I think Dante Ross should get an award for being one of the best rap A&R guys of all time. In the early '90s, he was working at Elektra and had one of the best rosters in the history of rap. Del, Brand Nubian, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Leaders of the New School, and one of my favorite groups of all time, KMD. I'm not gonna front like I was down from the beginning, when they first came out with that "Peach Fuzz" joint, I was wearing a Compton hat and trying to be MC Ren––but my man B-Side forced me to listen to the Mr. Hood album, and I got hooked. (Fuck, I hated De La Soul at first, too––thought they were pussies, I'll admit it.) Shit was soft, but fuck it, they were dope. Then some idiot at the label got the bright idea to not release KMD's second record, Black Bastards, so you had to buy it on bootleg or wait forever until Doom broke into Elektra's vaults a couple years back and started pressing up semi-legit copies. Anyway, if all of this is news to you, then you need to go pick up The Best of KMD (Nature Sounds) and when their new one, Mental Illness, comes out this summer, you can act like you've always known.
And if you need some Cliff's Notes on some other rap shit you want to be all "day one" about, grab a copy of Day By Day Entertainment's Best of MF, a mix of MF Doom and MF Grimm's hypest shit, with some freestyles and extra goodies on there for you, and Mr. Len's Class-X: A Tribute to Company Flow (Dummy Smacks), which despite the wack title (aren't wee dun wit dat boot kamp zpelling zhit yet?), can replace your collection of Company Flow CDs you never listened to anyway, and has a couple of remixes to boot.
If you're as sick of rappers as I am, then sometimes you want to just zone the fuck out and walk off your hangover with a bottle of orange juice and some music that doesn't feature a screaming moron in your Walkman. I hate trying to describe instrumental shit, cuz you sound all gay saying, "This is some dubby, tripped-out, jazzy, funky, electronic hip-hop on a kind of psychedlic, groovy, melodic, dark, moody, genre-blending, layered, textured, soulful, ambient vibe." Don't you feel gay just reading that? So I'm not even going to try to tell you about these records, I'm just going to tell you that they've been good to me as I've stumbled home at four in the morning with a bloody nose and a fresh set of batteries. Nobody's Pacific Drift (Ubiquity) [this is the psych-trippy one], 60 Channels' Covert Movements (Supacrucial) [the dubby, soulful one], Nick Nack's Improving Silence (Crowd Control) [the jazzy one], Thavius Beck's Decomposition (Mush) [the densely layered one], and Sun Toucher's Dub Muscle (Sun Toucher) [another dubby one]. There, don't we both feel better?
Of course, it wouldn't be a proper installment of "Beats And Rhymes" unless I had some really obscure, underground, never-gonna-find-it-in-a-million-years hip-hop to tell you about. Here's your scavenger-hunt list, kids: Cobra LA's 18 Ways (CobraLA), Mr. Roam's Tom Strokes… (Choice Cut), Orko the Sycotik Alien's Atoms of Eden (Plague Language). This is the part where I get to feel all cool when music geeks email me like, "Where can I find EmCeeClopedia's new remix 45?" and I'm in one of my MC Ren moods and get into arguments with them about how Nelly is easily one of the top ten of all time, and OutKast sucks, and the new Bravehearts record is what they should really be checking for. Don't sleep on Cobra, Roam, and Orko, though––I mean it.
Before I'm out of here, I want to shout out Z Man for his Dope or Dog Food album (Hiero Imperium), cuz he's a funny-ass dude whose shit makes me laugh when I'm on gurp after R.D.in' some apple pie, mainey. If you want to know what the fuck I'm talking about, pick up the album.
Oh yeah, by the time anybody's reading this I've relocated to Montreal, so if you're one of those publicist types who sends me music all the time, you're probably pissed off at all the returned packages with my name on 'em. Sorry about that. And if you're a Montreal coke dealer with casual spotting rules and a nonviolent demeanor, my email address is below.
FRITZ THA CAT
Send me music. Email me for my new address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Top Nine of 2003 (in no particular order):
1. KMD The Best of KMD (nature-sounds.net) 2. Thavius Beck Decomposition (dirtyloop.com) 3. 60 Channels Covert Movements (supacrucial.com) 4. Nobody Western Water Music Vol. 1 (ubiquityrecords.com) 5. Mr. Len Class-X: A Tribute to Company Flow (dummysmacks.com) 6. Z Man Dope or Dog Food (hieroglyphics.com) 7. Nick Nack Improving Silence (crowdcontrolrecords.com) 8. MF Doom & MF Grimm Best of MF (daybydayent.com) 9. Kelis Tasty (Star Trak)