Thursday, June 30, 2005

On my lunch break the other day, in a bookstore flipping through the new XXL with Jay-Z/Kanye/Foxy on the cover, out of nowhere I see this full page ad on page 120:


It kinda caught me offguard! I mean, it's been 3 years since "Whoa Now" blew up on Bmore and D.C. radio and he got signed to Atlantic, got flown out to L.A. for a couple weeks to maker a slicker remix and record a quickie album, made a video that was on BET every day, then they put out the album and it went wood and he got dropped and became a one hit wonder that people make milk carton jokes about. Which is probably just as well, because if he sold big then Baltimore would probably be looking like St. Louis right now (Plum Drank called him "a proto Chingy" once, which is kinda accurate). And I figured that would be the end of the story. I mean, a few months afterward, he had an independent single w/ an Al Green sample and I heard him on a radio interview, sounding dispirited talking about industry politics, and he played a show now and then as recently as last year. But aside from that he's kept a pretty low profile even on a local level. If he was gonna make moves as a rapper again, I figured he would've done it by now. I remember reading articles about him at the time that he was in college when "Whoa Now" blew and he dropped out when he got signed, but I figured after it all fizzled he'd just go back to school and move on with his life. If he wanted he could've just taken advantage of being a big fish in a small pond, appearing on all the local mixtapes and doing shows with the newer stars, eating off of the slowly coming up new scene and giving Comp and Bossman advice on what (not) to do after they got signed to majors. At least, that's what he should've been doing, I'd think, if he wanted back the grassroots Baltimore support he had to begin with. I mean, I should've at least heard something about his new record around Baltimore before seeing an ad in a national mag. I read the stuff on the website but I couldn't listen to the songs on my computer, so I can't say if those are any good. 80 Dimes was kinda decent, though, better than its reputation at least. Here's a song from it:

"Back To The Streets"
"They lock me up for the hook, I make bail, then kick the verse". This isn't really one of the better tracks on the album, he does the happy "Whoa Now" type stuff better, but I kinda like it because Dukeyman's production it is really clearly his attempt at something like Rod Lee's beats for Tim Trees that were ruling Baltimore at the time. That bass pulse, the tempo and the drum pattern, it's totally like a more ornate version of "Bank Roll".


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

master p ft. slim thug - shut it down -- "slim thug, you ready? i'm on my way from new orleans and i'm comin to texas and we gon handle this, ya heard?" p hooking up with the third wave of what he brought to pass, since back when you first saw him posing in a baton rouge empty lot with liquour stores and the black suburbans in the background, stalking around in a circle formed by his click and everyone in the neighborhood, talking wild and pulling pistols out of the waistband with both hands, and running the biggest independent label in the country and being untouchable. slim, the first one from out of the swishahouse camp to get his own label set up, blowing everyone away with how he could move slapped together burnt cds of his flows, but jumping to a major and hanging out in new york club v.i.p.s with pharrell and hilary duff and doing coke in the bathroom with neo-soul singers. but his real business is sort of backroom stuff, talking quietly about getting into real estate and getting put on to the business of snatching up foreclosed properties, picking out lots off a computer printout at city hall, talking about watching people dragging their few belongings over their lawns as he drives past to check them out. both of them doing business on a new no limit beat with all the ridiculous keyboards hanging midchest, hard drums and an unacknowledge lay it down jack on the hook (LAY IT DOWN LAY IT DOWN TEAR THIS MOTHERFUCKER UP SHUT IT DOWN vs. LAY IT DOWN LAY IT DOWN YOU HOES LAY IT DOWN YOU HOES LAY IT DOWN). p with the greatest voice that ever rapped, hard and passionate thru bleeding shredded throat. back to hard and raw as when he came back to baton rouge with the ghetto national anthem and raps about checking his crack house on gutterest fake west coast beats. SECURITY COULDN'T STOP US, GON SEE THE DOCTOR / PEOPLE WANNA FIGHT I GOT A MOTHERFUCKIN CHOPPA / I'M IN THE BACK GETTIN BLUNTED WITH THUGS / HOES SEE ME WALK THRU, THEY GIVE ME KISSES AND HUGS / I'M A REAL MOTHERFUCKER I AIN'T TAKIN NO SHIT / I GOT GOLDS IN MY MOUTH AND ICE ON MY WRIST. slim flipping it in contrast, voice sounding oiled and warm, calm and smooth with a lattice of echoing adlibs laid over top, with that exaggerated houston owwwwwwww sound. BOYS GOTTA LAY IT DOWN WHEN THE BOSS COME AROUND / OR THE GLOCK FOUR POUND GONNA KNOCK EM ON THE GROUND.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Props to Tom B. for namechecking Gov't Names in his review of that new Rod Lee mix. Also, Chuck Eddy mentions the Rod Lee and Lil Jay mixes in the Village Voice this week.

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Sunday, June 26, 2005

the swishahouse paul wall mixtape

gotta get it all out cause i'm not even trying to fuck with the real cd when it drops. last time paul wall is ever going to get his own sentence in anything i write. you gotta remember back, first. goofy white kid in kneelength jerseys or platinum fubu, back when he still had braids, back when he was still acres home proud and not even fucking with the southside, let alone shout out southside blocks instead of northside ones in his videos. proudly representing the northside when the southside wasn't even fucking with the north and no northsider ever got on a screw tape (whatever, not totally true-- just listen to ballin in da mall. but it's a no-name never-did-nothing rapper who gets a quick verse and the whole situation is so unusual that he even says, "i'm from the northside so call me the oddball"). chilling with chamillionaire, when he still worked at babies r us. getting inspired doing promotion for the big southern independent labels and the first watts tapes dropping on the north.

remember when paul and cham were rocking spongebob watches from burger king (check his wrist in the picture at the top), snoopy and daffy duck iceberg oversize t's. cham was rolling out in candy painted mazda 929s with screens falling and paul has his purple people eater, the grimace purple cartier edition town car with pop trunk taking mouthfuls of warm night air as they swung down desoto.

