General Jimmy

Writer / DJ / PR Manager / Fat Bastard

Archive for the tag “Busta Rhymes”

Busta Rhymes & the Flipmode Squad – Five for the Funk

First in line for Friday’s five for the Funk series is a look at Busta Rhymes and the Flipmode Squad, in their late nineties heyday rather than the rather lame Conglomerate version. LONS might have been the original template for Busta to bring his madcap genius to the fore (case in point that Arsenio performance), but his late nineties crew were mad underrated as well, winning a source award and dropping a decent album in the form of ‘The Imperial’.

Although later line-ups would include emissaries such as Papoose and Noreaga, this was the genuine golden era of the group – alongside Busta they had one of the nicest female emcees of the period in Outsidaz’ Rah Digga, Ragga voiced Serious (who left before the Imperial was recorded and then went on to produce for No Limit) the pre-pubescent looking Baby Sham, the fairly wack on his own but decent enough to hold court in a crew Rampage the last Boy Scout, Busta’s greatest ever hype man Spliff Star and the quite simply amazing Lord Have Mercy.

Like Chali 2na of Jurassic 5 on crack, Lord had one of the greatest voices hip-hop has ever seen and a ridiculously short career. Anyone that makes you stop and listen more than Busta Rhymes on a posse cut nigh n every time he dropped a verse is a true star despite a relative lack of consistent quality, and the acrimony behind him leaving probably had something to do with said ability.

So here’s five of the best records the crew produced, from a point when Busta really was at his creative best. Enjoy.

‘Cha Cha Cha’

The quintessential Flipmode joint, Spliff Star sets the tone, Rah Digga drops her gravel voiced niceness, Busta has that madcap hook locked down and even Baby Sham does well. And the video has Busta as a matador! Awesome beat too, easily one of the best hip-hop tracks of the last two years of the nineties.

‘Everybody on the Line’

Following on from the flamenco theme of ‘Cha Cha Cha’, the other single off ‘The Imperial’ is also firmly rooted in that late nineties production mindset and the type of banger you can imagine being moodily lapped up in the Tunnel and on Hot 97 (it also made Westwood’s show on more than one occasion). You can also see Lord ripping it up on BET here as well.

‘We could Take it Outside’

As stated previously Lord’s sheer vocal presence often outweighed even that of Busta on wax, and arguably the greatest example of it is here. The Swizz Beatz production has that joyous 90s feel about it (his at the time futuristic strings were unlike anything else on the musical landscape), Rah Digga drops a trademark killer line (‘waiting on mine like I’m the LL comeback’) and then Lord just savages proceedings before Busta tries to claw the focus back at the end. A proper good posse cut.

‘Against all Odds’

Off the ELE album from Busta; and his apocalyptic fascinations get fed into by his crew brilliantly. The late nineties hip-hop obsession with the end of the world and the millennium bug was a bit silly though, wasn’t it?

‘Flipmode is the Squad’

Rampage wasn’t the best emcee but he could hold his own in a posse cut, and this one from his ‘Scout’s Honor… by Way of Blood‘ is certainly a great example of that. Boasting the same raw and at ’em bass driven production from DJ Scratch which was a big part of ‘The Coming’ era Busta, this is straight up mid 90s head nod brilliance. The frantic delivery, ODB style wailing, Serious’ rough hewn singing-cum-rapping, obligatory show stealing verse from Bus-a-bus and, of course, Lord Have, make this the kind of cut you imagine soundtracked weed smoking car journeys in NYC at the time.

Five for the Funk… every Friday

Brand new Friday feature for the blog entitled Five for the Funk. Following on from previous exuberant appraisals of the virtues of everyone from the Isley Brothers to DJ Premier, every Friday there will be a small feature with five tracks from an artist, period in time, producer, or basically any kind of crux I can pin on music.

More than likely it’ll come form the world of dance music or hip-hop, but I’ll mix it up a wee bit. Sometimes it’ll be themed around a specific date, DJ gig or cultural event, other times it’ll just be five videos I want to share. Every single one will be boss though. Straight up. First up is the Flipmode Squad…

WUTANGISFORTHECHILDREN by Alexander Nut – Mix for Oki Ni

60 Minutes of Wu, mixed by Rinse FM’s Alexander Nut. The mix is designed to showcase the influence the monolithic hip-hop crew had on his musical upbringing in the mighty Wolverhampton, and is being delivered over on fashion emporium Oki-Ni’s great mixtape series. Amidst the consistent lyrical darts there’s the odd song the crew have sampled, such as Wendy Rene’s ‘After the laughter comes tears’, and lashings upon lashing of that off kilter bass heavy Wu production that makes you want to pull your hood over your head and delve into darkness. Great reminder about why Staten Island’s finest remain so relevant.

