Thursday, October 28, 2010
The Sirius XM Commute: Lil' Kim, Mack 10 & Master P
Every morning, after dropping my son Jalen off at school, it's just me and my satellite radio. During 12 minutes of surface streets and stoplights, I can hear at least three songs in their entirety.
Sirius XM Channel: "Backspin" (Old School Hip Hop)
Some links may be NSFW, so click with caution, yo.
Lil' Kim featuring Lil' Cease and Notorious B.I.G. -- Crush on You:
Other than the opportunistic Puff Daddy, Ma$e and maybe Missy Elliott, no one dominated 1997 hip hop quite like Lil' Kim. Her success followed the release of her 1996 debut Hard Core. The album would eventually sell more than two million copies, yet I remain one of the few listeners who weren't impressed with the mostly pedestrian production and ghost-written lyrics that Kim couldn't quite deliver. Oddly enough, Kim's biggest hits from Hard Core were a pair of remixes -- this track and Not Tonight (Ladies' Night) -- that immensely improved on the originals. I'd go as far as to call "Crush on You" the second best commercially-released single in Lil' Kim's catalog. Her lyricism omits the over-the-top raunchiness for a more subtle, simplistic sexuality. Unlike a lot of her material from 1995-2000, she's not lifting Biggie Smalls' flow. And, I've always loved the Jeff Lorber Fusion sample. The song's one drawback is Lil' Cease. He's here because he's on the original version (while Kim is curiously absent). Sadly, there was room for only one moon-faced, marble-mouthed MC in 1997. You've probably heard of him.
Mack 10 featuring Ice Cube -- Foe Life:
By mid-1995, the west coast's run on the rap charts had become increasingly irrelevant. Death Row Records had grown complacent -- releasing compilation soundtracks and failing to capitalize on then-hot talent like Nate Dogg and The Lady of Rage. Ice Cube -- one of the angriest and most influential voices of the genre -- was making movies and passing the microphone to his protégé Mack 10. Like a lot of gangsta rap from this era, Mack 10's empty bombast hasn't aged well -- and, I'm almost certain his "TJ Hooker" reference was on life support 15 years ago -- but, this cut has its moments. The beat is quintessential California and Mack's drops lyrics that...well, they make ME smile. ("I'm broke as a mutha, so fool, buy my single/comin' from 'tha Ingle'/It's my jingle...") Besides, any song where the bad guy is thwarted by way of a Rottweiler biting his ass is OK on my iPod.
Master P. featuring Everybody -- Make 'Em Say Uhh:
I was still in college when I first heard this cut. This was late 1997 and the west coast was still coming to grips with Tupac Shakur's murder. Radio was retroactively running through the 1993-1996 material of the east coast's biggest acts, since California pop-rap died with Pac. After my first taste of Master P, I remember thinking -- for the first time -- that the industry was passing me by. P's No Limit Records ushered in those goofy jeweled-graphic CD covers and 24-track CDs that featured five or six guest rappers on a single three-minute song. Everything Master P touched was an oversized, over-produced posse cut that foreshadowed rap's eventual descent into drum machines and Auto-Tune. May God have mercy on his soul.