Passin' Me By" by The Pharcyde. Stories of rejection from each member were laid shamelessly down over a thick ass tracks: When I dream of fairy tales I think of meeting Shelly, 'Cause she's my type of hype and I can't stand when brothers tell me That I should quit chasing and look for something better But the smile that she shows makes me a go-getter. To move things forward a bit more are two songs of late 1994 that are worthy of notice. The first is Method Man's "All I Need" from "Tical." Like Just-Ice, this is a break from the normal image. However, unlike "I Write This in the Dark," the sound itself is just like Method Man. Perhaps that's why it works so well: Shorty, I'm here for you anytime you need me, For real, girl, it's me in your world, believe me. Nothing make a man feel better than a woman, A queen with a crown that be down for whatever. There are a few things that's forever, my lady, We can make war or make babies. Back when I was nothing, you made a brother feel like he was something, That's why I'm with you to this day, boo, no frontin'. Even when the skies were gray, You would rub me on my back and say "Baby, it'll be OK." The other song to point out is Spearhead's "Love is da Shit." Michael Franti (formerly of the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy) leads on the vocals while his band backs him up with a funky, upbeat track: I know this is wrong better stop this talk, Because grass can grow up through a crack in a sidewalk, And what I see when I look in your eyes Grass that's truly greenest sprouting inside. I wasn't even looking when I realized That you had the vibe that was my fertilizer. Thought love in this world was dead and buried and gone, How could I be so cynical when I was so young: You hit me in the chest like an 808 boom, I found love is the shit that makes like bloom. Love is the shit that makes life bloom, And you never know when you might step in it. As you can see, there are more than just a small handful of love songs created under the genre of hip-hop that have come across true and avoided being overly corny. I see it possibly coming back in to style where most hip-hop artists will dedicate more of their songs to the opposite sex in a respectful way. And that could definately be a good thing. ***D*** Flash ----- MALT LIQUOR - A BBS DISCUSSION Although I often get fed up with the amount of hardcore, "True to the Game" posing that goes on within internet bulletin boards, occasionally something good comes through. In this case, it was a discussion of the effects and solutions to the malt liquor problem, in a forum on the ISCA BBS known as "African American Issues". My name, as it appears in this discussion, is KRS One. The others are allowed to preserve their identity as they choose, but if you want to talk to them on ISCA, look 'em up. These are some strong intelligent brothers who aren't afraid to give you their opinion, and even tell you that yours is full of shit. Oh, and by the way, I no longer have an account on ISCA, but you can still find me as KRS One on most of the net. Feb 19, 1995 10:23 from KRS One I'll be the first to admit, when King T and Ice Cube dropped that "Once again it's on, I'm headed out the front do', Ice Cube in the glass house headed for the sto'..." I was on the nutsac. I'll also be the first to admit I like the taste of a 40 of malt liquor... beer is flat and I ain't with that... if I drink I want something with FLAVOR. The problem I have is with the way liquor is presented to and used in the inner city. "On one side is the church On the other there's a liquor store Both of them keeping us poor Keeping us down, my hood ain't considered a town" <---> Chuck D There's the nail in the coffin. Malt liquor companies have devised a strategy for success, and we need to examine that: 1. They target their product at people who due to their disillusionment and disenfranchisement by an AmeriKKKan system are the most likely to purchase liquor in an attempt to escape, and the least likely to use it responsibly. 2. To further entice the potential user, they keep an ear to the street on hip-hop artists we love, and when the roar gets loud enough they offer a fat deal that no starving, semi-starving, or even successful MC would in his/her right mind refuse. When they talk, we listen... and that's exactly what a malt liquor company wants. 3. Although malt liquor companies claim to target only a legal drinking audience, hip-hop has a GREAT appeal to many youth _under_ the age of eighteen. They'll never be sued in court for it, but somewhere in the back room another company exec is snickering that they've found a gold mine for cashing in on potential new users/abusers. Now before I sound like the preacher at the pulpit, let me come clean. I have no problem with malt liquor. I have no problem with you if you want to drink it. I have no problem with St. Ide's commercials, because truth of the matter is that they are about the only commercials worth watching OR listening to. All I want you to do is think about it, the same way I do when I clutch a 40 in my hand. Think about what you've bought, where your money is going, _who_ it benefits the _most_, and who suffers the most because of it. That malt may no longer taste as smooth as you thought. It's a capitalistic society, and we have to live in the system... there's no evil in being a PART of the system, but there is evil in not considering it's effects and your responsibilities. Feb 19, 1995 10:44 from Mad Fishmonger It ain't hard to spend $100/month on alcohol and/or tobacco. That's $100 lining the pockets of rich white men. Think about it. Y'know what I'd like to see? The microbrewery trend that has taken off lately spreading to the black community. How about some small local breweries making something for the 'hood? Setup costs aren't that bad, and there's decent money in it. But microbrewery beer costs a lot more than the big brands (economies of scale). You'd have to convince people that quality and local business is better than quantity. Feb 19, 1995 12:09 from KRS One Mad Fishmonger: You know, that's a great thought, and it had never even occured to me. A microbrewery would operate in the community, would be run by people from it, and all that money spent on it's product would flow right back into the community. But as you pointed out, selling it would be the hardest, especially considering the money and clout most of the competition has... Feb 19, 1995 14:21 from Amen Ra KRS & MF>......You