Sunday, November 28, 2004

Underground West Coast Mix: "What A Pity"


Here's a mix of some classic underground west coast hip-hop along with some rarities and some self-indulgent, exclusive mixes by your bol (me). Let it be said that this is by no means an exhaustive mix that runs the gamut of "important" west coast underground shit. After all, the meat of this mix only spans a measly 5 years ('94-'98). But, these were-- in my humble opinion-- easily the most exciting years in the west coast underground. Accodringly, this mix is simlutaneously an ode of appreciation to these years as well as a bit of an introduction to those of you who know nothing about this shit (shame on you!). Unfortunately, there's far more shit to be found on unreleased 5th generation tape dubs then there is on those shiny discs of vinyl that we've grown to love. As for how that has affected the make-up of this mix? Well, rather obviously, that means there are some noticable gaps in the mix that are basically only gaps because of format limitations (i.e. only one Ellay Khule verse?! No Log Cabin?!). But, what can I say? A lot of these motherfuckers really didn't put out that much vinyl, and even if they did, it wasn't always their best effort that was committed to wax. But, I've made do with what I had available and I hope you can forgive me if I made any critical oversights or simply didn't represent/signify the west coast underground in an adequate manner.

Anyway, here's the mix and below is a more in-depth, track-by-track discussion. Enjoy.

Part I
01. (00:00 - 01:03) CVE -- "What A Pity"
02. (01:03 - 02:55) CVE -- "Art of War"
03. (02:55 - 06:06) Saafir -- "Can You Feel Me"
04. (06:06 - 10:52) Latyrx -- "Latyrx"
05. (10:52 - 12:40) Latyrx Samples Medley
06. (12-40 - 16:10) Ab Rude "Yesterday & Today"/E-40 "Hope I Don't Go Back"
07. (16:10 - 20:07) Ahmad, Ras Kass, and Saafir -- "Come Widdit"
08. (20:07 - 24:20) The Coup -- "Dig It" (Radio Remix)
09. (24:20 - 24:50) NGA Fish -- "Hi-style Takeover"
10. (24:50 - 27:41) Whoridas -- "Whoriden"
11. (27:41 - 30:26) Volume 10 -- "Pistolgrip Pump" (UK Jazz Mix)
12. (30:26 - 30:52) Ellay Khule -- "Feet Upon The Table"
13. (30:52 - 33:47) Homeliss Derilex -- "Cash Money"
14. (33:47 - 37:30) The BUMS featuring Mystic -- "Lyfe N Tyme"
15. (37:30 - 41:51) Medusa -- "You Better Be"
16. (41:51 - 42:35) Blackalicious -- "Cheezit Terrorist"
17. (42:35 - 45:06) Underbombers -- "Subcontents"
18. (45:06 -- End) Rashinel -- "Rashinel"

Part II
19. (00:00 - 02:07) Blackalicious -- "Rhymes for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind"
20. (02:07 - 03:53) Saafir -- Verse from Wake Up Show Battle
21. (03:53 - 06:51) Saafir -- "Pull Ya Card"
22. (06:51 - 11:46) Freestyle Fellowship -- "Ummm"
23. (11:46 - 15:36) The Coup -- "The Funk"
24. (15:36 - 16:30) Ras Kass -- "Get Up Get Down"
25. (16:30 - 20:30) Aceyalone -- "Faces"
26. (20:30 - 24:32) Project Blowed -- "Heavyweights Round II"
27. (24:32 - 25:47) Bus Driver -- "Imaginary Places"
27. (25:47 - 29:05) Slim Kid 3 -- "Emerald Butterfly"
28. (29:05 - End) DK Toon -- "Solo is So Low"

In Depth: Part I

01. (00:00 - 01:03) CVE -- "What A Pity" -- Project Blowed Compilation (ca. 1994/5)

To be perfectly honest, I think this little a capella interlude from the seminal Project Blowed compilation is only a good intro for this mix because it is a capella and just seems to feel like an introductory track. After all, Ridldore is pretty whatever on it (1st verse), Tray Loc is even worse (2nd), and I flat out hate Chu-Chu’s verse (last). But, the boy Fish (third verse) certainly comes with it. Anyway, besides just “feeling like an intro,” this song does embody (at least in theory) what my boy Nathaniel Friedman called the “voice-as-horn ethos” that a lot of the underground west coast scene subscribed to-- that is, the “what was being said” took a backseat to the “how it was being said.” Certainly, it is immediately obvious that the rhythm, cadence, and tones that a lot of these guys perform resemble the wild dynamics of the great horn players much more than they conform to the strict meters and rhythms that most of hip-hop is/was used to. That to me will always be the most interesting thing about this music: its unabashed love for spontaneous and atypical rhythms and cadences.

02. (01:03 - 02:55) CVE -- "Art of War" -- Kaos Cou De Ta EP (1996)

This track is the clear highlight from CVE’s 1996 EP entitled “Kaos Cou De Ta.” The beat is on some simple-but-knocking CV synth shit and Fish (second verse) just styles his ass off the whole time.

