February 28, 2021

We're back (Almost) (2/26/2021) (Please Read)


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Update: 2/27/2020

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The website is back online. We are currently at 38% in terms of our updates. The demand for the website to return kept increasing so we opened the website before we were fully ready to do so. We had already mentioned that if this were to happen, the website would not allow comments until the updates were completed. This has been implemented. No comments will be published until the website has been completely updated. 

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Coolbone - Brass-Hop (1997) ☠

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop, Brass Band
Style: Jazz Rap
Label Number: HR-62066-2
☠: Selected by Sentinel
© 1997 Hollywood Records
Perhaps it's not surprising that a New Orleans musical collective would latch onto the idea of fusing a brass band with hip-hop, but Coolbone's debut album Brass-Hop is startling nevertheless. Using gritty New Orleans R&B, jazz and funk as a foundation, the group works elements of urban soul and hip-hop into their music, creating a truly eclectic and infectious album. Theoretically, such juxtapositions shouldn't work, and occasionally the group don't quite fulfill their ambitions, but at its best, Coolbone is utterly modern, creative and funky soul.

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 


tags: coolbone, cool bone, brass hop, 1997, flac,

Mysterme & DJ 20/20 - Let Me Explain (1994)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Hardcore Hip-Hop
Label Number: 162-444 062-2

© 1994 Gee Street Independent
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 


tags: mysterme and dj 20 20, let me explain, 1994, flac,

Rumpletilskinz - What Is a Rumpletilskin? (1993) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Hardcore Hip-Hop
Label Number: 07863 66143-2
☠: Selected by Sentinel
© 1993 RCA/BMG Records
You've got to wonder if the major labels that signed eccentric, unorthodox new-school rap groups like Rumpletilskinz did so as mere tax write-offs, without ever intending to promote them properly, because with a little publicity push, What Is a Rumpletilskin? could have captured many of the same imaginations as the artists who were a part of the Native Tongues diaspora, not to mention commercially successful crews from a couple years down the road like Roc-A-Fella and Busta Rhymes' Flipmode Squad, both of which sound, in retrospect, as if they had carefully cribbed notes from the foursome. As it is, the album vanished from circulation almost before anyone had an opportunity to answer the title question, and it turned out to be the only recording by the Skinz. It's a shame on both counts. Close associates of Leaders of the New School -- the group's three MCs were featured on "Sound of the Zeekers" from LONS' debut outing, A Future Without a Past... -- Rumpletilskinz were, in fact, very much in the same mold as that foursome, zestfully trading off verses like the restless, grown-up nephews of original rap crews like the Furious Five and Funky Four Plus One. They can be just as zany as LONS, too, as each MC brings his own distinctive flavor: the Remedy Man (aka Shanow), loquaciousness carried by a windy, high-pitched whine; Jeranimo and his manic, proto-Ritalin breathlessness, the obvious neurotic id of the group; and The Capital L.S., its raw-throated linchpin. But Rumpletilskinz also projected some of Onyx's menacing, in-your-face smart-mouthing, perfectly exemplified by the larynx-throttling verbal throw-down "Mad M.F.'s," not coincidentally helmed by Onyx producer Chyskills. And with other equally blistering songs like "Attitudes," the buggy "Mushroom Talk," and "Hi Volume," this album deserved much more than its strictly cult reputation.

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 


tags: rumpletilskinz, what is a rumpletilskin, 1993, flac,

Pudgee Tha Phat Bastard - Give 'Em The Finger (1993) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Hardcore Hip-Hop
Label Number: 9 24498-2
☠: Selected by Sentinel
© 1993 Giant Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 


tags: pudgee tha phat bastard, give em the finger, the, them, fat, 1993, flac,

February 27, 2021

Flatlinerz - U.S.A. (Under Satan's Authority) (1994) ⚓

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Horrorcore
Label Number: P2-23601

