1998 Feels Like A Lifetime Ago

HelloThe double Grammy winning album sold a whopping 680,000 + units its first week alone, and was undoubtedly that summer’s celebrated soundtrack, both personally and commercially. Abandoning the mix of hardcore and hip hop that 1992’s Check Your Head and 1994’s Ill Communication provided, Hello Nasty was straight-forward hip hop, and featured new DJ, Mix Master Mike (DJ Hurricane, the Beasties’ original DJ left prior to the making of the album).

NastyThis double, clear gold vinyl edition was released by Grand Royal Records (as opposed to the double black vinyl version released by Capitol Records), and was limited to 7500 copies. Hello Nasty was produced by the Beasties and Mario C (Mario Caldato, Jr), and is certified triple Platinum (3,000,000 copies sold) in the United States alone (roughly 3,600,000 worldwide).

Funky Cold Sangria

PizzaIn Los Angeles and craving some badass pizza with a little local hip hop flair (and let’s be honest, aren’t we all in one way or another)? Then why not make the most of your cheat day with some of the best pizza the area has to offer with the Delicious Vinyl influenced Delicious Pizza? From a Soulflower to a Rick Ross, your LA-based beat-palate will be satisfied with enough room for some Funky Cold Sangria. Seriously, this is the best place on Earth!

Delicious Pizza

PizzaBy far the best pizza in all of Los Angeles, the newly opened Delicious Pizza not only takes its logo, hip-hop motif, and aesthetic flare from the LA-based label, it was in-part founded by non other than Delicious Vinyl co-founder Michael Ross. With wall-to-wall memorabilia from hip-hop’s golden age, Delicious Pizza is 2nd-to-none for great eats, great tunes, and dirt-cheap cocktails. Part museum, part hip-hop heaven, Delicious Pizza, in every conceivable way, lives up to its name.

A Day in the Life

GreeneI speak of this only because I happen to notice it today, a day in which busywork afforded me the opportunity to listen to stereo recordings with a single ear bud (not ideal, but embraceable), while performing my spreadsheet-happy daily chores in a swift and efficient fashion.

Here, for those who’ve never asked, is a sprint through the progression of a normal, 9-5 (10-7) day (in regards to my organic music consumption).

9:31am: Feeling a bit homesick and decide to mentally frolic through the painted walls of my feverish memory as a youngen at my Grandparent’s farmhouse and cue up 50 Number One Country Hits.

9:56am: Arrive at work and continue the 50-track playlist and wonder, countless times, why I haven’t ordered 1975’s Red Headed Stranger by the great Willie Nelson on vinyl ($5.85 off Discogs.com… I mean, k’mon!).

2:11pm: Finish the epic 50-track memory-machine-gun and dry the reality from my eyes.

2:12pm: Cue up The Pharcyde’s Bizarre Ride II and remember that this album was once, and for a very long time, my favorite album.

5:36pm: Finish BRII and feverishly, and without music, complete my daily objectives.

7:56pm: With a quasi-clear head, and the freedom of the evening, I drive home and enjoy the lamenting screams from Refused’s The Shape of Punk to Come and think to myself, in an empty car, I should have been a musician.

For what it’s worth, I’m going to make it a point, today, at least, to finish these waking hours exactly where I started… with Jack Greene’s There Goes My Everything. Happy trails, and pleasant evening, kids.

The $kill$ to Pay the Bill$

$KILL$Back in ’92, and a whole three years before the digital video disc was invented, LaserDiscs were considered, across the videophile nation, to be the best quality home consumer video format that money could buy. Leave it to the Beastie Boys to tackle this medium to promote a collection of their classic music videos, appropriately titled, The $kill$ to Pay the Bill$. Nabbing its title from the a bonus track to the So What ‘Cha Want single (release June 2nd, 1992), The $kill$ to Pay the Bill$ may very well be the best non-album track, aside maybe for Mullet Head, that the trio ever released, and is a fitting handle for this 12 video comp.

Bill$One of only two LaserDiscs that I kept after the great liquidation of 2012 (the other being the Criterion Collection release of Dr. Strangelove), The $kill$ to Pay the Bill$ is a perfect relic of early 90’s distinction. What’s a seemingly intentional snub to the fans, however, is the omission of the video from which this collection derives its name. Shameful punks!

Mr. Lif

FarmhandStar Wars references in sub-indy hip hop back in the late 90s were kind of a fanboy treat, and are almost immediately featured on this record’s b-side, Settle the Score. The third in a four-part series titled, The Blow Up Factor, Mr. Lif offers 3x versions of Farmland, the a-side, the previously mentioned Settle the Score, and a track I don’t remember ever hearing, You Don’t Knowstrumental. Released in 1999 on Grand Royal Records, this little 4-track is worth more to the diehards than to avid collectors of the medium, but for only $1.49 on discogs, this pressing is a steal!

