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Welcome to the June edition of Glaciers. What's good? A lot. But we're just going to cover a few choice selections here in preparation for the long, hot summer approaching. And yes, Glaciers believes in global warming - it's one of our biggest enemies, after all. But still we persist.
Tame One has been around for just a bit more than a second now. Starting out with New Jerusalem's legendary Artifacts, the MC found himself on the Eastern Conference label in the late '90s, alongside the likes of High 'n' Mighty, Cage, and Camu Tao. He released two solo albums for the label, as well as the Leak Brothers project with Cage, entitled Waterworld. Last year, Tame joined The Dusted Don's to form Slow Suicide Stimulus. I'm not sure what the future holds for the venerable MC, but for now, we have The Grudge - Fuck the Industry mixtape (Division East). As is usually the case, tracks vary in production value and overall quality, but for all underground heads, this one should satisfy. "No Hook" is a standout here, as Tame declares "It's like Kurt Cobain's in here when Tame One's in here" at the outset of this banger. There's some weird shit too, like "Hip-Hop (Call N Response)", a Kool Keith-esque space beat providing the bedrock for Tame's assertion that the genre has been around since "1970-something" and that he "was on dust when Cypress Hill blew up." Fair enough. Definitely don't skip the last track, "A DJ Stretch Armstrong HOT97 Exclusive feat. Funk Doctor Spot 'n' Rah Digga." 'Nuff said.
Another Division East release this month arrives courtesy of the Jersey City MC, Shape. Raised Near the Powerlines is another unabashedly underground effort with this young MC's unique vision fully on display. After a slow, spacey instrumental, "Darkside of the Sillohuete [sic]" kicks the record off, which features a sample of Val Kilmer from the Bob Dylan movie, Masked and Anonymous. The pop culture doesn't stop there. The guitar-driven "Stereo Gun Unplugged" closes with some classic Arnold quotes, and the soulful "Superheroes" features a cameo from the late Bill Hicks. Is all this compensating for a lack of real talent? Not really, as Shape's rhymes and presence are unique and engaging. But it does feel, at times, like it's missing that essential boom-bap soul that would take Shape's shtick to that next level.
Coming at the game from a completely different angle is the talented Sa-Ra Creative Partners (Om'Mas Keith, Taz Arnold, and Shafiq Husayn), who are masters of making the sweetest neo-soul/hip-hop since the heyday of the Soulquarians. The trio was a part of Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music venture until it was overtaken by Sony, and can count Dr. Dre as a fan. The Hollywood Recordings (Babygrande) is a prequel to their forthcoming major label debut, and if this is any indication, it's gonna be the shit Andre 3000 attempted on The Love Below but essentially failed at. Slinky, sexy, cool, and banging, Sa-Ra feels as comfortable intoning choral riffs on "Glorius" as they do trading rhymes with Talib Kweli or Capone-N-Noreaga or matching harmonies with Bilal or Georgia Anne Muldrow. This is an album that's hard to really categorize, and at over an hour, it's a bit of overkill… But this is the vision of a production group that doesn't give a shit about current trends, and that's a good thing.
Another recent Babygrande release comes from the underground supergroup, Polyrhythm Addicts, their second, called Break Glass. Been wondering what Shabaam Sahdeeq has been up to? I sure have, as the MC hasn't been heard all that much from since the days of Rawkus' Soundbombing mixed CDs. The nimble-tongued, nasal-voiced, and recently paroled MC is joined by Mr. Complex, Tiye Phoenix, and the incredible producer, DJ Spinna, who takes a break from his house and soul beats here to create some hype hip-hop. Guests like Pharaohe Monche, Planet Asia, and Large Professor show up to help the proceedings along, but, really, these MCs don't need any outside efforts. Check out Spinna's seriously dope beats on the tracks "Reachin'" and "Four Corners."
Finally, the most interesting release of the month isn't a straight hip-hop effort. The singular Dudley Perkins and Georgia Anne Muldrow have collaborated with 2003 UK DMC champion, 2tall, on Beautiful Mindz (Amalgam/Eclectic Breaks). Perkins and Muldrow are both Stones Throw recording artists, and both are unparalleled voices in off-kilter soul and r'n'b. Perkins, also known as Declaime, has collaborated frequently with Madlib in the past; his last solo effort, Expressions, was entirely produced by him. Muldrow and Perkins have also collaborated in the past, notably on the "Tyrone Biggums" song from Oh No's last album, definitely a standout track. Perkins' presence sort of overshadows Muldrow's on Mindz, as his slurring, ODB-on-codeine voice winds and weaves its way over 2tall's interesting production. Based mostly on samples and synth beats, 2tall also incorporated real instruments into his beat tableau. But the real attraction here are the voices of these two up-and-comers, especially when they join forces, as they do on many of the album's tracks. Definitely don't sleep on this one.
And that's all for this month. Until next time… e-mail with thoughts and insults, and send me yer shit! I'll listen to it. Glaciers is ghost like Casper.
Jonah Flicker writes, lives, drinks, eats, and consumes music in New York, via Los Angeles. He once received a fortune in a fortune cookie that stated the following: "Soon, a visitor shall delight you." He's still waiting.
See other articles by Jonah Flicker.
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