Spreading Like Infection – Xzibit
March 26, 2007, 6:32 pm
Filed under: Album Reviews

Although my sensibilities lie firmly in the east, I’m trying to open my mind a little bit to stuff from the other side of the US in an attempt to expand my hip hop palette. Despite ‘At The Speed Of Life’ being a relatively high profile release, I only got a hold of it the other day and have been so impressed with it that I thought I’d throw it up almost immediately. To be fair, I feel like I’m cheating a little on the ‘broadening my horizons’ front here, as although Xzibit hails from California, there is no denying that this album is musically closer to counterparts from the five boroughs than from the so-called ‘City of Angels’. Still, it’s a step towards branching out a little bit, and I’m happy to be so pleasantly rewarded. Who knows, I may be bumping some low-riding, gun-toting G Funk before the year is out…

As an affiliate of the Likwit Crew with King Tee and The Alkaholiks, the east coast influence found in this album is hardly surprising as both of the aforementioned artists also lean towards a more New York oriented sound. Indeed, it also seems significant that this was released by Loud, who traditionally had always handled the business of those representing those on the Atlantic coastline. Favourite cuts for me at this stage are ‘Eyes May Shine’ which incorporates some sweeping strings with heavy drums to produce a serious banger, and this is followed by ‘Positively Negative’ which continues in the same rugged vein with a verse from King Tee to add to the lyrical side of the track. Diamond D’s contribution ‘Bird’s Eye View’ is also solid and as with ‘Positively Negative’ benefits from guestspots, this time from J-Ro and Tash of The Liks. Although I don’t feel like I know the album inside out yet, the overall impression I am left with is that the production is pretty consistent from start to finish, and I had no problem in giving the album a full listen through straight out the blocks.

I also enjoy Xzibit’s work on the mic, which is characterised by his deep voice and raw delivery. The content of his verses is relatively standard, but there is an intelligence here that means his street narratives work well (perhaps ‘The Foundation’ is one of the best examples where he details the struggles of street life by relaying the information to his son). It seems like ‘Paparazzi’ is often cited as the standout cut, but X’s brutal dismantling of those artists in it for the money feels a little ridiculous now given his current profile in the game: ‘Pimp My Ride’ ain’t exactly street level.

All in, I have been genuinely impressed with this release and I regret sleeping on it due to my irrational prejudices against the west. This is gritty, rugged hip hop that easily stands up against east coast releases of the era, and it goes down as another quality release from the Likwit Crew that is opening my eyes to the west in more depth. If you’re sleeping like I have been then who knows, it may do the same for you.

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Eliminating Lies – Boogiemonsters
March 24, 2007, 6:30 pm
Filed under: Album Reviews

Although the vast scale of hip hop means that the music is inevitably broken down into numerous sub-genres, the category of ‘Christian Hip Hop’ has always filled me with a vague sense of dread. The thought of somebody ramming their religious ideologies down my throat is not exactly desirable, and as such, the tag often has the effect of putting me off a work. The Boogiemonsters do fall into this sub-genre, and the religious aspect is more present on their second release ‘God Sound’ than on their classic debut, but it avoids being overly preachy and although it is not an astonishing album, it is well worth a listen.

The group are perhaps best well known for their single ‘Recognized Thresholds of Negative Stress’ and deservedly so. This is a fine example of mid ’90s hip hop at its best, and although it was the clear album highlight, the rest of the release kept pace with a chilled, summery vibe and well delivered verses.

Their sophomore release is definitely not as strong, losing the sense of fun that categorised the first album in favour of a darker, more monochrome sound, but in places this does work well. ‘The Beginning Of The End’ has some tight rolling drums and brooding samples that make for an effective album opener. ‘Whoever You Are’ has a spacious feel and some atmospheric strings, and ‘Whistles In The Wind’ has a seriously laid back flava with echoing rim hits and, you guessed it, some whistling. These tracks are the highlights for me, and I rarely delve much deeper into the album. The beats lack impact overall and I do not feel that there is enough to keep a listener engaged properly over the album in its entirety.

