Such is the output of one of the genre’s most prolific DJ/producer that there are inevitably some 12”s that slip under a lot of people’s radars. As a result, today’s post features a couple of 12”s that I have stashed away in the vaults that may be of interest to you…
DJ Premier Introduces Assylum Seekers – Check My Style b/w Gettin’ Mani
I picked this up around 2002 at a record shop in central London called Selectadisc. This came in a blank sleeve and as you can see from the shots of the vinyl, this is likely to have been a low budget release that probably only saw a limited number of pressings. This is affirmed by the fact that this 12” does not even appear on Premier’s Discogs and by the fact that I can find absolutely nothing about it on the internet. ‘Check My Style’ is undoubtedly the better of the two cuts, with a relatively classic Premier sound featuring a chilled piano loop, heavy beats and little else. I am not really that keen on the b-side and to be honest, it doesn’t even really sound like Premier production. Lyrically, the Assylum Seekers are by no means awful, but there really isn’t that much to grab you here and ultimately although they do the beat justice, the real star of this release is of course Premier’s work on the boards. If anyone has any information on this then I would greatly appreciate it, and if you didn’t know that this existed then show some love and drop a comment: I suspect that this may be a blog exclusive.
[Note: It has become clear from comments that Premier did not produce this 12” and in fact it looks like there may have been a little shady business on Empire’s part here… the search for lost Primo beats continues]
Just-Ice – Gangstas Don’t Cry b/w Just Rhymin’ With Kane ft. BDK
The next 12” for today is definitely less rare, as it features on the ‘Fatbeats: Volume 2’ collection released in 2002 and features two veterans of the game, Just-Ice and Big Daddy Kane. I find the a-side a little unispiring, a simple bass hook and drums with Just-Ice ripping verses over the top. To be honest, this feels a little like one of those beats that Primo probably puts together in his sleep, and as such it feels relatively mediocre. The b-side is my preferred cut on this 12”; the beat has a better vibe to it and the appearance of BDK provides the song with a little variation that serves the song well. Overall, this is a decent enough release but it is by no means the best work that any of the three artists who feature on it have ever produced. Still, for all you Premier junkies out there, this is a worthy addition to your collection.
My computer knowledge has increased tenfold since starting this blog. I’m no wiz yet, but I can handle a little HTML now, and more importantly, yesterday I worked out how to rip 12”s to my computer. This can only be a good thing, and now allows me to get some of my rarer singles uploaded in addition to the CD albums… damn I’m good! I’m probably not going to make a regular habit of it as it did take me a while, but in response to a ‘conversation’ I had with Alley Al over at Biff Hop recently, I’m throwing up a couple of 12”s that may tickle your fancy.
Ninety9 – Willow 12”
I remember copping this when it came out in 2000 after it received some pretty heavy rotation on MTV. I know very little about Ninety9, but judging by Alley’s comments, she was a feature on the New York hip hop/spoken word scene around the mid to late ’90s and this ultimately resulted in the release of this pleasing, summery single. The lead track is ‘Willow’, a beautiful string and piano laced beat with sung chorus hook that feels great when the sun is shining and has the effect of making the world around you seem sweet. With lyrical references to an SP1200, you can also be assured that Ninety9 is representing the real hip hop. The b-sides aren’t too shabby either, my favourite being ‘Last Minute’ which has a seriously chilled, late night vibe. All in all, this is a pretty decent 12” from an artist who I would have liked to see a lot more of but who has sadly disappeared from the scene.
DJ JS-1 – Beyond ft. O.C. b/w Arrogant ft. Substantial, Tonedeff, PackFM & Rise
I remember seeing Rahzel in my first year of university and being absolutely blown away by him and his DJ sidekick JS-1, so when this 12” dropped in 2002 I grabbed it without hesitation. ‘Beyond’ is an almost Premieresque (the man deserves his own adjective) beat with melodic piano loop and crispy drums that will get your head nodding, and O.C. comes correct on the vocal side of things. The two elements combined make for a quality, upbeat track that seems to have barely registered on the hip hop map. I’m not a great fan of the b-side, although there is no doubting that JS-1 can work his way around the boards. Ultimately, whenever I used to buy 12” singles, one side would always predominate and leave the other in the shade and in this case, ‘Arrogant’ takes the fall.
The 12” also includes a DJ track featuring DJ ODY-ROC, who I have never heard of before, but the pair perform some seriously tight scratching over a relatively aggressive beat that makes several transitions over its five and a half minute duration. Overall, a quality 12” that demands you hit the link.
Filed under: 12" Reviews
Next up from myself, we have three 12”s featuring purely Canadian artists. Canadian hip hop is as good, and sometimes better, than stuff from the neighbouring USA, and can easily live up to the hype. The 12”s I have picked are representative of the scene here, at least of when the music featured was produced. As with the genre in general nowadays, jiggy club music is preferred, but these 12”s are far from that.
