Sunday, April 5, 2009

What's playing in my deck

A lot of disappointment. Specifically, mixtape maestros who never quite lived up to my initial expectations:

1. Nature of the Threat by Ras Kass - In the fall of '96, I nearly drove myself crazy trying to figure out when Ras' debut album was going to drop. You simply were not going to hear this cat on your local hip-hop radio station. So, I went to the music store near my college campus every Tuesday for two months before I finally copped Soul on Ice. It simply wasn't worth the effort. But "Nature of the Threat," which clocks in at nearly eight minutes, was a notable exception. Consider it mood music for an aspiring revolutionary - or Five-Percenter.

2. Bitches from Eastwick by The Lox - Growing up in Texas, I didn't have much access to DJ Clue mixtapes. Canal Street was thousands of miles away, no? But when I finally got hold of one, I immediately fell under the spell of The Lox. Of course, Puffy ruined a good thing. On Bad Boy, The Lox lost all their edge under shiny suits and dance hits. They have never really recovered.

3. Buckingham Palace by Canibus - IMHO, Canibus might have been the best mixtape artist of my lifetime. But he simply couldn't handle the constraints and structure of an album. Whether it was mediocre Wyclef-produced beats or a simple inability to construct interesting stories, Canibus never lived up to the hype. But, dammit, he wore LL Cool J's ass out. And true to form, "Buckingham Palace" is essentially a freestyle but one of the best records on the album.

4. 10 Mins by Joe Budden - I'm not sure if Joe deserves all the blame for a career that never really got off the ground. Seems like he's been caught in music industry purgatory. But if he never signs another record deal, Joe deserves props for the brilliantly conceived but mildly uncomfortable "10 Mins." Rarely has a rapper gotten so personal with his listeners.

5. License to Kill by Papoose - It's been five years since I first heard him on a mixtape, and still Papoose hasn't released a full-length album. Seems like a deal with Jive Records in 2006 fell through. However, according to wikipedia, Pap has put out nearly 25 mixtapes. So, much like a hoops star who never makes it out of his neighborhood, Papoose will probably remain something of a hip-hop "playground legend." At the least, I hope he's not Lloyd Daniels.

Here's the record that got him into Kay Slay's studio: