Dec 00

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

Nov 00

Spine Magazine

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Spine Magazine – you are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge…

I don’t think we’ve linked to Spine before, which is a shame because it’s a good zine. It’s nice to see UK writers looking at hip hop from an independent UK perspective rather than following the American opinions on things. It seems such an easy thing to do but the proportion of sites that cover hip hop with the “This is the big thing in the US right now” attitude is staggering. Especially worthy of investigation are the article on DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist’s phenomenal Brainfreeze CD and the interview with Tanya‘s mate Kid Koala.

To be totally honest, anyone who had thirty-six pairs of Nike Air Max Plus, arranged in colour order would get a link from me. NYLPM was launched as a pop culture blog rather than a pop blog, and as a man sporting a new pair of box-fresh trainers, I can officially state that it’s been sadly lacking in trainer-based content thus far.

Nov 00


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Now, I’m a big fan of quiz machines in pubs. The quiz element of the machines is a noble art which JPM, in my opinion, have mastered. However, the recent phasing out of all the old machines in favour of the new touch-screen things with loads of different games on them has led to one massive problem: WHERE THE HELL AM I MEANT TO REST MY PINT?

The machine’s slender, futuristic design means that there is not a horizontal surface in sight. The top? Rounded off. Useless. The front? All curvy. Useless. To add insult to injury, JPM have fashioned a small rubber area just below the coin slot, about beermat-sized and just perfect to hold a pint glass. The one problem: it’s only at a bloody thirty degree angle, isn’t it? I’ve seen countless pints lost through drunken mis-reading of the inclination of this little resting-spot. (Well, admittedly, I’ve seen 2 pints lost, but that doesn’t stop me being angry.) What’s that little rubbery bed for? Could it hold a bag of nuts if you got it at the right angle? Could a five pence piece be balanced there? To be perfectly honest, I’m not going to be the fool that risks my nuts or fivepence.

At my local, they built a nice little shelf for the job, then promptly moved the quizzer away from it. Do I get the feeling all this trouble could have been solved if they’d just left the damn thing square rather than trying to live up to the idea of the space age?

What I Listened To

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What I Listened To today; where. Abridged. In order:

1. DR DRE – “Lil Ghetto Boy”; on the bus there.
2. SPICE GIRLS – “Holler”; in HMV.
3. BLACK STAR/TALIB KWELI – ?; in a shop (note: this could have been anything but it sounded like it was Talib Kweli. Maybe the Reflection Eternal album?).
4. DR DRE – “Fuck Wit Dre Day”; on the bus home.
5. a1 – “Same Old Brand New You; on Blue Peter
6. DJ H FEAT. STEFY – “I Like It”; at home (one of only three tracks on this list I chose to hear, I bought this because I thought it might be H from Steps. It’s quite good. Still not sure if it’s H).
7. TECHNOHEAD – “I Wanna Be A Hippy”; in the pub (note: cut off after about 15 seconds when the bar staff realised what was on the CD).
8. UNDERWORLD – “Born Slippy”; in the pub (on the jukebox – someone selected it right after Technohead was turned off).
9. ARTFUL DODGER presents CRAIG DAVID – “Re-Rewind (The Crowd Say Bo Selecta)”; in the bowling alley (note: I wasn’t bowling, but playing pool. That’s important).
10. BACCARA – “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie”; on Never Mind The Buzzcocks (when I came home and flicked the telly on).

Conclusion: Tom soundtracks his life; I just listen to music.