guys are missing the point. We don't want ANY of that shit in our communities. No beer, cheap liquor , wine, or any other vice that destroys the fiber of our community. A merchant of death is a merchant of death, PERIOD. Anheiser-Busch, Stroh's, Seagrams, KOOL, and other alcohol and cigarrette companies are nothiong but the 10% vampires and leeches that suck the blood from our communities. Once we get it out, we keep it out! Feb 19, 1995 15:39 from KRS One Amen Ra: Tis true that no evil is better than any evil. But let's be realistic about human nature -- there is no such thing as no evil. Trying to make people give up their vices altogether could be a bitter and futile struggle you could fight the rest of your life, gaining no ground and getting nowhere. Sometimes it's just better to move people in the right direction, and persuade them into the lesser of two evils. As I see it, a corporation which makes money in the hood and channels it back through the hood is a lesser evil than a corporation whose sole intent is to make a quick buck without giving a fuck who it's from and not really caring if it comes back. Feb 20, 1995 08:41 from Mad Fishmonger What do you mean "we", Amen Ra? Seems to me a lot of people like a taste of alcohol or tobacco now and then. And it *is* posssible, believe it or not, to have an occasional beer without becoming a burden on society. That's why I propose microbreweries. Keep the money in the community, where it belongs. If you want to oppose alcohol on principle, that's fine, but don't blame local business as a vampire in that case, and don't pretend to speak for everyone. Feb 20, 1995 09:05 from Amen Ra MF>....Hey, I don't want that shit in my community. Why put it there? U don't have it in your community, so why shove it in mine? Feb 20, 1995 10:10 from Dirty Old Man Amen Ra>I think that beer and other recreational brews have been around for a very long time.Granted,things like malt liquor and Night Train have perversed the idea of having a drink,but don't get on the "black people should not use alcohol" tip.The Ancient Khemites brewed beer,people in the Motherland have brewed palm wine for years.The Japanese have rice wine...people of color can and will take a sip now and then.What we have to concentrate on is the cause of why people will get dependent on such things.Nobody's got a gun to my head making me take a sip or take a hit.But like the brother said earlier let's make our own like they did back in the day instead of letting them sell that liquid crack in our neighborhoods. Feb 20, 1995 10:22 from Amen Ra My whole point is why even have the stuff in the first place. For those of you who study Islam, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stated that if the bad outweighed the good of a particluar thing (i.e. alcohol), then throw it out. As Afrikan people, we have enough vices as it is to eradicate. I don't think we need to complicate the situation any more. Feb 20, 1995 11:51 from KRS One Amen Ra: Your point is well taken. Again though I point you to the nature of humanity. Not all of us can aspire to be God. If we can't strip away the vices in our nature, we should at least change them to having more positive effects. Perhaps it would be better if alcohol had never been fermented, but the fact that it exists is real, and no amount of admonition or prohibition will ever change that fact. Section 4 -- FOUR ****************************************************************************** THE OFFICIAL HARDC.O.R.E. REVIEW SECTION The pH scale 6/pHat -- EE-YOW!! A hip-hop classic! 5/pHunky -- Definitely worth the price of admission. 4/pHine -- Pretty good, give it a listen. 3/pHair -- Some potential here, but it's not fully realized. 2/pHlat -- Falls far short of a quality product. 1/pHlat -- Get that Vanilla Lice shit outta here! ****************************************************************************** ***A*** Flash ----- THA ALKAHOLIKS, "Coast II Coast" (Loud/RCA) "It's the 'Liks, rockin like a six point six..." True indeed. These words originally surfaced on the (incredible) Alkaholik b-side "Relieve Yourself" and have since resurfaced on the "Let It Out" remix by Diamond D, which appears on their new album "Coast II Coast". This song is in particular a good place to start; the song is indicative of a problem which keeps an otherwise outstanding album from being a classic. The remix is _OK_, the new lyrics are _OK_, but the original was the SHIT. I can understand wanting to redo the song for the new album, but they could've at least included the original as a bonus track. Putting on the _VERY_ nice remixes of "Mary Jane" or "Daaam!" wouldn't have hurt either. Like their first album, this is just too _Daaam_ short! Now here's the good news: the four tracks which are just _good_ are at LEAST as good as the six most outstanding cuts last time around. That leaves six new songs which are INCREDIBLE, and one song ("WLIX") which is fucking awful. On the whole this makes for a thoroughly enjoyable album, and since the wack track happens to be the first, you can set your tape or CD on number two and just gliiiiiiide the whole way through. The bawdy humor is still in effect. On "Read My Lips", Tash raps "You can tell who be drinkin Olde English, cause I hold it in my system till I let it out my...". I don't know about the other headz but I was chuckling. Even better are the ill mack tales they bust off in "Hit and Run". Again J-Ro proves to be the man. Not only does he get a girl to buy him dinner, but he does something - "tasteless, I tipped the girl and got ghost with the waitress". Daaam!, I said to myself. The ruff and rugged metaphoric skills have gotten even sharper. At one point Tash softens niggaz up "like relaxer in a perm", at another J-Ro is gonna play like a freak in an elevator and "fuck you up". The pinnacle has got to be Tash's second verse in "Daaam!", which is a full minute of one-liners piled on top of each other, each more Outstanding than the Gap Band. "Kick your, dopest rhyme I'll break it up like 3rd Bass/I'm from the crew that sets it off by spraying beer in your face/so in ninety-four I rock it for my niggaz that remeber/means I'm stepping to the mic with lyrics colder than December..." Tash in particular seems to have gotten riskier as an MC, and it pays big dividends. You just ooze out your seat when he stretches words for four syllables in every sentence like he does in "All the Way Live". Speaking of which, Q-Tip and King Tee