Monday, October 27, 2008

Like my name was Stone Cold Austin

Wow, does anyone remember this? Apparently, Informal Introduction is getting the anniversary addition treatment. Record labels were just giving anyone a deal six years ago, damn.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

From '88 to right now, I was never broke.

Let me start by saying this is not a post like last week. I didn't scour the internet looking for an album that, while it had a sizable impact at the time of its release, faded into obscurity quickly afterwards. No, Mr. Man and Boo Bonic do not deserve that sort of dedication. Let's be real: these guys sucked. Lame voices, lyrics and just an overall unoriginal aesthetic makes it hard for me to tolerate these guys much. The main reason I'm paying them any attention is because they're from the Delaware Valley, and Power 99 will support any artist that comes out of there, even Ness from Da Band with his (terrible) single "My Hood." I remember being on the bus in high school and hearing "Cross the Border" at least once on the way to Princeton. The beat wasn't great, and the lyrics certainly didn't bring much to the table, but over and over again it'd get burn. I like the song mostly because of nostalgia, so imagine my surprise when a) I learned there was a remix and b) it was really, really good.

Both songs are produced by the Neptunes, and the "Cross the Border" remix has a completely different feel than the original. Gone are the cheesy fake Mexican guitars and offbeat horns on the chorus. Instead, we have a keyboard sound similar to "Superthug" paired with some great, vintage 'Tunes drum programming. This is easily one of their best beats.

One would think all this effort would get wasted by two lame and thankfully forgotten MCs (how they got so much support from the Neptunes near their peak, I will never understand), but there are all new verses and guest spots that steal the show. The first is Pusha T on the second verse. It's obvious he'd come a long way since "The Funeral," slowing down is flow while keeping the writing crisp. It serves as a good preview of what was to come on Lord Willin'. The second one is Fabolous. Someone should have told him early on to stick with this if he wanted any sort of status in the rap world, as songs like "Baby" and "Tit 4 Tat" just aren't doing it. It's not as good as "Breathe," but it's only one verse. Besides, any halfway competent rapper sounds golden next to these two clowns.

Here is the "Cross the Border" remix.

Here is a 2002 Clipse freestyle from Rap City over the same beat, and I think the origin of "Eghck"

Monday, October 13, 2008

Wrecking ball nuts.

If I told you there was an album released in 2000 that featured production from the Neptunes on four songs and Earthtone III (which is just OutKast and Mr. DJ) on another three songs, you probably would not believe me if I said it had been pretty unfairly overlooked over the course of time. Especially considering it went 3x platinum and spawned one of the biggest hits of the year, and one of the other singles featured OutKast. Yet, such is the case for Mystikal's Let's Get Ready, even though everyone knows the song "Shake Ya Ass."

During the time of this album's release, my understanding of Mystikal's previous musical output was mostly limited to songs like "It Ain't My Fault," which besides Silkk the Shocker, was pretty awesome. Imagine my surprise when, before starting high school, I heard and saw the video for "Shake Ya Ass." It was a totally different sound compared to what I had heard from him previously, and the video didn't hurt either. Ultimately, I figured that the album would find Mystikal back to his old No Limit ways with features from amazingly awful rappers. I was very wrong.

Obviously, anytime you get production from late 90's - early 2000s Neptunes for almost a third of an album, your bound to be interested by the beats at least. Thankfully, it is more than the beats that are engaging. Kind of like Backbone, Mystikal has a very dynamic tone of rapping, it's just that, unlike Mr. Fat Face, The Braids knows when to accentuate his phrasing at the right point. This works really well with the Neptunes' off the wall production, so that even when Mystikal spends an entire verse naming family members on "Family," it's hard to stop listening. I wanted to know who came next.

What really surprised me about this album was how weird and insular it is. Though "Shake Ya Ass" and "Danger" work alone and in the context of the album, they don't really represent the tone that Mystikal seemed to be going for. It's not so much that it is a personal album as it is a definitive portrait of Michael Tyler as an artist. While someone like Brandon Soderberg is talking about post-lyricism and its roots in the verses on Andre 3000, Mystikal is forgotten in all this talk. He will change is tone of voice at will, rap about seemingly weird and random topics with a bunch of tossed off punchlines, and then come back with some emotional punch, like "Murderer III" where he finds and deals with his sister's killer.

Though the songs with the Neptunes are all really good, Mystikal really shines on production from collaborator KLC and Earthtone III. Just listen to "Neck Uv Da Woods," which would have sounded right at home on Stankonia or "Mystikal Fever," which sounds like a precursor to the great "Pussy Crook." It's a shame he got locked up, because after hearing this album, he sounded like he had enough energy and support from the right camps to make even more great music.

Click here for The Braids
Click here for Mystikal Fever

Thursday, October 9, 2008


There are a few songs I've mentioned that are pretty great, though I realize not everyone has the time for "___ zshare" searches on Google like I do. So let's try this out. Do enjoy.

Backbone feat. Cee-Lo & Joi- Lord Have Mercy

Jim Crow- Big Dreams

O.C. feat Organized Konfusion- You Won't Go Far

Big Gipp- History Mystery

Diamond D, Sadat X & Lord Finesse- You Can't Front

Friday, October 3, 2008

Trying to ball like Liberace

You guys already know I enjoy the lost rap trio Jim Crow. So of course, I am happy to be led to Jim Crow's unreleased third album, Bandits. I think what I enjoy most is the idea that a rap group named Jim Crow did a song with a white, Southern rapper (Bubba Sparxxx). And the file has the original version of the Off the Yelzebub classic, "Holla at a Playa." I'm sure I will have something to say about the album soon, as well as Bubba's first joint, depending on time.

Also, if you've never heard "You Won't Go Far," a soundtrack cut by Organized Konfusion and O.C., please do so now. It's from the New Jersey Drive soundtrack (Vol. 2), a movie which is probably more famous for "Benz or Beamer" by OutKast. In true OK form, these guys create a vivid picture of car jacking, it's thrilling and kind of scary at the same time. They're committed to their roles on wax, so it's worth checking out. It's also a really interesting contrast in tone to "Benz or Beamer," since 'Kast use a smooth, relaxed beat compared to the hard-hitting snares and piano in "You Won't Go Far," which I assume is produced by OK. It is sort of reminiscent on O.C.'s "Constables," also done by Prince Po and the Mighty Pharoahe Monchichi. Both are great songs, focused on the process of stealing a car, but the tone the two groups take makes for all the difference in the world. In someways, they highlight the differences between the aesthetics of the two regions at the time. I'm rambling, just listen to the songs. Here's the OutKast joint. Also, take a blue pill while I'm here.