Allow me to share with you my favorite people currently making rap music.
I have been holding out on this with you Clashtalkers for awhile now. A few years back, SF native and fast-rising drummer J-1 tragically passed away while on tour in Europe. A mutual friend solicited donations of records to be auctioned on eBay to cover the cost of his family having to import his body back to the States. I had triples of something worthwhile in the sale crates at the time, so I got off my dead ass and actually did something nice for once in my life and wandered down the hill to pitch one in.
While I was shooting the breeze with Josh down at Groove Merchant, another guy came in, also to donate a record to the cause. This guy brought one of his own records though. Real nice guy by the name of Henry Quester. We were introduced and chopped it up for a second before Henry left and went about his business.
At that point Josh mentioned that he was a fan of Henry’s music, and he figured it was pretty much in line with my taste so he started playing the four-song 7” EP for me. My jaw hit the floor.
“Dude- this is pretty good.”
“DUDE- this is REALLY FUCKING GOOD! What the fuck?”
And that was my introduction to Sessions At The PM. You know how we know I suck? I don’t think I’ve engaged in a charitable act since, even after I came out way ahead on that one.
Sessions At The PM is that man, Henry Quester, and a young lady by the name of Physical Graffiti. After that first one, they have put out two more four-song 7” EPs, one featuring tracks by other You Made Me favorites Clear Soul Forces and Dela. That first one got a slick pressing on CD I believe, but the subsequent two, as well as Physical Graffiti’s debut solo LP Tripz 2 Minds Eye from last year, have been vinyl only. 300 copies pressed of the EPs, only 100 of the LP (ya boy has 4% of the market cornered, what what!). Most of the covers are individually handmade. The labels on the records are blank. You are more likely to find a postcard of an ancient Japanese mummy who starved himself to death at a monastery after killing a samurai in a fight over a woman inside your record than you are any liner notes whatsoever. “Sessions @ The PM” seems to be spelled differently every time I see it. Henry also occasionally goes by the name EL Khaliq Muhammad. I was operating under the assumption that he/they were actually two different people for awhile.
This should not be happening in 2015. I’m not sure if we even deserve anything this awesome these days.
Everybody talks about wanting to be GoldenAgeundergroundindie, while they’re directing you to their Soundcloud page. Sessions At The PM aren’t bumping their gums about it though, they’re just fucking doing it. They are taking it back to when you could actually buy GOOD music from dudes hustling on the street. And they’re putting out that head-nod shit. My greatest fear is that they’re going to get a little too out there for my taste. But upon receiving their latest couple offerings two weeks ago, it looks like we don’t need to worry too much, because this shit is bananas.
Henry Quester / EL Khaliq Muhammad / En’Mc - BS&S
This is how deep it gets- off all the information given, as the guy driving this bandwagon, I’m not even sure if this is actually him. Gotta be though... I guess? Whoever it is, they killed it.
This is a six-song 10” EP, produced entirely by The Grand Kemist. No track listing. These songs probably have names, but I do not know them. Goddamn, I love these guys.
Much like Clear Soul Forces, Henry has noticeably stepped his game up on this release, in the sense that he’s always had the flow and the message but now the rhyme schemes are on some more “oh shit” shit. No skippers on here. Production is a lot of chopped keys, hard drums, and what sounds like instrumental and vocal samples taken from old jazz records. We got songs about the grind, the dream, the neighborhood, the fairer sex- including the lyric “eyes chinky,” my favorite long-lost rap colloquialism. Anybody got a problem with that, on the way to killing Hitler we’ll stop the time machine back in ‘95 and you can lecture my old crew on how that’s racist, and you will learn how to say “Ha ha, get the fuck outta here” in three or four different languages.
And then we get to the fifth track.
It starts out with just a bass line, chopped fucking weird. I was thinking oh shit here we go, he’s finally going for the crazy off-beat shit. But I could not have been more wrong. Henry and the drums come in, and holy shit, we have what Gawker would call “The Song Of The Summer.” Aside from the facts that it has no title, isn’t on YouTube or any digital format, and less than a thousand people even know it exists. Jesus...
Sixth track bangs too. Fantastic record.
Physical Graffiti- The Funky Hudson One
This is a ten-song LP featuring various producers, once again with no song titles or info given. Her previous LP was the most adventurous release the Sessions fam has put out, with the production being surprisingly on the electronic side, with a couple tracks over classic jacked KMD and AZ beats. It was slightly disappointing in terms of my expectations, but Physical Graffiti is such a beast on the mic she carried it anyway. The sound quality of both this and her last LP were a little iffy, the vocals being way hotter than everything else, even at the expense of the rest of the mids on some tracks (Henry’s EP sounds great though). There is a 2014 date on the labels despite them just becoming available a couple weeks ago, so I can’t help but wonder if there were some hiccups getting these pressed right.
The production on this one is generally on the slower side, which isn’t my preferred steez. Coupled with the vocals overpowering the tracks so often, this would not seem to be up my alley. Except Physical Graffiti is just a fucking microphone murderer.
Henry has more of that four-track-in-the-bedroom vibe that I can’t get enough of, but can acknowledge isn’t what everybody wants to hear. Physical Graffiti sounds like she should currently be stashed away by a major while they figure out how to unleash her on an unsuspecting universe. She’s a pro, and really has no business fucking with this hand-to-hand shit. Or she wouldn’t if labels knew what the fuck to do with female MCs, anyway. Two things in this world that would make me cry- the Raiders moving to Texas, and Physical Graffiti getting a fake butt and shouting out designer gear instead of dropping shit like...
Bring you the pain and the noise, and the motherfucking ruckus
Cause I said fuck Rutgers and enrolled in the university of life
So as God is my witness I’m protecting this mic
In other words I’m Tina if she would have slapped Ike
That’s in the first verse of the first track. OK... I’m all ears.
Jersey love is the cohesive thread running through this album, and that rules. I was disappointed though that she didn’t talk any shit about NY. Woulda been more fun that way. Damn these people able to frame their thoughts in 100% positivity.
Another skip-proof joint. There is no better praise for an MC than loving them on an album that I don’t want the instrumentals of. And while the beats are again just far more not my thing (slow) than any kind of “bad,” that’s what we got here. The third track is funky as all hell, and she destroys it. The last track is the kind of lighter mid-tempo beat I like to hear female artists over, and she kills that too. Unmerciful microphone mutilation, end to end.
Sessions also released another four-song 7” EP featuring a new member of the fam named Takt called Narrating The Ellipsis, also produced entirely by The Grand Kemist. Definitely digging 3/4 of that one too, with the exception being the opening track. Little too adventurous for me.
I had been meaning to put Clashtalk on to these guys because they occasionally throw events out in your NY/NJ stomping grounds. Haven’t seen anything come across my FB feed the past year or two, but previously they were putting on basketball tournaments in parks and throwing parties with kung fu flicks which basically amounts to “Taint Nuttin, This Is Your Life- 1997.” I, of course, am on the other side of the country though. You guys do me a solid, and if you ever see or hear of them throwing events, go and support. They, and you, deserve it. Nobody is doing rap as right, right now, as Sessions @ The PM. If you have the faintest appreciation for rap music and a turntable, I suggest in the strongest possible terms that you go to sessionsatthepm.com and order all that shit immediately. Or at the very least go listen to the snippets, and give yourself a reminder of what rap is supposed to be.