drank and my two steps back

Like a lot of people from europe* who spend an unhealthy amount of time thinking about rap music , I was once somewhat of a Jeru. Never to the point I was religious with it but yeah playa-hatin used to be a bit of a hobby of mine. Then like a lot of of people who spend an unhealthy amount of time looking at rap blogs, I learned to love what i hated, hate what i loved and became yet another newjack turncoat reverse-elitist.

Lately Iv been trying to correct this by revisiting some of my old listening habits and theres been one consistent similarity that struck me – most of the production was at the very least daecent and actually pretty bangin a lot more often than id expected it to be. While it rarely took many risks, surprisingly little of it was the boring geeksauce that id anticipated. I feel pretty proud of that fact cos while 15 year  old me may have had a warped perception of what good rapping was I never fully adopted the worst ELEMENT of jansportery, having that naSears jones for elevator music. No $pitta.

Dilated Peoples, Jurrasic 5, Sunz of Man- while obviously from a time before the wu-name generator and most of their vocals very much left something to be desired, ** all had beats. Especially Dilated, my favourite song of theirs was always the Defari solo though so obviously my inner G was tryna tell me something. Trade Money still kinda holds up too I think. This too:

The main revelation for me out of all this looking back is People Under The Stairs, or more specifically their 2006 album Stepfather. While their earlier work could be used as a scared-straight detterant for any kid you catch rockin a rap minus lies t-shirt, *** Stepfather is a pretty good departure where they got their act together by takin the stick out their arse, having production that isnt all dry shite horn-loops and rapping thats about more interesting things than rap, rapping and digging for rap songs.  They still say shit like “real rap” though:

They stepped up their production, adding in more upbeat carnival/funk type shit and  taking some of the elements of their old style (jazz samples, filtered basslines etc) and making them way less muddy & snooze-worthy.

The most notable thing I found was their self-awareness, its like they took every snarky message board comment **** about them as constructive criticism and tried to apply it (“backpackin rhyme book not a good look” is one of the many references, which mostly seem heart-felt and not pandering at all.) and by and large, they succeed. They even make a Hip Hop VS Rap/Ego Trippin pt.2 song thats actually not pointlessly derivative (as in of  the likes of those two songs, obviously the whole point is that its derivative.) because its about old LA rap! Maybe its just me but hearing Low Profile and 2nd II None shout-outs is pretty appealing. I mean they even sample 40 at one point, which surprised me to be honest.

Its far from flawless, their humour and style is often really corny but usually in a way thats really endearingly earnest, the reason thats fairly forgivable where if most other rappers did the same itd be horrible is down to them embueing every song with this vibe that theyr having fun *****, which feels genuine and not contrived. Even when their were grown-ups now reflective songs veer into mawkishness that feeling of sincerity rescues them from being complete cheez-fests.

Its pretty obvious from my half-hearted praise I dont want to oversell them but they do a pretty admirable job of switching up their old failings, (a lot more so in Double K’s case, who while less technically proficient is more charismatic in this kinda charmingly goofy way.) and the production while not mind-blowing is some nice easy listening barbeque music

And yes all of this was very backhanded but I dont think it contradicted the point I was trying to make, a lot of the complaints people have about these groups are valid but too often they throw the baby out with the bathwater, they have their flaws but that doesnt neccesarily negate their positive attributes. With that said, Im probably just gonna try and bag them Expansion Team instrumentals.

* I resent that though, we were never considered continental when we were broke-as.     fuck all yall.
** Not counting Chali 2na, Soup and the Big Baby Jesus pt 2, 60 Second Assassin, who all were actually pretty good in my opinion. Even Evidence had his moments in his later solo career.(something I keep meaning to check out outside of the singles, he does have Alc on the boards after all.)
Seriously though- the names. Irifuckingscience?
*** I cant remember who said it but: rap-lies=instrumentals.
**** I mean its hard to hate how they leaked a fake album called Redheaded Stepfather pretending it was this one , with song titles like Sucka Emceez, Lyrical Miracles, Graffitti Rap II and 4 Elements. Wonder what its actually like.
***** One of their later albums which iv yet to check out, is called FUN DMC.
FUN DMC.
Theses cunts make it pretty fuckin hard for me to defend em.
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16 Responses to drank and my two steps back

  1. Quality Control >>>>>

    Considerin’ it ain’t that crack rap…..

  2. Proper Propaganda was a dope track too tho…..

    Even tho DJ Babu look like DJ Mongolian Monkey…..

    #NoDisrespect to my aziatic plugs

    • done says:

      Ah I thought I included Proper Propaganda, its done now.

      Theres definitly must be something in east asia that gives people an affinity for speakin with their hands. no nohomo but it aint no mystercee

  3. AZ-Aziatic >>>>>

    #FanMail

    Tru BAWSE always make sure every autograph signed…..

  4. Thun says:

    “a lot of the complaints people have about these groups are valid but too often they throw the baby out with the bathwater”

    Well said.

    That whole ’98-’03 (approximate) “indieground” era will be looked upon much more fondly in the future than it is now, I predict. When people can take a step back from all the labels and stereotypes and generalizations and all of the overdramatized somber contextual nonsense of “real hip hop vs commercial rap” and simply approach the music on a track by track, album by album basis, the gems will be recovered.

    I was always annoyed by PUTS’s ironic excesses. They claimed to be indieground and to carry the banner for it all, but their music revolved around frivolities and being obnoxious. They were like a PG-rated Beatnuts, except they didn’t have 1/10 the skill set, street credibility, or likability of Psycho Les and JuJu. Their music by and large sounded like they were engaged in a lifelong competition to turn stacks of well-regarded loops into the glossiest, shiniest, most ephemeral music the indieground would allow. (peep their song “Why Don’t We Give Love A Chance” versus L The Head Toucha’s “Too Complex” to see how they were essentially P-Diddying underground rap).

    It’s like they wanted to make music as dumb and pointless as the dumbest and most pointless commercial music but never face the same criticism. I admire their cleverness, but not their dishonesty.

    But on Stepfather, as you’ve noted, they put it in a lot of work toward correcting their flaws, and its an album worth revisiting every so often.

    • done says:

      yeah that underground Puffy shit make sense actually, their beats and content were often in the words of Big Starks, soft as baby thighs and lacked a lot of bite. The easy listening thing I mentioned above could also often be more like purposely inoffensive M.O.R. candy floss. Thats why their relative sincerity on this album made such an impression, as opposed to simply pandering trend-hopping or chasing a new audience they really give the impression they just grew out of the try-hard shit and started enjoying themselves. It isnt a complete departure but they fare pretty well considering their origins. (though Thes didnt seem to get it quite as much.)

      Their personalities in general were really grating a lot of the time, PG Beatnuts is too high praise.

      Spot on bout the L the Head Toucha song, theres a lot of that other indie stuff that passed me by I need to check out, I loved a lot of Fondle Em though, still do. Never even heard most of Company flow, Def Jux, Stones Throw etc though.

  5. hl says:

    “Then like a lot of of people who spend an unhealthy amount of time looking at rap blogs, I learned to love what i hated, hate what i loved and became yet another newjack turncoat reverse-elitist”

    ^^^^^

    This is deep. I wish I understood why people do this.

    • done says:

      I think all that understanding what you like by making negative comparisons with shit you consider stylistic opposites is a lazy but very easily attained habit thats very hard to break with regardless how open-minded you think your becoming, which is ironic cos your being just as ignorant, just in a different way.

      Its the most common problem with music criticism/appreciation in my opinion (ha I know I still do it loads anyways) even amongst people who know a lot bout rap and regardless how great a critic they are. Near everyone does it to some extent from what iv seen . Maybe not overtly in their criticism but definitly show signs of it elsewhere, suppose its just hard to balance fun slaggin and mindless haterism.

      FUC DRIZZY

      • Thun says:

        Word, it is an appealing habit to fall back on because it puts everything into perspective very quickly. If you listen to an album that falls outside of your comfort zone, you can make an immediate judgment that seems like its valid.

        That’s why discussion is so important. It’s so easy to type a few hundred words in response to one listening session, forgo the editing process and have hundreds or even thousands of people adopt your point of view. Even though we risk overthinking things, its important to have checks and balances against our basest impulses.

        Of course, if reflection, discussion, and debate bring us back to our original conclusion, then it is what it is I suppose.

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  7. Victor says:

    Spot on with the description of “reverse elitism” done, i’ve been trying to put my finger on that for a while. At this moment in time I dont really get it though, but I suppose that’s due to me being a relatively young hip-hop fan, i’ve not really got to that disgruntled stage yet i.e. I dont really get the disdain for LB and 9th wonder’s earlier output. However, reverse-elitism has recently put me on to a host of music, Bay-area rap imparticular. I still cant fux with lil b tho, he just sounds shit to me haha

    • done says:

      Ah man put the work in with Lil B, hes worth it, I can understand why youd think he was shit though.

      I think if you keep listening to more Bay Area rap and people Little Brother influenced you listen to you might start to understand why people hate on em so much. 9th has great taste in samples and has good ideas but theyr poorly executed 9/10 in my opinion, formulaic chopping and weak drums etc. I used to love his beats though and he still has the odd nice one.

      • Victor says:

        Yeahh I defo agree with the 9th comment, I saw a phonte interview the other day which basically mirrored that comment on Jeanius “9th change your drums…NO”. Dude has definitely stagnated, he’s reproduced a similar vibe for the past half decade. But as you mentioned he does have a great ear and I still do enjoy the production on the first two LB albums (as well as Phonte’s emceeing).

        The reverse elitism from these guys themselves is a bit suspect as well though, not because its inherently wrong but it comes across as borne for the wrong reasons (i.e. to grab headlines).

        As for Lil B, I will peruse some singles and such on youtube since he has been given a cosign by many venerable writers such as yourself.

  8. Daniel. says:

    There really was a lot of love in Europe for Dilated Peoples, wasn’t there? I love “Expansion Team” and always checked for their albums. Can’t care at all for Rakaa solo, but Evidence… “Mr Slow Flow” is just a jam. My laptop speakers nearly blew up with that youtube link.

    SLIGHTLY UNRELATED POINT: After listening to Mikey Rocks’ new mixtape and revisiting the Cool Kids’ discography, that point about groups with deep beats but vocals not really being much cop still holds up. Obviously hip-hop has been full of groups like that forever, but nostalgia keeps those groups alive – then we come back to them and realise the vocalists were the weak link. Just something that came to my mind somehow.

    Also, that ABN track is too smooth. So good. Beautiful video as well.

  9. done says:

    I actually tried a Cool Kids (fucking horrible name btw) yape ages ago and despite repeated listens I couldnt remember one word, songs all sounded the same too. They had some nice beats though if I remember right.

    Yeah, No Help is a classic mang.

    @Victor, Lil B has like 1000 singles so youd probably be best downloading his 6 Kiss or Blue Flame(which leans a bit more boom bap-ish) tapes to start with.

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