This entire week I will be uploading some of my personal favorite slept on hip hop albums, I start with Philadelphia’s Mountain Brothers’ Self Volume 1, Prince Paul’s concept album A Prince Among Theives, Group Home’s A Tear For The Ghetto and Chicago crew Rubberoom’s Architechnology.
The Mountain Brother first popped on the scene in Philadelphia in 1996 with a three song EP released through their own indie label, Pimpstrut Records. The Philly crew consists of Chops, Peril-L and Styles Infinite, all three members are nice on the mic and assist on the boards but Chops is the lead producer of the project. This album has the perfect mix of lyricism and beats. The subject matter deals with everything like dealing with women, being an emcee with a day job, being broke, and general daily life shit. The Mountain Brothers don’t take themselves too seriously, which makes the album an enjoyable listen. Instead of trying to beat you over the head by telling you how nice they are on the mic, they just go about proving it by making a nice album.
My favorite tracks on it are “Galaxies: The Next Level”, “Paperchase”, “Whiplash!”, “Ain’t Nuthin’ 98”, and “5 Elements”. There are quite a few short solo joints that are nice as well like Styles Infinite’s “Brand Names” where he takes a jab at the name dropping material obsessed emcees that were in abundance in 1998 (wait, they still are now!). My only issues with the album was the use of the alternate version rather than the original of “The Adventures Of...” off of the 12”. The original version is one of my all time favorite Mountain Brothers songs, they were also the voice behind a series of Nike commercials. After two albums, “Self Volume 1” and “Triple Crown” the Mountain Brothers broke up and Chops went solo as a producer (putting out 2004’s “Virtuosity”). Did I forget to mention that these dudes are all Asians? (Like that matters)
Legendary producer Prince Paul, who has crafted classics for numerous groups and soloists has also produced several comedy albums (Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, etc.) and a few concept albums (Psychoanalysis What Is It?, Here Come The Dix, etc.) made this 1999 concept album that was being pushed as a potential full length movie. The story centers around an up and coming emcee that has a meeting with RZA of Wu Tang Records coming up soon and he needs quick money for a professional demo to present to the God. He hooks up with one of his boys and asks him to hook him up with a job slinging krills to get the cash...then all hell breaks loose.
This album features apperances by some of Prince Paul’s favorites in the hip hop industry, Kool Keith, Big Daddy Kane, Chubb Rock, Biz Markie, De La Soul, Everlast, Sadat X, and Xzibit. The album also features Breeze and Queen Herawin of Juggaknots (“Clear Blue Skies” and “Use Your Confusion”) and Big Sha (I’m not sure if it’s Killa Sha from Queensbridge or not). This album is a certified classic and not to be slept on, too bad the trailer video and B side single didn’t give it a bigger buzz so someone would’ve picked it up and made the full length movie.
Group Home decided that they had to leave the nest (and DJ Premier beats) to go and fend for themselves on the mean streets of East New York. They landed on their feet with the aid of their team, Brainsick Mob, The Black Rose Family, Kai Bee and Guru. They released the classic 12’s “Stupid MF’s”, “A Train X Press”, “Dial A Thug” & “12 O’ Clock (Brooklyn)”. They secured an album deal on now defunct indie Replay Records in 1999 and released the surprisingly dope LP “A Tear For The Ghetto”. This time around Malachi only spit on like 3 of the 20 tracks on this album...thank God.
Lil’ Dap started Low Budget Environment Productions and began making beats (“Street Life”, “Politic All Night”& “Keep Rising”), he also enlisted production help from Agallah (“Tear Shit Down”, “Run For Your Life”, “Make It In Life”, “Be Like That”, “Oh Sweet America” & “Beefin’ For Rap”), Charlie Marotta of Solid Scheme Productions (“Da Real GH”, “Game Recognize Game”, & “Life Ain’t Shit”), Alchemist contributed “Stupid MF’s” and DJ Premier blessed the set with “The Legacy”. The remaining joints were produced by Jiv Pos and Rad (I don’t know who they are either, but of both the joints were cool). The album contains three skits featuring Mike Epps (“Next Friday”, “All About The Benjamins” and “Roll Bounce”) and Dominique Witten (“The Chappelle Show” & “Wild N’ Out”) that round out the thugged out soundscape. Download and familiarize yourself.
I first heard of Rubberoom through a 12’ that they released back in 1995 called “Body Snatch’n” (which is now available for download on 12 Inchers) and later in 1999 after their indie label Indus Recordings got signed by short lived 3-2-1/Zero Hour Records and Architechnolgy was released to the public. Rubberoom was comprised of DJ Stizo (who was also the graphic designer of all the groups promo material and release covers), the production half of the group known collectively as The Opus (Fanum and Isle Of Weight) and rappers Lumba and Meta Mo. The end result is one the the best and most slept on indie hip hop releases of the past 10 years.
The hard aggressive drums and the boom bap sounds coupled with spitfire lyrics from Lumba and Meta Mo is only heightened by the 13 different turntablists that appear on this project. This album also contains one of the most slept on posse joints in recent memory with flamethrowers Meta Mo and Lumba sharing the mic with Path, Kenny B and legendary Chicago MC Juice on “Style Wars”. Elusive underground emcee Thawfor also appears on “Vertigo” (if anyone knows where to find a copy of his album “Where Thought Is Worshipped” then let me know). My personal favorites are “Born”, “Smoke”, “Lock Jaw”, “Acid”, “Architechnology Nine”, “Style Wars” and “Space And Time”. The only thing with these guys is that their songs tend to go on as 11 of the 16 tracks are longer than 4:30 and 6 are over 5:00. There isn’t a weak moment on this album...unfortunately, I don’t know of any other releases they made after this project as the Big Juss (Company Flow & NMS) and Fiona Bloom helmed 3-2-1 Records folded and this album is no longer in print. Download it now.
For full tracklistings, more info or cover art from these uploads, check out http://www.discogs.com or do a regular Google search. All uploads are Zip files, enjoy ‘em:
Mountain Brothers-Self Volume 1 (1998)
Prince Paul-A Prince Among Theives (1999)
Group Home-A Tear For The Ghetto (1999)