both make appearances in this all-star knockout, and Diamond D cameos in one of the two songs he produced, "The Next Level". The rest of the production, except for the wack track, was done by E-Swift. Daaam, does the kid know how to make a pHat beat or what? So what's my conclusion about "Coast II Coast"? That's where it will be rockin -- in every Jeep and Landcruiser from New York to Cali. This album is by no means a Sophomore slump. In fact, it will give Pete Rock and CL Smooth's "The Main Ingredient" and Common Sense's "Resurrection" a run as the best followup albums to rock in ninety-five. So crack a forty, grab a shorty, and make a toast to the Liks. "Bottoms Up!!!" pH Level -- 5/pHunky ***B*** Ryan A MacMichael ----------------- ALPHABET SOUP, "Layin' Low in the Cut" (Prawn Song Records) Alphabet Soup is a crew out of San Francisco that is very heavily jazz-influenced, as are their close friends the Mo'Fessionals (whose disc I gave a 6 rating about a year ago). As a matter of fact, the MC that did most of the rapping on that album is the lead on "Layin' Low in the Cut." He was known as Kingpin Roski on the Mo'Fo's album, but apparently he's changed his name. In any event, Alphabet Soup has a very, very thick sound to them. Keys, drums, bass, guitar, and horns all add to the sound. And these kids aren't some studio band, they are masters at their respective instruments as well as improvisation and experimentation. As for the lyrics: extremely serious. For example, peep the first track, "Oppression:" You have the right to get beat down, 56 blows to your body when you're on the ground, 'Cause you're guilty of having a deep dark tan And the chromosome to make another black dome. Home, we call it home, but yet and still we're all alone Legislated 3/5th's human to the bone. Don't act up 'cause every time you try you'll get whipped, Massa's got an ego so you better suck his dick. The flow is fluid as broth and doesn't just consist of simple end-rhymes; there is a lot of variety in the structure (as is often lacking with heavy jazz-flavored rap albums). The lyrics are also filled with imagery: "3am, I get a nudge while asleep in the clink / It wasn't the way I wanted to greet the next day." The mood of melody and lyrical seriousness continues throughout with cuts like "Walkin' Roots," "Year 2000," "Meditate," and "For Your Conscious." LAYIN' LOW IN THE CUT is packed with nice, full instrumental sections and the lyrics are their perfect complement. Alphabet Soup has gotten a lot of local respect from playing in clubs and the true San Fran flavor carries over to wax. Now all I need to make me perfectly happy is a Mo'Fessional's/Alphabet Soup double billing at college and I'm straight. pH Level -- 5/pHunky ***C*** Flash ----- THE CATALYST ENTERTAINMENT 12" (Catalyst Entertainment) I made one of my classic HardC.O.R.E. swaps when I got down for this deal with Catalyst Entertainment: you send me your records, and I'll guarantee you the review. Since the bro at Catalyst hooked me up with TWO copies each on vinyl, how the hell could I refuse? Funkdoobiest, "Rock On:" A real suprise from the group that has often been criticized for riding the Muggs train to success while having meaningless lyrics. The original mix and the Buckwild remix are both very smooth, and this one will actual have your head nodding. One question of curiosity -- did SunDoobie join the Nation? He drops little jewels here and there that make it sound possible. This is also the only problem I have with the 12", is that while the lyrics have focus, they still aren't that mind-bending or complex. Anybody can talk about the Gods on record, but very few can flip it like Sadat X or Grand Puba. Supercat, "Scalp Dem:" I've never been a very big fan of Supercat, but this may be the record to change my mind. First, I positively *love* the Wu remix of "Scalp Dem", and Meth's cameo just sweetens the pot. On the flipside you've got two excellent mixes of "South Central", one with the overused (but still funky) "Outstanding" loop and the other a bare-bones treatment by Saleem Remi. Both songs feature highly political and poignant lyrics that even a non-patois speaker should have no trouble discerning. It's very pHat. Dana Barros, "Check It:" Not even the Muggs remix can put this one over the top. I'm sorry, but his flow and his lyrics don't impress me. Even Shaq comes off better. This track vindicates my theory that some people "get" contracts, and some "buy" them, just like Big Daddy Kane said in "How U Get a Record Deal". pH Level -- 4/pHine ***D*** Flash ----- CONCRETE JUNGLE, "Concrete Jungle" (demo) The click is Concrete Jungle. The crew is Mountain Brothers (formerly known as D.O.A.). Their homies in the crew are the Drama Club. This is the cassette they all put together -- self-titled, "Concrete Jungle." In a previous issue of HardC.O.R.E., I reviewed a copy of D.O.A.'s at the time new EP, and gave it some dap. I've always thought Chops and Styles has some rhymes skills, and I dig their voices and flows. Now they've returned with a new name, but it's still the same game. And frankly, all the things that impressed me before are still in full effect. Let's start with "Invisible Man", which sounds straight inspired by Harlan Ellison -- it damn well has to be. It's a tale of racial comments and racial attitudes, and growing up under the gun. The track is a laid-back funky guitar kind of groove, and the triple-bursts of wordplay hit the head nice. Check the lyrics too -- "How can I manage to damage stereotypes if I vanish?" "Drunken Wordplay" has some nice scratchin, and some fairly cool freestyling. The word-play and track are a notch below the first song, but I can still listen to it. Now "Sick" is the BOMB, it sounds sick! Organs lurk underneath, and lyrics sting hard. "Rappers memory lapses, in every happenstances, cancer's in my membrane..." Damn, I dropped a shit stain! In fact, most of the rest of the album follow this pattern of two dope tracks, then one mediocre track. The Mountain Brothers portion of this tape gets an overall rating of 5 for pHat, cause it's the same shit on hit again. I liked it before, and nothin has changed. As for the Drama Club, they have a pHat track and a pHat sample in "Bring on the Real MC's", but the lead MC on the mike doesn't hit me quite right. He's not WACK, but something about the stresses on his syllables hurts my ears. The second MC can barely be heard. Turn up his MIC. For the pHat track alone I still give