The postman was very very good to me last week. Let us examine four helpings of grown folks rap goodness. The last one is pretty damn serious, too...
Klaus Layer- The Adventures Of Captain Crook (2013)
His last two records, we have discussed. I ordered this, his debut LP, on the strength of them. The original press has become collectible so I went for the 2014 repress on green wax, and it arrived on 4/20 after only being ordered four days before. You can’t be mad at that. And you can’t be mad at the beats. We are now three outta three with Klaus’ LPs (he’s got one other EP release- that’s in the mail now), all enthusiastic double thumbs-uppers. That’s impressive. This one tucks in nicely with the other two. Still has the psyche vibe of Restless Adventures, but a little lighter. There are also two tracks with vocals featuring Blu (one includes Scienze as well) that hit hard. 5/5 shit. This dude is killing it.
Dela- Stressed Out / Stakes Is High Remixes (2006)
Dela was probably holding down the spot as my favorite European producer before Klaus has gone on his tear. He hasn’t seemed to have caught on state-side as well as he could have for somebody doing the rare job of really nailing that mid-90s’s Golden Era sound that everybody says they’re into. His take on it had been more on the lush side for his first two well-received albums... when he’s on he’s great, but occasionally there can be a bit too much going on for my more minimalist boom-bap taste. His third album though, Translation Lost, that’s exactly where he took it, but in more of a futuristic than back-in-the-day sense. That’s one of my favorite records to come out in the last few years.
This one though is just a 12”, apparently a legit Japanese bootleg. “Stakes Is High” was the track that made me have to pull the trigger on international shipping for this joint, with the instrumental being on Dela’s first LP. But on the vocal version he brings the rhymes in at a weird spot, so it’s been the “Stressed Out” remix I’ve been feeling more. It’s not too appetizing initially, but when the keys come in after the chorus we’re in there.
Rhymester- リスペクト (1999)
Mid-to-late 90’s Japanese rap kicks ass. No, I do not understand a word of it, but still... it kicks ass. I’m getting a decent collection of it together, but it’s overwhelmingly 12”s. So when some dude in Japan had both this LP and that Dela at reasonable prices at tax return time, it was on.
This appears to be more of a compilation of Rhymester tracks than an attempt at a cohesive album, which is only evident by the year it was released. Not sure if I would have bought this had I known how many of the tracks I already own, but I’m glad I did. The instrumental version of “耳ヲ貸スベキ” was on my all-’96 Paradise Lost mixtape. My man Masa in Osaka made a point of mentioning that “B-Boyイズム” is a major Japanese rap tune. There is also a song on there sampling the same shit as INI’s “Grown Man Sport,” which I enjoy a great deal.
If I had to guess, I would say that these guys probably rap about rap and “keeping it real” a lot. Maybe it’s for the best I have no clue. Because even with enough of a previous appreciation for them to have spent the 2xLP import dough, it surprised me how easy this has been to listen to all the way through, multiple times. Definitely a keeper. Now if I can just track down their LP from ‘93...
3 Shades Of Rhythm- 3 Shades Of Rhythm
3 Shades Of Rhythm was TD Camp, Equipto and P-Whaley before they formed the backbone of Bored Stiff in the mid-90s, one of San Francisco’s most beloved rap groups. World Wide Wax out of Germany just pressed up 300 copies of their demos recorded from 90-92 as a 3xLP- 21 full-length tracks and an intro, basically a double album. I had no idea this was on the horizon until it dropped a couple weeks ago. It ain’t cheap... but it’s dope.
My first time through this was a little uneasy, because it’s way more of a no-coast ‘92/’93 sound than the classic old SF fast rap I was expecting. The production is solid all the way through. A few familiar samples, but everything flipped well. Definitely takes you back to the days when heads started to want to slow it down some and make it all about the bassline. They also did a fantastic job remastering the sound from whatever they had to work off of- the last track you can detect some hiss or loss or something, but otherwise everything is clean, loud and leveled out nicely. Lyrically, there’s about an equal amount of RBL Posse/Total Devastation SF smooth flows, and bouncier Hiero-esque flows. Ultimately that’s what the whole thing compares to, some of the earlier Hiero LPs like I Wish My Brother George Was Here and Fear Itself. And it compares quite favorably. I’m digging this in a big way, and can see how it had taken on an almost mythical status in some circles over the years.
After a few listens, I heard only two references to San Francisco in the whole thing. Which tells me these dudes really were going for it on the demo tip, not trying to get painted into any kind of West Coast corner. I’m pretty sure one of the reasons more of you haven’t heard of Bored Stiff was that they had the nerve to just be a regular-ass rap group representing San Francisco instead of explicitly gangsta or super-scientifical underground- they appear to me to be much better regarded internationally and among collectors who don’t have as much invested in coastal biases than they are in the US rap scene. And it’s a shame, because from this material, through all the Bored Stiff records up to all their projects still dropping on Solidarity Records today, they’ve been consistently been making great music for 25 years now. There are not many people floating around who can say that. You love 90’s rap records and can fade 70 euros plus international shipping? You need this.
I am just about to have lunch and hit up the record store with bated breath- a good handful of promising new joints dropping this week...