Monday, May 28, 2007

Height - Winterize The Game (Grand Man Records)

I remember about 5 years ago, I was just starting to take a serious interest in the Baltimore hip hop scene and learn about artists like Tim Trees, Brown F.I.S.H., Labtekwon and B. Rich. I also was, and still am, interested in a lot of the music that comes out of Baltimore that isn't rap or club music, all the indie rock and noise and techno and other weird uncategorizable types of music, a scene that I've kinda been getting back into lately covering shows for Noise. And one of my favorite artists out of that whole other scene was Cex, this white kid about the same age as me, who had started out making techno records, and kinda talking over his beats at shows, usually opening for rock bands. Eventually, though, he started rapping, and collaborating with some of his friends who rapped, too, and made what I thought was a pretty good hip hop record called Tall, Dark, And Handcuffed in 2002. I'm usually not real into that kind of nerdy indie hip hop, either, but I identified with what they were rhyming about and how they represented Baltimore. Cex kinda stopped rapping and made different kinds of music after that, but some of the guys that guested on that album, Height and Bow N' Arrow, kept rapping and making their own records, and my friend Tom Breihan wrote a City Paper feature about them once.

After I started Government Names I got more involved with the more traditional hip hop that most Baltimore rappers make, and learned about more of the kinds of local artists that don't played on the radio. And while guys like Height are in a whole different scene, they are working in pretty much the same DIY spirit of putting out your records independently and doing your own thing as most of the mixtapes I write about here. And one of the things I'm always trying to show on this site, without making too big a deal out of it, is that Baltimore hip hop contains multitudes and can't be summed up with one style. So even thought I've never really written about artists like Cex on Government Names, I do write about a lot of more eccentric rappers like Labtekwon, as well as white rappers like Third Kind and E Major and Tate The Arsenal. So even though I think of Height and Bow N' Arrow as being more part of Baltimore's indie weirdo noise scene, they really are Baltimore hip hop, and I realized that there's no reason I shouldn't write about Height's new album on here.

Height isn't a real slick rapper, but he's got kind of an interesting, understated sense of humor. Winterize The Game is supposed to be a full-length album, and it's got 12 tracks, but it's only 25 minutes long, and some of the songs are pretty weird. But a lot of it's just talking about regular everyday shit, kinda like early Beastie Boys. I went to the release party for the album at the Ottobar a while back, and it was a cool show, a lot of other weird underground rap dudes that he's tight with like Grand Buffet were on the bill too.

Height f/ Bow N' Arrow - "Smash Your Eyes" (mp3)
This is probably my favorite track on here, and is also one of the two songs produced by Bow N' Arrow.

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