03. (02:55 - 06:06) Saafir -- "Can You Feel Me" -- Boxcar Sessions LP (1994)

Saafir’s “Boxcar Sessions” LP from 1994 is definitely on my all time top ten list of hip-hop albums. I’ve really never heard anyone ride a beat quite like Saafir and can’t think of anybody that swings harder than dude (except for maybe Freeway). Unfortunately, Saafir repeatedly tried to make an impact on the commercial world, watering down his flow in an attempt to make a commercial hit, but it never happened-- and probably rightfully so because all the commercial shit he made was fucking garbage. But, anyway, I fucks with this song. The beat is on some grimey melancholy shit and Saafir rides it like no one else can.

04. (06:06 - 10:52) Latyrx -- "Latyrx" -- Latyrx LP (1997)

This is probably the first of the “you either love this shit or hate this shit” song on the mix. Taken from the self-titled LP from 1997, the first verse on this song is actually Lateef and Lyrics Born (pka Asia Born) spitting two different verses simultaneously-- Lateef’s voice on the left channel, Lyrics Born’s on the right. The two verses do come together nicely, weaving in and out, complimenting each other, but it’s impossible to distinguish clearly and exhaustively both sets of Lyrics without listening to them panned or simply reading the lyrics. Thus, nowhere on this mix is the “how” more apparent then the “what” than in this song. After all, when you can’t understand the lyrics clearly, all you’re left with is the sound of two voices bumping into each other and making something new. And frankly, I think it works quite well. But, if you don’t like the simultaneous-rapping thing, just check the remaining verses-- they both kill it. By the way, DJ Shadow’s on the beat.

05. (10:52 - 12:40) Latyrx Samples Medley

Here’s some Latyrx sample-snippets: Odetta “Hit Or Miss” used on “Latyrx”; Demis Roussos’ “Oh My Friends You’ve Been Untrue to Me”; and Neil Merryweather’s “Sunshine Superman.”

06. (12-40 - 16:10) Abstract Rude "Yesterday and Today" Instrumental/ E-40 "Hope I Don't Go Back" Remix

I’ve always loved Fat Jack’s Stanley Clarke "Vulcan Princess" jack, “Yesterday and Today,” but the mix of the actual song on ATU’s “Underground Fossils” vinyl is so bad I couldn’t fuck with it. So, instead, I just put this E-40 a capella on top of an edited sequencing of the instrumental.

07. (16:10 - 20:07) Ahmad, Ras Kass, and Saafir -- "Come Widdit" -- Street Fighter Soundtrack (1994)

The Street Fighter soundtrack was weirdly dope. It had a really dope new Pharcyde song, a pretty hot new Nas song, a cute BUMS song, and this song. I guess what is most notable about this song is that it’s the first time I heard Ras Kass. I’m pretty sure his “Won’t Catch Me Running” 12” was out at the time, but I wasn’t up on that shit until after I heard this shit and he pretty much kills. Also, even though his style comes a great deal more out of the east coast tradition of rap than the west coast tradition that I’m attempting to give some light to in this mix, he’s still a west coast underground notable on the strength of his always funny, always clever (and most of the time ignorant) lyrics. Ahmad’s verse is cool enough while Saafir comes with one of his least accessible verses. I can’t count how many times I’ve played this for someone and they have commented on how much they hate Saafir’s flow on it. Well, fuck y’all. I love it.

08. (20:07 - 24:20) The Coup -- "Dig It" (Radio Remix) -- Dig It 12" (1993)

The Coup is widely slept-on for no logical reason-- except perhaps geography. Boots is hands-down one of the best “conscious” lyricists ever (he’s actually quite intelligent about his “consciousness” as opposed to most other “conscious rappers” who just spout off over-simplified, flatulent, political hogwash) and they’ve always had tight, heavily p-funk inspired production. This is a radio remix from the 12” of one of The Coup’s more popular songs “Dig It.” Boots is on point: “We’re all cooped up so feel the pain from four hundred years of exploitation/ Anesthesia provided by your local TV station/ Patience is not a virtue (I ain't waitin)/ Turn this shit over like Bush did a boatload of Haitians.”

09. (24:20 - 24:50) NGA Fish -- "Hi-style Takeover" -- Jizzm - Trials and Tribulations 12” (1998)

This is Fish’s verse from The Almighty Jizzm’s “Hi-style Takeover” on his "Trials and Tribulations" 12.” “Hi-style Takeover” has a pretty dope OD beat but Jizzm and Wreccless try as hard as they can to make that shit unlistenable (and they succeed!). Too bad there’s a gem like this verse hidden between all the garbage surrounding it. I cropped the garbage and just included this verse for the heads.

10. (24:50 - 27:41) Whoridas -- "Whoriden" -- Hobo Junction EP (1995) / Volume 10 "Pistolgrip Pump" Instrumental

At the time, The Whoridas-- besides having some of the hottest promo T-shirts in hip-hop history-- were basically the gangsta-rap sect of the Hobo Junction. Dudes were steady talking about riding and hustling and were the first people I ever heard use the “shotcalling and big balling” terminology. But, whatever, that’s probably some E-40 shit. King Saan is Saafir’s little brother and Mr. Taylor is his cousin and these dudes couldn’t do much more than ride the shit out of a beat, but fuck it, that’s plenty. Saafir invades the middle of this track, smobbing hard as fuck on this shit. He has some line about Abstract Rude that I’ve never understood, though. Anybody know what the hell he’s talking about? Oh, and I put the instrumental from “Pistolgrip Pump” under this shit about halfway through it because I'm a self-indulgent DJ.