it props. "2 To Ya Head" though does NOT get props. It sounds like a wack Beatminerz track, and those flows have gotta go. Sorry, no. I'm hitting fast-forward... And now the lead MC is trying to jock Buckshot, which I get the feeling he may have been doing all along. He even does a little sing-song in "Look Into the Eyes". OK, it sounds nice, but let's try coming up with something original, alright guys? It's a good track, at least -- nice sparse beat. So overall, the tracks by the Mountain Brothers really make this tape, and the tracks by the Drama Club drag it down. I'd say it's worth a listen, though. pH Level -- 4/pHine ***E*** Jesse Bauer ----------- DJ QUIK, "Safe + Sound" (Profile) Compton's Dante Blake is back on the scene after a long absence with his third LP, "Safe + Sound." Quik is the name, and pretty much everything is the game. The man plays instruments, produces, and raps. In the past he has also been his own executive producer. Not anymore. Although he is still on the Profile label, DJ Quik is now down with the almighty Death Row camp and the new executive producer is none other than Suge Knight. Quik is still fonky, but now you will probably notice live instruments more and in several songs, even a slight Death Row-like sound. The first song is so perfect for him: the tempo is fast enough, the beat is hyped enough, and his flow works with it. Sadly, Quik seems to favor a more moderate/slow pace on most of his songs than in the past. "Get At Me" gets the nod from me for being the pace it is. "Safe & Sound" is one of those slower-beat songs, but the music is actually nice. On the track, Quik stresses how important money is to him. When love, friends and God can fail you, money is always good to you. If you get past the melodic beat and really think about it, its kind of a depressing outlook on life, but that's the way it is. Leading into "Can I Eat It?" is the skit "Don't You Eat It!". To be blunt, Quik has always been a huge supporter of "licking the pearl tongue", as he likes to say. However, in his older, wiser days, he has come to a new understanding of sexuality. In 1995, he urges us to not eat it! Check it: "But it ain't no trippin on mine (why's that?) cause tongue condoms are hard to find and even if your dicks protected you can still catch the HIV by doin the nose-dive." Besides having such an interesting topic, the song uses the same beat used back in the day on Too $hort's "Don't Fight The Feeling" (and more recently used by Rappin' 4-Tay's "Just Cause I Called You a Bitch"). You gotta love any song with that beat! "Tha Ho In You" starts off the second side of the LP and features an almost blues-like guitar. Hi-C and 2nd II None rap on this one. Seems as though they all have had their little beefs with each other over the past couple of years, but came together to do a few cuts on this LP. Usually when Hi-C, The D, KK, AMG, etc get together they come out with something orgasmic and filled with energy. Not this time, though -- just doesn't happen. If you missed it on the "Murder Was The Case" soundtrack, then you've gotta check out "Dollaz & Sense" here. Quik gives much attention to MC Eiht. Really, he rips the shit out of him during the entire song: "Now I never had my dick sucked by a man before, but you gonna be the first, you little trick ass ho, and you can tell me just how it tastes, but before I nut I shoot some piss in yo face. ...Tell me why you act so scary given your set a bad name with your mispelled name E-I-H-T, now should I continue? Yeah, you left out the 'G', cause the 'G' ain't in you." And so the fued between the Compton psycho and Quik continues. As if that wasn't enough, Eiht is dealt with even more on the next track, "Let You Havit." You remember "Quik's Groove" and "Quik's Groove II?" Well, get ready for "Quik's Groove III". No, he didn't do anything different. It's basically hearing the exact same thing just a little rehashed. After the Snooze, oops, Groove, comes Playa Hamm's turn to rip shit up. Up until now, with the exception of "Get At Me," nothing has really been that uptempo. I was anxious to hear Quik rappin' with a little more speed, but I had to settle for Playa Hamm. Boom! The song hits right away, but its too damn short. I wish Quik would have grabbed the mic after Hamm was done, but it didn't happen that way. Mix up Death Row and Quik's old fonky shit and what do you get? "Keep Tha 'P' In It". Hi-C, 2-Tone, 2nd II None, and Kam all bust rhymes, but the beat is still too slow. Still, it's a good song, but it could have been better. Now don't get me wrong: I may sound disappointed in the tempo of the songs and I am, but the LP is still on hit -- it just could've been better. This is a LP that you can definitely just kick back to, listen to the music, and let the words do their own thing. Hearing some of the songs makes me think back to the summer and rollin with the windows down, just enjoying the music. DJ Quik has made a good CD in "Safe + Sound." My only complaint is that it needs at least a few more uptempo tracks. pH Level - 4/pHine ***F*** Professa R.A.P. --------------- SOUNDTRACK, "Higher Learning" (550/Epic) If there were an award for putting together the most consistently strong original soundtracks, John Singleton ought to get it. Ever since the sounds of "Boyz n the Hood" -- from Ice Cube's "How to Survive in South Central" to Main Source's "Just a Friendly Game of Baseball" to Yo-Yo's "Mama Don't Take No Mess" -- hit the streets in 1991, Singleton's been on a roll. The success of his soundtracks led other directors and producers to put together original hip-hop/R&B soundtracks for *their* films, and sometimes, as with "Above the Rim," the soundtrack has been more impressive than the film itself. This time out, though, Singleton was looking for something a little different, something that would mirror the campus conflicts between many groups, representing more than just the hood. The resulting mix of artists like Cube and OutKast with Tori Amos and Liz Phair does just that, though at the cost of the kind of flow that could have saved some listeners the trouble of programming their CD players. Still, for those with an ear for different styles and genres, the "Higher Learning" soundtrack is a satisfying mix -- kinda like walking down the hall of a dorm at some mythical university (Columbus, anyone?) on a Saturday night and listening to one stereo fade into another. Ice Cube breaks it open at the start; he takes his listeners "Higher," schooling the schooled and teaching the teachas: Sayin' Fuck Professor Phipps I come from the land of the Bloods and the Crips Don't like scholarships because they hurt me Nothin' but a slave to the University ... From Cube, the sound slides like Luther Vandross over silk sheets -- right on into Me'Shell NdegeOcello's "Soul Searchin' (I Wanna Know If It's Mine)." Me'Shell's vocals are as sultry and smoky as ever, and her skills on the bass are in full effect, though to my ears this track is not one of her strongest. In a lot of ways it sounds like an extended remix of last year's "Dred Loc." But this is no time to get *too* relaxed; Mista Grimm quickly steps in to liven up the party with "Situation: Grimm:" It's miraculous, this mysterious History-makin' rap sheet on a beat Leavin' niggas shakin' from follicle to feet Grimm's rhymes don't break much new ground, but his style is full of twists and turns like these, and if a thuggish mix of soulful vocals and rugged rhymes is what you want, look no further. It makes for a funky segue into Raphael Saadiq's "Ask of You," easily the smoothest and most radio-ready track on this disc. With Saadiq's seductive vocals and its deep, blue-light bass and beat, this cut will without a doubt be emanating from bedroom speakers from coast to coast. All this leads up to the disc's first stylistic script- flipping: Tori Amos's cover of R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion." As with her earlier cover of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Amos's haunting vocals and piano lead you into a kind of melancholic haze, understated but strangely effective. And then once again, it's time to shift gears, this time to slow down and take a sharp left turn into OutKast's East Point hood. Some folks last year figured OutKast for your typical pimp/ho rappers, but missed the deeper political message; just to underline their point that it ain't about "pimpin' ho's and slammin' Cadillac do's," OutKast drops the political bomb for 95 with "Phobia:" So don't spend your whole life livin' it for the white You got a nine to five, and now you choose to live in strife You took your ass to the army 'cos you're scared of revolution I'm writin' every day to stop that brain pollution ... But wait: just when you're startin' to hit the funk with these Madlanta prophets, your regularly scheduled broadcast is interrupted by Rage Against the Machine's "Year of the Boomerang." It's ironic, given RATM's revolutionary politics, that their music ends up being used by Singelton as a skinhead leitmotif within the film, but on record, their proper message comes through. RATM leaves your ears aching, and just in time the Brand New Heavies come to the rescue with their soothing q-tip of live funk, driven by N'dea Davenport's shimmering vocals. Some have criticized the Heavies for an unimpressive live sound, but there's no sign of that here; Neil Cowley's jazzy keyboards, Andrew Levy's funky bass, and Jan Kincaid's conga-overlaid beats all work perfectly. After the Heavies' funky jazz, Liz Phair sounds even more tiresome than usual. Not to offend her fans, but if atonal whispery vocals, robotic beats, and slurred guitars are your bag, Suzanne Vega has already done everything Phair does -- and with a lot more artistry. Tori Amos's return with "Butterfly" is a relief after Phair's monotonous whine. The rest of the album is the musical equivalent of rolling credits -- time to get up out of your seat and brush the popcorn off your lap. Zhane's predictable "By Your Side" and Eve's Plum's grungy anthem "Eye" don't do much -- but in the spirit of pop, they don't claim to, either. It all comes to a close with Stanley Clarke's artistry, which has graced every Singleton soundtrack; Clarke reminds you of what a real musician can do to create drama, and fittingly ties up the whole package. In short, while this disc has its uneven moments, and you may *never* be in the mood to listen to every track in sequence, there's a lot of artistry in these sixty minutes. With standout tracks by OutKast and Ice Cube, hip-hop heads will get something for their money, as will those who still crave some R&B and funk sounds a little off the beaten path of format-driven radio. If you're a fan of more than one of the artists represented here, you won't be disappointed, and you may catch some new sounds that will help make it worth your hard-earned ducats. pH Level -- 4/pHine ***G*** Flash ----- LAZE, "The Vaults" (demo) A Lyrical Prophet? Nah, he's on the solo creep now... That's right, the man behind the hit singles (at least in his own mind) "Num Bawon" and "Dig This" has ditched his DJ and taken over behind the boards. Borrowing a note from Diamond D of DITC, he has decided to go diggin' in "The Vaults" and see what he could come up with. I can't front on the fact that Laze has improved in a great many ways. I also can't front on the fact that in a lot of ways, I am continually dissapointed. Ever since I first heard Laze on the alt.rap compilation tape song "Must Be the Music" I felt the kid had potential. Sometimes I get a taste of something as good or better, sometimes I'm left thinking "Damn, even Vanilla Ice sounded hard..." That's half of Laze's problem -- his voice. Guru said it best: some rappers have flavor, others have skills, but if your voice ain't dope.... Now don't get me wrong here, I don't think Laze can't come off on the mic. I said I've heard it before, and the thing that impressed me most about this new album is I hear it more here than on any tape to date. For example, in the track "Monkey See, Monkey Do", Laze kicks a really smooth kind of flow that sounds almost Slick Rick-ish. It really works. I listen to this track and I actually get hyped. It's ironic that the loop is in fact the SAME from Guru's "Mostly Tha Voice" but hey, it's appropriate. The flip is songs like "With a Pound Bro", where he gets so hyped and squeaky that it should be downright embarrasing. You have to credit Laze for working hard on writing good lyrics, but if you can't stand listening to them then there's really no point. So what else can I give Laze props for? The production is nice -- VERY nice in fact, the best surprise of the entire album. Sure, you can knock him for using a few loops that we've heard before, but at least he used GOOD loops and hooked them up well. As Laze would say himself, "Shit's tight like Speedo's". No arguement here. Good choices of samples too, especially on "With a Pound Bro", "Monkey See Monkey Do", "Shadow of a Doubt", and "Num Bawon (remix)". Here's the point -- Laze *still* has potential. It's obvious that in being part of four or five albums (three of which I've heard) Laze has learned a few things -- what sounds good, what flows well, how to put shit together. And considering his young age, there is plenty of time for Laze to come into his own. If that voice can settle down (really, give up the up and down vocal shifting) and the lyrics get tighter, there may be something here. He's still not there yet, but this is the best tape so far. "This is my job, goddammit, and I love it". Good attitude kid, keep it up! pH Level -- 4/pHine ***H*** Jesse Bauer ----------- VARIOUS ARTISTS, "Loud '95 Nudder Budders EP" (Loud/RCA) Loud records looks like they have their stuff straight for 1995. The Nudder Budders EP features five acts: Tha Alkaholiks, Mobb Deep, Madkap, Cella Dwellas, and Bernard Paul (the only non-rap artist). Originally Raekwon was advertised as one of the rappers on the CD, but when it was released, Madkap had released the Chef. Many would have preferred the member of the Wu, but you still can't front on the lineup and their songs on this thang. Since there are only five songs, we'll take a brief walk through each of them. Loud must not believe in saving the best for last because the record starts out with a bomb! Tha 'Liks' "Daaam!" is on hit, no ifs ands or buts about it. The shit is spectacular, and, oh my, the rhymes! Metaphors and just straight up crazy shit. The entire song is reflective of this example, but here's just a sample: "I walked through a rainstorm, I didn't even get wet I was bailin through hell, I didn't even bust a sweat so you must have a locomotive, I'm mean a crazy reason to wanna step up in sucka punk season." Ill shit, fo' real. Now we turn our attention to another incredibly phat song in Mobb Deep's "Shook Ones Part II," which has been at the top of many charts and rightfully so. Some serious east coast shit is on hit here. These brothas you can feel and zone in to the semi-freaky beat: "...meanwhile back in Queens the realness and foundation if I die, I couldn't find a better location when the slugs penetrate, you feel a burnin sensation gettin closer to God in a tight situation..." While these are easily the best two tracks of the five, that doesn't mean that there are no more good songs. Madkap hasn't been heard from for a while, but comes out and gives a decent effort on its cut "Questions". The lyrics are nothing to jump around about, but the beat is in there. Production for Madkap is done by the Beatnuts' JuJu. It sounds a'ight, but here's the problem: it sounds waaay too much like "Hit Me With That" on the Beatnuts' "Street Level" LP. Not identical, but much too close for comfort. Not being a big fan of the whole horrorcore idea, I'm surprised I like the Cellas Dwellas' "Land of The Lost" as much as I do, because the song sounds almost exactly like the Gravediggaze. Still, these guys do the shit right. A good song that many people love, I can't put it up with Tha 'Liks or Mobb Deep, but still they get they props. The last song is where the EP runs into problems, at least for me. I'm not a huge R&B sond, and Bernard Paul's singing just doesn't do anything for me. The good thing, however, is that the beat is nice. The first time I peeped the CD I was like, "damn, this is kinda different, who the hell is this?" Then Bernard comes out and I thought the man was Michael Jackson for a minute. "Someone" is just something you gotta live with, I guess. Even with the singing and the questionable beat on Madkap's song, this EP is phat as hell. Like I said, they got they shit straight over at Loud. If you can find this at a reasonable price (remember, there's only five songs), grab it! The first two songs alone will make up for any price you may pay. pH Level - 4/pHine ***I*** O-D.U.B. -------- THE ROOTS, "Organix" (Remedy) Back in 1993, a group of musicians and lyrcists from South and West Philly dropped an album on local label Remedy Records. The album was entitled "Organix", the group, The Roots, formerly the Square Roots. It was a fairly low-key album: a black cover with the name in plain white lettering at the bottom. No stunts, blunts, or gats displayed, no boasts proclaiming themselves as true playas, hardcore G's or psycho-killas. The album made little noise domestically, but in Europe, it blew up, prompting The Roots to spend time on the continent, building their reputation and fan base. In 1994, the Roots finally get the dap they deserve stateside on the strength of their single "Distortion to Static" and album "Do You Want More?!?!!". But the roots of the Roots lie in their first effort, an album that embodies all the quality of their sophomore effort, but lacked the exposure. "Organix" is a good album....a very good album. In fact, it's almost as good as "Do You Want More?" but there are some significant differences. The biggest one is the nature of the music. I've been saying that "Organix" is a lot like brown sugar, it's unrefined, but no less sweet. True indeed for this 17 track album that's filled with the same sugary keys, tasty bass and lip-smacking drums as their latest effort. However, "Organix" doesn't possess the same level of complexity and production effort. This is not to say that it's bad, but unfortunately, all comparisons work backwards, which is inherently unfair. Most people would say that "Organix" was the natural root from which "Do You Want More?" sprung. Indeed, all the elements were there in the beginning, but the main difference was more thoughtful production, a better blending of sounds, and damn good engineering (I mean, Bob Powers. C'mon...) There's also more of a reliance on familiar basslines and drum loops, though it's still ALL live. Missing are the incredible skills of Rahzel and Black Thought's look-Ma-no-turntables wizardry. None the less, the music is fantastic -- very jazzy without being hokey, and they don't rely on the same formula on every song. Many of the tracks have a heavy bass reliance, which is ok, but I wanted to hear more keys. B.R.OtheR.? is at his best, dropping the funky beat. SSOTK rocks it lovely too as does bassist HUB. Lyrically, Black Thought still rips sh*t up -- intelligent lyrics whether abstract or speaking on life; well-rhymed. He also works more with poetry on "Organix", peep tracks like "Writer's Block". This album was only a year preceding "Do You Want More?" but