General Jimmy

Writer / DJ / PR Manager / Fat Bastard

Archive for the tag “Hype Williams”

Five for the Funk – De La Soul


This week’s instalment of Five for the Funk comes in the shape of a De la Soul themed ensemble, down in no part to Madnice Maruaders bringing their DJ Maseo back to the city for a silly showcase in the hold of the Shipping Forecast Even though they’re not my favourite group of all time and ‘3 feet High…’ is overrated (more on that below), you cannot front on De la’s input on hip-hop and their DJ is someone who rocks hard.

Maseo’s world renown as a jock centres on being able to do most things adeptly (technique, musical knowledge etc), and one thing extremely well; bring the party. Hip-hop may be littered with light fingered assassins, beat diggin maestros and DJs who have showcased the turntable as a weapon far capable of outweighing the sonic possibilities of mere musical instruments, but hip-hop began out of one carnal desire. Make. People. Move.

Maseo does just that. His No Fakin appearances in the Zanzibar are the stuff of legend, and I can remember him playing a Chibuku party at Nation, 2005 I think, and the reaction afterwards ranged from those doffing their cap at a master to those scoffing because he played Beyonce. This was the DJ from a group that came to prominence in part from obvious pop samples, rocking a crowd, and there was chin-strokers kicking off about a great R&B record. It seems that certain hip-hop fans have no grasp of irony.

Anyway, big ups again to Madnice for bringing Maseo to the unfathomably intimate surroundings of the Hold for what will be an swaggering block party affair. Here’s my five favourite de la based party joints on this Friday in March. Party people, your dreams have now been fulfilled…

‘Oooh’ ft Redman

That paragraph’s closing line is the opening gambit for this absolute riot of a record. The video is a classic, a genius play on hip-hop’s bling culture which goes for out there weirdness rather than straight up parody. They transform the Wizard of Oz into the land of ‘Oooh’ complete with Brick City nightspot, a doff of the cap to the looting ringmaster at the centre of the track, Redman. There’s cameos from fellow new jersey emcee Rah-Digga and comedian Dave Chappelle, and it’s proof that this era of hip-hop could do big budget twists on what was aesthetically en vogue at the time without being formulaic – see also Hype Williams’ piece de resistance.

On the actual track, it’s one of the best meetings of minds of the era as hip-hop came out of the diametrically opposed factions of bling and backpack to realise they could work together. Redman steals the show, gifting a glorious party beat from Prince Paul even more crunk with some ridiculous hype man histrionics. Littered with humour drenched asides and pure charisma, he outshines Plugs One and Two with asides about fat chicks getting their fuck on tonight. Absolute party rocking gold.

‘All Good’ ft Chaka Khan

Coming straight off the same AOI opus as ‘Oooh’, again De la are outshone by their sparring partner but when said guest is Chaka Khan doing one of her greatest vocal performances, you can’t front. I realise that is one lofty statement but this record is nigh on perfect, a proper bumping beat with Chaka exuding class, heart and panache with every single syllable that echoes from her throat.

Pos and Trugoy come nice and correct on the lyrical tip as well, proving their class as hip-hop’s elder statesman with an intelligent grasp of disagreement (aimed at those that slept on them during the Buhloone and Stakes is High eras of the band) rather than hip-hop’s usual profanity littered ripostes.

‘B Side to Hollywood’

Not strictly a de la joint as only Trugoy appears, but this track off Camp Lo’s ‘Uptown Saturday Night’ is a gem, a real gem. The Eddie Bo loop announces the track before the three emcees share hook duties, and then each getting a verse.

Flipping the script from ‘Ooh and ‘All Good, this time it is Trugoy who steals the limelight, dumbing down effortlessly for an awesome combination of laid back braggadocio and off kilter silliness (cartoons, cereals and that all important ‘big spoon’ make an appearance) that affirms Dove as the Number one Tycoon. A record for real hip-hop heads to completely lose their shit too.

‘Say No Go’

The de la debut is one of those mythical records that critics value as era defining, a stone cold classic and elevated to the upper echelons of hip-hop’s critical canon. Although I can’t argue on the influence of it, it’s an assessment I don’t particularly agree with. It’s very good, but the skits skewer the feel of the album rather than add to it (and inflicting that particular thing on hip-hop isn’t something to be celebrated), and I’d argue the follow up was much better.

That said however, there truly are some brilliant songs side by side with all the game show shitness, real pop masterclasses rather than just straight up hip-hop bangers. This is maybe the pick of the bunch, that Hall & Oates loop combines with the storytelling genius of De la (they are at times worthy of comparison to Slick Rick) warning you not to take drugs. Awesome.

‘A Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays’ ft Q-Tip & Vinia Mojica

When De la dropped second album ‘De la Soul is dead‘ with the dead daisy artwork, they were making a clear statement. You’d be stretching the truth somewhat though if you said that they made a complete musical departure from ‘3 Feet High’. Not only does ‘Say No Go’ proves they didn’t shirk issues, they also lambasted the hippes charge on ‘Me Myself and I’ and not everything on ‘De la…’ is darkness. Case in point this monster.

This record was extremely ‘3 Feet High’ in style, and to my ears is THE quintessential Native Tongues tune, either as an original or with this remix. The samples are great and plucked from the obvious rather than the obscure, Chicago’s ‘Saturday in the Park’, the Larry Levan bolstered ‘Got My Mind Made Up’ by Instant Funk at the beginning and then the immortal riff from Frankie Valli’s ‘Grease‘ later on. Every emcee is brilliant, particularly Q-Tip with the boy meets girl playfulness. And Vinia delivers one of the greatest hooks ever…

‘Now is the time, to act a fool tonight, forget about your worries and we gon be alright. It’s Saturday, It’s Saturday!’

Five minutes of relentless, grin inducing escapism. On the early hours of Saturday March 9th, you’ll be able to catch the man himself dropping it.

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.

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