WUTANGISFORTHECHILDREN by Alexander Nut by Oki-Ni on Mixcloud

#GJHH25 – The Mighty Mojo’s top 10 Hip Hop Albums of All Time

The next guest selector is Bido Lito scribe and Liverpool DJ the Mighty Mojo, a jock who was an institution in Bumper for a few years and now lays down beats in heebies on a Saturday and Santa Chupitos on a Sunday. I’ve chewed the fat with Mo about hip-hop at a ridiculously high amount of after-parties over the years so he was a natural choice to contribute… even if he took a bit more coaxing than I expected after he believed his choices would be too similar to the earlier ones made by Darren Williams.

Which was odd, because I didn’t consider Darren’s selections to subscribe that readily to the classic hip-hop canon (No PE, Dre, De la for example) and what Mo mustered equally only paid lip service to a few of them. Anyway; I’ll let the man himself breathe his voice, and be sure to check out his weekly discourse on his blog The View from the Booth.

To distill all of hip hop down to 10 albums is very tricky for me, and not just because I’m an indecisive bastard. A lot of my favourite hip hop artists never quite nailed it over a full album, hence the likes of Nas, Redman, NWA, Roots Manuva and A Tribe called quest aren’t represented. There are some obvious choices in here, but that’s because the main criteria is which albums have given me the most joy down the years. I accept that I could wake up tomorrow with a very different list, but right now, these are the pinnacle.

10. Labcabincalifornia – The Pharcyde
I discovered this off the back of the best video of all time (c) for Drop, and realised there was so much more to be had. Most people I know prefer the cartoon energy of Bizarre Ride, but to produce the difficult post-fame 2nd album they had to freshen up their style a bit. Songs like Something that means Something and the peerless Runnin’ are testament to how well they did it.

9. The Grey Album – Danger Mouse
Controversial! I know there are people who will never acknowledge the creativity necessary to produce an album like this, but as a man who has attempted to do something similar, I can tell you it takes a truly deft hand. The way he twists the Beatles’ work into a hip hop template while retaining a lot of the original melodies is remarkable. I like that I can still tell which Beatles song was used, and there isn’t one single track on which I prefer the original production. The Black Album is probably Jay’s most consistent set, but he could be singing nursery rhymes and I’d still love this album.

8. Deltron 3030 – Deltron 3030
This was a straight toss up with Dr.Octagon, but due to consistency across the whole album Deltron takes it. Dan the Automater, Del tha Funkee Homosapien & Damon Albarn may have received more praise (and pounds) for their Gorillaz work, but this is their best collaboration. The murky atmospherics are the perfect background for Del’s flow as he weaves his way through complicated themes of space and oppression. For some they may take the space opera bit too far, and they probably didn’t need 9 skits, but when they set about making tunes, they don’t fuck around.

7. Blow your Headphones – The Herbaliser
Some may argue against The Herbaliser’s hip hop credentials, but even a cursory listen would knock those complaints into a cocked hat. The best example of female MCs outrhyming their male counterparts, even the idea fragments such as More Styles are fantastic. Had more plays than every album on this list bar the top three.

6. Quality Control – Jurassic 5
A lot of people prefer the J5 LP, but to me that’s more of an EP, as there’s really only 6 songs on there. Plus Concrete & Clay is much better than Concrete Schoolyard. Quality Control is when they were at the top of their game, taking 4 MCs and making them sound like 1. Like Mos Def, the Jazz influence is integral to what makes them great – Jurass Finish 1st, Monkey Bars and Swing Set is the kind of hip hop your parents can tolerate, but isn’t Will Smith.

5. When Disaster Strikes – Busta Rhymes
I almost didn’t put this in once I’d seen Darren’s selection, but it would do a great disservice to a hitherto criminally underrated album. Despite greater chart success later on, this was when Busta was at his peak. The strength of Album tracks like Survival Hungry, There’s not a Problem my Squad can’t Fix and Rhymes Galore makes a mockery of the quality control of most modern LPs.

4. Doggystyle – Snoop Doggy Dogg
Over the course of my DJ career I have played every single track on this album, at least once. There is no other record I can say that for, of any genre. Probably in the collection of every single hip hop fan. Even those who detest what Snoop has become can’t deny the laid back genius at play here.

3. Enter the Wu-Tang (36 chambers) – Wu-Tang Clan
There is nothing new to say about this album, except to tell you that it was the catalyst for my introduction to a whole new world of raw, abrasive, discordant hip hop. And for that I am eternally grateful. Oh yeah, and GZA’s verse on Protect ya neck is probably my favourite in hip hop history.

2. Black on Both Sides – Mos Def
One of the best records of all time regardless of genre. Mos Def comes on like a cross between Marvin Gaye & Chuck D, intelligently dissecting the troubles of today’s society in a way that makes you want to move. I even love the OTT thrash-out at the end of Rock’n’Roll, although I’d be interested to see if his stance on the Rolling Stones has changed since he worked with the Black Keys…..