The Pink Album

PinkSo, I’m still trying to figure out The 45 King. Mix Dan the Automator, J-Swift, Jam Master Jay, and DJ Muggs into a violent apparatus that spins (turntable, blender, woodchipper), yet, predate all of these by at least a year, and you’ve got yourselves one heavy weighted, out-mutha-fuggin-standing collection of offhanded, subtly pleasing breakbeats. I’m dumbfounded! I honestly never know, but now, I’m on the hunt for the King’s entire Lost Breakbeat discography.

(Personal note: I’m digitizing this album as I type this. PG = fan of 45 King)

Ain’t Nothin’ But Crooks in Here

BooksOh, the Beatnuts… seminal late 90’s hip hop badassery that, without question, kicked the living shit out of everyone with this 1997’s single featuring Big Punisher & Cuban Link titled, Off the Books. When your non-hip hop enjoying SO storms into the room early in the morning, quite excitedly I may add, and asks, “What is this? I like it!,” you know you’re either spinning something John Reis related, or The Beatnuts.

BeatnutsTuesday morning bombastic bass is perfect for everyone within earshot, and no beat bouncing, wall vibrating, domestic disturbance flirting tracks kills quite like Off the Books. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Mr. Moe Dee

KMDIt’s a Kool Moe Dee kind of Sunday night, and you’re all invited to enjoy the rhythmic spoils of New York’s most prominent master of ceremonies. Dusting off his Trecherous Three mates (Spoonie Gee, DJ Easy Lee, L.A. Sunshine, and Special K), 1986 finds Mr. Moe Dee’s first full-length solo effort on the appropriately titled, Kool Moe Dee.

Need a sleazy, PMRC conscious, mid-80s, old school influenced, mid-school executed hip-hop album without all the calories? Try a steady diet of Kool Moe Dee, and if your Sunday evenings don’t improve after a few weeks, Go See the Doctor.

Camp Lo

Camp LoHaving just returned, unscathed, from an overnight impromptu camping trip, one couldn’t help but spin this 1997 debut by Bronx helmed Camp Lo. Collaborating with both Trugoy from De La Soul and Butterfly from Digable Planets, with the majority of the producing done by the Jay-Z famous Ski, Uptown Saturday Night is unobtrusive, yet no less hard-hitting sophisticated hip hop galvanized from jazz and funk roots. Camping is fun, and so is Camp Lo… makes sense to me.

Also, it’s President’s Day, so drink up… your forefathers certainly did.Spin

Not Your Mother’s Hip-Hop

DrBy every conceivable understanding of the phrase, Dr. Octagon is without question NOT your mother’s Hip-Hop. Defined by Google as:

hip-hop

noun

1. a style of popular music of US black and Hispanic origin, featuring rap with an electronic backing.

OctagonDr. Octagon is an X-rated barrel-shot through the grotesque-minded brilliance of the lyrical magician Kool Keith, backed with the autonomous production of the genre-bending (never breaking) Mr. Dan Nakamura (AKA Dan the Automator), mingled with the turntable chemist DJ Q-Bert (as well as a slew of genteel guest stars). In short, Dr. Octagon is the last doctor you’ll ever need, because he’s the last doctor you’ll ever see. Your mother would not approve of this disgusting display of Hip-Hop-ery.

What would qualify as “your mother’s Hip-Hop” you ask?

– Fat Boys

– PM Dawn

– Vanilla Ice (after a sixer of Zima)

The doctor is out… call back after midnight to make an appointment with the receptionist.

(Please note that this is not an album review. This has been explicitly stated so that I may repurpose this album for a future, much less lazy-minded post, you dig?)

Super Bizarre AKA Session Ride II

Super SessionSince we haven’t done one of these in a while, in fact we’ve only done it one other time, Simply Samples is back with a Super Session of Bizarre proportions. Fan of hip hop? How about Pharcyde’s 1992 debut, Bizarre Ride II? Okay, then what about the 1968 super classic, Super Session by Bloomfield, Kooper and Stills? Notice any striking similarities between BKS’s cover of Donovan’s Season of the Witch and the Pharcyde’s Ya Mama? No?! Well, then have a listen.

Here is the opening to Season. Take particular notice to Al Kooper’s organic organ.

Now, here is that same bit sampled by the Pharcyde in their hilariously crass, Ya Mama. This is the instrumental version for clearer, albeit not near as funny, comparison.