Rascalz – Northern Touch
Firstly, we have a posse cut. This 12″ has been a favourite of mine since I heard it here on TV a few years back when I was visiting. It features The Rascalz, Kardinal Offishall, Thrust, Choclair and Checkmate. After reading some background on the release, it seems it is much more than just a record. It came at a time when black-Canadian artists were not recognised in the Canadian music scene, and the collaboration of some of the most prominent artists in Canada was a way of showcasing the fact that there was good music coming out of Canada at that time. Sampling a B.T. express tune (also used by DMX), each MC comes correct over the beat – it’s nothing more than a rhymefest put to wax, and it works really well. This 12″ touched heads all over the world, featuring in none of other than DJ Premier’s DJ box at the time it was released too – if he likes it, you’ve gotta be doing something right! Just have a listen, it will not disappoint…
Ghetto Concept – Deifitrec b/w Certified
Second up, a great 12″ by a crew out of Toronto called ‘Ghetto Concept’. Ghetto Concept are Kwajo and Dolo, who met in 1989 and went on to release 12”s and albums under this guise. This 12” was released in 1992. Deifitrec b/w Certified is one of those 12”s that never leaves rotation: timeless! You can hear the 1992 vibe in this record, the beats are jazz-sampling simple creations, with the two MCs trading bars back and forth. They have a great vibe to them and it fits right in with the era: call and response, rapping and singing the hooks, and always sounding like they are having fun. The ‘Certified’ remix is my favourite. Deifitrec is also a good cut, but i prefer the other side. I actually featured this 12” in one of my mixes so check out their other stuff if you like this, it’s sure to be of the same standard.
Saukrates/Choclair – Father Time/21 Years
Lastly, a great 12″ featuring two different artists and tracks: Saukrates with ‘Father Time’ and Choclair with ’21 years’. The two cuts make for a a solid 12″ from the days of indie hip hop. Saukrates represents Toronto, and this piano laced beat works perfectly with his rhymes. Saukrates is probably one of the most widely known rappers from Canada; his ‘Brick House’ EP features artists like Common which deomnstrates how respected he is as an MC. The best cut on this 12″, however, is from Choclair. Featured on DJ Premier’s ‘New York Reality Check 101’, it is an understated piece of work – a simple, bassline driven beat with Choclair and the pianos working well together to produce a great indie masterpiece; as mentioned previously, if DJ Premier likes it, you’re onto a winner. Choclair had an album come out a few years back but it wasn’t to my liking. I know that a few 12”s earlier were good, so check those out. For now, this is the 12″ for me!
Filed under: 12" Reviews
First off, an introduction. Dan has mentioned me a couple of times on his blog, and I was very happy to accept his invitation to start contributing to this site. With albums steadily being thrown up, he has asked me to submit some 12”s from my collection to be profiled on the blog. My ethos is much the same as a lot of bloggers (but not all, which is a shame) which is to only put up music which is hard to get a hold of, promo only or out of print. Hope you enjoy the upcoming selections.
Buckshot Lefonque – Breakfast At Denny’s
So with that said, here is 12” #1. This project is very well known but this 12” isn’t; a promo only release of ‘Breakfast At Denny’s’ written by Branford Marsalis under his collaboration guise of Buckshot Lefonque (pictured above). In addition to Marsalis it was co-produced by DJ Premier whose scratches also feature. What is great about this promo find is the ‘Rap’ version featuring Uptown: the same Uptown who released the great ‘Dope On Plastic’. The beat is (as to be expected) a jazzy affair; my opinion of this track is positive, but with Uptown riding the beat it simply gets a lot, lot better. I can only assume Branford, who is by trade a saxophonist, plays sax on this track. The 12″ also features live and album versions. They are good, but as I stated previously, the version with Uptown’s verses is the choice cut here.
Rugged Scientist – Shaolin Anthem b/w Lights, Camera, Action
I found this 12″ whilst working in a thrift store in Bristol a couple of years ago. Some records are too hard to find/unknown for their own good, and this is one of them. All I can tell you is that Rugged Scientist is GZA’s cousin, and passed that, I really cannot help you! Just listen… it has a classic sound (early ’90s, at a guess) with simple beats and a simple flow. ‘Shaolin Anthem’ features the New Born Click, who had a track with MF Doom on one of his projects; again, very little info for you. The other side, ‘Lights Camera Action’ is more of the same but without New Born Click this time. Rugged Scientist flows and crafts a beat which is everything I like about this time in the genre: it’s simple. He produced both beats on this 12″ too. I can only find info on one other 12” that he did, and that’s it, so if you have anymore info please let me know!
Reckanize & Mr Sta. Puff – Hip Hop Don’t Stop b/w Massive Weight
This is a west coast 12″, released in 1996, and it is my favorite and most played of the three. I found it in a Bristol record shop for about £3 a long while ago (Eat The Beat, RIP!) and I have never seen it appear ever again, anywhere. Again, it’s unknown by a lot of people. The people who have noticed me with this record have offered me money for it too, so I dunno what the deal is – it’s just good rap to me! The A-side is the best track, a demonstration for me of what hip hop should be all about. A sick beatbox laced beat, with a husky sounding rapper running off lyrics from start to finish. I will hazard a guess that the MC on this track is Reckanize. The B-side, ‘Massive Weight’, features both MCs. This is a slower affair, with both MCs trading bars; I think I prefer Reckanize to the other chap, but he doesn’t detract from the cut in any way. This is produced by two guys called 7th Sunn and G-Clef. The latter is actually Joey Cavaseno, who is also a well known jazz musician who did a 12” with Weldon Irvine (RIP), which as soon as I can find it within my collection, I will do a post for.
That’s it for now, please let me know what you think of the writing style and reviews; this is my first go at doing such a thing!