Showing posts with label Memphis Rap. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Memphis Rap. Show all posts

Saturday, 19 December 2020

DJ Zirk - 2 Thick + DJ Squeeky - Hog Killin'

Dj. Zirk feat. Tom Skeemask & Buck Shotz - 2 Thick (1993) 
This was the best 27 yearz ago & even better now. This scene was so DIY & regional they didn't give a fuck about what the outside world wanted because it didn't want them. Artists just wanted to be just as good or better than the other local Memphis artists. There was no internet file sharing so things were kept pretty insular and local. Sure Memphis rappers had heard west coast, east coast and Texan shit but none of them apart from the southern contingent had heard the Memphis stuff. It was all about killing it with the beats, verses & flows. Playing at the peak of your creative powers. This is surely what made the scene so strong and unique.

2 Thick is DJ Zirk's seminal and most sampled track. Zirk and DJ Squeeky were good friends. I have always assumed Zirk learnt his production chops from Squeaky but I might be wrong. DJ Squeeky is credited with creating the original trap beats around 92/93. He was also using rappers such as Tom Skeemask, Criminal Manne, Gangsta Blac & Yo Lynch who did the "double time flows & triplets"* People incorrectly now call this, 20+ years after the fact, the Migos flow. Anyway Squeeky & Zirc, the Memphis beat masters, often used the same pool of rappers I guess like Zaytoven, Metro Boomin and Sonny Digital did in Atlanta in the 10s. 

Hog Killin' one of the classic DJ Squeeky productions from I guess 94 (?) featuring Lil Grove, Outlaw & Criminal Manne. It's not on discogs that I can see but hey it's right here on the youtubes!

* Lucas Foster. See his 2017 DJ Squeeky article here.

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

Kingpin Skinny Pimp - Good To Go (1994)

Before Position Normal & Ariel Pink there was zero budget hazy lo-fi 90s Memphis Hip-Hop! Kingpin Skinny Pimp was the godfather of the Gimisum Family, one of the city's best posse's during the 90s. Due to the Weirdest Hiphop Cover Art account on Instagram unearthing all the worst album cover art of regional 90s & 00s hip-hop, I've gone back to listening to 90 Memphis rap big time. I might be here for some time because I think this is just about the best music sub-genre ever. It just doesn't fit neatly anywhere putting it on the outside of everything in hip hop at the time. I guess some of this stuff got played in cars and clubs but it really feels like music for being wasted at home either on the couch or at a bbq. I'm still waiting for a book to be written on this amazing DIY cassette culture scene. It's not just the eerie recorded in their mum's toilet aesthetic that is appealing. An entire different creeping rapping flow was invented but who originated it is a contentious issue. Memphis rap themes were innovative too. They added horror, psychosis, suicidal depression, the occult, devil worshipping and apocalyptic paranoia to the criminal, pimpin & homicidal gangster game. There were also stacks of bad-ass lady rappers which was unlike most rap scenes at the time that I know of. The selling of the tapes was different too. They were often sold from stereo & car retailers. Details on the scene are still pretty sketchy with loads of wrong infos on Discogs and other sites.      

Anyway this Skinny Pimp tune is pretty out there with it's no fi psychedelic singing amongst the rapping & laid back beats. Then there's that crazy clunky sample intrusion at the 3.17 mark. What an insane trip. What year this was released is anybody's guess. It might be 1993 and it's possibly from 1995 but I'm gonna go for Memphis Rap's crowning year 1994.  

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

On The Hi-Fi Part 40

When I can get Luca Brasi 2 by Kevin Gates off the stereo I listen to some other stuff. This one is a snappy little 37 minute mix from Pearsall over at Sonicrampage. These are drum'n'bass tunes from 95 & 96. There's even one from 99 which is way past my usual cut off point of rarely venturing into or past 96/97. Anyway this is a little rollin' bewdy featuring just 4 different artists - Roni Size, DJ Krust, Bill Riley & DJ Die. The later 2 I'm not particularly sure I'm aware of. Most of these tunes are new to me. I love the little covers Pearsall makes and this one's no exception. Get 90s man.