1. Hello Nasty – Beastie Boys
I could have picked ill Communication and/or Check your head for this list, but for sheer blow-your-balls-off impact, on it’s release and since, it has to be Hello Nasty. The depth and variety is pretty stunning, and I have played this album in full at many parties without ever needing to reach for the skip button. Super Disco Breaking, Just a Test, The Negotiation Limerick File, Remote Control, 3 Mcs & 1 DJ – so many straight up bangers, which contrast brilliantly with the poignancy of I Don’t Know, or the Beasties Britpop of Song for the Man. This isn’t a sentimental vote in honour of MCA – no other hip hop album has given me as much joy as this one.

Honourable mentions also go out to Outkast’s ‘Stankonia’, A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘The Low end Theory’, Kool Keith dropping weird science with ‘Dr.Octagon’, West coast polar opposites in Cypress HIll’s ‘Black Sunday’ and Ugly Duckling’s ‘Taste the Secret’ and finally, UK hip-hop selections from Braintax & Skinnyman with ‘Panorama’ and ‘Council estate of Mind’ respectively.

#GJH25 – Darren’s Alternative Hip-Hop Top Ten

To counter the indulgence currently being wacked out by my drawn out saga of releasing my top 25, I asked a few others to contribute their top ten. Darren flips the script not only in his choices, but also in our usual blogging techniques by offering a great selection brilliantly streamlined in comment.

10. 6 Feet Deep – Gravediggaz.
Perhaps the most surreal concept album ever conceived in Hip-Hop, but also one also producing some of it’s most highly creative beats.

9. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – Kanye West.
Is he a member of The Illuminati? Why is the Album Art bizarre? Elton John’s on the record..!! Despite all these interesting questions, it will be remembered as one of the greatest artistic works in Hip-Hop history.

Kanye West POWER by Marco Brambilla (Director’s Cut) from ARTJAIL on Vimeo.

8. Illmatic – Nas.
Nas’ first ever long player has, due to the total brilliance, become something of a curse for his career as with each proceeding album leaves aficionados disappointed. Sort of how Wayne Rooney has never topped his début for Manchester United.

7. Midnight Marauders – A Tribe Called Quest.
Deliberately recorded from Midnight till 6am, the result was a unique sounding album that captures the collective at their zenith. Wide awake when the majority of their counterparts where sleeping.

6. When Disaster Strikes… – Busta Rhymes.
This album can only be described as perfect Saturday Night Warm-Up Music, ready for before the adventures begin. It’s just fun; something that’s sadly in very short supply within the genre & the lifestyle.

5. Doggystyle – Snoop Doggy Dogg.
Long before the Adidas contract & numerous other endorsements that he now promotes turned him into a brand, Snoop Doggy Dogg was a youngster with the aim of being the No. 1 on the Mic. When this came out he most definitely was.

4. Cypress Hill – Cypress Hill.
This entire album was in-fact intended to be the demo version, yet it was decided that it’s rough gritty sound perfectly suited the lyrics. At times, the imperfections are better.

– –

3. Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) – Wu-Tang Clan.
It simply should work having that many members then including tooo many samples from badly dubbed 1970’s English Kung-Fu Films.
An Aggressive but also silly combination, yet one executed perfectly.

2. Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde – The Pharcyde.
A group of four very young 20yr old stoners from Southern California that have concerns about women, marriage & weed make a masterpiece without realizing. It doesn’t matter it you’re from Los Angeles or Leeds, you’ll instantly connect with this album as it’s about the Human Experience.

1. The Score – The Fugees.
Inspired by the later work on Bob Marley, it impressed both the ghettos & the suburbs across the globe.
According to urban-myth, for some reason the album directed connected with the Chinese Population making it currently the most bootlegged album in history.

Agree or Disagree with my selections? Send me a Tweet at @DazAltTheory using hashtag #GJHH25

Rampage f. R.A. The Rugged Man “Zig Zag Zig”

Oooooooooooooooooooooooooh. This is NICE. Proper head-nod beat on the go with former Rawkus Records shock verse extraordinare merchant Ra the Rugged Man going toe to toe with Rampage who sounds a lot better than during his weak Flipmode era lines where he wasn’t even Busta’s best hype man. EP due soon, be sure to check.

Ayah Marar Interview on Core Mag

“It’s very hard not to have traces of things that you love in the music that you create, and that’s all good, we’re revivalists after all. I was massively into Big Daddy Kane, Common, Tribe, Busta Rhymes, The Roots and Pete Rock.”

Just managed to speak to the ‘Queen of Bass’ Ayah Marar. You can read the interview over on Core Mag by clicking the above quote.

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