© 1994 Def Jam Records
By 1994, the runaway success of Death Row's bloody, violent brand of gangsta-rap led many in hip-hop to wonder what would be next. Accordingly, a small band of artists emerged with what they felt would be the logical conclusion: "horrorcore" rap, a mixture of underground hip-hop beats, brutally violent lyrics inspired by splatter horror movies, and gothic, sometimes even satanic, imagery. Def Jam's entry into this trend, the Flatlinerz, seemed a shoo-in for success, since lead rapper Redrum was the nephew of label head Russell Simmons. In retrospect, though, it's easy to see why the group never really caught on. For one thing, although the production is similar to that of other east coast groups of the era (most particularly the underground act Black Moon), it's rather sparse and unmelodic compared to the G-Funk favored by fans at the time. What's more, although Redrum is a skilled rapper, he seems content with being derivative. In fact, more often than not, he borrows styles and phrases from other rappers, especially Das Efx and Onyx. Worst of all, though, is that lyrically, Flatlinerz are even more monotonous than the most generic gangsta rapper. Since every song here is about murder, death, and mayhem (without even the occasional lapses into sex, drugs and crude humor that Death Row artists scattered on their records), the ultimate effect isn't so much shocking or terrifying as it is numbing. The net result is of a group that, while not without talent, is little more than the sum of their gimmicks. Only a couple of cuts, like the energetic "Sonic Boom," really stand out here. U.S.A. may serve as a fascinating look at a failed hip-hop trend, but apart from its context, there's really nothing here that hasn't been done before, and better, by other, far more talented artists.

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section are closed. 


tags: flatlinerz, flatliners, usa, under satans authority, 1994, flac,

February 26, 2021

A Tribe Called Quest - People's Instinctive Travels & The Paths of Rhythm (1990)

*U.S. first pressing. 
Contains 14 tracks total.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Conscious Rap
Label Number: 1331-2-J

© 1990 Jive Records
One year after De la Soul re-drew the map for alternative rap, fellow Native Tongues brothers A Tribe Called Quest released their debut, the quiet beginning of a revolution in non-commercial hip-hop. People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm floated a few familiar hooks, but it wasn't a sampladelic record. Rappers Q-Tip and Phife Dawg dropped a few clunky rhymes, but their lyrics were packed with ideas, while their flow and interplay were among the most original in hip-hop. From the beginning, Tribe focused on intelligent message tracks but rarely sounded over-serious about them. With "Pubic Enemy," they put a humorous spin on the touchy subject of venereal disease (including a special award for the most inventive use of the classic "scratchin'" sample), and moved right into a love rap, "Bonita Applebum," which alternated a sitar sample with the type of jazzy keys often heard on later Tribe tracks. "Description of a Fool" took to task those with violent tendencies, while "Youthful Expression" spoke wisely of the power yet growing responsibility of teenagers. Next to important message tracks with great productions, A Tribe Called Quest could also be deliciously playful (or frustratingly unserious, depending on your opinion). "I Left My Wallet in El Segundo" describes a vacation gone hilariously wrong, while "Ham 'n' Eggs" may be the oddest topic for a rap track ever heard up to that point ("I don't eat no ham and eggs, cuz they're high in cholesterol"). Contrary to the message in the track titles, the opener "Push It Along" and "Rhythm (Dedicated to the Art of Moving Butts)" were fusions of atmospheric samples with tough beats, special attention being paid to a pair of later Tribe sample favorites, jazz guitar and '70s fusion synth. Restless and ceaselessly imaginative, Tribe perhaps experimented too much on their debut, but they succeeded at much of it, certainly enough to show much promise as a new decade dawned.