MCs Vex and Mondo are effective on the mic, with nice flows and intelligent lyrics, but as with some of the beats, there is something lacking here that means my attention is not completely held. Don’t get me wrong, their deliveries are accomplished, but if you asked me to detail their work content-wise, I would struggle to tell you as the verses do not demand that you take notice. There are of course references to their religious beliefs, but thankfully these do not feel overly preachy and avoid detracting from the quality of the album in some places, although as already mentioned, this is rather spasmodic.

If you are expecting something as good as ‘The Underwater Album’ then you will be inevitably disappointed, but there are moments on ‘God Sound’ that warrant a good listen. This is intelligent hip hop that despite its shortcomings will reward you in small doses. Enjoy.

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White Man’s Burden – Miilkbone
March 20, 2007, 6:29 pm
Filed under: Album Reviews

When I was thinking about a name for this blog back in December, I didn’t really labour over the task too heavily. I knew I wanted to reference the first LOTUG album in some way as it holds a special place in my heart, and I also wanted something that sounded good. Whether I achieved the latter or not is down to personal opinion, but I still like it and I enjoy the fact that it hints towards the urban nature of the genre (bricks = buildings, get it?!). What I didn’t really consider was the reference to Jersey (Newark is ‘The Brick City’), and it is only really as a by-product of writing this blog that I have fully realised the significance of ‘Da Bricks’ within the culture as a whole. Redman, Naughty, Artifacts… the list goes on. Of course, I wasn’t unaware of its role in hip hop, but I just hadn’t really thought about it that much and given it the full credit that it deserves.

With this in mind, today’s post focuses on Miilkbone, a Jersey resident whose debut release ‘Da Miilkrate’ seems to get overlooked despite a satisfying combination of beats and rhymes. A Naughty By Nature affiliate, it is no surprise to see Kay Gee popping up on the production credits a number of times, and generally speaking, the beats are solid with a classic mid ’90s flava: big drums and well chosen samples. Mufi is the lead producer on the album, putting together no less than seven of the cuts here, and this surprises me as he is a relatively unknown entity whose only other major production credit is on Queen Latifah’s Grammy winning track ‘U.N.I.T.Y.’. Highlights for me are ‘Keep It Real’ with its jazzy piano sample (the remix is also excellent), ‘Move Wit’ Da Groove’ which has a real ‘party in the summer’ vibe and ‘Check Me Out’ that features some classic sleigh bells and an enjoyably broody soundscape. This is not to say that the production is exceptional as there is some filler here, and I do find myself reaching for the skip button on a number of occasions when listening to the whole album: they’re not awful, but some of the beats lack punch and are easily forgotten.

Miilkbone can handle his business on the mic, with a flow reminiscent of his Naughty By Nature affiliates but without the finesse that make Treach and Vinnie so engaging. The lyrical content essentially falls back on the staple diet of boasts, brags and parties, but he carries the style off well enough over the course of the album. What really grates for me is his relatively consistent reference to the colour of his skin, and many of the skits revolve around the idea of his rejection of the ‘traditional roles of the white male’ as a result of growing up ‘next to the projects… with just flat out hoods’. If Miilk was so keen to prove that the colour of his skin was irrelevant to his music, then why the hell did he choose to bang on about it all the time? The irritatingly simplistic vision that he puts forward with regards to notions of race and identity in hip hop end up coming off as superficial at best, and at their worst, highly ignorant. Perhaps this is overly harsh given that this was released in ’96 when issues of colour in relation to hip hop had not been addressed in the same depth that they have been in more recent times, but there is no doubt that these overly earnest ‘justifications’ of his place within the genre feel heavily played out over the album in its entirety.

