The purge continues.1
Mood: Hustle on the Side
From 12″ (Below-Zero, 1995)
I know I’ve been spending a good deal of time talking (both here and on the podcasts) about selling records and what this means, not just materially but also philosophically. Case in point: this Mood 12″ is one I like rather much. Not only does it have some historical significance insofar as it’s one of the earliest appearances of Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek (not on this song but on this single), but this Cincinnati hip-hop release also happens to sell for $300-350.
Yeah, that was my first reaction too. And my gut was, “look, I like this song but damn, that’s a hard number to ignore.” And my impulse was to sell it but then, I threw it on again and kept thinking, “yeah, but I really like this song.”
And where this took me was a reminder that while records may be fetish objects, that doesn’t make them commodities. This 12″ isn’t worth $300 to me in terms of what I’d ideally pay for it but regardless, I don’t want to look at the single and only see the dollar value. If things get to that point, it’s not about the object, it’s certainly not about the music, it’s just about the value. And I think, as I’m going through this purge process, the decision I have to make is not “what can I sell this for?” it’s “do I like this enough to want to keep it, regardless of its monetary value?”
If the answer is yes, it shouldn’t matter if it’s worth $1 or $1000. I never bought records as investments, I shouldn’t sell them like that either.2
MC Lyte feat. Milk D: This Emcee
From 12″ (white label, 1998). Also on Seven & Seven.
It’s easy to forgot that Lyte got her start, being shepherded by Audio Two so it’s nice to see, on this white label 12″, her and Milk D join forces again, this time over a reworked version of “Top Billin” (the same single has a remake of “Top Billin” feat. Lyte).
Skillz: 10 Rap Commandments
From 12″ (Rawkus, 2002)
(Mad) Skillz dropped one of the best singles of ’95, “The Nod Factor,” but he ended up as one of those MCs who’ve enjoyed remarkable longevity despite never becoming top tier superstars. I never really liked his later material as much as the singles off that first album but dude could always kill a freestyle, especially on this. Clever and funny and frankly, this Primo beat never gets old (even when weaker rappers try to flip over it).
Madchild: Like a Tech
From 7″ (Massive Brings, 1994)
A rather unusual 7″ hip-hop release out of Canada, featuring Mad Child who (if I recall) ended up doing some work with Swollen Members down the line. Personally, I always thought this sounded like something Charizma might have cut back when he and Peanut Butter Wolf were first starting out.
Maestro Fresh Wes: On the Jazz Tip + The Maestro Zone
From Conductin’ Things EP (Attic, 1991)
Speaking of Canada, Maestro Fresh Wes should never be slept on. His early ’90s catalog was bonkers on the fast rap tip. “On the Jazz Tip” sounds like the best Big Daddy Kane song he never recorded. Or was that “The Maestro Zone”? Either way, Wes is murderating tracks here. I like the sped up “Walk Tall” loop especially.
Kid Koala feat. Cut Chemist: Here’s A Little Story
From Got What You Need EP (white label, 2001)
By coincidence, I have one more Canadian record you for…Montreal’s Kid Koala joining forces with Cut Chemist. Ah, remember the golden age of turntablism? Seriously though, Cut and Koala sound pretty damn fly on this four turntable mix.
Micranots: 141 Million Miles
From 12″ (Mental Madness, 1999)
Not all that super-scientifcal shit survived the purge but the Micranots were a step above, especially in their production. I celebrate their entire catalog.
Sean Malik: Amateurs
From the Put It On the Line EP (Bootleg Syndicate, 1998)
Cool little (re)discovery in my crates; a ’98 release from a Seattle rapper who presumably flew under the radar then and now, but the 8 songs on this EP show good instincts, production and rhyme-wise. Tough for Seattle crews (then and now) to break out of the local scene. To this day, a lot of those cats just never got any shine past the NW. For real – if this single had come out of Brooklyn in the same era, at the very least, it’d be selling for loot.
LP: The Truth
From 12″ (Ground Control, 1999)
This is strictly for laughs – arguably the most ambitious diss song ever recorded if by “ambition” you mean “number of rappers getting dissed.” It’s no “Hit ‘Em Up.” Shit, it’s not even “It Takes a Real Man.”
By the way, I’d like to thank the following folks for their generosity in donating to us: Brian H., Ulrich Z., Yanning D., Benjamin A., Ben B., Kip D., Philip C., Jeff W., Sean G., Jeffrey K., Lawrence R., and Michael I. Your support is very appreciated.