How they Was Rappin’ in 1997

97rapcollage

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

After a brief absence, we’re back again with the latest entry into our 90s Rap Playlist series, and this time, it’s crazy to think we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of these landmark tracks and albums – a perfect fit for a #ThrowbackThursday like today!

When I think of 1997, a ton of rap classics come to mind but when I really look back, it reminds me that it was something of a transitional year for the genre.

Complex “rappity raps” began making way for shiny suits as looped beats were getting jacked from a score of the big radio hits of yesteryear in order to create chart-topping productions. On the flip side, the underground backpacker movement was gaining steam thanks to the rise of the likes of Scribble Jam, Lyricist Lounge, and Rawkus Records.

It was also the year in which the greatest rapper of all-time died on March 9th.

As always, Spotify‘s (@Spotify) unfortunate licensing restrictions again threw a wrench into our efforts to make this as comprehensive a playlist as possible.. but such is life. At 45 cuts deep, however, we don’t think you’ll be too disappointed. Let us know your thoughts on this one in the comments below!

biggie97

The best rapper of 1997 (according to Complex) : THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G.

A few tracks we would have added if not for catalogue restrictions:

Company Flow – Funcrusher Plus

Gravediggaz – The Pick, the Sickle and the Shovel

Jay-Z – In My Lifetime, Vol. 1

No I.D. – Accept Your Own & Be Yourself (The Black Album)

Soul Assassins – DJ Muggs Presents…the Soul Assassins, Chapter I

Various Artists – In tha Beginning …there Was Rap

  • Company Flow: It’s wild that El-P (@therealelp) is now a mainstream rap icon after spending the better part of the previous two decades as a star of the underground. He’s managed to maintain his dirty and dusty production style but back in the Co-Flow days, he was FAR more lyrical. Shouts to Bigg Jus and Mr. Len (@therealmrlen)! The impact of this crew cannot be overstated.
  • Gravediggaz: This album comes nowhere near the quality of its predecessor, 6 Feet Deep, and that’s almost certainly due to the lack of Prince Paul‘s (@DJPrincePaul) involvement. The beats are just not on par with the menacing feel of the debut. Still some jams here, though.
  • In tha Beginning …there Was Rap: Contemporary rappers covering old school hip hop joints. Just a great concept and one possibly worth revisiting? I’ve always loved the Bone Thugs rendition of “Fuck tha Police”.
  • Jay-Z: Timeless album. I really wish Jay still made tracks with Ski (@Skibeatz).
  • No I.D.: Now known as the former head of G.O.O.D. Music, mentor to Vince Staples (@vincestaples), and most recently, the sole producer enlisted on Jay-Z‘s 4:44, No I.D. once put out a solo album of his own – and it’s really great! The original Black Album still holds up in spite of its relative obscurity. Check this one if you’re unfamiliar.
  • Soul Assassins: An amazing guest list rapping over a bunch of tough beats. Muggs (@DJ_Muggs) was still on his Temples of Boom tip so this one is dark, mean, and grimy. In making this post, I just discovered that Muggs has me blocked on Twitter for some reason. I wonder what I did, hahha.

Notably, 1997 also marked the releases of the Rhyme & Reason soundtrack and the first volume of Soundbombing.

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

Two decades since these gems dropped! Enjoy ’em!

Back again “next year”! ✈️ 1⃣️ 9⃣️ 9⃣️ 8⃣️

NEXT UP: How they Was Rappin’ in 1998! 🎤

Click here to follow me on Spotify!

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How they Was Rappin’ in 1995

95rapcollage

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

After the horrible news last week of the passing of Prodigy (@PRODIGYMOBBDEEP), we took a brief hiatus from our 90’s rap playlist series in order to mourn and pay tribute to the Infamous P! In spite of the fact that he had been battling sickle cell anemia since he was a child, it was still a shock to learn that one of hip hop’s greatest MC’s had passed away at the age of 42.

Regardless of the circumstances, leaving this Earth in your 40s is tragic and far too young. R.I.P.

prodigy

Keep it thoro, Kiko.

Saying that, it’s a strange coincidence that we were on track to focus upon the year of 1995, aka the year Mobb Deep dropped their magnum opus, The Infamous.

Being another seminal year for rap, ’95 also launched debut albums from the likes of Smif-N-Wessun (@Smifnwessun), AZ (@quietAZmoney), Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Goodie Mob (@GoodieMobMusic), Mic Geronimo, Three 6 Mafia, and Raekwon‘s classic (@Raekwon) Purple Tape!

There can be no disputing the notion that the 90s remains as the golden era of RAP. 👑

Hope you enjoy reminiscing with these #TuesdayTunes!

biggie95

The best rapper of 1995 (according to Complex) : THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G.