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 


tags: a tribe called quest, peoples instinctive travels and the paths of rhythm, 1990, flac,

February 25, 2021

Blahzay Blahzay - Federal Reserve Notez (FRN'Z)/Gee Sums/Good For Ya Club: 3-Song Maxi-Single (1999)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Gangsta Rap
Label Number: GAM 2005-2

© 1999 Game Recordings
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 


tags: blahzay blahzay, federal reserve notez, notes, gee sums, good for ya club, your, 3 song maxi single, 1999, frnz, flac,

Boogiemonsters - God Sound (1997) ☠

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Conscious Rap
Label Number: E2 56045; 7243-8-56045-2-2
☠: Selected by Sentinel
© 1997 Pendelum Records/EMI America
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 


tags: boogiemonsters, boogie monsters, god sound, 1997, flac,

Boogie Down Productions - Criminal Minded (1997 Reissue)

*Reissued in 1997 by M.I.L. Multimedia
Contains 1 bonus and 11 tracks total.
A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: BB4787

© 1987-1997 B-Boy/
Criminal Minded is widely considered the foundation of hardcore rap, announcing its intentions with a cover photo of KRS-One and Scott La Rock (on his only album with Boogie Down Productions) posing with weapons -- an unheard-of gesture in 1987. BDP weren't the first to rap about inner-city violence and drugs, and there's no explicit mention of gangs on Criminal Minded, but it greatly expanded the range of subject matter that could be put on a rap record, and its grittiest moments are still unsettling today. Actually, that part of its reputation rests on just a handful of songs. Overall, the record made its impact through sheer force -- not only KRS-One's unvarnished depictions of his harsh urban environment, but also his booming delivery and La Rock's lean, hard backing tracks (which sound a little skeletal today, but were excellent for the time). It's important to note that KRS-One hadn't yet adopted his role as the Teacher, and while there are a few hints of an emerging social consciousness, Criminal Minded doesn't try to deliver messages, make judgments, or offer solutions. That's clear on "South Bronx" and "The Bridge Is Over," two of the most cutting -- even threatening -- dis records of the '80s, which were products of a beef with Queens-based MC Shan. They set the tone for the album, which reaches its apex on the influential, oft-sampled "9mm Goes Bang." It's startlingly violent, even if KRS-One's gunplay is all in self-defense, and it's made all the more unsettling by his singsong ragga delivery. Another seminal hardcore moment is "Remix for P Is Free," which details an encounter with a crack whore for perhaps the first time on record. Elsewhere, there are a few showcases for KRS-One's pure rhyming skill, most notably "Poetry" and the title track. Overall it's very consistent, so even if the meat of Criminal Minded is the material that lives up to the title, the raw talent on display is what cements the album's status as an all-time classic.

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 


tags: boogie down productions, criminal minded, 1987, 1997, bdp, reissue, flac,

February 24, 2021

Boogie Down Productions - Ghetto Music: The Blueprint of Hip-Hop (1989)

*U.S. first pressing. 
Contains 13 tracks total.
A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Conscious Rap
Label Number: J2-1187

© 1989 Jive Records
The second Boogie Down Productions album devoted mostly to consciousness raising, Ghetto Music: The Blueprint of Hip Hop finds KRS-One evolving into a fierce advocate for both his community and his chosen art form. He's particularly concerned about the direction of the latter: he's wary of hip-hop being co-opted by the pop mainstream, and the album's title comes from his conviction that real hip-hop is built on the vitality and rebelliousness of the streets. Accordingly, Ghetto Music contains a few more battle rhymes than usual, plus some showcases for pure MC technique, in keeping with the most basic elements of the music. The production, too, is still resolutely minimalist, and even if it's a little more fleshed-out than in the past, it consciously makes no concessions to pop or R&B accessibility. There are more reggae inflections in KRS-One's delivery than ever before, audible in about half the tracks here, and the production starts to echo dancehall more explicitly on a few. Meanwhile, as the Teacher, he's actually put together lesson plans for a couple tracks: "Why Is That?" and "You Must Learn" are basically lectures about biblical and African-American history, respectively. This is where KRS-One starts to fall prey to didacticism, but he has relevant points to make, and the rapping is surprisingly nimble given all the information he's trying to pack in. Elsewhere, "Who Protects Us from You?" is a bouncy anti-police-brutality rap, and KRS closes the album with the point that "World Peace" can only be achieved through a pragmatic, aggressive struggle for equality. Although Ghetto Music has a few signs that KRS is starting to take himself a little too seriously (he dubs himself a metaphysician in the liner notes), overall it's another excellent effort and the last truly great BDP album.

