Posts from 5th December 2000

5
Dec 00

1. Lyric: Eric B & Rakim –

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1. Lyric: Eric B & Rakim – “Paid In Full”

To beat the lyrics to “Bring The Noise” to the top spot would surely take something a bit special? Yes, and so it’s obviously got to be something obscure so that I can feel proud of myself for liking a less popular rapper than you do. No, sometimes the accepted truth actually is right:

Thinkin of a master plan
Cos ain’t nuthin but sweat inside my hand
So I dig into my pocket, all my money is spent
So I dig deeper but still comin up with lint
So I start my mission, leave my residence
Thinkin how could I get some dead presidents?
I need money, I used to be a stick-up kid
So I think of all the devious things I did
I used to roll up, this is a hold up, ain’t nothin’ funny
Stop smiling, be still, don’t nothin’ move but the money
But now I learned to earn cos I’m righteous
I feel great so maybe I might just
Search for a 9 to 5, if I strive
Then maybe I’ll stay alive…

2. Lyric: Public Enemy –

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2. Lyric: Public Enemy – “Bring The Noise”

Is “Bring The Noise” one of Public Enemy’s best tracks? Yes. Is it one of Chuck D’s best raps? Oh yes. Every time I rediscover “It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back” it stuns me, and that’s got to be something to be proud of in an album released ten years ago. This will always be incredible:

Now they got me in a cell ’cause my records they sell
Cos a brother like me said “Well…
Farrakhan’s a prophet and I think you ought to listen to
what he can say to you, what you ought to do.”

Whatcha gonna do? Rap is not afraid of you
Beat is for Sonny Bono, beat is for Yoko Ono
Run-DMC first said a DJ could be a band
Stand on its feet, get you out your seat
Beat is for Eric B, and L.L. as well, hell
Wax is for Anthrax, still it can rock bells
Ever forever, universal, it will sell
Time for me to exit, Terminator X it…

3. Album: Snoop Dogg – “Tha Last Meal”

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3. Album: Snoop Dogg – “Tha Last Meal”

The most talked-about unreleased album in hip hop is set to be released next week. Too late for the Christmas market, too late for the end-of-year polls, too early for the post-Christmas lull, too early for the post-Christmas disposable teenage income: what’s the point? The point is that the album’s shaping up to be one of the best hip hop releases of the year, and a very important progression in the story of Dre, Snoop, NWA and Eminem.

Never being a weblog to advocate the use of file-sharing programs such as Napster, it’d be unfair to comment on the leaked demos or the pre-release promos that we hear have been made available for download. However, I will say that on the basis of the song titles listed, the album looks like being excellent. With the usual special guest stars appearing, it’s like it’s 1993 all over again.

Also, Snoop’s raps sound better than they have since “Doggystyle”. Oops.

4. Song: The Souls Of Mischief –

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4. Song: The Souls Of Mischief – “’93 Till Infinity”

Like almost all the best music, this song defies adequate description short of demanding that anyone with the slightest interest in hip hop must have a listen. The Souls Of Mischief have never and probably will never be this good again.

5. Genre: Bounce

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5. Genre: Bounce

With the exception of K Gee’s minor success with his single “I Don’t Really Care”, bounce is generally unheard of in the UK. K Gee will also probably be aware that the success of his single had very little to do with the fans’ interest in the trans-Atlantic crossover of a new genre, but the fact that there were thongs in the video and the lyrics included: “BIG BOOTY GIRLS! BIG BOOTY GIRLS!”

The US reader may switch off here. All other readers, on the other hand, would be advised to seek out Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up” and BG’s “Bling Bling”, both reasonably large hits in the US, as far as I’m aware. Distinctive for its deafening (in a non-volume sense) drum-machine beats and shamelessly materialistic lyrics, bounce seems to me to be ideal for the UK market, where similarly progressive genres (i.e. UK Garage et al) have little difficulty in achieving crossover success, and where a bit of talk about expensive jewellery and being a playa surely wouldn’t be a disadvantage among Oxfordshire’s wannabe playas.

6. Lyric: Jeru Tha Damaja –

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6. Lyric: Jeru Tha Damaja – “One Day”

Based on a similar premise to Common Sense’s “i used to love h.e.r.”, “One Day” clocks in at just over two minutes long and in that time summarises the current state of hip hop and allows Jeru to offer himself (and, playing the role of the sidekick and producer, DJ Premier) as a solution:

If I recall correctly I last saw Hip Hop down at Bad Boy
We’ll see if Puff knows what’s up
Cos he’s the one getting him drunk and fucking his mind up
We go to the office, he’s nowhere to be found
So we snatch up Jay Black and beat his bitch ass down
“Now where’s Hip Hop?!” “A’ight, a’ight…” he confessed:
“Suge came and took him from Puff last night,
He said he’d give him up if a real nigga came to retrieve him…”
So we went to LA later that evening
When we got there, everything was a’ight
And we brought Hip Hop back home that night

7. Films:

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7. Films: “Shao Lin san hih liu fang” & “Shao Lin yu Wu Dang”

I’d like to claim there was a great significance to these films. I’d like to claim that seeing them changed my life. I’d like to claim they’re at least famous or respected among more than a tiny percentage of the world’s cinema fans. As it is, you’ll have to settle for the fact that they’re classic kung fu films and probably the basis of the Wu Tang Clan as we know them.

