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Forgotten Classics

Forgotten Classics: Public Enemy – Yo! Bum Rush The Show

Simply put, Public Enemy changed my life. That is not an exaggeration. I was in my late teens when I first heard the legendary group and their music guided me throughout my youth. They were that group for me rebellious and fiercely intelligent; the soundtrack to your most tumultuous years when you start getting out into life and begin figuring out who you are and what you want to achieve. P.E. launched my fascinations with Hip Hop, music, history and Black cultural studies, and provided a canvas for my college years. While I was nearly two decades removed from the groups heyday, the music and the message still resonated to me more than anything else Id heard in my life up until that point. Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Terminator X and the Bomb Squad got me listening, thinking and writing. They got me inspired, got me passionate. This is all thanks to their second album, It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. Now, their first record? Wellto be quite honest I kind of slept on it. Public Enemy was originally known as Spectrum City in the early 80s, a collective comprised of emcee/deejay/visual artist Chuck D, Bill Stephney and Hank Shocklee. The trio worked at WBAU, the student radio station of Adelphi University in Hempstead, NY. The group dropped a few early singles, which gained some burn locally thanks to Chucks socially conscious lyricism. But it was a response record entitled Public Enemy No. 1, targeted ... Read More »

Forgotten Classics: Prince Paul – A Prince Among Thieves

When I started Forgotten Classics back in 2011, I had a master list of albums which I wanted to spotlight. Some I’ve written about, others I’ve yet to cover, but there’s one particular record which has been sitting on the list since the beginning which I feel is time to talk about. It’s a joint that seemingly only the staunchest of Hip Hop listeners who, to put it bluntly, know their shit, know about; a classic amongst classics that never got it’s time to really shine, though it has earned admiration and praise from all who knew the artist and appreciate truly dope work. I’m talking about super producer Prince Paul’s magnum opus, A Prince Among Thieves. Hailing from Long Island, New York, Paul Huston got his start in the mid-‘80s by being a member of arguably the first Hip Hop band Stetsasonic, operating as the group’s DJ. Although the Stet was gaining commercial and critical success with their records, 1986’s On Fire and ‘88’s In Full Gear, Paul wasn’t exactly getting his dues. His role was that of a little brother in the group, getting shunned when trying to help out in production duties and passed over when it came time for the photo shoots and groupies. Though he had talent behind the boards and a twisted sense of humor, it wasn’t until he met up with three kids out of his hometown of Amityville who dubbed themselves De La Soul that he got his chance to shine. De ... Read More »

Forgotten Classics: Da Grassroots – Passage Through Time

“Take it back to Grassroots…” In the late ‘90s, Canada’s Hip Hop scene was undergoing a renaissance, returning from years of being on the backburner. Poised to explode in the late 1980s with emcees like Toronto legends Michee Mee and Maestro Fresh-Wes gaining attention at home and abroad, cosigns from major American rappers like KRS-One, and a pioneering Hip Hop radio program known as The Fantastic Voyage hosted by deejay Ron Nelson at Toronto’s Ryerson University, several stumbles sidelined the rise. Lack of attention by the American public and dismissal as a fad at home, as well as lack of a true Hip Hop radio station in many major markets, Toronto, in particular, kept the scene north of the border very low until 1998. That year, a legendary collaboration between several prominent Canadian emcees — Rascalz and Checkmate out of Vancouver and Toronto artists Kardinal Offishall, Thrust and Choclair — changed the game. The track, called “Northern Touch,” reenergized the community, bringing dope rhymes and a much-needed spotlight to listeners on talented emcees and producers who aren’t from America. It didn’t take long for other local artists to shine, and one of the most stellar crews present during this rebirth was Da Grassroots. The trio of Mr. Attic, Mr. Murray and Swiff had been producing for Canuck rappers throughout the ‘90s, with a string of singles and close connections within Toronto’s Hip Hop scene. In 1999, they dropped their one and only record, a compilation known as Passage Through Time, ... Read More »

Forgotten Classics: Zion I – True & Livin’

True and Livin’ is my comfort record. The third LP from the Bay Area duo Zion I is that go-to joint, perfect for throwing on and vibing. It’s a steady record with soul, substance and infectious tracks which have remained on my playlist for a long time.  It’s a record which definitely needs more shine and respect, and an easy selection for this edition of Forgotten Classics. Zion I, the duo of emcee Zumbi and producer Amp Live formed in Oakland around 1996 and wasted no time getting to work on creating dope, socially conscious tracks with a strong Left Coast feel. They began releasing several mixtapes in the late ‘90s before dropping their 2000 debut Mind Over Matter. The record was critically acclaimed, and the first major shot from a promising duo. The next LP Blackwater Slang 2.0 hit in 2003, further pushing the snappy and smooth beats of Amp Live and the lyrical depth of Zumbi, getting us prepared for what would come next. Dropping in April of 2005, True And Livin’ is a top-flight listen. Zumbi and Amp knock it out of the park, broaching topics such as hometown pride, issues of gentrification, violence in the Bay, the state of Hip Hop and race relations in America with contributions from guests such as Del Tha Funky Homosapien, Talib Kweli, and Gift of Gab. From the moment you press play, the jams will make you feel and get you nodding ya head. The first song on the record, ... Read More »

Forgotten Classics: Louis Logic – Sin-A-Matic

Louis “Louis Logic” Dorley released Sin-A-Matic in 2003. He ran into some comparisons as this album came on the heels of The Eminem Show and before Encore, notable as the point where a comparison to Eminem meant, “You’re trying to do what Marshall’s doing but you can’t.” When I listen to songs like “Mischievous” and “Coochie Coup,” the connection is apparent. But, I can also hear something else where Eminem only dabbled: Louis Logic is a masterful storyteller. Besides a knack for flowing with multi-syllabic rhymes and carrying a rhyme scheme for more than the standard two bars, Louis puts his songs together in such a way that Sin-A-Matic can come off as a collection of short stories. It helps that the production crafting is limited to four people, predominantly longtime associate J.J. Brown although Celph Titled, Memo and The Avid Record Collector contribute occasionally. This allows for a sense of cohesiveness throughout, as the quartet seem to have coordinated their efforts to give their records a particular, sinister and playful sound. Louis was once a member of The Demigodz, and this relationship set the stage for the coupling of “Best Friends” and “Revenge!!!” The former brings Apathy into the fold as an ersatz friend who Lou enlists as a companion to his lovely boo, only to have the Connecticut emcee seduce his girl: “One night over some Hennessey we started messing sexually/ and well, now we’re dealing with an unexpected pregnancy.” He calls up Celph Titled for comeuppance and ... Read More »

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