An Indeterminate Amount of Incredible Rap Songs You Need To Hear.....Right Now (Part 1)

Five years ago the good people of Oh Word recruited Robbie Ettelson and Andrew Nosnitski to assist in compiling 50 unheralded album cuts and obscure b-sides. For the layman, this list was a wealth of uncharted territory. To more experienced ears it was a welcomed exercise in nostalgia. Much has changed in the blog universe since 2007. Oh Word no longer focuses on rap music, so the likelihood of a quinquennial reunion is slim. Fortunately, I've convinced several writers to participate in an unofficial sequel. So it brings me great pleasure to humbly present the first installment of An Indeterminate Amount of Incredible Rap Songs You Need To Hear.....Right Now.

The following people contributed many beautiful words...
PSK-13 - "Headin' For My Trunk" (1993)

Planet Earth is a complicated place which often leaves us not being able to diferentiate between our arses and our elbows, so why not retreat from the labyrinthine byways of everyday life and snuggle up with some wholly uncomplicated hard headed Texan gangsta shit from S.P.C member PSK-13, replete with nefarious trunk-rattling synths, supremely ignorant lyrics with nary a regard for anything other than how to be reckless down in Texas, and intro dialogue samples of Doughboy from Boyz N The Hood. Richard Tre Mane

Sadat X - "The Okie Doke" (2008)

“The Okie Doke” sees Sadat X in rare form, a wild cadence grudgingly returned from Rikers Island to tell of highway drug trafficking on a forgotten 7” single. His voice animatedly swells and lurches, making him a lively storyteller. The barely touched jazz guitar sample allows X's story an impressive range of colors. When the guitar sulks, he's cynical (“I want to thank the great state of New York for the felony charge,”) but when it lifts, he might be romanticizing the miles spent deciding who should drive through North Carolina. It's drug rap where the protagonist stands opposite the usual young, hungry bastard. If only all latter day New York rap had the same depth. Evan Nabavian

Jayo Felony - "Sherm Stick" (1995)

Unknown to many, San Diego gang rapper Jayo Felony was signed to Jam Master Jay's JMJ/Def Jam Records when he dropped his 1995 debut album, "Take A Ride." This single, Jayo's official "commercial" introduction, is an ode to smoking PCP. Yep. Before weed, coke, & x pills were Hip Hop's breakfast, lunch, & dinner, cats were proudly smoking Angel Dust, which exhibits both hallucinogenic and neurotoxic effects on the user. If that's not gangsta, then I don't know what is. Tony Grands

V-White & The Politician ft. Messy Marv - "Sixes on my Seven Deuce" (2010)

Bay Area-related questions of mine include: When is Lil B going to remove the “From The Pack” after his Twitter handle? Will Rick Rock ever made a personalized “Walking Down the Street in Slo-Mo” slapper just for me? Will I ever get someone to play Tower of Power’s “What is Hip?” when I’m walking down the street in slow-mo? and WHO is the Oakland equivalent of Fat Joe, both appearance-wise and flow-wise? The video for this track answers that last question. Enjoyment of this increases threefold if you’re from California, fourfold if you’re from Alameda County, but even you out-of-staters can appreciate how golden that horn break is. The hook will settle into your brain, but not in an annoying way; tomorrow at work will be better because of it. Marv’s Whazzhaaaahhhhninnn at 00:19 is aural valium, even though his verse is about heroin baggies. And I love that the Casual-directed video is pornographic in its depiction of big-bodied American machinery, but remains completely female-free despite the hook about females. Oh, and it's V-White (first verse) who’s the Bay’s Joey Crack. Logan Melissa

Pharrell ft. T.I. & Young Dro - "Music For Gangsters" (2006)

Considering the ups and downs of the respective careers of Young Jeezy, T.I., and Young Dro since 2006, this song is a southern rap nerd's dream come true courtesy of Pharrell and DJ Drama. While, T.I. might have been there first with the name "Trap Muzik" with his classic second album, Young Jeezy's Trap or Diemixtape and first major label album Let's Get It: Thug Motativation 101 that became the blue print that still informs most street rap, even in this Post-Luger world. Skateboard P has the best verse, even outperforming 2006 T.I. and Young Dro. The treat of the song is hearing the two head voices of Grand Hustle over Shawty Redd's classic "Trap or Die" beat and invisioning the parallel world of Trap Rap where T.I. was working with Shawty Redd instead of DJ Toomp. David Turner

Nas - "Good Morning" (2004)

One of several unreleased Street's Disciple leftovers, 'Good Morning' is an ethereal portrait of the black experience. Nas documents the poverty, infidelity, racism, addiction, and substandard living conditions unveiled by daybreak, indirectly referencing every character's struggle but his own. In contrast to this bleak narration, Lakey The Kid's off-key crooning and an uncleared Isley Brothers loop reinforce Esco's underlying optimistic perspective. Nas' project window incarnation is often misunderstood because his message is neither abrasive nor galvanizing, but rather a dead on dipiction of black plight. H.L.