they were off the north so there was less pressure to fuck with the houston legacy, that long history lesson. in the city of aging veterans and too much history, too many legends still trying to eat off rap into their early 40s. and the neighborhood stars in polos and jordans. real different. nothing like fat pat dropping out of highschool to sell dope and getting put on sorta by raw talent and sorta by luck, chance. clean cut! paul and cham weren't even cussing on their records so that everyone could jam them. nerdy and clever cats. putting all their energy into that rap hustle. you had to love that pride in staying independent, erasing answering machine messages from new york labels and bragging on how much they got to do a show and how much they sold with just straight hustle. that don't grind/don't shine philosophy was real, when rappers trying to apply dope boy lines to all the people listening that do 9-5s ("when i say you got to hold the block with a glock and put some boys inside chalk... it means you got to just persevere and keep hustling at whatever your hustle is...") that northside hard work rhetoric was motivational for real.

that slow, cool delivery. real simple but it all worked. trying some up north punchlines but always representing houston, when nowadays you hear a newcomer like magno calling a track something like "glassy 84s" or "5th wheel dippin" but with his style switched over to fake joe budden lines about dudes with bad breath and guerilla black's record sales in brooklyn. trying to update that surreal southside rap, hearing about flip's paintjobs as red and wet as maxi pads or yungstar's candy painted plane that just crashed in spain. he had his trademark lines: mouth got more carats than (bug's bunny's lunch/fridge, vegetable stew, etc.)... could catch boppas if (i drove a hyundai excel, i looked like eddie munster)... got more (screw in the deck than tim the tool man, chains than slave masters [you think that's bad? remember his line about his bumper kit dragging like james byrd?], white shoes than a registered nurse, green than a grasshopper in greenspoint eatin broccoli)... paint wetter than (a crocodile's home, a submarine).

that change, eventually. moving to the southside and shouting 5-9 southlea in the videos. and forsaking his relationship with cham to conveniently jump back to swishahouse right before watts got a few million dollar checks. now paul rolls strictly with atl moneymakers, new york clowns and his hired goons (but listen, when it came time to put hands on rasaq, gu-u and lew hawk were too sluggish from eating off rap money for so many years that rasaq walks out of the tilt without a bruise or a scratch-- paul's boys can't rap and they can't fight).

the change. this overexcited repping for houston, first. paul, you sip barre now? you ride 84s now? you been jamming grey tapes since you were in junior high now? you cool with z-ro and big po-yo and rap-a-lot now? dropping his slopped up slowed down albums, pimping robert davis worse than watts ever did. jam that u gotta feel me by pauly and you can picture dj screw spinning very slowly in his casket.

second, that thing where he thinks he's alright to start talking about coke and guns now. listening to those t.i. albums and seeing rappers get gangsta when they blow up out of houston. paul? scared to cuss and now you hang with those 5-9 bloods? you stay with a semi-auto now? you want to go there now?

just making you wonder if you really want another northside houston rapper coming real slick and polished, slippery smooth version of the city history. the city that lets the moneymakers eclipse the real more than any other. making you wonder if a label can even push paul out the most marketed region in rap right now. after mike jones shipped platinum and slim thug has his business in place. fixing to look like j-kwon dropping after nelly and chingy, maybe.

you know what sort of cd this is. get you primed, give you a taste and some nice mixtape exclusive type tracks. get thru the beautiful computer graphics packaging with the digital cadillac with the belted trunk and the 5th, paul shrugging with the swishahouse piece on his long chain, ads for paul's last album with his squinty eyes and oversize diamond mouth and the day hell broke loose 3 dropping in the fall, saying the next single is going to be called state 2 state.

opening with watts' voice: that classic "this is deeeee jayyyy miii-chael waaaaaaaaaaatts," slowing and chopping his voice as it comes out his own throat without the aid of a tape deck. then playing out the big single, sittin sidewayz with new paul verses. still quietly loving all these sticky slow salih williams beats that every swishahouse rapper takes to the national market and still quietly waiting for the havoc/mike delorean/lake mournful qb freestyle over one of them. still loving po-yo in that sittin sidewayz video, walking across the parking lot with the crowd blossoming hands around him and stealing the track, those veterans always effortlessly sounding realer than paul and his southlea more cookies than snackwells lines. "i'm the dude with the metal that get hot as a kettle / for messin round with some cat that ain't got it together"

and actually tearing up the jeezy's twenty thousand dollar mannie beat on the then what flow, actually biting the snowman thing, "i'm like frosty, iced out platinum frown." coming with all the balla quotables better than jeezy did, even throwin in the "i could catch boppas if" line, "i'm with slim thug the boss, posted up in the cut / i could catch boppas if i drove a fed ex truck / take a fade on my head, i got reebok on my shoe / i'm at the mu-shu with gu showin broads what it do / holla rest in peace duke while i pour out drank / wax on candy paint and my gas full tank." and letting coota bang, the young cat watts brought in to replace magno after he got out of line, come down and meet archie lee, the second generation swishahouse representer that slightly predates paul and cham in the camp, one of the coldest that the house ever had and freshly re-signed (according to the back of my cd and what he says on the track, he's got an underground called hollyhood dropping soon-- probably after watts deals with aqualeo and coota bang). and letting you really check out how similar coota and archie actually are and you never realized it. and a hundred more ninety second flows.

watts playing you half minute snippets of unimportant paul guest verses, anthem from the s.l.a.b. album, that fucking juelz song that i managed never to hear before still got the echoed kay slay shouts on it, like watts slapped on a bootleg mp3)(goddamn juelz is trash), from the south (paul actually kills that song alongside a couple legends. while z-ro's on his usual g shit and flip is trying to start some more beef out of nowhere, paul is actually going along with the concept and repping for candy cars, cup of barre, and a robert davis grey tape [see, paul's more enthusiastic about that shit than he should be. ro and flip were actually on grey tapes before paul was suggesting he could catch boppas even if he had prostate cancer]).