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 


tags: boogie down productions, bdp, ghetto music, the blueprint of hip hop, 1989, flac,

February 13, 2021

A+ - The Latch-Key Child (1996) ⚓

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: UD-53005

© 1996 Kedar/Universal Records
A little kid with a lot to say, A+ seems very mature for his age. He isn't exactly talking about school dances and his grades on this album, even if his name is A+. You'd think he was 25 if it wasn't for his voice and his photo on the cover of the album. Not the only one tooting his horn, industry veterans like Mobb Deep and Q-Tip show up for appearances, and -- particularly on the Mobb Deep track -- A+ delivers a few memorable verses to complement Prodigy's always present microphone dominance. Not the longest album in the world at just 13 tracks, it leaves you wondering why they didn't fill it up with a few more songs. But all in all, this is a good album; it will be interesting to see if A+ will truly develop into the prodigy he seems to be.

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 


tags: a+, a plus, the latch key child, 1996, flac,

A+ - Hempstead High (1998)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Pop Rap
Label Number: UD 53221

© 1999 Universal Records
A+ exhibited enough potential on his debut album Latch Key Kid for many to consider him as being one of hip-hop's most promising future lyrical assassins. After all you do not hear many 14-year-old shorties rocking the mic as profusely as he did on his debut. However after a two-year layoff in between LP's, A+ has moved on to more adult topic matter and seems eager to present himself as hip-hop's version of Usher. But not only has A+ lost his innocence, he has also lost any sense of originality. One of A+'s major drawbacks is he tends to mimic the flow of whomever he is teamed up with, whether it be Canibus, or Psycho Drama. He waters down this recording with blatant crossover reaches like "Don't Make Me Wait" and "Price of Fame." "What Da Deal" f/ Cardan is especially disheartening, as both MCs trade woeful verses and Cardan sounds like a carbon copy of Mase or Cam'ron. The few gems on this album stick out like a sore thumb, since they're few and far between. A+ brings guaranteed action with cuts like the heavily mix-tape circulated "Boy II Men" featuring Lost Boyz & Canibus, and a surprisingly tight collaboration "Watcha Weigh Me" featuring MJG. When A+ sticks to simple, yet effective beats and rhymes, he reaps the benefits, as on "Parkside Garden." A+ desperately needs to find his own unique identity and style. "Hempstead High" is aptly titled as it is a high schoolish effort at best; hopefully, with his next LP A+ will mature mentally, instead of physically, and come into his own.

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 


tags: a+, a plus, hempstead high, 1998, flac,

Heltah Skeltah - Magnum Force (1998)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Gangsta Rap, Pop Rap
Label Number: P2-53543