Bizarre Ride IIAnd there you have it. A match made in music heaven spanning two completely different genres over the course of 24 years. Below are the full versions of both songs for your Sunday listening pleasure. If you don’t own either Super Session or Bizarre Ride II, I strongly urge you to seek them out immediately. Once you get that burnin’ yearnin’, there’s not turnin’ back, jack!

Season of the Witch by Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper and Steve Stills:

Ya Mama by The Pharcyde:

Scooby Dooby-Doo, Y’all

Scooby Doo CoverThe year was 1994, and oh what an awkward and transformable year it was. Allow me to paint a 20-year-old picture using swift, roomy strokes if I may. In those days, I occupied the basement of my parents’ suburban homestead. I shared my first quasi-studio apartment with a blow-up mattress for a bed, ripped out Snowboard Magazine pages taped to plastic sheets covering the rows and rows of canary yellow insulation, a loud and obnoxious hot water heater that would wake me up in the middle of the night in a dead panic, and of course, my adorable mother popping down every half hour to painstakingly adhere to the family laundry. My “bedroom” throughout the duration of my high school days was a labyrinth of new and exciting music, and at the time, few syncopated sounds were more otherworldly (for a suburban white kid living in the rural Midwest) than Los Angeles’ own, Cypress Hill.

As a gullible and easily impressionable youth, anything that wasn’t early 90s country radio (or the overly played and equally obnoxious doobs of the grunge scene) grabbed my conformed and sheltered ear. Jane’s Addiction, Onyx, Beastie Boys, Operation Ivy, Ministry, Vacuum Scam, and The Pharcyde all became rhythmically projected voices, representing the outside world; a world I knew nothing about, but that which promised gilded and painful excitement.

Scooby Doo BackCypress Hill’s first two albums are critically flawless. Fans of Tim McGraw and those still clinging to Pearl Jam may have a different (and mortally incorrect) opinion. On the We Ain’ Goin’ Out Like That single, which is really more of an EP, there featured a song that was released exclusively to this release. This song, the opus of my youth, and a song my friends and I still quote on a weekly bases, is Scooby Doo. No mysteries are solved during the three minutes and 39 seconds of this epic story, and nobody utters the icon phrase “jinkies” (at least in English). Instead, Scooby Doo is a bass-heavy, skull-vibrating anthem covering themes of street confrontations and the ultimate and fatal error of crossing that forbidden line in the sand. It was, at the time, a force so strong, we’d play it on as many different stereos as we could to see whose rig had the biggest bass. Lancer Dancer is the legendary champ on all counts of said experiment (his mobile speaker system would knock you up side the head and inject a subtle, but piercing ringing sensation, both pleasing and a bit sobering).

Scooby Doo, if only for me, and a modest core group of friends, is 1000 times more legendary than Stairway to Heaven, and will forever live as the biggest, most atrocious bass-tastic song I’ve ever had the distinct pleasure of experiencing.Doo

You’d aroun’ da way, mang… I know where chu at!

Don’t Don’t Do It

Don't Don't Do ItWith nothin’ to gain except killin’ your brain… It’s a Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five kind of morning, so it seems, and since for some unexplained reason I’ve yet to put my finger on, I find myself locked inside an 80s time warp of celebratory explosions (or something like that), so we may as well shift up the genres, am I right?

Early 80s (quintessential) hip hop masters Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five are at their finest on this 7 track comp unleashed upon the baguette and pastry eating, wine drinking citizens of the picturesque and heavenly land known as France (seriously, the French, as a whole, are by far the nicest people I’ve ever met in my entire life… no joke). So, that was just an over-glorified way of saying this 12” was released in France, bee-tee-dubs.

Anyway, in attempting to figure out the message (The Message… ha! You see, The Message was the track that launched GF&TFF into mainstream consciousness… I thought it was funny) found within White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It), I’ve concluded that, although it’s credited as an anti-drug song, Melle Mel and crew do a considerable job of promoting the illegal substance’s pros just as much, if not more, as they depress its many flaws. Don’t don’t do it is, obviously, a double negative, so it’s the official position of The Prudent Groove that you don’t don’t don’t do drugs… although, I imagine you’d be reaching for anything you can get your hands on after reading this self-indulgent drivel. But seriously, whatever you put into your body is clearly up to you (and I’ll be the last to judge), just make sure you save room for a little Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five every once and a while. It’s good for your head, and it won’t make you paranoid.

Your Eyes Deceive You, Don’t Trust Them

AglioDo you own Aglio E Olio (pronounced ahl-yo ay ohl-yo) by the Beastie Boys on wax? If you don’t, discontinue reading and go here. If you do, have you ever noticed the subtle misconception with the record? It’s not a wrong impression so much as a blatant deception. Allow me to briefly explain.