However, putting this issue to one side is worthwhile, as ‘Da Miilkrate’ is a solid release that contains enough highlights to keep the majority of heads happy. Don’t expect to be blown away, but in places this will have your head nodding and feet tapping: show Jersey some props and hit the link.

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Here Come The Hicks – Down South
March 9, 2007, 6:18 pm
Filed under: Album Reviews

I’ve said before that there is always a satisfaction in finding early works by artists who have subsequently made a big impression on the genre. ‘Lost In Brooklyn’ is not only a slept on and enjoyable release from ’94, but it is also the album on which we find Shawn J. Period’s first production credits (highlighted in the picture). If you don’t know Shawn J. by name, then you will inevitably know the tracks from the late ’90s that saw him become a major player in the Rawkus boom, providing beats for Mos Def, Blackstar, and a host of other artists at a time when hip hop was still in the wake of the golden era.

Featuring production from Shawn J. himself as well as T-Ray, The Beatnuts and Stretch Armstrong, the beats here are what you would expect: horn loops/stabs, big drums and funky basslines. The album is in fact split between a ‘south’ side (the first six tracks) and the ‘north’ side (the rest of the album) but to be honest this split is rather arbitrary as the sound throughout the album is relatively consistent. Beat-wise, this is clearly oriented in the east, although there are some nice ‘southern’ touches with the odd country and western guitar appearing that provide a little twist on the stock New York sound. Favourite joints for me are ‘Southern Comfort’ (which interestingly features the same sample utilised by Da King & I on the ‘Crak Da Weazel’ chorus hook) which has a nice summery vibe to it and a slightly cheesy chorus vocal; ‘Lost In Brooklyn’ is a straight up banger with infectious horns and tight snares; and I also like the album closer ‘Open Sesame’ which features classic Beatnuts production and verses that revolve around cracking open a brew and indulging in some fine liquor (content that the Beatnuts are no strangers to).

MC Soda Pop does a good job on the mic, although I think it would be fair to say that his verses are nothing sensational. The southern influences in production carry over into the rapping with multiple references to their roots in the lands of ‘tractors, rakes and hoes’, and Soda’s flow is capable enough to be carried by the quality of the production work underneath him. The presence of DJ Myorr is also felt on the record, handling all scratch duties and even scoring himself a DJ only cut, ‘Oh My’. Ultimately, the trio work well together, and any weaknesses in specific areas of the work are easily forgotten by the cohesiveness of the record overall.

‘Lost In Brooklyn’ is unlikely to blow your mind, but it is a solid effort that stands up relatively well amongst the plethora of quality releases that ’94 witnessed. From my Google searching for images and a bit of info, it also seems like this may have gone pretty much unnoticed, as the pickings were slim. This is a shame, as this album deserves to be dusted off and given a little bit more recognition than it seems to have done since its release: give it a listen and help it along its way.

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The Accapella’s An Instrument – Da King & I
March 5, 2007, 6:17 pm
Filed under: Album Reviews

It doesn’t take much thought for me to realise that I am essentially a music addict. Through the purchasing of CDs and with the revelation of hip hop blogs, I am in the enviable position of simply having too much of it on my hands: there are literally not enough hours in the day to listen to everything that I acquire with the due care and attention that I would ideally like to. The upshot of this is that I regularly buy albums, give them a quick listen and then do one of three things. If it instantly grabs me, it will stay in rotation for a period of time that equates to how much I like it and in all probability I will dip in and out of it as the years pass by. If I don’t like it, it simply goes up on the shelves with the rest of my ever-increasing collection and may or may not see the light of day again for a significant period of time. Finally, and perhaps best of all, there are occasionally albums that I listen to and enjoy, but for whatever reason, I do not fully appreciate their greatness at the time and it is only at a later date that I am struck by their true quality.