© 1998 Duck Down/Priority Records
Heltah Skeltah, the duo of Duck Down Records family members Rock and Ruck, released their second album, Magnum Force, a declaration of the prowess of their clique of the same name. The first song, "Worldwide" (produced by Self), sets the tone with a refrain that lets the listener know: "we gonna rock the world...if not mutherRuck the world!" The following selection, "Call of the Wild," is also produced by Self and again uses an altered string sample that makes the song feel threatening and dangerous. Featured on "Call of the Wild" are Starang Wondah (from O.G.C.), the Representativz, the young Hardcore, and Doc Holiday. Method Man joins Heltah Skeltah for a thug anthem, "Gunz 'N Ones," produced by S.M.O.K.E.. Starang Wondah comes back with Doc Holiday to spit lyrics with Rock and Ruck on the up-tempo "I Ain't Havin' That," which uses a Redman vocal sample plus the bassline and sounds from A Tribe Called Quest's "Hot Sex." More collaboration occurs on "Brownsville II Long Beach," where Tha Dogg Pound lend their West Coast lyrics and production (by Daz Dillinger) to make a respectable track. "Magnum Force," the album's title song, was produced by Grand Daddy I.U. and features the Representativz added rhymes and Ruste Juxx's vocals on the chorus. The theme of the album switches with "Hold Your Head Up," produced by Nod and featuring Anthony Hamilton's vocals. The uplifting message in this selection and optimistic plea for all those downtrodden to endure is an effective break in the violence and gun talk that predominates on this album. The album ends with one of its stronger selections, "Gang's All Here," which features the production of Smoke and nine minutes of lyrics from members of the "Magnum Force Crew" and Boot Camp Clik. (Buck Shot delivers the most notable lyrics in this song.) This album offers only one major sore point: for those who dislike poorly executed efforts to mix R&B and rap music, they will find "Chica Woo" a skippable song. The skits are mildly amusing and make it appear as though there are 19 songs on this album, while there are actually only 14 songs, and five skits or interludes. A strong album, but hardly more advanced than their last effort, Nocturnal.

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 


tags: heltah, skeltah, magnum force, 1998, flac,

Heltah Skeltah - Nocturnal (1996) ☠

*U.S. first pressing.
A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: P2 50532
☠: Selected by Sentinel
© 1996 Duck Down/Priority Records
Heltah Skeltah is comprised of MCs Ruck and Rock, two members of the loose-knit East Coast congregation Boot Camp Clik. The duo's debut establishes the crew as one of the most powerful members of the Clik, both in terms of technique and production. Most of Nocturnal is straight-ahead East Coast gangsta rap with layered soundscapes, and even if these soundscapes are seamlessly crafted, they are only there as a backdrop -- the main intent of the entire album is to showcase the talents of Ruck and Rock, and do they ever display their talents. Throughout the album, Ruck and Rock create a series of intertwining rhymes that are lyrical, hard, and insightful. Naturally, there are some moments that are little too predictable for comfort, but by and large, Nocturnal is first-rate mid-'90s hip-hop.

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 


tags: heltak skeltah, nocturnal, 1996, flac,

January 14, 2021

Shyheim - A.K.A. The Rugged Child (1994)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: 7243 8 39385 2 0

© 1994 Virgin Records America, Inc.
Shyheim's age of 14 can be easily recognized in his voice on this, his debut album, but lyrically it's difficult to believe this young rapper is already so skilled. What really makes him different than other young rappers is that he's where he is, not just because of his youth. The sound works well, with funky, lively beats, and Shyheim's hardcore violence-heavy lyrics combining for some great tracks. Only time will tell how this artist will develop, but if this is any indication of what we can expect from him in the years to come, the Rugged Child will surely not disappoint.

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 


tags: shyheim, aka the rugged child, 1994, flac,

Yo-Yo - Black Pearl (1992)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Gangsta Rap
Label Number: 7 92120-2

© 1992 EastWest Records America
Yo-Yo's positive (but not simplistic or naïve) messages regarding female sexuality, self-esteem and achievement were grounded in hard raps and thudding beats on this album, still her most complete, and effective production. Unfortunately, it seemed that only cutesy material like "You Can't Play with My Yo-Yo" from her first release could get the widespread support and attention necessary for a hit.

