Too Many Rappers: July 2014
7/18/14 - Minneapolis, MN
Commuting earlier than usual this morning means it’s nice and cool. I ride by a kid who’s wearing an old 3rd Bass tee shirt and give him an approving Malcolm X-style fist in the air. He nods his head back at me like, “Yeah, that’s right, this is a 25 year old fucking 3rd Bass tee shirt.”
For some strange reason as I pedal over a set of tracks I think of the waitress at the Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub who once served my wife and me excellent wings and mediocre IPAs. She looked like Dolph Zigler, which I found equal parts disturbing and sexy. My love affair with professional wrestling is not something I'm sure I'll ever understand.
I stop briefly to slap a custom sticker on the back of a Yield sign. It will be gone by the time I ride home tonight; scrapped off or grayed out by the Greenway Vigilante. It’s me versus him/her on a daily basis. Gray is a great color; versatile and understated…for an outfit. But holy shit is it ever rage-inciting when it’s covering someone’s free public art offering. In my eyes, unsolicited buffing of graffiti and/or street art on public property is the same type of offense as artists going over each other. Not cool.
Waiting at a stop light like a decent law abiding citizen (which I do realize sounds rediculous, considering the previous paragraph) a women blows by me, through the light, and spits in my general direction. I playfully shout to her, “Yeah, that’s my girl.” She looks back and says, “Shut up creep.” I then reaffirming-ly say to myself, “Yeah, that’s my girl.”
In the earbuds Sonic Youth’s “Washing Machine” is transitioning into “Unwind” just as I pull up to work and the last thing I want to do is get off my bike. I just want to keep riding...to like, the suburbs or some shit. But then I'd be in the suburbs. Work or the suburbs? It's like voting for President.
As I’m locking up I am met by a man named Zygon. He’s actually the second person I’ve met named Zygon in recent times. He wants to sell me a photocopied chap book for five dollars. Instead I trade him a zine for one. These days I’m increasingly less interested in—dare I say irritated by—poetry. But I got mad love for my fellow DIY self-publishers. We shake hands and part ways. After he’s out of sight I feverishly tear through my bag looking for hand sanitizer because that’s just the kind of miserable asshole I am.
As soon as I’m done thumbing this out on my phone like some type of goddamn zombie, I’ll walk into work. I’ll wonder, just like I have every day for what seems like forever, if this one will be my last time. And if it is, at least I’ll be able to ride my bike home on a nice day. I’ll probably listen to The Cactus Album on the way.
Here's some stuff other rap shit that has soundtrack’d my bike rides this summer…
DJ Moneyshot – Half-Man Half-Amazing: A Tribute to Illmatic (mixtape)
For the April 24th episode of the Solid Steel Radio Show DJ Moneyshot produced an audio documentary tribute to Nas’ classic and influential debut album Illmatic, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The result is an intricately woven tapestry of source material—interview footage, remixes, beat sample material, etc. — combined with the original Illmatic tracks. It’s like NPR for hip-hop heads.
Trackstar the DJ – Ghost Stories: Ghostface Killah's Storytelling Raps (mixtape)
Trackstar the DJ, god bless his heart, took on the challenging task of rounding up all of Ghostface Killah’s most absorbing and unforgettable story time verses. The end result is 26 tracks of vivid narration by one of the Wu-Tang Clans more reliable emcees. Also of note here is Ghost’s knack for selecting dope beats.
LA Leakers – Leaks That Collected Dust: The Audio-Biography of DJ Premier (mixtape)
Nothing new here as far as songs go but there’s dusty treasures from DJ Premier’s catalog mixed in with some of his well-known hits—Krumb Snatcha, KRS-One, Biggie, Rass Kass, and of course Gang Starr and Jeru the Damaja; it’s all in here. Everything’s tied together very nicely with interludes. As the beats run long between songs, Preemo tells stories of how they came to be and the situations surrounding them. Old-school heads and history-seeking yougins alike will dig it. And everyone will be mad they slept on that Group Home album.
Onyx – Wakedafucup (Mad Money)
Barring some films that have ranged from kind of OK to totally unwatchable, I honestly haven’t paid much attention to anything Onyx-related since their debut in 1993. So I was quite surprised to realize that not only has Onyx put out a new album but that it is actually one of the best of the year so far. A large part of that has to do with the contribution of the Snowgoons, who produced the album in its entirety. A$AP Ferg and Sean Price show up on “We Don’t Fuckin’ Care” which is D to the ope. I may get old but unrelenting boom-bap beats, record scratching, and grimy street raps never will.
Army of the Pharaohs – In Death Reborn (Enemy Soil / Babygrande / Demigodz)
Another one that took me by surprise. AOTP is one of those revolving door Demigodz crews that are so large it’s hard to keep track of who’s in and who’s out. This time around Vinnie Paz, Apathy, Celph Titled, Esoteric, Blastican, Crypt the Warchild, Des Deviuos, King Syze, Planetary, Demoz, Doap Nixon, King Magnetic, Block McCloud, Zilla, and Reef the Lost Cause are all in. Oof, you get all of that? As expected when names like Stu Bangas, C-Lance, and Vanderslice are behind the boards, the beats are hard-as-fuck boom-bap. Leaf Dog turns in a nice beat for “The Demon’s Blade”; as does Frank Grimes on “Azrael” and “Sumerians.” Someone is scratching all over this album, although I’m not sure who. This on some Golden Era idealism-type ish, and that’s A-OK with me.
And now for some personal propaghanda…
July is International Zine Month. And what better way to celebrate than by getting your snot nose-picking, resin-stained little fingers on some copies of my zines. Since the last time Too Many Rappers was around, my partner in crime and I have published a couple new issues. HotDogDayz is full of found items, hijacked emails, mail art, reader submissions, fan letters, crusty art, raw photography, rail monikers, graffiti, and jokes. The Soda Killers is a punk, rap, and graffiti ménage a trois, loaded with record & show reviews, graff flicks, sticker art, and reader-submitted content. They are available for free, trade (preferred) or, if you’re so inclined, donation. If you’re into any of it, get a hold of me via the contact links below.
All right, that’s all for now folks. Hope everyone is having a great summer. Pedal hard and wear a helmet!
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