How they Was Rappin’ in 1996

96rapcollage

ICYMI: Check out our previous entries/playlists from the 1990s:

Oof.

I had almost forgotten how crazy a year 1996 actually was for hip-hop. So many tracks kept coming to mind when creating this one, and personally, this playlist may be my favourite thus far. A ton of head nodders and a whole bunch of incredible music came out this year. 1996 also holds the distinction as being the last year prior to the grip of the “shiny-suit” era of rap.

Surprisingly, Spotify (@Spotify) managed to come through with a bunch of stuff I wouldn’t have expected them to have the rights to so I’m pretty happy with how this one turned out – should be a good summer listen to reminisce over for the hip-hop heads anyway!

Happy #FlashbackFriday and to all my Guelphites, have an amazing Hillside (@HillsideFest) weekend – hopefully some of you will be able to take this playlist with you to the campground.. or maybe even inside of the fabled Volly Village!

2pac96

The best rapper of 1996 (according to Complex) : 2PAC

For those who aren’t aware and/or have been living under rocks, Jay-Z (@S_C_) pulled his entire catalogue from Spotify due to his interests in the competing streaming service, TIDAL (@TIDALHiFi) – the absence of Reasonable Doubt should come as no surprise to most. However, as is usually the case, there are always a few others that manage to elude the reach of Spotify and 1996 has been no different in that regard.

The ideal ’96 rap playlist would have also included cuts from each one of these gems:

da Bush Babees – Gravity

De La Soul – Stakes is High

DJ Honda – DJ Honda

East Flatbush Project – Tried by 12 (single)

Frankie Cutlass – Politics & Bullshit

Jaÿ-Z – Reasonable Doubt

Jeru the Damaja – Wrath of the Math

Juggaknots – Clear Blue Skies

Siah & Yeshua DapoED – the Visualz

Trigger tha Gambler – Life’s a 50/50 Gamble (unreleased)

Don’t forget FOLLOW ALL THE PLAYLISTS ON SPOTIFY – grab ’em in the links at the top of this post if you’re just catching up!

See you “next year”! ✈️ 1⃣️ 9⃣️ 9⃣️ 7⃣️

NEXT UP: How they Was Rappin’ in 1997! 🎤

Click here to follow me on Spotify!

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Breeze Brewin – “Road Rage”

breezebrewinHere at the PRISM, we are long-time supporters of the legendary Juggaknots (@juggaknots) crew.

Perhaps, you even caught our siblings post back in July where we featured the Juggs for the #GuelphMusicClub.

Either way, we regard Breeze Brewin as arguably the most under-appreciated MC in the game over the past two decades.

Fans who have been up on the group since their Fondle ‘Em days know that their musical output can be a bit sparse, to put it mildly.

Thankfully, there have been signs that the family unit is ready to break up their latest period of inactivity.

Breeze has taken the lead by dropping a new track and accompanying video.

Check out “Road Rage” below. It’s a banger.

P.S. When Kendrick (@kendricklamar) dropped his “Control” verse, in typical rap fashion, everyone jumped on the Big Sean (@BigSean) beat and released their own versions.

The ONLY “response” worth hearing came from Breeze.

Dope and a completely original take.

Peep it if you missed it.

#GuelphMusicClub, Pt. VIII: Siblings

calvinhobbesnap

Quiet week for the #GuelphMusicClub.

Despite my late entry, it appears I am the first (ONLY?) to submit for the latest topic.

Is this a sign of things to come or the result of the hectic summer many of us were predicting?

Preferably, the latter.

With Hillside (@HillsideFest) having just wrapped up, MusicLives (@MusicLivesCA) making the transition to print, and myself preparing for my cousin’s upcoming wedding, I can’t even begin to imagine how busy everyone else must be.

‘Tis the season.

Special shout to Sound in My Memory (@soundinmymemory) who has done an admirable job in taking the reins.

I just hope everyone is having some fun as we enjoy the last of the dog days.

We will see you all back soon, no doubt!

PS. Welcome aboard to @andythequizzer who blessed us with an excellent debut last week.

*     *     *     *     *

Siblings.

Therein lies the rub this time around.

It was actually trickier to nail down my favourite here than I had originally presumed.
Clearly, I was far from being alone in that sense!

My first instinct was to focus upon the gods on Earth known as the Isley Brothers.

By coincidence, I had the opportunity to see them in the live setting exactly 10 years ago from today’s date at SARSStock.
(remember that?)

FYI, they were masterful.

Then, I was thinking about bestowing the virtues of Robert and Dean DeLeo, two players who are – due to a lifetime of being confined within the walls of vanilla-rock – often overlooked and subsequently underrated in regards to their above-average songwriting and production skills.

Ultimately, I chose to nix that idea because of their willingness to openly associate themselves with this guy:

chesterbennington

But, in the end (it doesn’t even matter!?), I always prefer to shine a light on some of the lesser-knowns.