Black Thought choose to make changes as he felt proper in that time. Other lyricists include Malik B. and a couple more names that I didn't catch at the time of this review (Dice Raw?). Outstanding Cuts: "Good Music": NO QUESTION, the best damn track on an already phat album. The keys are to die for, and the over all jazzy, sweet soul feel of the track will get listeners open across the nation. One of the finest homages to hip hop I've ever heard. "Grits": a/k/a skins, and so on...this song is laced with innuendo about hitting it. While not as sensually sweet as "Bonita Applebaum" it's infinitely more mild and pleasant than Black Sheep's "Let's Get Cozy". Peep for Hub's use of Donaldson and Miles Davis in his bassline selections. This was a very '93-sounding song; the use of the chorus keys sounds reminiscent of other songs at the time. A very fun song, with a little raciness to spice it up. "Leonard I-V": Wow...this is a song to peep the lyrics on. The third verse is what had me rewinding. Tariq addresses the position of the Roots relative to Native Tongue posse to which they are often compared. He ackowledges his love for ATCQ, the JBs and especially De La Soul but as he says, "I'm a big fan of the Soul, but I'm trying to get this Roots sh*t in control," essentially noting that The Roots stand alone. It was a great set of verses. "Common Dust": The most surprising sound on this track is the use of a guitar to lay down the flavor. Funky and twangy, this cut is not for the dance floor, but provides much consideration for meditation. There are three tracks on this LP that made it to other albums. "The Session" is the mega long (13 minutes?) posse cut that found its way to their import EP "From the Ground Up". There's an earlier (and less refined and fun) version for "Essay Whuman?!" their fantastic jazz improv homage. And then there's "Peace" which people should recognize as the earlier version of the Intro from "Do You Want More?!?!!" Bottom line? This is a must have LP for any Roots fans. It's shows a clear linkage to their latest album and is certainly a fine piece of work in its own right regardless. Plus it's got some butter cuts that don't sound dated at all. My copy is on import double vinyl so you know it'll play louder, and I recommend people look for it similarly. Again, I wouldn't say this is as much the classic as "Do You Want More?!?!!" is destined to become, but it's still a fine album that lays down the strong foundation upon which their next effort has killed and thrilled. pH Level -- 5/pHunky ***J*** Ryan A MacMichael ----------------- SHA-KEY, "A Head Nodda's Journey to Adidi Skizm" (BMG) From what I've seen, this album has not exactly been noticed since it was released in late 1994. And I'm still trying to figure out why. The thing is, on "A Head Nodda's Journey...", Sha-Key runs styles rampant throughout, switching between flows constantly. And she got her lyrics straight, there's no question there. The beats are sweet and Rahzel had his beat-boxing skills on several tracks here before The Roots' album came out. And there are no throw-away cuts. So what's the problem? I think it's the fact that Sha-Key is a female that is in this game with a style that is associated with men. Her confidence is obvious as is her sense of reality and trueness to the genre. She chose not to take the Queen Latifah or Yo-Yo route and speak about being a woman and such, she's speaking about being a rapper. Period. She shines on each track, but several really stick out. "Bicoastal Holdup" starts off with an acapella rambling that grabs you by the throat and shakes you until your eyes roll: To the east, to the west: this is not a contest, 'Cause hip-hop's got it on, kick it 'till the morn, We shall overcome: WACK MC'S! Rahzel then comes in with his beatbox as Sha continues to flow relentlessly. Then about a minute into it, "This Is a Holdup," most recognizable from the first Paris album, comes in. The main song then begins: Hardrock wanna-be, harder than the next G, B-Boy stance with your ass out your pants. Windcheck, roughneck, me the boom poetic With your two pounds of pressure that it takes to pull the trigger, though, you... ain't... NOTHING but some punk... ass... nigga! Sha-Key then switches modes again and jumps onto a sped-up sung verse with Rahzel back on the beat-box. She then downshifts one last time to finish off the track. Damn nice. Following next is "The Sleeper" which starts with a lullaby sound layered with a Miles Davis-sounding horn. "Sexual Healing" style "wake up, wake up" chants are brought in, leading to the "Mahogany"-flavor drums. Here she speaks of her times with men, and her gullability: He hugged me, he fucked me, so he had to love me, I guess I'm living the life of a puppet dummy. An eerie sounding flute comes in during the break as the horns continue. Absolute butter-on-iceness niceness. Other MCs flex on A HEAD NADDA'S JOURNEY, among them High Priest and Ill Bill (who's pretty damn ill: "I use a chainsaw when I perform an abortion") and the rest of the Vibe Khameleonz, Beans, Jae-Live (who's sweet, too), Pooh, Jah MC, Shamil, and Rahzel. Often they complement her well, other times the best is brought out in her during the posse cuts. Sha-Key's lyrics are very carefully crafted, well delivered, and often quite serious (especially on "Doompasaga"). Unfortunately, as with other female MC's in front of her, since she comes off well enough to be considered with the men in the field, she'll most likely be overlooked. But don't y'all make the same mistake -- check out the album and give her the well deserved chance. pH Level -- 5/pHunky ***K*** Jesse Bauer ----------- TOO $HORT, "Cocktales" (Jive) Hey ho. Yeah, you. Can I ask you a question? Were you Born To Mack? Best hope so, bee-atch, cause you gotta be able to Get In Where You Fit In, and we all know that Life is Too $hort.... Yep yep, Shorty The Pimp is back with his sixth major release and ninth overall release. Back in the 80s we could say it, in 1990 we could say it, and now in 1995 we can still say that Short Dog's In The House. The recording studio has seen a change of venue (to Atlanta), but the sound is still full of that Oakland funk, and the lyrical content is unmistakably classic Too $hort and the music classic Dangerous Crew. The Crew has been pumping out LP after LP in the past half year with Ant Banks' "The Big Badass," Goldy's "In The Land of Funk," and now "Cocktails." A few months ago, Short (Todd