Geez Mr Nick Edwards is one prolific musician. I think I may have missed a couple of Ekoplekz releases since Influkz. Entropic is just two long trax. Entropy Flash (neat title huh?) which runs at 13 minutes and Entropy Symphony that's around 16 minutes. This EP is more along the lines of his last mini album Influkz ie. it's a more subdued and subtle affair compared to his last two LPs. Then again that's a little deceptive because if you have it at low volume it seems quite nice but with the volume cranked it becomes quite intense and a little sinister. This is music from post-apocalyptic zones or is it outer space? Or perhaps its the landscape/headspace of Ekoplekz right now? Entropy Flash is repetitive almost funky technoid gear that occasionally has flourishes of melody amongst the darker drones and its damn fine as usual. How does he keep up the quality with so much quantity? Entropy Symphony is the swirliest swirly tune ever. It swirls and swirls until it swirls off into a vortex of epic oblivion. This has got to be one of the best Ekoplekz tracks ever. Me like a very lot.

I cannot recall how I came across this mix by Slimzee at Soundcloud All it says in my i-tunes is Truancy Vol. 111: Slimezee. Anyway its more jungle, this time more your 94/95 variety before it became drum'n'bass. Many a classic on here such as Hitman, Babylon and a very well worn copy of The Dark Stranger, why wouldn't it be? It's such a gem. An hour of jungle gold. This is some awesome DJing right here. Not loving that faux faded bollocks look of the virtual cover though. This guy was in Pay As You Go Cartel and pretty much invented Grime, I think. There you go, you learn something every day.

More good stuff from Pearsall. Not The Future We Were Promised... is more of your prime 94/95 jungle. He crams them in here. Thirty Five tunes in just over an hour and a half. It's one hell of a ride. Some classics and some lesser known classics whizz by so hold onto your hats. I guess at this stage you're either into it or you're not. This wouldn't be a bad introduction to jungle though. It would be hard not to be seduced by the 'rhythmic psychedelia' on display here as its soo darn great. This is when it was pretty much just jungle like the above Slimzee mix, post hardcore/darkside and pre drum'n'bass/tech-step/garridge. Huh, the future, it kinda went sideways then nowhere.

Last but not least is 10 Wanted Men's Wanted: Dead Or Alive which is Memphis Rap 1995 stylee. This features Memphis legends Tommy Wright III, Womack Da Omen and Princess Loco. Women in 90s Memphis rap are so fucking cool. They just really suit the vibe of this creepin shyt. Still getting my head around this one but fuck it sounds good so far. This is the real rap underground on absurdly lo-fi tapes. This ain't no backpacker shit! (RE: This article at FACT) Whatever the fuck that is? I have a feeling it means shite rap ie. rap that couldn't make the charts because it was shite so they tried to then pretend they were like indie or something, but in reality they were just a laughing stock. Obviously some people got sucked into their shtick though.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Juicy J - Low

Just saw this. How old's Juicy J now? He's still rappin about rubbers! Nicki Minaj gives it up to her influences ie. Three 6 Mafia and southern rap in general but not for the first time she also appeared on J's 2010 comeback mixtape Rubba Band Business just before she became a superstar. Actually didn't she do a pre fame mixtape with Lil Wayne, another Southern rapper? She also used to call herself the female Weezy (aka Lil Wayne). Anyway Young Thug obviously couldn't make it to the video shoot and Lil Bibby looked like he needed to do a wee throughout. I love that minimal outro, that could go for another 15 minutes I reckon. I like....late contender for tune of the year!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Rap Avalanche

A Quick Squizz At Recent Rap and R&B
Just when I was starting to think 'gee it was all happening earlier this year in the rap, ratchet, trap and R&B zones, but what's happened?' I was going back to hardcore, jungle and speed garage etc. (Reynolds has more on breakbeat garage here, loving that Ruff Da Menace track 2 F In Ruff (So What)). Then a bunch of new releases appear! Mostly free mixtapes but some albums too.