Thankfully, Spotify‘s (@Spotify) licensing issues didn’t provide much of a barrier for 1995 – I managed to fit in just about all of the tracks I had hoped to…with four notable exceptions:

Count Bass D – Pre-Life Crisis

Crooklyn Dodgers ’95 – Return of the Crooklyn Dodgers

Questionmark Asylum – The Album

Various Artists – Panther, Original Soundtrack

Count Bass D (@CountBassD) has become an extremely prolific artist since his debut from over 20 years ago but Pre-Life Crisis remains my personal favourite. He came to prominence with 2002’s Dwight Spitz but I still feel his first album is a light, fun, and incredibly musical album that can be thrown on at any point throughout the year. Having played almost all of the live instruments on this album, it has a decidedly different feel from later Bass D albums where he began leaning heavily upon the MPC. This record is a low-key classic.

The Crooklyn Dodgers was a rap supergroup idea that took form on the soundtrack to the Spike Lee (@SpikeLee) film, Crooklyn. “The Return of the Crooklyn Dodgers” appeared on the soundtrack for Lee‘s next movie, Clockers. Instead of Buckshot (@Buckshot), Masta Ace (@mastaace), and Special Ed (@SpecialEd) over Q-Tip (@QtipTheAbstract) production, the return features Chubb Rock, O.C. (@therealocizzle), and Jeru the Damaja (@Jeruthedamaja) over a DJ Premier (@REALDJPREMIER) instrumental. Shame that Spotify doesn’t have the rights to this track but the original joint does appear on our ’94 playlist!

Questionmark Asylum may have been the diet version of The Pharcyde (@thepharcyde) but their lone release, appropriately titled as The Album, is a fun listen that the average hop-hop fan may be unfamiliar with. Definitely worthy of a listen for those who dig some good raps mixed with old-school sing-songy melodies.

…and the Panther soundtrack provided us with one of the best posse cuts ever!

Hope you dug this entry! Get ready for the next entry because 1996 was a monster! Please feel free to share this blog/playlist, BE SURE TO FOLLOW ALL THE PLAYLISTS ON SPOTIFY, and thanks for reading! Comments are also most welcome!

NEXT UP: How they Was Rappin’ in 1996! 🎤

Click here to follow me on Spotify!

#GuelphMusicClub, Pt. IX: 2 Minutes or Less

2minuteman

No, this isn’t a post about your libido..
(though we have all been there before – she was hot, okay!?)

This week, the #GuelphMusicClub asks us to list off our favourite song that clocks in at OR under 120 seconds.

Pretty cool theme.

As usual, my mind went all over the place when planning for this entry and I had difficulty narrowing it down.

Unfortunately for you, that means I was unable to do so.

Instead, I will select one song per genre of my choosing.

CAN U DIG IT???

CAN U DIG IT???

*     *     *     *     *

METAL

I barely listen to metal these days. It’s so bad.

But as an angry and self-loathing pre-teen, aggressive music was the first genre I really delved into.

A lot of the metal stuff coming out these days is, in my opinion, completely distasteful and the large majority of those participating seem to lack any semblance of an imagination.

I used to think future generations would look back upon nü-metal as if it were the second coming of glam.. but perhaps we can reserve that honour for the metalcore of today.

I mean, have you heard of Attila yet? If you value substance over style and attitude when it comes to heavy shit, for the sake of your own health, DO NOT CLICK HERE.

Seriously, thank Christ for Meshuggah (@meshuggahband) and their continued existence.

Now, having said all of that, I am not ashamed to acknowledge that I found metalcore to be pretty damn interesting in the late 90s / early aughts.

Mega-bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit had become parodies of themselves and kids were fiending for something a little more serious and a lot less rap-oriented.

The Florida hardcore scene and Trustkill Records were largely responsible for popularizing the paradigm shift from rap-metal to an over-reliance upon the “breakdown“, a heavy-metal and hardcore crutch which still pervades to this day.

As we were approaching the 21st century, a humble outfit by the name of Burnt by the Sun (@BurntByTheSunNJ) were beginning to form somewhere in New Jersey around 1999.

Bursting onto the scene with a well-received split release alongside Luddite Clone, the band were quickly signed to Relapse Records, long established as the most respected extreme music label in America.

The band went directly into the studio and subsequently released a 4-song self-titled EP which features a total running time at just over eight minutes.

A pummeling release from start to finish, the hardcore world took notice and the buzz would result in Burnt‘s debut full-length, Soundtrack to the Personal Revolution, which was being built up as one of the most anticipated releases of 2002.

It did not disappoint.

Get a load of the opening track:

Burnt by the Sun – “Dracula with Glasses” (1:46)
from the album, SOUNDTRACK TO THE PERSONAL REVOLUTION  (2002)

To this day, I consider it to be one of the most brutal album intros ever.

I can still listen to BBTS and fully enjoy it.

Although they were lumped in with the rest of the bad metalcore out there, these guys were very forward thinking, combining chunky downtempo guitar grooves with frenetic death-metal style drumming (via underground legend, Dave Witte), not to mention some of the most thoughtful lyrics in metal courtesy of vocalist Michael Olender.

And though many relevant acts of the time had no problem falsifying themselves in order to establish some perception of “cred”, Burnt tied their whole style together by rooting it in an unmistakably genuine hardcore punk ethos.

The end result was as ferocious as it was innately unique.

Tragically, the band would go on to release only two more full lengths before permanently calling it quits.

Their entire discography is phenomenal and any metalhead who isn’t already familiar with them needs to check this band.

Olender also has what I consider to be one of the most disgusting screams ever put to music.

Shit is TOUGH.

As an extra, I have to post this live version of the same track, taken from their godly performance at the 2003 Relapse Contamination Festival:

FUCK, these guys RULED.

And their entire set from that evening was recorded and eventually released as a live album.

bbts

I really miss them.

*     *     *     *     *

HIP-HOP

I have previously referred to Lord Finesse (@LordFinesseDITC) and Large Professor (@PLargePro) as one and two, respectively, when it comes to applying the “greatest producer on the mic” tag.

Yeah, yeah, J Dilla, Q-Tip (@QtipTheAbstract), I hear you.. but I still stand by my original statement.

Now, when it comes to the blue-collar version?
That can’t be given to anyone besides Count Bass D (@CountBassD).

Not DOOM's brother. But he'll rock ya subwoofer.

Not DOOM’s brother. But he’ll rock ya subwoofer.

By the age of 18, the Count had written the material for what would become his debut album.

All the songs were recorded before he reached his 21st birthday.

The project was dubbed, Pre-Life Crisis, and would eventually be released through HoppoH Records, an imprint label co-founded by Prime Minister Pete Nice of 3rd Bass fame and Bobbito the Barber.

True artists rarely reflect upon their earliest work with kindness and Count Bass D is no different in that sense.

However, I consider that album to be one of the most musical / most original debuts in the history of hip-hop.

The lyrics are light-hearted, the melodies are catchy, and the candor is refreshing in its honesty and humility.

Plus, the live instrumentation (the majority of which was self-played) was about two decades ahead of its time.

It is just a fantastic listen and I truly hope he decides to repress it on wax someday.

Unfortunately, it was a little too advanced for rap fans of the era and the Count was almost immediately dropped.

After putting out the Art for Sale EP, a release which showed off some giant leaps in terms of songwriting and sonic qualities, he would go on to put out what would ultimately come to be known as his breakthrough album – Dwight Spitz.

The mission of this record was to prove that Bass D could do this rap shit for real.

So, after forming some relationships with some fellow hard-knock artists such as MF Doom, MF Grimm (@PERCYCAREY), and Dionne Farris (@DionneFarris) of Arrested Development (@ADtheBAND) fame, he traded in his instruments for a drum machine and has been creating primarily sample-based music ever since.

He even wrote a song about the transition:

Count Bass D – “Antemeridian” (1:38)
from the album, DWIGHT SPITZ  (2002)

Nowadays, Dwight Spitz has been certified as an underground rap classic.

Since then, to say he has been prolific would be an understatement.

His discography has grown to gargantuan proportions and he has been collaborating with some very interesting people.

He is a fascinating individual who has persevered through several challenges and hardships in his lifetime, both personally and artistically.

If you would like to learn more, I highly recommend taking a look at the recently released Count Bass D documentary, Full Count.

It is a worthy $5 purchase.

*     *     *     *     *

PUNK

Look, I was never much of a punk guy.

Especially not the pop-punk trash that was coming out in the 90s and beyond.

I mean, I owned Dookie just like every other shithead back when I was a kid but that was just the fake stuff anyhow.

The genre didn’t really appeal.
It was irritating.

But in high school, I went through a pretty heavy phase where I started diving into 70s UK punk and the early 80s hardcore stuff.

At the time, I was reading a lot about the history of contemporary music and I began to see a lot of parallels between the early days of punk and hip-hop.

My flirtation with punk pretty tame overall, however.

I mainly stuck to the staples.

Through all of that, I was very happy to have acquainted myself with the works of the Clash.

theclash

These fools had BALLS and their later hits tend to make some forget how badass they could actually be.

As much as they redefined themselves throughout their career, their early material is quintessentially punk, as far as I am concerned.

I am willing to bet that anyone reading this is more familiar with these guys than my two previous picks so why bore you by telling you things you already know?

Instead, I will make my pick and leave it at that:

the Clash – “1977” (1:40)
from the 7″ single, WHITE RIOT b/w 1977  (1977)

R.I.P. Joe Strummer.