11. (27:41 - 30:26) Volume 10 -- "Pistolgrip Pump" (UK Jazz Mix) -- Pistolgrip Pump 12" (1993)

This is a b-side remix of Volume 10’s popular anthem “Pistolgrip Pump.” 10's "Hip Hopera" LP is what someone at soulstrut would jestfully call "criminally slept on," but it is. Shit is fucking wonderful.

12. (30:26 - 30:52) Ellay Khule -- "Feet Upon The Table" -- Aceyalone - Mic Check 12" (1995)

I really hate this song besides Ellay Khule’s verse. It’s a b-side joint on Acey’s “Mic Check” 12” and everybody sucks on this song except for Khule who’s 26 seconds of brilliance is hard as fuck... hence the crop-job of everyone's verse except Khule's.

13. (30:52 - 33:47) Homeliss Derilex -- "Cash Money" -- Cash Money 12" (1994?) / Abstract Rude "Take Them Styles Back Intro"

This is some old Stones Throw shit that probably goes for big money on ebay to dorky white kids who love everything Stones Throw. Frankly, I rather like 50 grand’s lyrics on this shit but I hate the beat so I blended it with another Ab Rude instrumental.

14. (33:47 - 37:30) The BUMS featuring Mystic -- "Lyfe N Tyme" -- Lyfe N Tyme LP (1995)

There’s not much to say about this song except that I really like the beat. I think it’s the first appearance of Mystic (from Goodvibe fame) on record but nobody cares nor should they. This is a hot beat from an album full of hot beats and pretty mediocre lyrics. I do like E-vo’s little “fuck this, fuck that... and fuck the mothefuckers that’s threatened by my existence” tirade, but otherwise this shit is just a hot beat.

15. (37:30 - 41:51) Medusa -- "You Better Be" -- Do It The Way You Feel It EP (1997)

Poor Medusa. I love this girl. She’s easily the best female rapper in the game with one of the most soulful voices (when rapping or singing) that I’ve ever heard. There were rumors abound that she was doing stuff with Organized Noize (which would’ve been fucking sick), but I guess those were either just rumors or for whatever reason that stuff never materialized. The drums on this song are fucking terrible but Medusa doesn’t let that stop her from absolutely crushing this shit. I wish “Pimp My Lyrics” would’ve found it’s way onto this EP.

16. (41:51 - 42:35) Blackalicious -- "Cheezit Terrorist" -- Melodica EP (1994)

Gift of Gab kills this shit on some silly shit. Old Blackalicious is so much better than new Blackalicious.

17. (42:35 - 45:06) Underbombers -- "Subcontents" -- Peanut Butter Wolf - Step On Our Egos? EP (1996)

San Jose hip-hop is some of the worst hip-hop I’ve heard ever, but Dave Dub has always impressed me. Persevere (first verse) is pretty whatever to me-- he sounds more like he’s from Queensbridge than from Zay-town-- but Dave Dub comes through with his thick south bay accent, riding hard as hell.

18. (45:06 -- End) Rashinel -- "Rashinel" -- Saafir - Boxcar Sessions LP (1994)

I’ve always had a soft spot for Rashinel’s lazy flow.

In Depth: Part II

19. (00:00 - 02:07) Blackalicious -- "Rhymes for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind" -- Melodica EP (1994)

Shadow on the beat and Gab on the 'phone. It's just some straight up stylin' shit but I think this shit bangs. This whole EP is really fucking great and this is really one of the weaker moments... and it's still hot.

20. (02:07 - 03:53) Saafir -- Verse from Wake Up Show Battle -- Wake Up Show Freestyles Vol. 2 (1996?) / Blackalicious "RFTDDB" Instrumental / DJ Shadow "Meiso" Instrumental

The legendary Hiero/Hobo battle really doesn't live up to its lore. I taped the shit way back in the day when it was live in The Wake Up Show and recently discovered the tape and god damn fucking shit is it fucking bad. I don't know how anybody in Hiero was ever known as a good freestyler because some of the shit these dudes spit is just fucking AWFUL. Tajai should be embarassed. Most of Saafir's shit is subpar too but Saafir's verses here, however, are hysterical. Of course, they're pre-written verses which is pretty much a (mr.) no-no in anybody's book except for Saafir's (apparently), but they're still funny as fuck. Other notable fact: this battle is the first time I heard someone (Saafir) refer to a "microphone" as a "'phone" instead of a "mic." That is so fucking hot. Anyway, I blended some instrumentals behind the breakbeats for fun.

21. (03:53 - 06:51) Saafir -- "Pull Ya Card" -- Just Riden 12" (1994)

This is a rare b-side exclusive on Saafir's Just Riden 12". I like it. "Told the dealer she was a cheater, but he's a buster" sounds dope.

22. (06:51 - 11:46) Freestyle Fellowship -- "Ummm" -- Bullies Of The Block 12" (1992)

This song closes with the chant "We will never fall the fuck off, we promise." What a fucking lie. But, Micah murders it on his infamous "Crunch, crunch, crunch" verse. Shit is loooovely. Acey and Peace are pretty dope on this shit but Jupiter is just plain fucking wierd on this track. But, whatever because this song is really all about Micah's verse. By the way, it's a b-side joint on the hard to find "Bullies of the Block" 12". And for the uber-west-coast nerds, you'll notice that Log Cabin sampled that "Crunch, crunch, crunch" shit on that song about food.

23. (11:46 - 15:36) The Coup -- "The Funk" -- Kill My Landlord LP (1993)

This is just a plain ol' LP cut on Kill My Landlord but I just love this beat so much I had to put this shit on here. If you don't have this LP, shoot yourself.

24. (15:36 - 16:30) Ras Kass -- "Get Up Get Down" -- Coolio - Gangster's Paradise LP (1995)

Ras Kass verse on Coolio's "Gangster's Paradise" LP. No, I didn't buy this LP, I stole it from my radiostation (hence the radio edits), and it's a cute and fairly-unkown Ras moment. Enjoy.

25. (16:30 - 20:30) Aceyalone -- "Faces" -- Book Of Human Language LP (1998)

Mumbles kills the Ray Bryant loop and Acey makes one of his hottest songs ever. Unfortunately, Mumbles is a religion freak and doesn't make music anymore proving once again that religion does way more harm than good to human beings. This is really just a fucking classic track that west coast nerds and east coast heads alike should like.

26. (20:30 - 24:32) Project Blowed -- "Heavyweights Round II" -- Project Blowed Compilation (ca. 1994/5)

Crew track from the Project Blowed LP. I don't know who half these women are and there's definitely a couple cruddy verses, but on the whole, this shit is raw.

27. (24:32 - 25:47) Bus Driver -- "Imaginary Places" -- Imaginary Places 12" (2002)

Here's another one of those "You're gonna hate this or love this shit." Pedestrian once described Bus Driver as "equal parts Jimi Hendrix and Jon Hendricks" and that's a fucking perfect description. I've also noticed that Bus Driver sounds remarkably similar to Kurt Elling at times, but, uh, not on this shit. Dude is just rapping at light speed-- most probably saying some stupid nonsense but it sounds hot as fuck. Too bad there's a wack breakdown in the middle of the song... I cut it short though so you can just listen to Mr. Bus Driver rip. Little known fact about Bus Driver: he can be seen performing a verse in the open mic cafe on Brandy's old show "Moesha." I remember seeing that shit and bugging the fuck out like "Why in God's name are Tray Loc and Bus Driver on this fucking show?!". Don't ask me what the fuck I was doing watching "Moesha."

27. (25:47 - 29:05) Slim Kid 3 -- "Emerald Butterfly" -- Runnin' 7" (1995)

I remember muhfuckas always talking about how Fat Lip was the best dude in Pharcyde but that was always blasphemy to me. Slim Kid has always really been the dude. This is a b-side joint from the Runnin' 7". I think it's on the b-side of the Runnin' 12" too. Not sure though. Anyway, this is some feel good, sing-songy Slim Kid shit. Too bad Slim Kid turned into one of those "I think I want to work with a band" rappers and hasn't been dope for like 6 years. What a shame.

28. (29:05 - End) DK Toon -- "Solo is So Low" -- Project Blowed Compilation (ca. 1994/5)

For the record, this shit is pre-Coolio's "Gangster's Paradise." I remember fools trying to claim that Coolio bit this shit but that's fucking garbage. It's a fucking Stevie Wonder sample for God's sake. It's not like it's some rare fucking shit. Fuck. But anyway, this shit is just beautiful to me. Granted it's just a jack, but DK Toon is belting his fucking heart out on this shit and you really feel for dude. This is some seriously beautiful stuff. The bar-late "Nina Rawls is the balls" overdub is forever my shit even though I have no idea what the fuck he's talking about.

And once again, if you don't feel like scrolling up:

What A Pity Mix Part I
What A Pity Mix Part II


Sunday, November 21, 2004

The Whoridas

Well today I've decided to post a few songs from the debut Delicious Vinyl album of (ex?)Hobo Junction affiliates The Whoridas-- a group made up of Saafir's little brother and his cousin, King Hasaan and Mr. Taylor, respectively. The following is quoted from Davey D's 1997 Review of The Whorida's Debut LP "Whoridin'" because I think it's kind of an interesting take on the music and I can't think of anything supremely interesting to say about this shit except that it's hard as fuck:

For many the Whoridas have long been a mystery to those who've come to associate Bay Area hip hop with one particular style and sound. To start, the Whoridas broke the mold by being Westbound. Here in the Bay almost all of Hip Hop's legendary crews ranging from Too Short to Hammer to Souls Of Mischief have come from Oakland's East side. Song after song would talk passionately about the rough and rugged ways of East Oakland. It's a bit ironic because East Oakland has been talked about so much that many have forgotten the rich history and the progressiveness that has been a part of West Oakland where the Whoridas are from. Historically West Oakland at one time had a thriving bustling downtown area within it's African American community that rivaled the traditional downtown that was owned and controlled by whites. Merrit College was an intellectual haven on the West side of Oakland that gave birth to the Black Panther Party. Nowadays (1997) West Oakland is known for not so nice Acorn Housing Projects and the now defunct Campbell Village where notorious drug lords like Felix Mitchell ran some of their operations. For years many of West Oakland's majestic Victorian houses were left abandoned and parts of that side of town took on the name 'Ghost Town'. You just didn't hear about too many slammin' artists hailing from the West until Saafir and his crew The Hobo Junction which included The Whoridas came along. It's important to note this because with their emergence came a different sound and style that has expanded the definition of Bay Area hip hop.