Both films are not only inspirational insights into the philosophy which drove the Shaolin temples and spawned the Wu Tang Clan (an aspect which I’d love to go into but I feel I wouldn’t do justice – to understand how it all fits together watch the films and then listen to the first Wu Tang album), but the source of a massive number of the samples which give the Wu-affiliated tracks that inimitable sense of kung fu-ness.

“There are only 35 chambers. There is no 36th.”
“I know that, but I want to create a new chamber.”

8. Lyric: Notorious BIG –

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8. Lyric: Notorious BIG – “Juicy (DJ Premier Remix)”

After DJ Premier’s subtle tweaking, “Juicy” was the track it should originally have been. The slightly more propulsive beat allowed the rhythm and phrasing of Biggie’s raps to come to the fore and revealed the lyrics to a much greater extent:

Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis
When I was dead broke, man I couldn’t picture this
50 inch screen, money green leather sofa
Got two rides, a limousine with a chauffeur
Phone bill about two G’s flat
No need to worry, my accountant handles that
And my whole crew is loungin’
Celebratin’ every day, no more public housin’
Thinking back on my one-room shack
Now my mom pimps a Ac’ with minks on her back
And she loves to show me off, of course
Smiles every time my face is up in The Source
We used to fuss when the landlord dissed us
No heat, wonder why Christmas missed us
Birthdays was the worst days
Now we sip champagne when we’re thirst-ay
Uh, damn right I like the life I live
Cause I went from negative to positive
And it’s all… it’s all good

9. Songs: Led Zeppelin – “When The Levee Breaks”, Black Sabbath – “The Wizard”

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9. Songs: Led Zeppelin – “When The Levee Breaks”, Black Sabbath – “The Wizard”

However unlikely it may seem to him, there may come a time when Jimmy Page’s income comes mainly from royalties derived from hip hop fans who have never even heard a note of his guitar playing, never mind having any interest in it. When B Real of Cypress Hill cited Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” as his favourite track to chill out to, he was representing a whole new generation of hip hop and rap fans who see this kind of classic rock beat as a slightly different but equally interesting version of the hip hop beats they already know. Where did they first hear them? The same records that are giving Page his royalties: the hip hop records that sample rock beats. Whether it’s from a Beastie Boys fan listening to Led Zep after hearing that their beats were good or a Cypress Hill fan listening to Black Sabbath after the band sampled them and recommended them, the lines between rock and hip hop/rap have been broken down and gradually spawned the rock/rap we’re seeing now.

Sampling is almost undoubtedly the biggest factor involved in the blurring of the rock/rap distinction. Is there any great chance that such a large and significant number of young hip hop fans would suddenly have chosen to listen to “When The Levee Breaks”, “Kashmir”, “The Crunge”, Rush’s “Tom Sawyer”, or Black Sabbath’s “The Wizard” without them being re-interpreted by the Beasties, Cypress Hill, De La Soul, the Ultramagnetic MCs or Puff Daddy first? I doubt it.

As part of a short series, the first entry in my Current Top 10 Of Hip Hop

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As part of a short series, the first entry in my Current Top 10 Of Hip Hop

(Note: “top 10” does not imply “top 10 songs”.)

10. Song: 2Pac – “Do For Love”

As Jeff Chang discusses in this archived article from the San Francisco Bay Guardian, few hip hop artists have been successful in producing a mixture of hard and soft output while retaining respect for both aspects of their work. Tupac Shakur is perhaps a rather extreme example of this, since his harder tracks were some of the hardest records being made and his soft tracks some of the most poignant. The fact that “Troublesome ’96” (part of a set of previous NYLPM favourites and one of the most spiteful tracks officially released by Shakur) is immediately followed by the teenage pregnancy warning (“Let me show you how it affects our whole community…”) of “Brenda’s Got A Baby” on his Greatest Hits compilation is a reflection of the breadth of the subjects covered by his work.

“Do For Love” is a beautiful, reflective track built around a sample of Bobby Caldwell’s 1978 track “What You Won’t Do For Love”. A cynic might suggest that 2Pac, rather than being a good rapper, was (on record) a great actor who was also able to rap. Either way you view his work, though, there’s always the sense that 2Pac was using dramatic techniques (in the same way that the classic soul vocalists delved into the song until the lyrical and melodic emotion was real rather than implied) to bring the extra edge to his best raps. On the basis of “Do For Love”, it’s hard to argue.

Tell me who knows a peaceful place where I can go
To clear my head I’m feeling low, losing control
My heart is saying leave, oh what a tangled web we weave
When we conspire to conceive, and now
You’re getting calls at the house, guess you cheating
That’s all I need to hear cause I’m leaving, I’m out the door
Never no more will you see me, this is the end
Cause now I know you’ve been cheating, I’m a sucker for love