EHere is the record, right? Nothing out of the ordinary, at least at first glance. It plays, doesn’t skip, everyone is happy. With me? Ok, good. So, for years I thought this was an ordinary record. I’d purchased it new, kept good care of it, saw that it wasn’t colored, only the basic black, would play it from time to time, and that was it. It wasn’t until about 10 or so years later that I discovered (thanks to Beastiemania.com) that the record wasn’t black, but instead an excellently executed bit of trickery by the band.

Olio 2If you hold the “black” record up to the light, you’ll discover that it’s actually very dark translucent brown, made to look black. Needless to say, this blew my feeble mind upon immediate discovery.

I’m 99.9% sure every Aglio E Olio record is translucent brown, so if you own this album, and you haven’t heard of this before, check it out. While you’re at it, Check Your Head.

1992: In Search of Manny

MannyLuscious Jackson’s debut EP, In Search of Manny, launched the semi-mainstream career of this quirk-tastic, all-ladies, don’t-dare-call-them-cutesy band. It also saw the first official release from Grand Royal Records, the short-lived record label helmed by the infamous Beastie Boys, so, yeah, it’s a historical music marker.

In Search of Manny, or GR001, its catalog title, sees a mellow mixture of light-hearted groovy-beats bouncing under a quasi-Hip-Hop, MC-style vocal delivery. It’s lazy-day, relax-music perfect for soaking in the warm rays from the summer sun, or turning your living room into post-apocalyptic turmoil because you can’t find your car keys. Calm, or frenzied, In Search of Manny tickles your groove button regardless of your disposition.

LabelI hate that Luscious Jackson is known as “the band with the original drummer from the Beastie Boys.” Yes, this is true. Yes, the Beastie Boys originally had a Beastie Girl (Kate Schellenbach), but labeling LJ as “just that band” downplays their ability to jam! And these luscious ladies jam your pants off!

The first three tracks, Let Yourself Get Down, Life of Leisure and Daughters of the Kaos were all written and recorded in 1991, while the four tracks on side 2 were completed in 1992. This isn’t significant but for the question is raises: why weren’t these first three tracks released as a single prior to In Search of Manny? They certainly could have been. I mean, Daughters of the Kaos sounds like Beck’s Loser, with its slight western-driving catchiness, but you know, written 2 years earlier. Lucky for everyone involved, fate would intervene and marry this collection of feel-good tunes square on Grand Royal’s eponymous debut.

BackIt all had to start somewhere, but unfortunately, it ended way too early. Both Luscious Jackson and Grand Royal are now defunct, but there exists an underground group of groove-hoods that seek out these stunning releases, and in doing so, keep this sensational music alive.

I don’t know who the hell Jackson is, but these ladies are luscious. Check ‘em out.

1991: Cypress Hill

Cypress CoverCypress Hill was my single-handed introduction into the vast, unremitting world of Hip Hop music. I was a fair, Junior High student at a tiny school when introduced to this abstract genre (my graduating class was 63 kids… it sucked). Hip Hop as a whole is certainly not abstract, but when you grow up in a tiny town with tiny ideals and little room for any sort of outside thinking, it really didn’t get more abstract than Hip Hop (that was until I discovered AC, but that’s a post for another time).

Cypress RedCypress Hill boasts of bongs, fat-jammy-blasts and brotherhood (a nice way of saying “gang”), while set to a Funk backbeat and fanatical lyrics. LA’s finest scored a fat sack with these 16 tracks, so much so that it was remastered and released on blood-shot-eye-red vinyl (this version) in 2011 for its 20th anniversary.

You see, cassettes were big in my day, and I’m now spending the bulk of my “adult” life acquiring my trophy albums on vinyl. It was while listening to this album in the school library, via Walkman (and split ear buds hidden inside the sleeve of my shirt), that a buddy and I got busted for listening to music in school. Not busted so much as yelled at, but it scared us from ever doing it again. It was at that moment when I realized that Cypress Hill were a troublemakers, and at the age of 12, that was a welcoming ally.

The music is straightforward, early 90’s, social-class-bending Hip Hop. There emerged a slew of outstanding Hip Hop albums during the few years spanning 1989-1993, and the tongue-in-cheek approach mastered by Cypress Hill on this debut set the high-bong-water mark.

Cypress BackCypress Hill isn’t considered Old School Hip Hop, but for me, and my friends who dove headfirst into this genre, there is no school older than the music produced during the early 90s. Cypress Hill would hit another homerun with their 1993 release, Black Sunday. After that they’d release six more albums, but they never matched the perfect blend of ENORMOUS beats, witty lyrics, and catchy one-liners.

Lala la la lala la laaa!