Bragging rhythmically about one's skill at bragging rhythmically
May 16, 2014 6:01 PM   Subscribe

Help me expand my hip-hop playlist! Snowflakes, I have them!


I'm more of an East Coast guy than a West Coast guy. I want loopy, hypnotic, sample-based production that brings the boom-bap. Clipped samples, crackling vinyl, nimble MPC drumwork, bits of disembodied jazz. Stuff you can blaze a tree and nod your head to.

See below for examples. The sound I dig seems to have been biggest in the 1990s (although anything is fair game for the purposes of this question). I guess you'd call it classic hip-hop, but more modern and lyrically complex than KRS One or Eric B. and Rakim. I never got into Wu-Tang, and "alternative hip-hop" (Dr. Octagon, MF Doom, Deltron 3030) doesn't do it for me, either. I can take or leave "conscious" stuff like The Roots and Talib Kweli, but it's not really my thing. I really can't stand the Def Jux sound. Not really interested in turntablism.

What I'm after is more straight-ahead underground hip-hop: a sampler, two turntables, a microphone, and the truth.


Let's get the stuff I don't out of the way first, since it rules out a lot:

I'm profoundly uninterested in hearing about the MC's vast (and likely imaginary) stockpiles of money and guns.

Also uninterested in misogyny and homophobia. I mean, I guess I can ignore the odd line or two, but I'd rather not have to.

Not interested in tales of high-rollin' at the VIP club.

Shouty crunk stuff can fuck right off.

Have I mentioned that I really can't stand the Def Jux type stuff? I can't. The MC should be part of the rhythm section, not someone who's just talking in the same room as a beat and dropping Deleuze references to impress college kids.

What I am interested in is deft, acrobatic wordplay. Maybe a few different MCs who trade off on verses. Playful, slangy, sly. Again, examples are below.

Examples of stuff I like:

The first four or five are the best examples of the production style I'm after.

Black Moon—How Many Emcees (I love the production on this one)

Binary Star—Honest Expression

Styles of Beyond—Marco Polo (I like this whole album)

Da Grassroots—Drama (I like much of this album, but more for the production than the flow)

Gang Starr—Mass Appeal (and You Know My Steez—I like DJ Premier in general)

The Globetroddas—Love (an outlier, but I love the positive, sunny feel)

DJ Spooky, DJ Grazzhoppa, Bill Laswell—Oscillations (Milky Remix)
posted by escape from the potato planet to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I shoulda said, in case it isn't obvious: gritty production > polished production.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 6:10 PM on May 16, 2014

How are you with foreign languages? MC Solaar is the first name that comes to mind; based on the Black Moon and Gang Starr tracks you mention, I'm willing to bet you'd like most everything on his first two albums ("Qui sème le vent récolte le tempo" and "Prose Combat"). "Nouveau Western" and "Caroline" will give you an idea of his style. (His later stuff is good but doesn't have the same production style so I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for you.)
posted by asterix at 6:12 PM on May 16, 2014

Another example: K-Os—Superstar Part Zero
posted by escape from the potato planet at 6:12 PM on May 16, 2014

I'm vaguely familiar with Solaar, but his sound is too melodic and produced for me. Thanks for the suggestion, though.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 6:19 PM on May 16, 2014

Recently I've been thinking that we as a society don't listen to Organized Konfusion nearly enough.
posted by chrchr at 7:02 PM on May 16, 2014

what you need in your life is Lootpack.

Also seconding Organized Konfusion.
posted by solarion at 7:03 PM on May 16, 2014

Also, if you like Black Moon you will probably also like Mobb Deep's masterpiece "The Infamous". Maybe not playful and sly, but it does have gritty early 90s production.

A lot of your other criteria might fit present-day Chicago prodigy Chance the Rapper.
posted by chrchr at 7:08 PM on May 16, 2014

Another foreign language suggestion: SFDK. They're from Seville, Spain.

A few tracks in particular come to mind:

Al Filo con Juaninacka and Donde Esta Wifly are both great. On Duelo de Vikingos con Promoe they feature some English speaking artists.
posted by toofuture at 7:25 PM on May 16, 2014

You're missing a lot of great hop hop with these restrictions but hey that's on you.

Blackalicious. First Common album. Channel Live's first album. Gang Starr obviously. Blahzay Blahzay. JVC Force. Showbiz and AG. EPMD. Selected MC Lyte songs. Second Mic Geronimo album.

More recently...uh, nope. They don't make boombat beats like they used to.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:33 PM on May 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh and Aceyalone's solo stuff. All Balls Don't Bounce in particular.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:35 PM on May 16, 2014

You may not like Del when he's Deltron-Z, but his Funky Homosapien and Hieroglyphics stuff is hella tight.
posted by ostranenie at 9:49 PM on May 16, 2014

GDP - Black Guys in France

Denmark Vessey - Power of Thought
Denmark Vessey - Gasoline

Joey Bada$$ - Killuminati
Pro Era - Resurrection of Real

Shirt - Take Off (first song that plays after the intro)
Billy Woods - Manteca

Lord Byron - Blood Oath
Lord Byron - Butterscotch Timberlands

If you like any of these let me know which ones and I can try to provide more recommendations. I like some songs by Flatbush Zombies (Don't do drugs kids), The Underachievers (Gold Soul Theory) and Earl Sweatshirt (Hive) but I thought they might be a bit too much given your requirements. Vince Staples (Hostile) is also a fav recommendation of mine. I have lots more stuff to recommend, but I don't want to give you things you don't want.
posted by cashman at 10:18 PM on May 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Jumping in here again to mention Souls of Mischief. Specifically, "Let 'Em Know" off the album 93 'Til Infinity.

Definitely has the "gritty production" vibe that you mention above.
posted by toofuture at 12:07 PM on May 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Check out Abdominal's "Breathe Later" if you like bragging rhythmically about how you can brag rhythmically and don't need to stop to breathe. Also I think you might like Phi Life Cypher.
posted by london explorer girl at 7:05 AM on May 30, 2014

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