Khalil Nova - "Vaporizers" (2012)

The other night I was trying to sell a friend on Georgia MC/producer Khalil Nova’s recently released Tha Black Layne Staley, and I said something like “Khalil Nova sounds like robot Jeezy spitting over Tyler, the Creator’s most washed out beats.” There’s something eerily subhuman about his heavily treated vocals (which here take the form of barely intelligible chants about drugs and swag) and their contrast against the bombed out, hazy synth accompaniment. “Vaporizers” is one of those rare songs about drugs that make you feel like you’re doing ‘em when you listen. Finally, the swag rappers are taking acid. Craig Jenkins

E-40 - "On Oil (Turned Up)" (2009)

Question: What do you do if you are a rapper in your 40's, who has been on a major label for the last 15 years and suddenly find yourself without any sort of label support? On top of that you are the face of a rap movement (hyphy) that has not only died, but become the butt of every joke? If you are any other rapper, you rest on your laurels and take in the occasional check for a feature, but if you are E-40 you take on the independent music business headfirst and become more prolific than ever. This song represents that turning point for E-40; turning his back on the need to satisfy label executives pining for a radio hit and creating the music that he wants to make and longtime fans want to hear. His son, Droop-E, lends his signature bass-heavy, futuristic sound to the production, but as with any E-40 song, all attention is drawn to his elastic voice filling any open space in the beat. Earl is having an incredible career resurgence right now, with the release of four quality retail albums these past two years and three more planned for 2012. This song is where it all started. Thomas

Ike Eyes - "Blue Roxies" (2011)

Registering as the faintest blip on NYC's subterranean radar, the man usually seen looming behind Agallah steps forward and displays pure psychedelic madness over the type of production third string Stones Throw rappers have been squandering for years. Hopefully Ike Eyes finally receives the recognition he deserves before the Mayan Apocalypse. Maxwell Cavaseno

Dangerous D & DJ Charlie Chan - "He's My DJ" (1987)

I'm originally from St. Louis, and to hear most people tell it, my hometown's impact on hip hop starts and stops with Nelly and the St. Lunatics (with apologies to Chingy, Huey, Da Hol 9, Pretty Willie Suella and J-Kwon). And really, you can't fault them too much (yes, I still listen to "Roll Wit Me" semi-frequently on this DJ Greg Street sampler I bought, but I imagine that puts me in the minority of rap fans). Which was why it was so fascinating when I was visiting St. Louis in 2008 and came across this article in the local alternative weekly, The Riverfront Times.

The story details how some clerks at the city's most heralded record spot, Vintage Vinyl, unearthed a pair of classic StL hip hop recordings while cleaning out a stockroom. The first, from 1987, "The Power of Soul", was a tribute to James Brown, performed by Dangerous D and DJ Charlie Chan. The second, Early D's "Culture Shock", is from 1988, and is clearly heavily influenced by It Takes A Nation of Millions... which came out the same year. Both marked the earliest hip hop recordings from the city, and reveal a nascent genre that had spread further West than anyone anticipated at the time.

Unfortunately, being an early adopter of a new genre didn't help record sales, as the release of "The Power of Soul" b/w "He's My DJ" was an unmitigated disaster -- the A-side received zero radio play, and the label didn't have enough money to even ship copies of the 12" out of state. But while commercial appeal may have been lacking, artistic merit wasn't. "He's My DJ" is a turntablist workout that demonstrates Charlie Chan's skills on the wheels of steel, all the while sampling Enter the Dragon and vocal snips about "the Shaolin Temple". In other words, this is proto-Wu Tang stuff. Not bad for a city that most people associate with with mom-rap songs about the early stages of inebriation. Soft Money

18 comments:

  1. nice. look forward to more.
    I always thought that sounded a bit like Slick Rick on 'Good Morning'. Never realised it was Lake.

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  2. @Step Yeah, I never realized it was Lake either until I started writing about that song.

    Thanks fellas. A lot more to come.

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  3. diggin that Ike eyes blue roxies cut, thanks for the heads up.

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  4. Maxwell done posted the heat, damn.

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  5. Headin' For My Trunk is the perfect opening track for this series. Bravo, H.L.

    Thomas is otm with both the choice of On Oil and his blurb about it. It was E-40's micro-Mac Ten Handle career moment.

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  6. This is great, can't wait to read/hear the rest. My favorites from this round are the PSK-13, Jayo Felony, Khalil Nova, and V-White & The Politician songs.

    Also, Logan Melissa is an attractive female who writes about Bay Area rap? This is weird...

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  7. lol at Thomas's world being flipped

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  8. Agree with Verge on the Ike Eyez song, great find. Gotta look up more of his stuff

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