Now this is something to get excited about. Houston's Beatking, creator of 2014's best mixtape Gangsta Stripper Music 2, teams up with Three Six Mafia's Gangsta Boo for Underground Cassette Tape Music. Who would have expected this collaboration? Gangsta Boo & Skinny Pimp did feature on Gangsta Stripper Music 2 though. Gangsta Boo along with The Scarecrow aka Lord Infamous were my favourite 666 Mafia rappers. Female rapping really suited that 90s Memphis style. It's funny because Beatking is one of the few rappers who sonically doesn't owe an obvious debt to Triple Six Mafia like so many current artists do. This is like Beatking goes on a 90s Memphis ghostride with Boo as his guide ie. this is some creepin shit. It's more Boo's game this one. Beatking's rave-esque Club Godzilla side is toned down slightly here but it shows he's versatile and willing to experiment. Gangsta Boo is in fine form here and hey I'm a sucker for anything reminiscent of the Memphis rap underground from the mid 90s.

Next is Ain't Nothin Bigger Than The B. King Kev turns up with Bread Winner Kane on this collaborative effort. Kevin Gates plays the sidekick to Kane on this mixtape which is weird and a bit wrong as he's the King. It's a bit like Elvis playing sidekick to Barry Mannilow. I don't think Kane is Kev's heir but there's plenty of kicks here although this tape is long and I mean bloody long like a Swans album. I was thinkin gee this tune MYB is great and a little familiar and it turns out it's from Kev's very own classic Stranger Than Fiction from last year. I don't really understand how mixtapes work, like how do they get paid, why are old songs reused? Who are these hood rich people? etc. Perhaps we could all edit this one down by about half.

Tinashe's album proper has dropped (what I'm sayin that now?!) after last year's mixtape Black Water. Aquarius contains the choice hit single 2 On. The thing is there aren't any other DJ Mustard productions here which was initially disappointing but I'm gettin used to it now. We've got some luscious tunes on this album and some that stray a little too close to the overtly but slightly bland pop side. She's at her best when it's post-millennial R&B, better than Beyonce and almost up there with Cassie. Tinashe's still at street level and is givin us the real edge that we want on All Hands On Deck which is v Mustardy ratchet. On one tune it sounds like Dave Gilmore shows up doing an absurd guitar solo(?).

Rome Fortune's back. He has the best album/mixtape covers in the game and this cover is probably his best so far. I'm totally lovin that beard too. For this mixtape he takes an opposite approach to his previous tape Beautiful Pimp 2 where he used only one producer, Cito, for it's entire 11 trax. On Small World he's got every man and his dog on production duties including Fout Tet(?). It's a testament to Rome's vision that this all hangs together so well and might even be as good as Beautiful Pimp II. A metal riff shows up on one tune and strangely doesn't seem that out of place. The pace has picked up a notch or two on this tape. There's even a song, ie. with singing not just rapping, Friends Maybe, which is a collaborative jam with I Love MakonnenRome Fortune is Atlanta's most intergalactically smooth dude, still doin his own thing, you know, haunted, intimate and whispered raps combined with trippy future hip hop.

*Haven't checked out the new ones for Gunplay, Lil B(?), Rich Gang, Key! & FKI, Que & Mike Fresh, The Church or Billy Idol yet. They all came at once! Well maybe I wasn't paying attention.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Come With Me 2 Hell - DJ Paul & Lord Infamous (1994)


Come With Me To Hell wasn't hard to ignore. This was a self released tape from rappers DJ Paul and Lord Infamous (who is also The Scarecrow, I think) with production by DJ Paul and Juicy J. It was released in 1994 with no cover apparently. I found it a few years ago in MP3 form from one of those great sharity blogs like Mutant Sounds (RIP). I was unaware of its Three 6 Mafia connection until I played the first track. Triple 6 mafia get mentioned in several of the songs but I don't think they used that moniker as an artist name until the following year. In 1995 Three 6 Mafia released their now cult classic Mystic Stylez album which I didn't hear until 10 years later. I had been led to believe underground rap was shite. How wrong I was. Rap was like supposed to be the opposite to rock, you know mainstream rock (Hair Metal, Stone Temple Pilots, Nickleback) bad! But underground rock good! (The Fall, The Clean, The Smiths, Slint, Royal Trux etc.). The theory was that the good rap rises to the top and you get to hear it. Another case of don't believe the rock crit consensus. Sure some of the people involved on this recording ended up winning an Academy Award but that was after spending a long time in the rap underground.

