Pop Da Brown Hornet: G.P. Connection
From 12″ (Smoke, 1996)

Is it possible to overstate just how far the Wu-Tang’s influence went in the ’90s? It’s just extraordinary that beyond just the core Clan, you had 2nd and 3rd stringers all in the mix, all getting a boost off of new allure of Shaolin styles. I always did like “G.P. (Gladiator Posse) Connection,” for its simple but mesmerizing track but all in all, the Brown Hornet never had much of a (wait for it)…sting for me.

The Poetess: Making Some Change (Buddha Baker Boyz Mix)
From 12″ (Interscope, 1992)

Ah, the days at Interscope pre-Dre and Shug, filled with the songs of brighter, more colorful rap acts like Marky Mark, Powerule and the Poetess. I’m assuming this is the Baka Boyz on the remix tip but ’92 would have been very early in their industry career.

Pharoahe Monch: Right Here (Bay Area version)
From 12″ (Rawkus, 1999)

Monch cut these special promo-only 12″s of “Right Here” for different radio DJs across the country, hoping that by shouting out cities in the chorus, it’d encourage station MDs to program these more. I can’t recall if it worked (I never liked this single much anyway) but it’s never a bad thing to hear Monch shout out, “Oaktownnnnnnnn!!!”

Paul Ray: More Emotion
From 12″ (PR, 1997)

At this point, I’m starting to be able to pick out lucrative indie singles by label design alone. For one thing, once you’ve been looking at major label logos since 1992, anything that DOESN’T look familiar should catch your attention. Second, anything with bad, cheap graphic design has good odds on being obscure1 Honestly, when I first came across this Paul Ray 12″, I thought dude was from the Bay – something about his name and that Photoshop V. 1 logo. But instead, you get a pretty good post-Nas NY joint, using (if I’m not mistaken) some Ahmad Jamal (“I Love Music” from the sound of it). I’m with it.

Nikki D: Lettin’ Off Steam
From 12″ (Def Jam, 1990)

Nikki D’s output circa ’90 was something fierce. Don’t sleep – she had a top notch crew of producers working with her, including Sam Sever and Large Professor, and the lady could frickin’ flow. Plus, she had titles like “Up the Ante For the Panties,” which just feels so damn early ’90s to me. This is just one of her solid singles; I’m curious if she or Professor Griff flipped this loop first.

Mister Voodoo w/ Natural Elements: Shine
From 12″ (Fortress, 1996). Also on 1999.

Sandbox Classicâ„¢. I interviewed Natural Elements for one of my first major URB pieces, traveling to New York and meeting with at least half the crew. My crappy memory is failing me but I distinctly remember meeting with Charlemagne at a studio, late at night, surprised to learn that his day job was in the financial services dept. And then later, we took a car trip way uptown to visit a young A-Butta, still living at home with his family in this towering apartment building.

Nas feat. AZ: Life’s a Bitch (DJ Eclipse remix)
From 12″ (white label, 199?)

Ha – I should have mixed this with Dr. Dre’s “My Life” since both use “Everybody Loves the Sunshine.” I’ve often said I’ve never liked the original track for this song but put a different track behind it and it’s like re-hearing it for the first time.

The Mudkids: Another Journey
From Upward EP (Surf, 2000

I remember my buddies Matt and Justin and I met one of the Mudkids on a record shopping trip through Indianapolis; very local/indie crew that put out a handful releases in the early ’00s. This is from their second 12″ if I have that right; really like the loop they use here – quirky but catchy.

Moonshine: Backstreet Gods
From 12″ (Moonshine, 1996)

Part of what I like about going through this archive is coming upon those singles that are so clearly “of their era,” especially something like “Backstreet Gods” which sounds like it could only have come out sometime in the mid/late ’90s on an indie label.

Mellow Man Ace: Babalu Bad Boy
From 12″ (Capitol, 1992)

The gift and the curse of having a huge hit early in your career is how it ends up defining your sound, however accurate (or not). MMA may have had a big, one-time hit with “Mentirosa” in 1990 but he came out of the same crew of folks that Cypress Hill did on on his 1989 debut, you can find some classic Dust Brothers and one of the earliest DJ Muggs productions recorded. By 1992 though, Cypress Hill had exploded and MMA – to others – may have come off as seeming opportunist in releasing a track like “Babalu Bad Boy” but it really isn’t wildly different, at all, from his earlier work. Funny to hear the similarities between him and his brother, Sen Dog, on this track in particular.

Murs: 24 Hrs. w/ a G
From 12″ (Veritech, 2000)

In honor of the peace treaty, Murs, produced by Thes One. With a cameo from Grover, no less!

People have been asking what’s happening to those records that end up purged. The vast majority will be sold off, in bulk. But a select few (3 dozen so far) are being sold via discogs.

Meanwhile, special thanks to donors: James T., Mark B., Anthony J., Brian C.!

  1. Guesswhyld excepted. Really “basic” labels but very little on there has drawn much of a cult following amongst collectors. No shots here, just an observation. I met Matt Fingaz back in the day and he seemed like a genuinely earnest, passionate guy. Always wondered what he’s up to today.