flowing off gimme dat with uncomfortable, questionable verse about his hormones going crazy and oceans of soul and he wants to swim in her oasis, worse than the fake bun verse about stalking that girl he met at the superbowl. flowing off get in my car with that new cold, dispassionate feeling, walking out on stage for some jenny jones super geek to super chic makeover with his dishonest talk about v12 mercedes and cases of grey goose. flowing off get back for a tribute track to bad boy, the official barbershop of swishahouse, with clippers buzzing in the background and shout outs to his favorite barbers. flowing off g-code (the scarface one) about staying strapped in the club like a seatbelt but also his enthusiastic hometown stuff that i love, "from the streets of h-town, home of the purple / bulldozin over potholes and jumpin over hurdles / jammin on the screw, screens fallin down, on swangas / on a glass set of 4s, trunk poppin like some pringles / reppin for that block, 5900 southlea / chain hangin down with a iced out mouthpiece," and another bullshit bun b verse like the other 30 you already heard in the last six months, and webbie with some serious struggling verse about feeding his son that clashes with the paul and bun's slick nonsense. going off with lil wayne on march like a soldier. drove up to paul's studio from the u of h, hermes winterwear/hollygrove weezy verse sketched out in black bic over and beside the notes from his political science lecture.

you know, it's goofy shit. paul wall trying to remake himself as a southside g, talking about heckler & koch and crack sales but bumping up against his own tracks about "i'm comin straight up outta the chatroom / and live from the messageboard / when i'm at the crib all by myself / chatting online when i'm bored" and sweating blackplanet girls ("if she don't call me, it's okay / i hit up sexyeyes02, a sophomore at tsu / she run track, that's what it do"). (thinking about that... i've got respect for mike jones for never really messing with what he was doing. he's been consistent since he came in the game and got down with the house. that's why he shipped platinum. look: lil flip got his career ended because he tried to play a character, because he was under the impression that he couldn't talk about ice no more [that was the least promising line, ever. explaining that his intention was to abandon his most crucial subject matter to devote more time to his least crucial, least successful subject matter]. look: bun b is destroying his credibility by selling a billion bullshit verses to anyone who wants a 16 with at least one instance of "candy paint" being rhymed with "purple drank" as a shallow accessory. i went out and bought the mike jones album mostly out of respect. he did his thing! he's going to sell a million records in a year off a video and his hustle). one of those mixtapes with almost nothing running over two minute, everything just sliding past as soon as it appears. repeating AUGUST 2005 IT'S THE PEOPLE'S CHAMP AUGUST 2005 AUGUST 2005 IT'S THE PEOPLE'S CHAMP AUGUST 2005 AUGUST 2005 IT'S THE PEOPLE'S CHAMP AUGUST 2005 AUGUST 2005 IT'S THE PEOPLE'S CHAMP AUGUST 2005 so you can't forget.

(mixtape in stores since last week. give your money to watts and maybe he can get the archie lee album out faster).

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A few cool shows in Baltimore this week, none of which I'm gonna be able to catch:

this Thursday (tomorrow) starting at 6:30pm
Huli Shallone and Mullyman
free concert at the corner of Monument St. & Luzerne Ave.
sponsored by 92Q and Mayor O'Malley's BELIEVE campaign!

and coming to Bmore from Philly:
this Thursday (tomorrow)
Bugsy, Freeway and Oschino
performance and Bugsy mixtape release party
@ the Latin Palace
more info on the flyer here, I think K-Swift and Comp are gonna be there too

and this weekend is the African American Heritage Festival at Camden Yards, Bossman is gonna be there Friday and Paula Campbell is gonna be there Saturday.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Club Queen K-Swift - Vol. 6: The Return

The Club Queen Vol. 1-5 mixes are all great snapshots of Baltimore club music at the moment they came out and the whole city was waiting on Vol. 6 for months. I posted a flyer for a release party back in March, but I don't think the CD was actually out until after another release party about a month or two later when I started seeing it in stores all over the city. I've been listening to K-Swift's mixes 5 nights a week on 92Q since, I dunno, it's probably been about 3 years since she took over the 9 o'clock mix from Reggie Reg fulltime, she's probably the most popular club DJ who doesn't also produce tracks. Vol. 6 is her first CD that's been released by Unruly Records, first one in a regular jewelcase with a silver bottom too, all her old ones were in those slim mixtape cases. It's not currently available from the store on K-Swift's official site, maybe it will be, I dunno, but there used to be a lot more old ones for sale there that aren't now.

Nigga Say What - "Hornz Joint"
One of those monolithic synth brass riffs that are a hallmark of club music, I go wild every time this song comes on, it sounds incredible to me. When Le Coq was visiting here last week and heard this track, he called them "old rave horns", but I've never really listened to proper dance music so it never occurred to me that that's what they are. (The track that gets mixed in a little at the end of this one is KW Griff's "Hey What's Up".)

Blaq Starr - "Get My Gun"
This was the most requested song on K-Swift's show for a while earlier this year, although the radio edit obviously is a little different and plays the "fuckin'" and "gun" parts backwards, which makes it sound even weirder than it already does. The producer's name is spelled "Blackstar" on this CD but I've always seen it on other CD's as Blaq Starr. Between this, the NEK song he produced, and a couple other joints, I'd have to give it up for Blaq Starr as the MVP among the newer club producers right now.

Doc Slice - "Asses Wigglen"
This was #1 in my top ten of weird club music samples, before I knew the name of the track w/ the loop of Morris Day's best scene from Purple Rain.

King Tut - "Big Girl Theme"
This is an old old one, a classic, I remember hearing this a lot way back when I first started paying attention to club music. I think like a lot of people it took me a while to realize it was a unique local phenomenon, there are still a lot of people in Baltimore who kind of think that it's totally normal for rap stations everywhere to play an hour of 130bpm ghetto house every night.

(For the record, I hope I don't come off as elitist or possessive about club music. I've never tried to play keep away with it. If I was, I wouldn't be writing about it, posting mp3's, and telling people out there how they can buy it in the rare event that it's actually available for purchase online (and I've always had links on the right to the sites of the only 2 local club DJs who sell mixes online). Every year the music reaches more and more people outside the Beltway and I'm not mad at that at all, although I would like to help shape their understanding of it and make sure it isn't looked at as just a fad or a novelty. I fucked up on the calling out Diplo thing, if I'd had my facts straight I'd stand by it, but I didn't so I won't. I hesitated for like a week about posting it because I wasn't sure I had the correct info, and when it turned out I didn't, I regretted the whole thing, obviously. I don't like having egg on my face so I'm just going to leave it at that. And to the guy who complained that I didn't give him credit for telling me the (wrong) info, I was trying to be polite by not pointing the finger at anyone else in case it was wrong, which it was.)