Da King & I’s ‘Contemporary Jeep Music’ is a perfect example of an album that falls into this latter category of my music-listening habits, and has ultimately become one of my favourite albums of the era combining slammin’ production with masterful wordplay that perhaps contradicts the image of the band presented by the album artwork and title: this is fun, uplifting, positive, party hip hop at its absolute finest.

The crew is made up of MC Izzy and DJ Majesty and although Izzy makes some contribution on the boards, the majority of the beats are produced by Majesty. Released in ’93, the album is horn heavy, featuring squealing saxophones and trumpets that root this firmly in the early ’90s era. However, there is a subtlety to the beat crafting here that takes it beyond the simple drums and loops formula. With each track, various samples come and go throughout four, eight and sixteen bar sections, seamlessly weaved into the compositions to create a highly engaging sonic landscape. The marvel of the album is that these transitions do not feel forced, each coming at exactly the right moment in time to keep your head noddin’ and the smile plastered firmly across your face. It is a signifier of the work’s brilliance that all too often I find myself reaching for the rewind button as a track ends: at times, I feel like I just can’t get enough of it. Just check out ‘Mr. All That’ and ‘Let’s Take A Trip’ and you’ll see what I mean.

Incredibly, MC Izzy is more than up to the task of matching the beats with his skills on the mic. The subject content here is varied, swinging between more reflective numbers like ‘Tears’ where Izzy details the trials and tribulations of lost love with heart-warming honesty all the way through to straight up braggin’ verses such as those found on ‘Flip Da Script’. His uptempo delivery is highly accomplished, splattered with internal rhymes and complex rhythmical patterns that carry the listener along the paths of his intricately spun narratives. Perhaps one of the tracks that captivates me most is the album closer ‘What’s Up Doc’ which takes the standard ‘shouts’ track to another level:

I give thanks to my Pops for being around,
Used to be seeing a frown when I let him down,
But on this day I apologise,
I’m 20 so I don’t see things through a child’s eyes,
I was rough but I wasn’t bad,
I had more of a relationship with my Mum than with my Dad,
‘Cos I was used to seeing Daddy stressed,
Which means that I wasn’t seeing Daddy’s best,
If I could turn the clock back ten years I would,
I guess it was for my own good,
‘Cos I believe that God gives you what you can stand,
You’re only in training to be a better man,
I thank God for my loving family and I plan to be
A family man myself, what else, check it,
When I blow up, my boys blow up,
I ain’t selfish, thinking of yourself you better grow up
And get off that foul mentality…

Far from coming across as corny, these lines feel so genuine and heartfelt that I would challenge anybody to resist their charms. In a genre that is all too often associated with the darker sides of ghetto existence, Izzy makes you bop your head and feel warm inside with wonderful eloquence, steering well clear of the stereotypical gangsterisms that were beginning to take a firm hold of hip hop during this period. At the ripe old age of 20, the maturity and fun that he brings to the album are invaluable, and help to set it apart from other works released during the second half of golden era rap.

I could honestly rant and rave about this album until the cows come home, but the bottom line is that ‘Contemporary Jeep Music’ comes highly recommended here at From Da Bricks. Unfortunately, this was the only output by the crew save a few production credits scattered here and there, but I like to think that Izzy and Majesty may have fulfilled their dreams of comfortable and soul-enriching family life and look back on their time in hip hop with happiness and nostalgia. What they have left behind is a demonstration of how wonderful, uplifting and musically creative hip hop can be, and I know that this is an album that I will continue to enjoy for many years to come. I can only hope that it brings you the same amount of joy that it has brought me: check it.

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Long Live The Rugged Female – Heather B
March 1, 2007, 6:14 pm
Filed under: Album Reviews

Hip hop is such a male dominated musical genre that there is no denying that women have struggled to make a credible impression upon it. Of course you’ve got your Foxy Browns and Lil’ Kims, but I think it would be fair to say that their rise to fame may have been due to a little timely arse shaking here and there as much as it has been about their musical prowess. Bottom line, they’re marketable: they look good (if that’s your thing), can hold a microphone and deliver some verses all at the same time. Imagine that! The scope for genuinely talented female artists within hip hop is regrettably limited, and as such, there have been very few quality releases from the fairer sex that are on par with their male counterparts.