For many, our first taste of these Westbound artists came when Saafir and Hobo Junction squared off against Casual,Souls Of Mischief and the Hieroglyphics Crew, all who hailed from The East side of Oakland. It was a heated, intense, one-of-a-kind emcee battle that took place on the Wake Up Show a couple of years back. The end result was some near physical confrontations and gunshots being fired...after the battle. The battle went way beyond a crew of emcees flipin' scripts. It reflected the long standing rivalry between East and West Oakland. It was during this battle that Mr Tailor and King Sann of the Whoridas stood out. They were definitely about holding their own on a lyrical tip. And left folks fiending for some material from them. Folks who were up on the Bay Area's underground rap scene already had product from the Whoridas. These guys could be seen hustlin' homemade tapes every day in front of the now closed Leopold Records in Berkeley. Most of these tapes were limited edition excursions into the musical mindset of a very creative crew. Their rhyme style was different Their beats were different, yet they managed to keep a certain flava about them which let you know that they were from the Bay.

Now on to the music:

The Whoridas "Taxin'" w/ Third Rail Vic: This was my fucking JAM the summer of '97. It's not remarkably Bay-Area sounding since the beat is pretty east-coast influenced, but the production is really where the east-coast influence ends. Also, worth mentioning? 2nd verse, the dude Third Rail Vic does his best Saafir impression and pulls it off pretty fucking remarkably. Frankly, I'm not convinced that this dude isn't Saafir with some sort've voice-module fucking with his voice a la Del and Unicron. Well, either that or Saafir just flat out ghost-wrote this verse. But, anyway, dude's flow on the "now here's a little bit of fundamental, subliminal, acrobatical flipping shit 'cause I funks for mine" part is fucking real.

The Whoridas "Stackin $'s" w/ Eye-Cue: This beat is on some typical Big Nous lo-fi, grime-ball shit and it's ugly and dirty as hell... in a good way. I love it. The somewhat random violence and confusion of the horn stabs on the hook kill it while Hasaan and Tailor ride out.

The Whoridas "Till the Wheels Fall Off"w/ Eye Cue, Third Rail Vic, and J-bo[?]: The album's obligatory crew track. It works though. Hot beat by Jay-Z (no, not that one) who produced most of Saafir's classic"Boxcar Sessions" LP while the Hobo-sexuals just ride on this shit.


Friday, November 19, 2004

"Wu-Tang is for the children"


God Bless This Man

In other news, this is some hot shit.


Monday, November 15, 2004

Bored Stiff EPs


I believe my first encounter with the wide-world of "underground hip-hop" was in '94 or '95 when I went to this free concert at DeAnza College back when I resided in good ol' San Jose, California (home of the worst rappers in the country). The headliners of the show were The Pharcyde, The Alkoholiks, and The BUMS, but the show opened up with a string of local artists who I had never heard of: The Derelicts, The Mystik Journeymen, and Bored Stiff. Frankly, I don't really remember much from the opening acts except for the Journeymen doing that song "What If." They pretty much killed that shit, surprising the whole audience. But, after copping one of their tapes, my boys and I quickly realized that dudes were basically good performers but terrible rappers. Anyway, that day opened my eyes to the fact that there was and is a whole community of underground and independent artists that were doing the damn thing without the financial or promotional support of the record industry. Since I was only like 14 or 15 at the time, this was a pretty important discovery for me and got me hella interested in all-things underground and independent. Of course, my infatuation with underground hip-hop turned out to be more of an attempt at achieving some sort of authentic sense of identity that is both-within-yet-outside the world of hip-hop, but that's for another post. My only point here is that this was a day that was pretty damn important to me and introduced me to a world I had previously never paid much attention to. And, for the purposes of this post, this was how I discovered the SF rap collective known as Bored Stiff.

Let me start by saying two things about Bored Stiff: one, I don't know very much about them or their history and two, they're really not very good. Mostly, they've got some pretty good production and they do a mediocre job of not ruining their beats. But, fuck it, I like some of their shit. To be sure, a lot of my affection for these dudes is based on some nostalgia shit but even having said that, I was never really a HUGE HUGE fan of these dudes' records. I threw 'em on occasionally and basically just enjoyed the shit for what it was. Now re-listening to some of the shit makes me smile, but, gotdamnit, a lot of it makes me cringe, too. I mean, dudes, some of the verses are just fucking AWFUL. However, I do think Bored Stiff is worth posting about here because they act as an interesting demarcation point both temporally and spatially. In other words, while their music certainly isn't wildly compelling nor was it hugely influential, it marks the attitude (DIY) of a certain place (the bay area) and time (early-to-mid 90's). And, to be fair, while perhaps not the most invigorating hip-hop music you will ever hear, it was most certainly honest and adventerous.

But, for the most part, all these dudes rapped about was how they were independent artists that refused to sign to major labels because these majors only wanted to exploit hip-hop but Bored Stiff wasnt gonna sell out because they were Bored Stiff and they were positive artists and they had things to say and blah and blah and blah. I mean, basically, it's all pretty cliche stuff that you love to hear when you're a rebellious little teenager looking to hate on anything popular in order to set yourself apart from "the clones." But, what's important about a group like Bored Stiff is precisely this DIY, independent sentiment. Of course, Bored Stiff didn't invent the dirt hustlin' aesthetic pioneered by Bay Area foellies like Too Short and E-40, but they did abide by it (and they most certainly fucking rapped about it) along with other contemporaneous, Bay Urreah dirt hustlers (the aforementioned Mystik Journeymen, the Hobo Junction, etc). But, the thing about Bored Stiff (and you can say the same thing about the Mystik Journeymen and the rest of the Legends) is not only did these dudes abide by this DIY, "independent as fuck" sentiment, they fucking based their entire existence on it. It was their entire musical identity. While Too Short and E-40 were hustling their tapes on corners as a means to an end (getting their music heard and, of course, getting that dough), groups like Bored Stiff took this dirt hustlin' aesthetic as the basis for their content and identity.