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Friday, June 17, 2005

There was a comment on my last Bossman post "Finally, hey can you post some North east kings music!", so here's some NEK (Bossman, Dollars and Tony Manson) tracks from the mixtape I wrote about last year.

"Face Down" (Remix) Produced by Blaq Starr
The only Baltimore club/hip hop fusion that actually gets played by club DJs all the time. The original (which has a slightly different hook) is on the new K-Swift mix, but I don't like it as much as the remix. Great track.

"Get Loose" (freestyle)
Last time I saw NEK live they did this, I don't know where the beat's orginally from but it's one of my favorites for the verses.

"95 South"
Bossman recycled his verse at the end of this for "Hey U" on his album but I like it better here, token laid back fake south track.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

az - untitled -- "you know the saga, who live-r, who hotter / who shot at who at the ramada / i knew about beef since bambaata / before beat street, streets was heavily deep with the riders / guns and money, some was hungry." shoot, feel like you need to write out that whole verse, feel like you need to transcribe it and examine it and appreciate it on a few level, from a few angles. az reading slowly and carefully, thick and hoarse flow that you've been hearing for ten years. with everyone real in new york turned reactionary cause no one's selling records anymore, commands about getting off the south's dick so we can jam saigon and cory gunz on alchemist drums. but az sounding like... sounding for real like his city. picture him leaving seinfeld-looking manhattan apartment, climbing into modest and dusty m3 in underground parking garage while he makes and takes his calls, cruising city streets, barbershop, wendy's, generic overheated premo beat floating light in the background with fat joe and styles p scratched on the hook. calling up some half-real, perfect new york city that's easy to imagine. with michael caine in tall, thick coat, grey buildings, overwritten dialogue, grey skies, characters you read about in f.e.d.s., clubs you heard about in cormega songs, az coming down his block with gold chains and a silk shirt in 1990 turbo saab 900 with the roof down, ten years later with that still in his heart and still coming from that place but not living in it anymore. even though he could (so real that he even got checked by the real faison), even though plenty other new yorkers are talking about that early 90s crack boom and rapping about knocking off bricks and holding blocks with a crew (see also: jeezy talking about he was the first cat in his hood buying the 190 benz with dirty money, talking about he was coming down with coupes and crates of jordans. in macon? in 97?). "and the ricans got the game in the cobra clutch / and the Ds in the caprice, too close to duck."

Comp, Data, Bishop and Lil Jay - "The Mind of a Soldier"
One of the people who does Comp's website e-mailed me recently putting me up on this song (in their words: "What we feel is so unique about the song is that it is non partisan and just expresses the camaraderie of the soldiers and its just a positive spin on the whole situation"), him and some other people from Baltimore kind of doing a 'support our troops' track that ended up being featured on this U.S. Department of Defense website (scroll down about halfway). The hook is sung by a 12-year-old girl named Lil Jay (not to be confused with the 14-year-old boy named Lil Jay who does Baltimore club tracks with Rod Lee). Militant snare roll/dramatic harpsichord combination reminds me of "Mighy D-Block", Comp on the hook and a decent serious verse, "my face painted black, I'm over in Iraq, they speakin' foreign so I judge 'em on the way they act, I'm with my entourage, we wearin' camouflage, and that's a landmine, uh-uh, don't come across, I remember when I first signed up, little skinny ass _____, now my chest real buff".

Sonny Graham - "I'm Here"
"Homey I put my life in it/you gotta feel me/I'm tryin' to be filthy, not tryna be guilty, I roll the dice on this one, I'm here, that's it, son", kinda hot song from a new Baltimore kid. But really really biting Dipset's sound, he even flows like Juelz. Gotta be the biggest Dip rider that doesn't have a blog.


Monday, June 13, 2005

Now, I don't really care about this record, and the last thing anyone needs is another blog talking about it, but it's come to my attention that the Interscope re-release of M.I.A.'s Arular features a version of the song "URAQT" that samples Rod Lee's "You Big Dummy". I mentioned this before, when it was just on a mixtape, but now, for the first time, a Rod Lee beat is on a major label album, and he's not given any credit whatsoever. Apparently the liners give a co-writing credit to Quincy Jones (for the "Sanford and Son" theme sample), and a production credit to Diplo, but no mention of Rod Lee. And it's clearly not on any 'replayed elements' thing or just the same sample, it's his beat. I'm not really about stirring controversy or trying to get someone sued, or saying it just to hate on all that Hollertronix stuff. And to make it entirely an issue of legality would be a little hypocritical, since Rod used an uncleared sample in the first place. I'm just saying, Diplo's on some shady Trackmasters/Irv Gotti beatjacking shit, and I'd love to know what Rod thinks about it. (Inaccurate hearsay; see comments for clarification. I can admit when I'm wrong.)

Thursday, June 09, 2005


This Sunday, Bossman is shooting the "Oh" video at the El Dorado. And here's some info about an audition/model search for Lil Mo's "Dem Boyz" video.

Bossman "Oh" (produced by Rod Lee) coming soon to BET and a radio near you

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Saturday, June 04, 2005


every south rapper nowadays gotta get some no name to slow down their cd. even z-ro and flip, who no doubt have nice collections of vintage grey tapes, still let dj paul wall touch their albums. right now, every south dj with a mixtape has to drop a "screwed" version: photoshop blur onto the cover and slow it down five percent and get it out a week later. letting it play out, everything and the skits and the interludes slowed just enough to be dreary and soft. can't jam it in your car. all those bright, perfect crisp beats are carefully balanced and tested to hit thru a pair of twelve inch subs sitting in a ported box behind your backseats. slowing it down by five percent just throws off the balance and makes it sound like you're one of those guys with a system that only jams metallica. screwtapes on a real car system create a sustained rattle and rumble. sustained bass hit after hit layering over each other, sounding like a bass growl thru the chassis, trying to overheat the amp.