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 


tags: yo yo, yo-yo, black pearl, 1992, flac,

Questionmark Asylum - The Album (1995)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: 07863 66560-2

© 1995 RCA Records
Nine out of ten rap fans surveyed could not tell Questionmark Asylum from the Pharcyde in a blind taste test. After all, the D.C.-based quartet possesses mad dance skills, has a uniquely tripped-out rhyme style, and sticks to a primarily positive alt-rap approach. Thankfully, all four MCs have their own unique lyrical flows, and The Album ultimately defies easy comparisons. On "Curse of the Q," which laments the loss of their original major-label record deal, they reveal distinct personalities that make the catchy hook and freaky vocal melody even more memorable, with Mistafiss and Digge Dom assuming drum and keyboard duties, respectively, as sidemen Kevin "KC" Campbell and Jesse "Twin" Blanks add guitar and bass to the ultra-funky mix. On "Love, Peace, Soul," go-go music legend Chuck Brown adds distinctive flavor to the acid jazzy mix, while "Get With You" samples Bootsy Collins' classic "I'd Rather Be With You" for a funky reinvention. An impressive debut from unfairly overlooked hip-hop shoulda-beens.

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 


tags: questionmark asylum, the album, question mark, 1995, flac,

Down South - Lost In Brooklyn (1994)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: 92329-2

© 1994 Big Beat, Atlantic Records
Rap records are often very typical of their time (and anything but 'timeless'). It's hard to imagine Down South's "Lost in Brooklyn" being released after 1994. Here we have a group embracing everything southern, and where are they from? VA. Virginia may be 'down south' from a New Yorker perspective and it may be below the Mason-Dixon line, but it finds itself 'up north' relative to the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi or Louisiana. States that in the years to come would produce national rap stars such as JT Money, Petey Pablo, Pastor Troy, Juvenile, Bubba Sparxxx, etc. Their way was paved by a number of labels and artists, many of whom would also be part of the growing southern scene that rendered a concept act like Down South obsolete by 1995.

Still in '94 Down South had every right to exist as they presented a rural, southern alternative to the urban, northern way of life, both on a social and a musical level. To stress that Arrested Development beat them to it by two years would be failing to realize that Down South solely exist within that dichotomy. They purposely hit their heads against the New York city walls, in place of every out-of-towner who ever tried to make it there. "Lost in Brooklyn" is not only a symbol of the hegemony of the birthplace of hip-hop, it also implicitly represents the adventurous journey of generations of southern migrants/refugees/runaways who settled in the northern and eastern cities. Down South directly address those with family in the south, plus allude to having family further down south themselves (although no geographical denominations are given).

Down South's most prominent member is Shawn J-Period (not to be confused with DJ J.Period or with Shawn J of Field Mob), who would go on to produce for Mad Skillz, Bush Babees, Artifacts and become one of the architects of the Rawkus sound. Since him and partner Soda Pop share the same family name, we can assume they were blood-related (AllMusic says cousins). They could also originate from the same place (Richmond), including Myorr the DJ, whose family apparently accomodated the trio during its stay(s) in New York.

Although the tape and vinyl versions of the album are divided into a South and a North Side, there is no sudden change of the narrative point of view. Things kick off with the self-titled "Down South," produced by South Carolina transplant T-Ray, the opening steel guitar sample soon making way for a dense Soul Assassins-type track. "Here come the hicks!" they chant, before staging some sort of barbarian invasion with violent imagery straight out of a backwoods horror movie. When Soda Pop argues, "Because the vibe down here is real / Take you five miles out, you'll forget that from-the-hood deal," he also throws down the gauntlet to the urban warrior who usually characterizes rap music. "Now you know country [niggas] ain't all about pickin' cotton," he concludes.

Nevertheless they have to employ stereotypes, and they go all the way on "Southern Comfort." A perfect J-Period/Stretch Armstrong co-production, the track paints a landscape of pure bliss over which a siren saxophone beckons you home. Shawn J-Period heeds the call:

"It's time for me to go just below the Mason-Dixon
I heard through the grapevine my grandmother's fixin'
some vittles, for me to come down for a little
if I take up some of these sweet candied yams
Damn, remember how the grass starts itchin'
and itchin', you fall into your grandma's kitchen
Had to wash your hands before you ate some
Stove Top stuffing and collard greens on your plate
Oh what about the buttered cornbread?
She wouldn't sit down to eat till the whole neighborhood was fed
The hospitality that I savour
Wanna make some Kool-Aid? Kid, get a cup of sugar from your neighbor
No quibbles and qualms, ring the alarm
In the evening relaxin' in my grandma's arms
Just a boy, but now I'm a man on the run
Step off bro, I'm baskin' in the sun
of the southern comfort"