I guess I just find that interesting.

So, anyway, enough jabbering. Here's a few tracks off of their 2 EPs: 1995s "Explainin'..." EP and 1997's "Timeless" EP. Enjoy.

Explainin... EP:
Bored Stiff "Peaceful Rotation" (I think this is the first time I've heard the "September 13th" drums sound good)
Bored Stiff "Survivin'"
Bored Stiff "Tell It Like It Is

Timeless EP:
Bored Stiff "The Soil"
Bored Stiff "Next Sunlight"




Other people are saying more interesting things about ODB's death than I'm capable of. So, forget about me and go read this shit:

ODB Eulogy #1

ODB Eulogy #2


Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Nation's Poor Win Election for Nation's Rich


Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it's terribly unhelpful and a bit elitist, but got damn it, there's a whole lot of truth up in this article too:

Nation's Poor Win Election for Nation's Rich

And it's funny.


Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Krown Rulers "Paper Chase" LP (1988 Warlock)


Just across the river from the relatively wealthy and bustling City of Brothery Love lies one of the most poverty striken cities in North America-- Camden, New Jersey. The average per capita income of a Camden resident is a measly $9.800 and the city is predominantly inhabited by minorities: 54% African American and 30% Latino. Affectionately refered to as "East Philadelphia" by me and my boy (a la St. Louis and East St. Louis), Camden is said to be undergoing a succesful revitalization effort that will save the city from the great resource drain that it suffered from in the late 20th century but whether or not this is overly optimistic political rhetoric or truth still remains to be seen. One can certainly hope that there's at least some truth to the optimism, because even just one trip through Camden is really a fucking reality check.

Oddly enough, the only rap group that I'm really familiar with that hails from the mean streets of East Philadelphia/Camden is the duo known as The Krown Rulers. Made up of MC Grand-Pubah (no Brand Nubian) and DJ Royal Rocker, The Krown Rulers came-up with Philly's legendary Tuff Crew and released the often-talked-about-but-rare-as-fuck Phanjam LP (which I've never heard-- Cosmo, hit me with a dub, playboy!) with the Tuff Crew. In 1988, The Krown Rulers put out their own LP on Warlock Records called "Paper Chase." This is without a doubt one of my favorite old-school hip-hop records that I own. It's simply drenched in the heavy, heavy percussion-first ethos that characterized a lot of the great records from the late '80s. The shit just flat out bangs with hella loud drums, energetic sample stabs, and some pretty furious scratch hooks.

I've posted two of my favorite joints off this classic album for y'all. The violent title track banger "Paper Chase" and the following track, "32nd St. Down (The Eastside Story)," that rides the fuck out of Stevie Wonder's "Superstitious" guitar riff. This shit is so damn tough.

Buy this record if you find it.

Krown Rulers "Paper Chase"
Krown Rulers "32nd Street Down (The Eastside Story)"


Simon Schama "Godly America" and "Worldy America"


The following passage is the concluding paragraph of Simon Schama's article that expresses clearly differences between "Godly America" and "Worldly America." It's pretty good but the conclusion I've quoted here is really quite beautiful:

"Well, the autumn leaves have, just this week, fallen from the trees up here in the Hudson Valley and the scales from the eyes of us deluded worldlies. If there is to be any sort of serious political future for the Democrats, they have to do far more than merely trade on the shortcomings of the incumbents - and there will be opportunities galore in the witching years ahead (a military mire, a fiscal China syndrome and, hullo, right before inauguration, a visit from al-Qaida). The real challenge is to voice an alternative social gospel to the political liturgy of the Godlies; one that redefines patriotism as an American community, not just a collection of wealth-seeking individuals; one that refuses to play a zero-sum game between freedom and justice; one in which, as the last populist president put it just a week ago, thought and hope are not mutually exclusive. You want moral values? So do we, but let them come from the street, not the pulpit. And if a fresh beginning must be made - and it must - let it not begin with a healing, but with a fight."


Monday, November 08, 2004

Fuck the South?


It's been quite around here lately. Still in post-Bush-win depression mode. Here's something that's totally not helping anything but is hilarious.

Diplo might cry.

Fuck the South

Fuck the South. Fuck 'em. We should have let them go when they wanted to leave. But no, we had to kill half a million people so they'd stay part of our special Union. Fighting for the right to keep slaves - yeah, those are states we want to keep.

And now what do we get? We're the fucking Arrogant Northeast Liberal Elite? How about this for arrogant: the South is the Real America? The Authentic America. Really?

Cause we fucking founded this country, assholes. Those Founding Fathers you keep going on and on about? All that bullshit about what you think they meant by the Second Amendment giving you the right to keep your assault weapons in the glove compartment because you didn't bother to read the first half of the fucking sentence? Who do you think those wig-wearing lacy-shirt sporting revolutionaries were? They were fucking blue-staters, dickhead. Boston? Philadelphia? New York? Hello? Think there might be a reason all the fucking monuments are up here in our backyard?