Heather B.’s 1996 release ‘Takin’ Mine’ is an exception to this rule, pairing quality production with Heather’s tight flow that makes for an enjoyable, if not mind-blowing, release. Da Beatminerz pop up on the production credits for a track, but the majority is handled by BDP affiliate and brother of KRS One, Kenny Parker. ‘All Glocks Down’ was the lead single off the album, and does a good job of flipping the well used ‘People Make The World Go Round’ sample that has appeared on numerous cuts within the genre. It is without doubt the highlight of the album and sees Heather B. in strong form advising all comers to be aware of her role as the ‘bulletproof lyricist’

There are other good cuts here too, but it is really the consistency of this release that wins me over. There really isn’t a bad beat on here and although Heather’s style is nothing phenomenal, she carries the material well over the course of the album. ‘Takin’ Mine’ can be played from front to back with no need to skip, and this is more than can be said for a lot of albums released during this period. Thankfully, she also avoids over-playing the ‘female card’ and instead sticks to some boasts and brags that she pulls off with a gritty and accomplished delivery. You go girl!

The great thing about this album is that it does not feel like a novelty. This in itself is a success: when I listen to ‘Takin’ Mine’ I am simply enjoying a decent quality hip hop album that removes itself from the ‘female rapper’ tag. With no sign of breasts or an arse in sight, this goes down as a slept on release that I imagine most heads will appreciate: cop it and find out.

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Can’t Go Wrong? O.C.
February 24, 2007, 6:04 pm
Filed under: Album Reviews

Living just across the street from Pharoah Monch in Queens, O.C. began his career in hip hop as a friend and collaborator of Organized Konfusion. Contributing a verse to the O.K. classic ‘Fudge Pudge’, Omar Credle ultimately landed himself a deal with Wild Pitch and this led to his certified classic ‘Word…Life’ being released in ’94. This is one of my favourite albums of the era with banger after banger, not least the incredible ‘Time’s Up’ produced by none other than Buckwild.
However, today’s post is focussed on his sophomore release ‘Jewelz’. Understandably I couldn’t wait to check this after O.C.’s debut and the production roster promises much: Premier, Ogee, Buckwild and Da Beatminerz. This is an impressive team to say the least, and it should should mean that this release is every bit as good as ‘Word…Life’. Unfortunately I have always felt that this album lacks something, despite solid beatmaking and O.C.’s intelligent and well delivered rhymes; ultimately ‘Jewelz’ leaves me feeling a little disappointed.

Of course, this is not to say that the album doesn’t have some highlights. ‘M.U.G.’ sees O.C. team up with Freddie Foxxx and the pair rip through their verses with style over my favourite Premier beat on the album. I like the rolling pianos of ‘You And Yours’ which are paired with a crisp snare hit that give the track a pleasingly eerie feel. Despite it’s cheesy chorus hook, I do also like ‘Can’t Go Wrong’ although I would expect that this may just be one of those instances of personal preference that is not matched by popular opinion. Generally the beats are good but they just aren’t great, which is a disappointment given the pedigree of beatmaker on this album.

O.C.’s rhyming ability is formidable matching a measured and fluid delivery with content that is engaging and intelligent. He sounds best on the more laid back cuts such as ‘The Chosen One’ where his eloquent verse feels like it floats above the beat below. You can hear a definite link between O.C.’s style and his old rhyming buddies Prince Po and Pharoah Monch: the lines weave around each other in complex rhythmical patterns and there are phrases like ‘the ancient ruins of rap’ that give his rhymes a vaguely mystical feeling that is entrancing.