forget the screw nerds that can't get over watts saying he elevated what dj screw was doing. watts and the swishahouse have a list of tapes that's got a good share of classics. watts was the first dj to a national release when he did the official chopping for 8ball and mjg. he sped up the base speed of the slowed stuff and had different goals than screw, but he's always been saying r.i.p. to robert davis and thanks for giving him and the city of houston the music to get money from it. watts and those northside rappers are the reason kids are bootlegging the new diary of the originator series cds on the internet. i really got slowed music listening to swishahouse and color changing click mixtapes, so i'll always cut for watts. and all the followers: og ron c, dj d, big baby, yellaboy, whoever does the real thing and brings their own special personal touch to it.

but screw. beyond the basic amazing sound of it all, i'm a sucker for that legend shit, mythology shit. talking like a classic rock dude again, i guess. talking about how people are going to be jamming screw in fifty years. leathery old men on their deathbed passing a grey maxell of wineberry over gold to their grandkids after years of telling them the story of how they bought it thru screw's gate before the kids were born and popped it into the deck in an 89 park avenue with swangs that cost more than the car. i love stories about how everyone on the southside stayed with a couple screw tapes in their pockets at all times in case they took a ride with their friends. i love stories about guys like fat pat and stick 1 and lil keke and e.s.g. and pat lemmons. i love the nerdy collector part of it, earnest young men scouring houston for original tapes that no one has heard, buying and trading, debating origins and dates, discussing quality.

if you want to hear them, please go to the trouble of actually ordering them. check the website, pick a couple titles you like, take a ride down to the post office, get your money order and send it away, wait a couple weeks and hope you got the tapes you picked or good replacements. support the real because people down there are still trying to make a living off this. if you ever have a question about a tape-- "who was on that flow??" "was this really e.s.g.'s last tape??" "was this randy's birthday tape??"-- you call them (713-731-0747) and they'll answer or find out for you cause there's a good chance that the basically unknown s.u.c. member that flowed on that b-legit track or at least someone that was in the house that night is chilling in the back room of that ugly rectangle building on cullen blvd in houston. i'm going to give you ten but it's ten out of the hundreds of tapes screw made and ten out of just the few dozen i've heard.


"southside holding," what southside legend pat lemmons had written in his trunk in neons. lemmons: first one with a pop trunk and really put a lot of people on the southside up on dj screw and supported him with cash (along with stick 1, another southside legend and the first real rapper to flow on a screw tape).

there's a pat lemmons wedding day tape and a pat lemmons r.i.p. tape made after his wife stabbed him-- true story! he's on a bunch of tapes himself, (tha next episode, ridin red, sippin out the gallon). and the original, southside holdin, was a lemmons' r.i.p. tape from 97, after his wife stabbed him on new year's eve. fat pat copied lemmons' trunk set-up and hosted his r.i.p. tape.

screw and fat pat's partners flipped the title of lemmons' tape for a sort of r.i.p tape for fat pat. the voices on the tape other than screw are p.a.t. (the one with the squeaky dranked out heeeeeee heee laugh) and snoop (the one with the crunchy little chuckle), two of fat pat's partners that screw was tight with, too. (pat's other partner, blunt, who got locked up for life shortly after pat died, was in the house, too. they shout him out a few times but he doesn't get on the mic).

probably best known for that wanna be a baller flow on side one, screw isolating the airiest slumpedest part of the beat and letting it float under while everyone in the room steps up, occasionally scratching in the hook as punctuation. twenty seven minutes. goddamn half an hour. everyone on it: d-drew, cl'che (i love the way she flies into her verses, "watch this four foot ten lil mama just flip this shit / feelin this shit, wreckin this shit / call me that classy bitch"), lil o, big baby (not screw's kin that does his own tapes now), lil o, bunch of other un-notable cats. everyone sounding right off the dome. some coming soft and muddled and fucking up a line and giving it a mayyyynnnnnnn! and giving up. cl'che and lil o tearing it up but lil flip tearing it all down. shit to give you goosebumps when he slowly gets faster and faster until he's damn near in quadruple time, making his flow normal speed thru that heavy screw down. flowing normal speed over a beat that's moving four times slower than he is. and doing it for real freestyle, spitting and spitting for ten minutes with barely a break. getting to the core of why flip was so cold back in the day and really amazing.

read it out loud as fast as you possibly can, mouth humming and skipping thru the syllables with absolutely no dead space in between: nigga talkin nigga bout give me the mic for two minutes nigga don't give me the mic for a second nigga be keepin codeine listening to slow jams nigga be leanin like a tower four leaf clover nigga talkin bout i got more drank than uhhhh doogie howser me and doogie or me and c-note diamonds in ya face rollin to the billboards me and cedric nigga talkin bout nigga i be goin to whataburger get the burger with no lettuce no tomato navigator nigga r.i.p. gator and mafio i got the flow talkin bout people got the money nigga eh lil flip got the cheese got the dough they we be wreckin piece and chain nigga goin to johnny's to the flea market parallel park nigga when i open my mouth say farewell to the dark diamonds in ya face i'll say it once again nigga you'll remember feel that flow i been sick though from the get go tiptoe slow when i sip fours.

screw chops up that realest rhymin, the track that supposedly started the beef between flip and e.s.g. and got another classic flip verse (make em say ughhhhhh like master p / do the bodyrock like p-a-t / swang and bang like e.s.g. / gs and ballas like h.s.e. / if i'm chillin with a girl she gotta be a star / if i hold a white cup it gotta be the barre / blue black or red, don't touch my car / SCREWED UP CLICK IS WHO WE ARE) and e.s.g. coming so cold talking about fucking up the kkk in jasper for james byrd and tearing up neiman marcus. chopping up k-ci and jo-jo to create og ron c's fuck action and michael watts' straight to tha room. chopping up just a bunch of fat pat classics and letting snoop and p.a.t. celebrate over them and getting belligerent and loud in gangsta catchphrases.