No, No. Get the fuck out. We're not letting you visit the Liberty Bell and fucking Plymouth Rock anymore until you get over your real American selves and start respecting those other nine amendments. Who do you think those fucking stripes on the flag are for? Nine are for fucking blue states. And it would be 10 if those Vermonters had gotten their fucking Subarus together and broken off from New York a little earlier. Get it? We started this shit, so don't get all uppity about how real you are you Johnny-come-lately "Oooooh I've been a state for almost a hundred years" dickheads. Fuck off.

Arrogant? You wanna talk about us Northeasterners being fucking arrogant? What's more American than arrogance? Hmmm? Maybe horsies? I don't think so. Arrogance is the fucking cornerstone of what it means to be American. And I wouldn't be so fucking arrogant if I wasn't paying for your fucking bridges, bitch.

All those Federal taxes you love to hate? It all comes from us and goes to you, so shut up and enjoy your fucking Tennessee Valley Authority electricity and your fancy highways that we paid for. And the next time Florida gets hit by a hurricane you can come crying to us if you want to, but you're the ones who built on a fucking swamp. "Let the Spanish keep it, it’s a shithole," we said, but you had to have your fucking orange juice.

The next dickwad who says, "It’s your money, not the government's money" is gonna get their ass kicked. Nine of the ten states that get the most federal fucking dollars and pay the least... can you guess? Go on, guess. That’s right, motherfucker, they're red states. And eight of the ten states that receive the least and pay the most? It’s too easy, asshole, they’re blue states. It’s not your money, assholes, it’s fucking our money. What was that Real American Value you were spouting a minute ago? Self reliance? Try this for self reliance: buy your own fucking stop signs, assholes.

Let’s talk about those values for a fucking minute. You and your Southern values can bite my ass because the blue states got the values over you fucking Real Americans every day of the goddamn week. Which state do you think has the lowest divorce rate you marriage-hyping dickwads? Well? Can you guess? It’s fucking Massachusetts, the fucking center of the gay marriage universe. Yes, that’s right, the state you love to tie around the neck of anyone to the left of Strom Thurmond has the lowest divorce rate in the fucking nation. Think that’s just some aberration? How about this: 9 of the 10 lowest divorce rates are fucking blue states, asshole, and most are in the Northeast, where our values suck so bad. And where are the highest divorce rates? Care to fucking guess? 10 of the top 10 are fucking red-ass we're-so-fucking-moral states. And while Nevada is the worst, the Bible Belt is doing its fucking part.

But two guys making out is going to fucking ruin marriage for you? Yeah? Seems like you're ruining it pretty well on your own, you little bastards. Oh, but that's ok because you go to church, right? I mean you do, right? Cause we fucking get to hear about it every goddamn year at election time. Yes, we're fascinated by how you get up every Sunday morning and sing, and then you're fucking towers of moral superiority. Yeah, that's a workable formula. Maybe us fucking Northerners don't talk about religion as much as you because we're not so busy sinning, hmmm? Ever think of that, you self-righteous assholes? No, you're too busy erecting giant stone tablets of the Ten Commandments in buildings paid for by the fucking Northeast Liberal Elite. And who has the highest murder rates in the nation? It ain't us up here in the North, assholes.

Well this gravy train is fucking over. Take your liberal-bashing, federal-tax-leaching, confederate-flag-waving, holier-than-thou, hypocritical bullshit and shove it up your ass.

And no, you can't have your fucking convention in New York next time. Fuck off.


Game over.


Wednesday, November 03, 2004

When I called Bush voters "idiots" below...

... apparently I wasn't wrong.

click me


The below post...


The post below this one was inspired by a sense of rage, fear, depression, embarassment, disgust, disconnection, and a bunch of other bad adjectives that I felt embodied the lump in my throat (one that felt to be precisely the size of Ohio, I might add). I'm leaving up the post simply to demarcate a specific moment in time. But, I'm starting to come to grips with things a bit and the shitty adjectives that summed up my emotional makeup are giving way to more optimistic ones, leaving me rather inspired to make a positive impact and help this wierd place we call "America" out.

But, yo, most of all... to all my fucking peoples, I love you.

Now let's stop bitching and let's do the god damn thing.


Tuesday, November 02, 2004

There is no god.


Can someone please just explain to me what kind of country I fucking live in?

I am not one of these people. If you voted for the evil one, realize right now that I am not a single fucking thing like you.

Remember that shit.

This is-- without a doubt-- the most disheartening, disturbing, infuriating, and depressing day of my life.

To all the people that will be further disenfranchised by President Bush's terrible domestic and foreign policies, I pray for you and beg your forgiveness.

It's probably not of much concern to you, but in my defense, I voted for the other guy.

I'm sorry it didn't help anything.

And, as my boy jamie told me on IM:

jamie: the masses spoke
jamie: i'll paraphrase for them
jamie: "we're fucking idiots"


Andrew Zbihlyj is Gully


While reading the excerpted portion of Thomas Frank’s ”What’s the Matter with Kansas” in Harper’s a few months back (April 2004), I ran into Andrew Zbihlyj’s wonderful mixed-media work that accompanied Frank’s piece. Here’s a few shots of random works of his, but go to his flash website to peep more game. It's pretty frightening mixed-media stuff that seems pretty clearly comic-book inspired. I fucks with it.

