Friday, May 2, 2008

Record Score! - We Don't Need No Water

EPMD "Cross Over" 12" (Def Jam)
I've always been a little lukewarm on EPMD. They've got a good rugged style and Erick Sermon is a beast on production, but it's rare that I find myself thinking 'I need to hear some EPMD.' "Cross Over" is the exception. Ever since I saw the video for this on Yo MTV Raps! back in 1992, I find myself humming that damned Roger Troutman sample. The irony that EPMD's biggest hit was also their 'no-sellout' track isn't lost on me either.

Public Enemy "Shut Em Down" 12" (Def Jam)
It's always a bitter sweet thing when a DJ sells off all of their vinyl. You hate to see someone that worked for eons building up their library suddenly abandon crate digging for whatever reason. The flipside is of course that we all become vultures rushing in to pick the collection over. So that's how i ended up with a VG+ copy of this classic hip hop 12" featuring the notorious Pete Rock remix of Public Enemy's "Shut Em Down," A local DJ decided that he was 'tired of dealing with' all of his records and sold them off at a song. I own another copy of this record, but it's super beat and dusted with what I think is laundry detergent, so I never noticed how damned quiet the 12" pressing of this song actually is. Those banging Pete Rock drums and blaring horns that I've been rocking on bootleg represses for so long sound like whimpers on the tiny grooves of the OG vinyl. Even the Lp version with the sonic assault of the Bomb Squad's beats doesn't have the same neck snapping impact. It's still a rush to own this piece of hip hop history though.

KMD "What A Nigga Know" 12" (Elektra)
There's no way that KMD was ever going to be a mainstream act, but it's still a tragedy the way their 2nd album fell victim to so many conspiring circumstances. Zev Luv X (now widely loved as MF Doom) and his brother Subroc really embraced the creative spirit of hip hop on every level. Their lyrics and beats are so unique to their own sensibilities that there's zero chance that anyone else could have created the 1991 "Mr. Hood" or "Black Bastards" which was originally slated for release in 1994. "What A Nigga Know" was the pre-album single for "Black Bastards" and it's a perfect Golden 90's single full of complex soul sampling, swinging rapid fire delivery and a playful energy. Unfortunately 1994 was also when all of the record labels were in a state of upheaval, dropping all of their rosters of classic hip hop acts in search of the next Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, 2Pac & other crossover west coast 'gangsta' acts. So KMD was on shaky ground when they tried to push their caricature of "little sambo" for the cover of their record, and Elektra opted to shelve the album instead (Elektra was particularly guilty of sending a lot of completed hip hop classics to their vaults to go unheard except through bootlegs and tape trading). As a horrible capper to the whole thing, Subroc was struck by a car and killed shortly thereafter. Zev Luv dropped out of sight and didn't resurface until Bobbito started to release MF Doom singles on his Fondle Em Records label in the last 90's. So this single is a brilliant collection of music and an important piece of the puzzle.

DJ Food "Jazz Brakes Volume 1" Lp (Ninja Tune)
16 short hiphop breaks hovering between 95-125 BPM. Released in 1990, i'm pretty sure DJ Food at this point was just an alias for Coldcut doing a little bit of record contract dodging while they launched their own Ninja Tune label (The DJ Food moniker would later be taken up by Strictly Kev & PC). While i still love the early 90's downtempo sound and there is a nice range of beats here, I have to admit that it's a bigger thrill to own a nice copy of the 2nd release on Ninja Tune, which became one of my favorite labels for most of the 90's & early 2000's. I guess I'm collector scum.

MC Serch "Here It Comes" 12" (Def Jam)
Long before he was pissing me off as the host of Ego Trip's White Rapper Show on VH1, but after he was 'steppin to the AM' with 3rd Bass, MC Serch put out a pretty strong solo record called "Return Of The Product". I bought the CD used based entirely on the strength of this single, and even though I remember liking the album it must not have been enough to save it from a purge. The single still stands up with a nice boastful edge that has an aggressive energy but doesn't get juiced to the level of starting dumb shit. The 12" also features 2 tracks produced by T-Ray, one of my favorite producers from the era, a remix of "Here It Comes" and the album track "Back To The Grill" featuring Chubb Rock, Red Hot Lover Tone and an early appearance by Nasty Nas.

Satao Watanabe "Round Trip" Lp (Vanguard)
1974 album with Chick Corea, Miroslav Vitous, and Jack DeJohnette. With a line-up like that, there's pretty much no way you can go wrong. Even with 20 minute long tracks all of the players are shredding their hardest and doing an admirable job of avoiding stepping on eachother's playing. Unfortunately I feel like Watanabe is a little too out front in the mix and even though you can hear Vitous and DeJohnette pounding through notes in the background it's a little muddy for my tastes.

Jean Pierre Mas & Cesarius Alvim "Ruo de Lourmel" Lp (Inner City)
Bass & Piano duets from 1976, this is a fantastic record. Once again the production & mastering from Inner City is top notch and it allows the bass to be warm but percussive while the piano rolls through with heartbreaking melodies.

I don't know why I keep ending up with an odd number of records but it gives me a chance to fill out the block with a picture of Totoro, the goddamned cutest thing in the history of things.

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