Ultimately it is a shame that Credle was not able to duplicate the sheer quality of his debut with ‘Jewelz’. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good album, but I think that the benchmark had simply been set so high by ‘Word…Life’ that this was always going to be a disappointment. It’s still one of the better releases from ’97, but if you’re expecting another dose of classic material then be warned: you may not find it here.

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Funky Like A Monkey – Intelligent Hoodlum
February 20, 2007, 6:03 pm
Filed under: Album Reviews

As we all know, making your mark on hip hop and staying relevant as times inevitably change is no mean feat. I’ve spoken before of the comings and goings of those involved in hip hop and as we all know, the genre has had its fair share of casualties along the way who were unable to build sustainable careers from the music. The Intelligent Hoodlum, now better known as Tragedy Khadafi or simply Tragedy, is one of the lucky few who has managed to go against this trend, going back as far as the Juice Crew days in his home of Queensbridge to build a career in hip hop that has spanned seventeen years and six full length albums.

Tragedy’s ‘Intelligent Hoodlum’ moniker back in the day clearly hinted at his personal history of crime and violence. Indeed, his first album was released after he had completed a sentence on Riker’s Island for robbery in 1988 (I saw this go up recently over at Biff Hop in Alley’s massive 300th post). Whilst doing his time, he immersed himself in literature concerning the teachings of Islam and African-American culture (hence the ‘Intelligent’). This is clearly reflected in the rhyme content throughout ‘Saga Of A Hoodlum’ which comments on life on the streets with eloquence, insight and intelligence but whilst steering clear of being overly preachy: these are the words of a man who has been there and done that, simply stating his experiences of his time on this planet without ramming it down your throat or falling into self-loathing or glamourisation. This is matched with an engaging flow that means the Queensbridge MC manages the near impossible feat of combining both content and style.

The beats don’t disappoint either, with K-Def assuming responsibility for the majority of the production here with Marley pitching in from time to time as well. Given that this was released in 1993, I’m sure that you can hazard a guess at the type of sound we’re looking at here: straight up NYC boom bap. Samples are well chosen and beautifully simple, the drum tracks are heavy and have real momentum and basically speaking the production is flawless. Having said this, I would argue that K-Def has produced better work (check for a full discography with samples that you can listen to), but given his pedigree this should not be seen as a criticism of ‘Saga Of A Hoodlum’: this is still bangin’ from front to back.

Apart from this and his debut, I haven’t really checked out much of Tragedy’s other releases as I suspect that they will only serve to be a disappointment. Still, you have to admire a man who has built such a successful career in hip hop and however you feel about his later work, his first two albums are fine examples of early-mid ’90s hip hop and should be regarded as essential material for any discerning fan of the genre.

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Knowledge Of Self – Poor Righteous Teachers
February 15, 2007, 6:00 pm
Filed under: Album Reviews

Although Poor Righteous Teachers’ influence within the genre of hip hop is undeniable, I am the first to admit that I have slept on their material somewhat. They are one of those groups that I know are great, like almost everything I hear and yet have never been lucky enough to come across their albums on used CD hunts and am unwilling to pay the often extortionate prices that they go for on Amazon/EBay. I did have the good fortune of stumbling across their fourth album ‘The New World Order’ though, and in response to a request from Vlandro over at Underrated Hip Hop, I’m throwing it up.

The group’s roots lie in the teachings of The Nations of Gods and Earths, more commonly known as the Five Percent, and this conscious outlook permeates the majority of their material. ‘The New World Order’ is no exception, with lyrical content often surrounding the progress of the ignorant, the semi-enlightened and those that have true knowledge of self. Wise Intelligent is definitely the strongest of the group’s two MC team, and in fact, Culture Freedom contributes relatively little to the album other than joining in for chorus hooks and the odd verse here and there. There are some pleasing guest spots on here as well, with Nine, Brother J, The Fugees and KRS all making appearances.