2. IT'S ALL GOOD (1998)

fat pat's last tape and his last birthday tape. getting ready for his album to drop, talking at the start of the tops drop, "this for that mr. fat pat album, coming out february, in stores soon, on the shelf." got shot next month, february 3rd. going down to meadows southwest apartments to get cash from a hustler/concert promoter named weasel.

the story of why pat got shot by weasel is deeper than money or a promoter bootlegging pat's show. and it's deeper than the sleazy rumors about pat getting shot behind just some drug game bullshit, shot behind fucking over the wrong people. it's sort of accepted as fact, based on what his people have said and what came out in various trials, that weasel shot pat cause pat's partner snoop (who hosts southside still holdin with p.a.t.) jacked weasel for five digits. the story goes that pat was helping weasel to get out of the dope game by supporting his concert promoter hustle. pat went up to austin and did a show that weasel ended up bootlegging. weasel didn't have the cash to pay pat for the show and pay him off for the bootlegging, cause he had just lost all of his dope money (and--this is a rumor--got one of his dope houses robbed by pat's people). weasel came down to the southside and met with pat. weasel asks pat if he knows where pat can get him some work, so he can flip the dope and get pat all of his money. pat tells him he can't make it happen, can't get weasel the bricks. weasel takes off and pat's partner snoop gets an idea: since weasel came down to buy those bricks, he's probably got a grip of cash on him. snoop takes pat's suburban and ends up flagging down weasel on the road. snoops and whoever was with him pull guns on weasel and take the cash. weasel assumes that pat set up the robbery. pat gets summoned to an apartment on the southside, thinking that weasel has the money. weasel lets him in and his goons shoot pat a couple times in the head.

and get this: weasel was at screw's house when the tape was being recorded! listen closely. just as b.i.g. is about to kick into his kick in the door verse, pat leans into the mic to say: "weasel in this bitch." damn.

screw chopping up that kick in the door, letting those cut ups of fat horn blast beat into big's slow thickened voice. chopping up glossy east coast rap, ma$e (he's on here with four tracks-- fat pat loved ma$e) and da brat (she's on damn near every tape screw touched!) and jermaine dupri. stretching out ghetto dope cause master p has the greatest grimiest voice to hear slowed. and pac's life's so hard with doubled up gunshot drums cause every tape has to have pac on it, "a tape ain't no tape without pac on it! you gotta have that boy on your tape."

and that flow. fat pat and lil keke! the last time they'd get on a track together. the final evidence in the eternal debate over who was colder, pat vs. keke. and it's been around the world! picturing puff and ma$e swinging legs in shiny suits. but the perfect beat for pat to come with deepvoiced oldschool swagger like it's 1980 and he's in sugarhill sweaters and holding the microphone proper and upright, doing hand motions. (that's why he loves ma$e, cause they've both got the oldschool rapper swagger like that [like flip used to, too]). and keke with the balance between generic southern g shit and that southside houston style.


the screw tape you're probably most likely to have heard cause it got a cd release on bigtyme records and ended up being pretty easy to find relative to the average tape. sequel to a tape from 94, appeared in a couple forms: the original grey tape from late 1995, the original bigtyme release in 1996 with a few tracks cuts for length (blue version) and a "remix" version in 1998 (i think) with a few more tracks (red version).

coldest intro of any tape ever, e.s.g. breaking it down while screw chops up some old above the law track. "it could be your homeboy, your bitch, your main gal, your sister, your mama, your grandmama-- EVERYBODY STEALIN SCREW. so watch yo screw! when a nigga get in your motherfuckin car talkin about 'where the lighter at?' you go and lookin back and shit, watch yo screw! cause niggas want em. you can leave two sticks, a swisha and a fo and a screw tape on the counter. ain't nobody takin none of those drugs!" and telling us about taking it nationwide, him and screw just left jack the rapper and they trying to expand and let the whole world know how they do it down south and ten years later you know how that turned out, screw's name bigger than ever.

the blue version mostly cuts the old westcoast tracks (except the mack 10 track that screw tears up) in favor of the houston stuff like e.s.g. and keke and al-d and moe and the botany boys that screw wanted to put on cause it was going to be a national release.

the botany boys tracks like the perfect example of why anyone would want to hear music slowed down. cloverland, with all the whiny fake g-funk keyboard whines slowed to syrup and the humps of bass softly surfacing under deep houston accents walking you thru southside neighborhoods. "but ain't no thang to them gs in the clover / it's over / got your babymama suckin my dick in the range rover." fading into the original pimp tha pen, that keke classic he's been making sequels to for ten years. "in houston we elbows in cali they daytons / so, 1996, you hoes better duck / cause the world gon drip candy and be all screwed up / just pop in your grey cassette, turn up your fuckin deck / lend me your ear cause the southside fitna wreck."

.380 repping for 84 swangs on elbows swangin, ten years before still tippin on 106&park with mike jones taking the slang international. template for that h-town slab talk, talking about four 15s and 84s and boppas and the 5th and candy on cadillacs. and the group disappeared after this track and a local album that never went north of tidwell. but extra significant for getting sampled on ugk's diamonds and wood. chopped up by pimp c on the hook: "i flips down the ave, know i'm lookin good / i'm bangin screw, nigga, diamonds up against that wood."

4. CODINE FIEN (1995)

(yeah, i've seen every variation on the spelling but that's the spelling they use at the shop now). a personal for lil randy, who was down with screw since the beginning and probably on more tapes than most of the click but has always been sorta overlooked and underrated, and mike d's first tape. sounding extra slow and leaned over, sounding for real like it's made to get fucked up to like every news article about screw says. pulling down e.s.g. and da brat and meth/mary j. into claustrophobic syrup swamp. screw bringing in his west coast favorites (jamming screw tapes will put you up on almost as much west coast music as southern. i heard most of the southern tracks but the west coast stuff is mostly new to me), ghetto serenade by w.c./maad circle and endless shoutouts ending the first side of the tape. side b. the first two tracks the sequence that you have to keep rewinding over and over again. sliding in what's my name by eazy e. a hundred chops a line for cartoon eazy voice stretched out to vibrate slow and serious. "doin wicked shit cause shit is wicked on the streets" brought by a dozen times by screw. fading over into it's all bad by e-40, still giving me goosebumps the hundredth times i heard it. screw warbling 40's son's voice asking his dad about "so is that what they do?" "IT'S ALLLLLLLLL BAAAAAAAAD" "it's crazy out there, huh?" "IT'S ALLLLLLLLL BAAAAAAAAD" "is it gonna be like this when i grow up?" "IT'S ALLLLLLLLL BAAAAAAAAD" "daddy, sprinkle me with some more game." sliding into groovin on a sunday by c-bo. turning it all into nauseous haze. every track completely crushed and ruined, swept with swishing scratches. roused from deep sleep by screw and mike d and randy giving shoutouts and flowing off destroyed glossy new york beats.