Shaw) dropped "Cocktales". Another story of females he's been with, the song is complemented by a smooth Shorty B produced beat. Listening to the lyrics, the cut makes you reminisce back to the 80s and "Freaky Tales": "She was fine as fuck, but can't fuck with Tina Tina, Tina, the sperm cleana I took her to my house and I told her, 'strip!' baby got freaky, started doing the splits..." Indeed, vintage Too $hort. The rest of side one is pretty solid throughout with the low spot being Baby D's (remember the little baby voice on some older Digital Underground stuff?) verse on "Thangs Change." I don't care how old the "Baby" is, the shit sucked more than Short's bitch Tina! Luckily, Malik and Jamal from Illegal represent better on the same track. "Can I Get a Bitch" is a tight duet with Ant Banks who comes off lovely. Side 2 doesn't stray away from the old Dangerous Crew sound. "Giving Up The Funk" showcases Banks, Pee Wee, and Goldy all rapping to a laidback funk beat talking about -- you guessed it -- bitches. "We Do This" is one of my favorite tracks and there is certainly good reason for it. Flint's MC Breed, whose background vocals are used in several songs, 2Pac, and Father Dom all team up with $hort, and all are hella tight on this one, runnin' that ol' pimp game. After Tupac finishes up his verse on the above song, we come to "Game." T$ and high school buddy Old School Freddy B tear shit up like the old days. Freddy B comes off as a supermack while rapping on one of the LPs best beats. The song is the only L.A. Dre produced song and makes me wish he had done more. Check out Fred getting ill: "I dropped my drawers, dick on swoll she couldn't believe the position was pole in and out, out and in I used the bitch like an ATM." On "Sample The Funk", Shaw puts down artists who just loop a beat for a track and says more people need to do their own music throughout their songs and stop sampling. While you gotta give $hort credit for a good criticism of some other rappers, realize those same rappers could find worthy arguements about Too $hort's style (e.g. lyrics, flow ability). You want some fresh new lyrics, don't look here. From the very beginning lines of the first song you'll find that Short will occassionally implement lyrics he has used before into the current LP. But, if you love Too $hort, then you can't pass it up. A good guest lineup (minus Baby D) and fresh'n'funky beats matched up with $hort's classic style make this one all worth it. Plus, when you check your watch after listening to it, you'll see it isn't another 40 minute quickie -- only 1 of the 12 songs is under five minutes. To keep the beats on point, there are a gang of producers -- everyone from Spearhead X to Banks to L.A. Dre. Not something I would do often, but I must give this LP a variable pH rating. Basically, if you're a longtime fan of Too $hort, you'll probably find a lot to like about it and you can add a point or two to the rating. If you want intelligent rhymes and freestyles, though, forget it. Like Short says, "(freestylin) shit, I don't even know how to do that shit." pH Level - 3/pHair ***L*** Dat Deaf G ---------- 2PAC, "Me Against the World" (Interscope) Poor old Tupac Shakur, da nigga y'all either love or hate, is locked up for his lastest release. According to his recent _Vibe_ jailhouse exclusive interview with Kevin Powell, this may be his last rap album. Shit, he might come back just like Mikey! I feel the song "If I Die 2nite" was lyrically tight and bumping! The title track was done with Dramacydal. I dont know who Dramacydal is but that duet was mad phat! The track lay the foundation for the whole album, revealing feelings beyond rage and frustration. Then the shit get deep with "So Many Tears." and as fucked up this world we all live in, "there are choices, there is faith, there is a tommorrow worth creating. There must be." This sounds a lot like gospel rap to me, but it should move your soul as well. Can I get an AMEN? In "Temptations," Tupac wants ya to know about what he went through in life to get here. After the song is over, y'all will be cryin' and hollerin' as if you were born again! "Young NIGGAZ", got lines like "My young niggaz stay away from these dumb niggaz./ Put down the guns and have some fun, nigga." The beat coulda have been a little harder, but it's still all that, and it shows that 2Pac has changed a *lot* since "Strictly for my NIGGAZ." The next song is for the Gs, "Heavy in the Game" and rapper Richie Rich appears on it. Nuttin' but butta! The tender and emotionally-filled track "Dear MAMA" was a damn nice tribute to his mother, Black Panther Afeni Shakur -- give a fist up to his momma, y'all. And the remaining tracks were all dat! Especially da homage in "Old School." Da last song "Outlaw" with Dramacydal was da bomb! I wouldn't be surpise if he get this track's title branded somewhere on his body... I give "Me Against The World" a fist to da sky and an AK-47 in da air! It's different and it's phat! Some tracks could have use more bass, but it lyrical contents is 2Pac at his best. Go get it ASAP! pH Level -- 5/pHunky ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- While all of us on the HardC.O.R.E. staff feel this issue is one of our best yet (and hopefully worth the wait), we are more than aware that there's at least one major story we didn't say anything about this time around, that being Eazy E's recent revelation that he has AIDS. This announcement has sent shockwaves through a hip-hop nation that's still eagerly awaiting both Eazy's first full-length LP in half a decade, as well as an N.W.A. reunion. Next issue, we'll try to make some sense of this late-breaking story, as well as the impact it will have on the future of rap music. We'll also try to straighten out the Source and their sources, who finally printed some info about HardC.O.R.E. in their magazine, only to get that info WRONG! For the record, my e-mail address is davidj@vnet.net, not dwarner@cybernetics.net as was published there. The correct subscription information is at the top of this issue. Plus, if we're *really* lucky, we'll have a few more albums to review as well. If not, we can always tie Charles Isbell down to a a chair and make him write that Goats review he's been saying he would do for the past three years. Oh, and I promise I'll have plenty to say next issue. Until then... PEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE!!!!!!!!!!!!


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank