One of my favorites from the mighty PRC aka Powerule Crew…or quite simply, Powerule.
These cats survived the test of changing time and era. You want that late 80′s stee? Go check “Smooth” and even “Brick In The Wall” (came out in ’90…but still). You want that ’97 stee? It’s all about “Bright Lights, Big City”. A catalog reflecting more than a decade of street corner hits.
Holy shit. I swear I was just thinking back and reminiscing about this fuckin’ gem of a NYC public access show, Indiesent Exposure, while getting over a long night of “head trauma” (probably due to the host, Johnny B-High, and his on-camera m.o. – seriously, every segment opened the same way). As a younger fuck, I was kinda thrown off by JBH’s appearance, at first, with money lookin’ like a straight metalhead-stoner more than the typical Hip Hop head (black down, the very-fitted jeans, the long hair, brolic goatee, the crazy shades and snapback caps years after they went out from their 80′s explosion)…but after a few eps, and seeing who he ran with and consistently supported, I came to realize that he had more of a Rick Rubin steez going on…and shit was very official as the show featured ill interviews such as the following joint with a ’95 Smif & Wessun talking about their amazing debut, Dah Shinin’ (homeboy constantly bigged up the entire Duck Down team – Shuckie Duckie and Eddie Mashedi…WHAT UP THUNS!). Needless to say, this show (and its wall of smoke) was a staple on my tube for years if I was in on a late Sunday night.
This is such a dope clip! Straight ’95 Bucktown NY shit with back-to-back L’s (read: blunts…except the B-High seemingly always had Zigs rolled), shittin’ on West Coast “Chronic”, Tek’s Carhartt cap, members of O.G.C. and Heltah Skeltah right after their first on-record cameos (look at Rock!). Check Steele’s sagely speak on that Bob Marley blunted tip.
Found this comment to be extra funny because of the era-appropriate terminology…works so much better in reference to the following joints than say “deck”, “jap”, “snuck”, “slap”, or “smack”…”duff” would be the only other correct alternative.
I remember seeing this grimeball ass shit toward the end of a Video Music Box episode and thinking, “Damn, these cats come off as kind of intimidating.” Pretty much your typical set of goons from a block you’d think twice about walking through, dolo, as a (light-skinned) teenager who wasn’t from that part of the neighborhood. Nothing beyond ordinary in the rhymes…actually nothing much at all going on there…but the beat is dope. Can’t get any harder (and dated) than the Skull Snaps break.
Now this I fucks with. Most people remember Top Quality from the amazing “Magnum Opus” joint. But this is good money too…Jimmy Castor saxophones over another popular drum break of the time…plus it features 3rd Eye. Doesn’t get any more ’93 than that.
Philly! Carhartt down…with ’nuff bats and blades and Treach. Say what you want about pre-adult rap acts and their pop novelty aesthetic…but these cats had joints (along with Illegal and Mobb Deep).
Anyways…this shit is remains mega hard. I shouldn’t have to sell you on why Common is dead nice. If you had not heard Common (Sense) until the whole Badu period, I can understand perhaps getting thrown off due to the Muslim spaceship hippie steez he was on…and I’m sorry. Honestly, you missed a boatload of classic material…the 3 albums that helped solidify things not only for him, but for Chicago as a city to pay attention to (at that moment, and from a NYC perspective, the only other cat putting in that much work as an MC was Twista…and No I.D. as a producer…at least).
“Hungry” (Produced by NO I.D.)
And as a sidenote for you youngins…as a producer, No I.D. is the father to your Kanye…as well as the guy behind Jay-Z’s “Death Of Autotune”.
Rest In Power Lamont Coleman aka Big L. Thank you for allowing me to exploit the power of “Auto Reverse” with the “Put It On” tape maxi single. The night I brought that home from HMV (or was it Tower Records?) was hours spent memorizing and dissecting the music in my headphones.
Also, thank you for burning Helly Hansen, as an urban staple, into the minds of everyone who saw your video. You helped further define that ’94-’95 period of the “Golden Age” (aka “Helly Hansen Rap”).
Born out of Dearborn, Michigan by Hamilton Carhartt, his brand, Carhartt, has championed workwear for over 100 years. They are known as masters of “Cotton Duck” canvas and owners of a certain shade of deep mustard’y brown.
By 1992, the utilitarian, “tough and active” aesthetic had become a staple within the colder inner city environments of the East Coast. At a time when military gear and athletic warm-up apparel were viewed as the essential block roaming garb, Carhartt added a true sense of blue-collar form-and-function to the urban uniform. The vests, jackets, dungarees, overalls, and hoodies all reflected the “hard as concrete”, cold weather fighting, walking stashbox street imagery, plus the naturally roomy cut made for easy assimilation into the fashion of the time.
As Hip Hop was the soundtrack to any urban landscape during that last stretch of the 20th Century, it was how I first got acquainted with the brand.
To this day, Carhartt remains synonymous to the infamous opening drum break of Skull Snaps’ “It’s A New Day” (posted eons ago on this blog). Although he was not the first to loop these drums, in my eyes, they will always belong to Erick Sermon as he constantly ushered them into multiple arranged marriages with an array of viscous Funk layers. There’s just something about the thick kick-hat-snare combination of this break that perfectly complements drowning basslines and the amorphous noise attack of George Clinton. As with James Brown’s “Funky Drummer” break, “It’s A New Day” helped shape an era of Hip Hop, yet remains timeless. No wonder its apt association with an American heritage brand whose clothing has stood the tests of recession, drought, and generations of hard labor in the most trying of weather conditions.
Apache, of the Flavor Unit, passed away today due to an “unknown” illness. This plus the news of Killa Sha’s passing on Monday makes it a pretty sad week in the world of Hip Hop.
Most people only know Apache from his hit single “Gangsta Bitch”. After his full-length, he went on to do a bunch of cameos…this being my favorite (fuck it, it’s my favorite song he ever contributed to):
Fat Joe featuring Apache & Kool G Rap (need I say more?)
PTP peoples. Pardon my absence. I’ve been creating new material to post…but a very shoddy Internet connection (thank you Time Warner Cable) has slowed things up a good bit around here. I promise to get the handful of this week’s updates on their correct days (i.e. “Brutal Tuesday”) by tomorrow, if not earlier (I definitely have some shit on deck).
I now bring to you a special treat. Listen carefully…very carefully (esp. around the 0:37 mark). I told you Thursday was going to epitomize all things Golden Age. I think this goes a long way with that sentiment.