5. GRADUATION 99 (1999)

"my nigga d-drew, seventeen years in the game, knowmsayin. it's goin down, boy done graduated, knowi'mtalmbout? steppin on in life, knowmsayin. big dreams... ghetto dreams... fitna put it in yall face...." (salih williams took that cut of screw talking on this exact intro for know what i'm sayin track off who is mike jones). picturing screw just like in all the pictures. standing over his tables with a bank of tape decks behind him. wiping sweat off his forehead with his fat palm. wheezing. bright yellow polo shirt and grey sweatpants and some jordans. sipping big red out of a big styrofoam cup. spinning eminem over a fat pat instrumental. "hi kids! do you like violence! do you wanna see me stick nine inch nails thru each one of my eyelids!" screw leaning down to chuckle, "he killed them boys with that one!" and singing along with "which spice girl i wanna impregnate." playing bam's graduation and some sleepy devin sticky green after the d-drew's announcement, then taking it back to c-note and ugk and bg. dedicating the dj quik to d-drew and telling him to really listen to it, talking about how quik came thru to screwed up records & tapes and showed love, talking about how he saw the video and if you want to understand how his life been going you have to see it. getting comfortable and talking up his crew. calling d-drew up to the stand to talk about how he made it by going to the classroom and not fucking with the guys at the bus smoking weed-- but the laws still fuck with him. picturing screw's team lining up at mic, z-ro and al-d and d-drew spitting their writtens over an airy beautiful fat pat classic.


"why these boys wanna fly to the classic? you know you gotta go down there and really REPRESENT, mayyne. h-town on the map! time to pull out your gun and start cappin on boys cause they don't see us glowing like this here. niggas think we down and out. we ain't ridin horses and shit!" ready to be jammed in the caravan of screwed up click suburbans and impalas rolling down i-10 with seatbelts and screens on for thanksgiving in the louisiana superdome. headed to the bayou classic for photo opportunities and shouting at pretty girls and going wild in the n.o. and representing for your city.

opening with that eternal, everyone going for half a decade with the writtens off unidentified early 90s r&b joint. opening with hawk taking it and then calling screw to the mic to spit a verse of his own, crowding around him while he comes with his drank tribute, propping him up with readings of the ends of his lines in unison. "the way you make me feel when i'm pourin you up / the way you make me feel when you in my cup / i'm gone it's on I'M SITTIN ON CHROME / i just bought a four TOOK IT STRAIGHT TO THE DOME." stepping down to let his two professionals take it. pat with his slow swagger about girls and woodgrain, mike d setting up.

the rest of the tape, screw doing his thing. and i always check for tapes with a classic nas track. study that street dreams, something i've heard enough, played my it was written end to end a million times, to really understand what screw is doing. that strong, rich new york beat, trackmasters beat. stretched out to show you those winks of synthesizer in cross section and drums compressed and flattened into the floor of the track. picture screw's fat, soft hands running over shiny black wax and loose fader. letting the gunshot interlude that introduces i gave you power to fade instead into bomb first and hail mary mixed against each other, playing the farrakhan million man march speech that pac put on his cd, fading into me and my girlfriend played out before the obligatory da brat and e-40 tracks.

7. 96 LIVE (1996)

randy echoing thru the static on the intro. "that boy RANDY, still sippin CANDY." 7 am and they're yawning on the intro. "we standing here just four deep, BLOWIN." side b intro, "we out leanin, mayynne. seven thirty in the morning," talking about screw still on the tables and they're still sippin. sounding for real like they're just sitting around getting faded and watching screw lazily mixing with heavy eyes but still really feeling it, pass the microphone around and giving their shoutouts or going off on a sleepy freestyle. sounding like am radio tuned to slighty off the station, a static dust on everything. full of hisssss like a slow leak. a dub, title carved into the plastic with a swiss army knife. screw mixing in all of his westcoast rappers, c-bo and mac mall and spice 1 and ant banks.

putting on kriss kross to let randy and mark flow off. sounding amazingly focused and raw coming out of sleepy intro and yawns and lazy shoutouts. while the drums send the volume into bright red and distort the end of every line. picturing randy rapping on his back, eyes closed, concentrating as hard as he can, "leanin on the codeine all fuckin day / roll thru the trey, what you got to say?" and screw himself, with the tape hiss coming to peak and the tape straight blinking out for five seconds at a time, always sounding like it's a privilege to be able to rap on his own tape, having fun, "i'ma come thru sippin syrup, steady swervin / cause it don't stop in the motherfuckin south / it's the fuckin screw, get my dick out your mouth."

8. BARRE (1997)

a tape for big moe on his birthday. "twenty three and destined to make it to twenty four." the man himself toasting over every track to all the folks that's in the house tonight. and man, everyone in the click was there. when the first side fades out you get a burst of ambient noise and the house must have been full. picturing him officiating with the microphone, mingling thru the party while screw lets all of his favorites play out, unchopped, missy/da brat and bushwick bill and pac and mr. serv on and bone thugs and early 90s slow jams and forgotten classics. giving dap and announcing his endless list of partners and giving general southside->third ward->carroll/live oak shoutouts and singing along to or cracking up with his favorite lines while the music booms and he sips purple prometh and codeine out the puffy white styrofoam. leaning back in a milk chocolate velour track suit and narrating the scene: "the boy randy right here on side of me with something that's thoed. eyes so low, don't make no sense, in the bitch feelin like this." coming up for the freestyle on side b and fuck the willy wonka videos and everything, moe always comes with the real even if people forget he's a real dude, forget that he's more than just an in-house hook sanger. slowly easing into the can i live instrumental with improvised hooks sung into it and chopping up his cadence to sing and mutter into it. "ain't no foes on the southside, keep tight bald fades-- i'm playyyyyyyyyyyyyAYYYYYYYaaa-maAYYYYYYYYYde--... i'ma drank baby, thinkin bout barre, on my mind young g tryna go far... starchy-ass clothes and i'm drownin straight fours."


screw was always cutting up that friends track by whodini, from the earliest tapes to the bootleg live stuff. opening mash for my dream with no intro track, just twenty minutes of the friends instrumental while everyone in the house steps up and does their thing. one of those flows that just drags and slides past you, sounding properly embedded in the instrumental, until every rapper comes and tries to outdo each other, everyone bursting out and sounding furious. screw fading it out to play out tracks unmixed like he was doing by 98, just turning everything down extra slow and soft. daz and yo-yo and nate dogg and steady mobbin with master p and do or die and conscious daughters. keep ya head up fading into we'll always love big poppa, sound crushingly sad beyond the basic idea cause of all the screw r.i.p. songs off that beat, but quickly fading into fuckin you tonight to break the mood.

10. RIDIN DIRTY (1996)

screw throws on the instrumental of fuck my car and the voice you hear on the intro is bun b. "what's up world? it's that big bun b, representing p.a. and they bangin screw." shouting out screw on the tables, introducing who's in the house tonight. pimp c coming in to switch off and on, remix their own track from fuck my car to sip my barre, "you wanna be seen flippin with a superstar but you ain't kickin it with me, you wanna sip my barre." ugk come thru to do a flows tape! a next year's model ls 430 already on blades parked in the alley in the back. screw hands them styrofoam cups and they pull out the weed. screw lines up the classic west coast instrumentals: wc, mc lyte, tha dogg pound, mack 10, ant banks.

"the boy c rollin joints, screw mixin it up-- i think that boy want that old school!" and screw lays on some late 80s slow jam with whining plastic guitar solo and snowcrunch drums, fading it into afro puffs, while pimp sounds fucked up and coming no problem with hard dope game raps. "now can you get yo money right?? ... see my shit don't never have no holes and my ounces way up right ... i got the keys ... uhh ... niggas don't understand that you cannot do this with ease ...." I ROCK ROUGH AND STUFF WITH MY AFRO PUFFFFS (ROCK ON WIT CHA BAD SELF) while pimp conducts screw's mixing using a swisher as a baton and lovingly defends him: "yall must think, man... yall must think... it's a lot of niggas think ANYBODY can motherfuckin do this! after standing right here on this mic, man, talkin to yall, can't NOBODY do what screw doin! STOP! all yall out there doin it, just STOP! RIGHT! NOW!" and bun the one sounding so uncomfortable that i'm usually hitting fast forward when he hits the one minute mark and there's three or four more minutes to go. self-conscious rapper flow: spelling out his name and awkwardly toasting the people in the room, repeating himself. sounding naked without his perfectly balanced and calculated lines, getting blown away by grace, the only rapper out of screw's personal stable that gets the privilege of getting on the same tape as the legends.

side b just rolling out b-legit and pac and westside connection like always. mixing while bun relaxes on battered couch playing nba live 96 against al-d, and pimp gets his fade looked at by big jut.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Rod Lee - Vol. 5: The Official

The latest in the series of Club Kingz Records mix CDs that Rod started back in 2000 with Operation: Start-Up, some of the best Baltimore club music of the moment mixed by the king, the legend of this shit. The big difference this time is that this is on Morphius Urban, an arm of the Baltimore-based indie distro Morphius, which means you can actually order it online and maybe find it in stores outside the 410 area. 2/3rds of the tracks are Rod's own productions, as opposed to other DJ's mixes, which typically have 'only' 5-10 Rod Lee tracks.

"What They Gown Doo" - Rod Lee
One of the best of the countless Bmore club records out right now with Lil Jon samples, Rod spitting motivational lyrics (he's not a rapper or a singer, but he does vocals on his own tracks more than any other club producer), I got my mind right/on the grind right/don't let nobody take your pride/stand tall right/I have a master plan/that's gonna change the game/I'm a true pioneer/don’t make me say what’s my name?/yeah, I'm back/yours truly DJ Rod Lee/what you thought I was finished?/what you thought I was over?

"Dance My Pain Away" - Rod Lee
On the new Technics and K-Swift mixes this is called "I Got Problems", but the official title on this and Rod's new 12" EP is "Dance My Pain Away". Pretty much my favorite club track of 2005 so far, one of Rod's raspy singing joints and the most soulful, melancholy club track I've ever heard. The first time I heard it it reminded me of what he said in this interview (which coincidentally is also quoted on the Morphius page) (well maybe not really a coincidence since it's the only Rod Lee interview that's online): Basically, I tell you the truth, my music comes out of anger. Depressed anger that goes amongst everybody. You got people going to the club to have a drink cause they're mad at their females. You got guys going to club to get away from their bills. I just relate off everything. If you could sit there and make someone dance after they got divorced [laughter], I know I'm good! I seen females, before they get to the club, they done got their ass whipped. Go to the club, the music come on, they're gone, "I feel good; I needed this." You can explain Baltimore club as stupid or vulgar or funny dance music, and many people have, but it's a lot more than that, and Rod Lee understands that better than anyone.

I'm gonna dance my pain away
I got problems
dance my pain away
I got problems
like woah oh

I just got laid off today
what you think wifey gonna say?
I'll just have to hope and pray
rain rain go away
the repo man just hit me
can't get from A to B
fake friends around me
lord, won't you help me?
now I'm on my tippy toes
face down, eyes closed
dancin' to this melody

"What Chew Know About Down The Hill" - DJ Lil Jay, produced by Rod Lee
Lil Jay is a 14-year-old boy who DJs Baltimore club that Rod has taken under his wing and who does vocals on some of Rod's tracks. Rod seems to have big plans for him, like Lil Jay is gonna be the Lil Bow Wow of club music or something like that, I dunno. This song is one of my favorites, though. Pretty much every club track about being from down the hill and/or up the hill is great.

"The Bernie Mack Theme" - Rod Lee
It's Rod's beat from Tim Trees's "We Don't Love 'Em" sped up to club tempo! With some samples from the end of the Kings of Comedy movie.

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