What I like about this album is that the production still comes off relatively hard; there are enough kicks and snares to satisfy any fan of the mid ’90s era. There is also a strong reggae influence on some of the cuts with appearances from reggae legend Jr. Reid and Sluggy Ranks which are generally successful (I find ‘Dreadful Day’ a little bit cringe-worthy). The rap/reggae standout for me is ‘They Turned Gangsta’, which is about as good as any cut that I have heard that has combined elements of the two genres.

Very few hip hop artists have managed to make the turbulent transition between eras within the genre without coming off as behind the times, overly try-hard or in the worst of cases, straight wack. Considering that this was the group’s fourth album, it is remarkably consistent and feels uncontrived. There is a sense that PRT were still following their own musical course here without feeling the pressure to adhere too closely to contemporary trends within the genre. For this reason, ‘The New World Order’ is a success, and it is a demonstration of the talent and longevity of the crew. Just writing this has made me realise that I need to wake my sleepy arse up and get a hold of their earlier material: any links and comments greatly appreciated.

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Oh My God – Blahzay Blahzay
February 13, 2007, 5:58 pm
Filed under: A DJ Saved My Life, Album Reviews

Although DJ P.F. Cuttin and MC Outloud initially formed their alliance as far back as 1985, it was not until ’96 that they realised the full potential of their union, releasing one of the finest albums in the latter stages of hip hop’s second golden era: ‘Blah, Blah, Blah’. It is rare that I unequivocably recommend an album on From Da Bricks, but if you have a penchant for big bangin’ beats and dope rhymes then you would be hard pushed to find anything better within the genre that is not already widely known. This is pure hip hop in its undiluted state: a DJ/MC team that paid their dues, threw together some choice snares and samples and recorded a straight up banger at D&D Studios, one of the homes of the genre. Don’t let this fool you into thinking that this means the group are simply the purist’s choice: this is high quality material that will appeal to anybody who holds an interest in the genre. Can you tell that I’m a fan of the album yet?

If you are new to the group then your most likely point of reference will be their breakthrough single ‘Danger’, the Jeru sampling banger that recently cropped up on Jazzy Jeff’s ‘Hip Hop Forever II’ mix. This cut epitomises hip hop of the era and is a worthy representative of the album as a whole, which consistently delivers with crisp snares, big bass kicks and well chosen samples. There really isn’t a bad cut on ‘Blah, Blah, Blah’ and it is definitely an album that is best enjoyed in its entirety. If I had to offer a criticism, it would simply be to state that the crew are better off on the slightly more upbeat cuts; the slower songs lack the immediacy of the more uptempo numbers.

Outloud’s mic skills work well with the production, although the lyrical content is nothing revolutionary. Still, his delivery carries the subject material well: it is a confident and engaging flow that complements the beats rather than detracting from them. To be perfectly honest, given my tendency to focus on the production as opposed to the rhymes, Outloud’s flow almost constitutes another instrument for me in these songs, merging into the overall sonic effect. Bottom line, it’s dope.

Whilst having a look for some video material to add to this post, I stumbled across a recent interview with P.F. Cuttin that highlighted the strife that hip hop is currently facing. Speaking in the back room of a club where he’s put on a set, he explains his selections in relation to the industry today.

Although I can understand that the man deserves to get paid, it may well be this defeatest attitude which is now holding the culture back. I mean, if you are going to state that ‘85% of the records I play in the clubs, I hate them shits’, you can’t exactly hope to re-engage the audience that he is explaining are no longer present in the club scene. Perhaps hip hop may be dead after all. Anyway, if you’re interested, there are another two sections to this interview that you can catch on YouTube.

Don’t let P.F.’s negativity get you down. If hip hop is struggling today, there are still plenty of fine examples from the past to savour and enjoy: ‘Blah, Blah, Blah’ is most definitely one of them. Cop it, forget about the crisis of the culture and remember what quality mid ’90s hip hop was all about.

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