That’s why I decided to center this blog post on one of my fave rap groups..

JUGGAKNOTS

juggaknots

The Juggs (@juggaknots) are an underground rap crew hailing out of NYC.

Upon their formation in the early 90s, they primarily consisted of brothers Kevin and Paul Smith, otherwise known as Buddy Slim (producer) and Breezly Brewin’ (MC/producer), respectively.

After some time spent toiling away in music industry limbo, the duo were discovered by living legend, Bobbito García (@koolboblove), of the world-famous Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito show on WKCR-FM.

It was this association that would enable the Juggaknots to release their debut EP, Clear Blue Skies, in 1996 through Bobbito‘s fabled Fondle ‘Em Records label.

clearblueskies
This vinyl-only release was pressed as a limited run and physical copies have grown exceedingly rare. The A-side was labeled the Butter side, with the B-side known as the Barber side.

The project resulted in one of the most profound and compelling releases of the 90s.

Breeze Brewin’, as he would come to be known, laces the record with a razor-sharp wit and thought-provoking lyrics that are spit with an effortless and conversational flow.

He is largely devoid of the stereotypical rap braggadocio and instead, often chooses to humbly reflect upon sociopolitical issues that affect his own community and beyond.

For instance, take the title track in which Breeze raps from the point of view of the white son who falls in love with a black woman and due to this, discovers his father is a racist bigot:

JUGGAKNOTS – “Clear Blue Skies”
from the EP, Clear Blue Skies (1996)

That being said, the record is peppered with a lot of great humour and is about as far as it gets from being preachy and militant.

The EP didn’t really get its due props until it was re-packaged with 11 extra tracks and re-released in 2003 as Clear Blue Skies, Re:Release.

Given that the original release is long out of print, if you would like to hear Clear Blue Skies as it was originally sequenced, take your Re:Release copy and listen in the following order: 1, 2, 3, 11, 5, 9, 7, 20, 16.

Here’s another track that showcases the grimier side of early Juggaknots:

JUGGAKNOTS – “I’m Gonna Kill U”
from the EP, Clear Blue Skies (1996)

And Buddy Slim cannot be given enough acclaim for his beat work here.

The soundscapes are dark, dusty, and soulful, adding just enough mood and grit to make the words resonate that much further.

*     *     *     *     *

It always seemed like Breeze was poised to break out.

His lyricism had always been next-level and he clearly garnered the respect of his peers.

Not only was he a member of two underground super-groups – one known as the Indelible MC’s, the other being the Weathermen – but he also managed to land the lead role in Prince Paul‘s (@DJPrincePaul) “hip-hopera” masterpiece, A Prince Among Thieves,which is, in my opinion, perhaps the greatest concept album ever made in the history of hip-hop.

Here’s a taste of all three:

PRINCE PAUL – “A Prince Among Thieves”

INDELIBLE MC’s – “Weight”

WEATHERMEN – “5 Left in the Clip” (RJD2 remix)

*     *     *     *     *

In spite of these accomplishments, the Juggaknots remain a niche / “in-the-know” indie rap crew.

After a decade-long layoff between albums, they released their sophomore LP, Use Your Confusion, in 2006.

They also upped the sibling-quotient with this record, adding their sister Peridot Smith aka Queen Herawin as an official member of the group / 2nd MC.

She really shines on the following track which is basically a solo joint. And speaking of siblings, it was produced by Oh No (@ohnothedisrupt), the brother of Madlib (@madlib):

JUGGAKNOTS – “Daddy’s Little Girl” (prod. Oh No)
from the LP, Use Your Confusion  (2006)

Use Your Confusion has aged gracefully, in my opinion.

As mentioned previously, the respect the group commands is quite apparent through the tracklisting alone, as they managed to acquire features from icons such as Slick Rick (@iamSlickRick), Sadat X (@SadatX) of Brand Nubian, and Nine, among others.

There are also a few songs that show how they were again, ever-so-slightly ahead of their time.

The title track works as a fine example of this, with the production sounding like something the majority of rap has only begun to experiment with:

JUGGAKNOTS – “Use Your Confusion”
from the LP, Use Your Confusion  (2006)

Using the 10-year rule, I am really hoping the ‘Knots return in 2016 with some fresh lava.

These days, the crew is quite passive with the music, as they all double as full-time school teachers.

I also wanted to acknowledge the elusive 4th member of the squad, DJ Boo. I have heard whispers that he is also a relative, perhaps a cousin, but that cannot be confirmed.

In any case, there is no question that the Juggaknots are the ultimate when it comes to sibling rap crews.

To cap the post, here is one of the most recent works from Breeze Brewin’, as he was featured on J-Zone‘s (@jzonedonttweet) comeback 45:

J-ZONE – “the Fox Hunt” (feat. Breeze Brewin’, Prince Paul & Oxygen)
from the 45, the Drug Song (remix) b/w the Fox Hunt  (2012)

thejuggs