Come With Me to Hell begins with Intro. It's psychedelic as hell with kids singing a haunting lullaby reverbed to the hilt with great horror synth and pounding drums. While the rappers tell you to "Come with me to hell." and "Triple 6 Mafia may we burn forever." This should be used as a horror film theme. 1000 Blunts puts us in typical hip hop territory. They're bragging about how much pot they've smoked ie "I think I smoked a thousand blunts." This ain't no slick Dre style production. It's very lo-fi with a little toy organ loop keeping the vibe spooky. Long & Hard is their pornographic tale of fellatio. A great crackling trumpet sample echoes throughout while a languid guitar line flows in and out of the mix. It's minimal and repetitive. Drop It Off Ya Ass dives into the criminal underbelly of hip hop. It's all Glocks, Infra red and dead cops. "Come with me to hell you little bitch and see how we live in the land of the 666." The backing track's got keyboard sounds that could be straight out of a horror flick, John Carpenter Stylee. Lick My Nuts is a reprise of Long and Hard. The title says it all really. Pass The Junt sounds so 2014 it could be DJ Mustard on the beat. It's another ode to one of hip hop's favourite pastimes smoking drugs with classic blunted horn samples that could have come from a 70s dub track.

Side 2 starts off brilliantly with some of the grimiest and most dense sampling I've ever heard. You Ain't Mad Is Ya is truly psychedelic hip hop and wouldn't sound out of place on a New Kingdom LP. "We're gonna take you deeper than 6 feet." All Dirty Hoes lays on a kind of sleazy slow jam vibe but the lyrics are no where near as romantic as the sweet sounds. 187 Invitation is a homicidal poem set to some of the coolest horror soundtrack samples you're ever likely to hear. Some of these sounds remind me of Ghostbox groups like The Focus Group and The Belbury Poly.  It's unique, no one sounded like this, that I knew of, in 94. Its Cummin is another ode to the joys of fellatio. It's quite a catchy tune but you probably don't wanna be singin this one around your mum and dad. "Try on some real nigga lip gloss." Its Cummin keeps the minimal haunted keyboard loops coming, along with scratching and the world's most raw brittle drum machine. Back Against The Wall is like an ultra violent gangster film. All hell breaks loose sonically and lyrically. In between there is almost respite with more ominous synth lines. There's a sample from Ice T's Colours which may have been a sample from a slasher movie, I'm not sure. Back Against The wall is truly terrifying and demented. Shout Outs is just that. They shout out to all their mates in Memphis while unashamedly plugging upcoming tape releases. Takin No Shorts ends the tape and it's like a whole other band with a beautiful backing track that could be off Sesame St. "Layin some pimp ass shit" 70s style. They're still rapping about motherf*%#ing guns but then they start hanging shit on rappers trying to be like Menace II Society (the 93 hood film), possibly even being a little self deprecating. This is entertainment after all.

Come With Me To Hell is an awesome journey into the early 90s Memphis tape/mixtape underground. This isn't some slick state of the art expensive studio shit. It was probably recorded in their mom's bathroom. Not many of these tracks would get you out on the dancefloor. Instead of being funky these tunes creep like a stoned stalker. DJ, Lord and Juicy don't really use overexposed breaks or cliched samples. They tore up the hip hop rule book and made a truly original masterpiece and didn't even bother with a cover! This tape sounds totally relevant and influential today. Lord Infamous died last year of a heart attack, finally in hell.

Remastered cd reissue.