(text says “fe-ree-dom. say it!!”)


Monday, November 01, 2004

Somebody Buy Me This



I want this

Somebody cop it for the bol.


Tom Penny Changed The Game So Shut Up Already


This blog has started off as being too grad-school-nerdy so I’ma bring it down to a level I’m more comfortable at.

So, last week, I was checking my man Brendan BringEm’s and Joey Blanco’s wonderful weekly Sunday night jump-off Soul Travelin’ and I walked in and saw some dude that looked mighty familiar. The fact that he was surrounded by a group of skateboarders might’ve tipped me off (after all, skateboarders are the biggest fucking group of “yes men” star-worshippers that I’ve ever seen), but you never know these days. So, I tapped my buddy Ricky on the shoulder and asked him: “Ayo, is that Tom Penny?”

Now, I haven’t really skateboarded in years and don’t plan on skateboarding very much in the future, but from the ages of like 13-20, I was pretty much a fucking pathetic skateboard nerd. All I ever did was watch skateboard videos and talk about skateboarding and talk about skateboard videos and talk about watching skateboard videos talking about skateboarding and, of course, skateboard. During the heyday of my skateboard career (which is highlighted by a magical 24-hour period where I could switchfrontsideflip and nolliebacksideflip everytime… and then, never again) no one was as legendary as Sir Tom Penny.

I don’t remember exactly what year it was that he was killing shit but I think it was around ’94 or ’95. All those European Flip dudes came over to the states on a bit of a tour and vowed to destroy everything in their path. Well, they pretty much did, but nobody killed shit like Penny.

In those days, you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing the Penny-lore: how he was always high (on coke, weed, meth, whatever) or how his teeth were all fucked up (he IS British, after all) or how he just switchflipped a building or whatever the fuck it was. The fact of the matter, dudes were talking about this dude and gossiping about this dude and wanting to see every single thing this dude did. He basically turned a whole generation of skateboarding men and boys into gossiping little girls who wanted to know everything about him. But for good reason. Dude is a fucking God.

I mean, he stole the show in both 411 #9 and #10 (I think those are the right issues). Of course, he didn’t actually have any actual “parts” in those videos. He just had commercial clips.

There was the one Etnies ad where he kickflipped and frontside flipped down something like 10 stairs and over a rail drenched in his signature “I don’t give a fuck how hard this shit is, it’s fucking easy for me because I’m the fucking king and I can kickflip over fucking anything and look so fucking good doing it and you’ll watch it in slow motion over and over and over and over” style. The slow motion roar of approval from the camera man is pretty fucking on point. Then there was the TSA ad where he did some ramp-gap-ramp insanity: first, easily floating a massive kickflip over the 10 foot wide gap and then busting an insanely big 360 flip over the same gap… except this time there was a chair placed on top of the ramp he was supposed to land on. Well, he cleared the chair and the ramp with relative ease and stomped the tre flip smoothly on the flat. Stupid hot.

His part in Etnies Hi-Five is so ridiculous I’m not even going to talk about it.

And of course, the legendary switchfrontsideflip over the Carlsbad Gap in the Flip Industry section of 411 #11 was unheard of. Not to mention the “switchflip, switch-ollie, switch-180, 3-stair kickflip, tweaked-backside 5-0 down an 8 stair rail” line.

Basically, dude was out of control.

What pisses me off though is that I’m still friends with a lot of skateboarders and they resent the fact that hella dudes’ favorite skater is still Penny even though he’s really not a shadow of his former self. But, to me, the longevity of his popularity is quite simple: this motherfucker changed the game.

Before Tom Penny, nobody skated like him. After Tom Penny, everyone wanted to skate like him… like it or not. He made everything that came prior to him look obsolete. “Oh, you’re kickflipping 8 stairs? Well, you better make that shit look fucking good or it fucking sucks.” Or, to put it in terms a hip-hop nerd might appreciate: Tom Penny is basically the Rakim of skateboarding. Sure, you had your Tony Hawks and your Eric Kostons and your Rodney Mullens and your Kareem Campbells and your Mike Carrolls. Dudes like them were always leading the pack and will be in the skateboard hall of fame (once its resurrected at what’s left of either EMB or Love Park). But, none of those dudes really really changed the trajectory of modern skateboarding as dramatically as Tom Penny did.

And, I think what Sir Penny did that is still a pretty important lesson is his insistence that what you were doing wasn’t shit if it didn’t look good. “Sports” like skateboarding go through spurts and cycles of progression. Dudes are always going to be doing bigger and harder stuff (until people start trying to ollie like 50 stairs and just fucking die), but Penny will most likely always be “the best” because of his suggestion that style is paramount in skateboarding. But Penny helped us realize that skateboarding is something more of an art than it is a sport. Penny reminded us that the aesthetics of skateboarding are at least AS IMPORTANT AS (if not more so then) the actual tricks themselves.

Or, to reiterate the running theme of this stupid blog: Penny insisted that even in skateboarding the “how” (style) was at least as important as the “what” (the actual trick).

The ending of the story is this: I found out that it was Tom Penny at Loie’s that Sunday night at Soul Traveling. I guess I’m pretty stoked I got to see him… even if he was just sitting around drinking, being jocked by a bunch of grown men.