T-Ray returns to the boards for "Tractors, Rakes, and Hoes" (the title inspired by Black Sheep, another group with an affinity for the country life), which continues Soda Pop's allegorical language from "Southern Comfort" while making digs at the fair sex. The lyrical approach gets out of hand on "Jimi Crack Korn," a pop culture-laden back-and-forth that ignores the historical context of the original song. "Spin Da Boddle" is the same thing in cypher form.
And then it's finally time for the title track. The Beatnuts provide a tongue-in-cheek jeep beat while Myorr digs up an old piece of wax from Bed-Stuy's own DisMasters for scratched in vocals. Shawn and Soda star as the gullible hayseeds who get taken advantage of in the big city. After nothing but mishaps it seems they are in a hurry to get back to the south, or more poetically put by Shawn - "It's the Down South flock flyin' south for the winter." "Sitting Here" catches these migratory birds resting, and as they fall asleep, their dreams take them back to their childhood once again on "Big Wheels."

The Beatnuts and Stretch Armstrong again blend in nicely with "Around the Clock" and "Open Sesame" and the Soda Pop solo "The Carbonated One," respectively. Mainly because they observe the number one house rule of this album - there's gotta be at least one horn in every track. When it comes to horns and hip-hop, "Lost in Brooklyn" is the album to beat, and while they're not all mind-blowing, they shape the sound of the album and edge out any other musical regional pointers such as 'East Coast' or 'Down South.'

Still Down South prove that Virginia possesses a little bit of both. While they weren't the only VA representatives trying to be a part of East Coast hip-hop in the '90s (Mad Skillz and Ill Biskits come to mind), it wasn't long before Missy Elliott and Timbaland put the state on the map for good with their highly original combination of urban and rural. Meanwhile Down South struggle to compete with similar groups like The Beatnuts or Tha Alkaholiks. But as a historical document of rap exploring black people's southern roots, "Lost in Brooklyn" is certainly an interesting item. As Shawn J-Period puts it: "We'll never forget the southern folks are the source that raised us and provided us - with just a hint of southern twang in my vocal thang."

Music Vibes: 7.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6.5 of 10

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tags: down south, lost in brooklyn. 1994, flac,

Cypress Hill - Unreleased & Revamped: E.P. (1996)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Language: English, Spanish (Español)
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Gangsta Rap
Label Number: CK 67780

© 1996 Ruffhouse/Columbia
On Cypress Hill III: Temples of Boom, Cypress Hill sounded a little tired, clinging to their slow, druggy beat a bit too much. The Unreleased & Revamped EP was released a few months after the album, which signals that the EP is an attempt to salvage their reputation. That suspicion is confirmed by the list of remixers and collaborators. None of the guest musicians -- from the Fugees and A Tribe Called Quest to Redman, MC Eiht, and Erick Sermon -- are traditional West Coast rappers. They are musicians who are pushing the boundaries of hip-hop in 1996. In another attempt to restore their street credibility, Cypress Hill have distanced themselves from the alternative rock audience they cultivated through an appearance at Lollapalooza and with Temples of Boom. So, the group has clearly tried to make a break from its trademark sound, and its attempts are marginally successful. "Boom Biddy Bye Bye," which features a remix from the Fugees, is particularly successful, but most of the EP contains the germs of an idea, not the fruition of one. Still, the EP is encouraging to long-term fans who may have thought that Cypress Hill had lost the plot with Temples of Boom. Unreleased & Revamped suggests they are about to get back on track.

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tags: cypress hill, unreleased and revamped, ep, 1996, flac,