Billy Ray, Common, Divine Mind, K-Otix, KMD,
Ran Reed, Reign of Terror, Smut Peddlers :: The Singles File Volume 009

as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

Once again, back is the incredible, the original - Singles File! It's been a while since our last installment so we've got a lot to cover in this edition; including some old goldies and some of the hottest new shit out - so let's get started.

Artist: Billy Ray
Title:  What You Know About Billy Ray?
Label:  Buds Distribution

I hope Dr. Dre sues. That's all I can honestly say about hearing this twelve inch. Billy Ray either blatantly jacked the instrumental for Dr. Dre's "Forgot About Dre" or sampled his song from the same source. Either way, the wackness is amplified by the fact that Billy Ray is trying to use the exact same triple cadence rhyme flow that Dre and Eminem used in the original. The b-side "Freestyle Mix" is even more wack; as if that was possible - it jacks another beat and I don't even wanna say which. I could see this song being of some interest for novelty value at a party or to keep the instrumental for a mix (I mean it's really Dr. Dre after all) but other than that I wouldn't even recommend listening to this one on the tables for free at your local record store. What I know about Billy Ray is that such unmitigated wackness is entirely unacceptable.

Music Vibes: 5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 4 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 4.5 of 10

Artist: Common
Title:  The 6th Sense b/w Dooinit
Label:  MCA Records

You've probably been living under a rock if you haven't heard either of the songs on this twelve inch. The latter track has in fact had the unusual effect of getting the twelve inch banned at New York's prominent Hot 97 radio for it's perceived criticism of rappers like DMX, Nas, and Puffy ("I don't give a fuck what you made in a year nigga, you wack! [..] Let his Bentley and his weak crew be his cusion; I catch him on the streets, in front of bodyguards and rush him." That's a huge mistake; especially considering how hot the DJ Premier produced A-side is on this joint. As Common himself says, "beneath the FUBU is a guru, that's untapped." Well, tap in - put the needle to the groove and absorb what may be Common's greatest twelve inch since the classic "Soul by the Pound (Remix)".

Music Vibes: 10 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 10 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 10 of 10

Artist: Divine Mind
Title:  Forever b/w My Walkman
Label:  Divine Mind Ent.

Divine Mind kicks off 2000 with a phenomenal headrush on their new 12". Underground favorites Mr. Rictor, Kimani, L-Fudge, Mr. Complex and Celph Titled all bless lovely, with Celph's high-speed Twista flow generating the most buzz. "Wanna talk to that kid I battled? Alright let's have a seance." Stop hurtin em Celph! Original Man's "My Walkman" is not quite as energetic but along with a Celph Titled remix of "Forever" it smooths out this A-list twelve inch nicely. Don't sleep on the mental vibes of these funky-ass hip-hop Divine Minds.

Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 9 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8.5 of 10

Artist: K-Otix
Title:  World Renown f/w Front Row
Label:  Bronx Science Recordings

Already hot in the underground off the strength of their last twelve inch "Mind Over Matter" the lyrical duo of Micha and Damien are coming back even harder over a lead track admittedly little more than braggadocious rap but which swings sweetly for yet another "motherfucker I'm the best" blessed track -- the best lines being "When we grab the mic, MC's go on strike," and "My vocabulary has the Midas touch." The A-side's unique track (is that a keyboard, a harp, or some cross between the two) and B-side's clear indictment of hardrocks who stand at front stage "lips tight, screwfaced the whole night" that kill positive vibes make this entire twelve inch a surehot winner!

Music Vibes: 10 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 9 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 9.5 of 10

Artist: KMD
Title:  Black Bastards Ruffs + Rares
Label:  Fondle 'Em Records

If you haven't already picked up this twelve inch this may be your only chance to acquire part or any of the long-missing "Black Bastards" album which was supposed to follow up KMD's classic debut LP "Mr. Hood". This at least is the only official release on ANY label other than the the brief appearance of the lead single "What a Niggy Know?" by Elektra before the album was pulled. The selection on this twelve inch of "Get You Now," "Popcorn," "Contact Blitz," and "Sweet Premium Wine" are among the missing's best cuts with instrumentals on the flipside. Wu-Tang Clan in particular would have gotten a kick out of the latter's Wu flick samples. If you can find a copy of this twelve inch in print ANYWHERE it's a good investment in both dope music vibes and hip-hop history.

Music Vibes: 10 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL: 9 of 10

Artist: Ran Reed + Shabaam Sahdeeq
Title:  Murderous Flow, Army With a Hand Gun
Label:  Bronx Science Recordings

That Shabaam Sahdeeq still appears on wax is as amazing as the fact that Ran Reed would choose him to do a duet on the A-side of his new single and call it the "dynamic duo". Sahdeeq does seem to be getting better since his duets with Pharoahe Monch and Cocoa Brovaz on "Soundbombing 2" and is nowhere near as annoying as he used to be; but "crack Bells like the Liberty" rhymes won't win any "Dopest Rhyme of the Month" awards. The sonic quality of Nick Wiz's beats is nice; but I get the sneaking suspicion this will only linger in crates long enough for more rugged MC's to flip over the beats during a rhyme cypher. Reed and Sahdeeq are those New York MC's who consistantly sound aight but don't have the charisma or rhymes for that next level. If you have to spin one during a radio show, the B-side has the iller beat and features Reed going dolo.

Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5 of 10 TOTAL: 6 of 10

Artist: Reign of Terror
Title:  Mic Device EP
Label:  ROTc Records

If you weren't already familiar with the hardcore riddims of Atlanta, GA's own Reign of Terror now might be a good time to stop sleeping. The lead single off this 12" vinyl EP has a guest appearance by Martay the Hip-Hop Wiz but the hard beat is really dominated by Legendary's heavy vocal tone that threatens to grip the mic device with "boa constriction." Self produced, this song's hardcore music even makes a Salt-N-Pepa sample have creepy overtones. While Gravediggaz and the Flatlinerz fell off in the 90's, ROT just got darker and more nasty. That's the benefit of not trying to blow up and go pop. Trust me, the beat alone on this one would have RZA's gold fangs salivating - you don't want to sleep on the darkness. "99 and Beyond" continues the vibe with some ill violins and you don't want to sleep on "Soul Force" either. Martay's cut "Daze of Schoolhouse" may not go over though; not because it's wack but because the "back in the days" vibe and Q-Tip sample are too upbeat and friendly for the Reign's terror.

Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL: 8 of 10

Artist: Smut Peddlers
Title:  First Name Smut b/w For the Record
Label:  Rawkus Records

Okay; admittedly you may want to pass on this one if you flip the twelve inch over and see three whiteboys grinning back at you - but you can't fault them for being honest. The production by DJ Mighty Mi certainly can't be faulted either as it has that same gritty rawness that made High and Mighty's "Home Field Advantage" acceptable to even the hardrocks but the addition of underground "Agent Orange" hero Cage to form a trio may make them harder to swallow (no pun intended). The flipside's stripped down beat and guest appearance by Masai Bey make it a winner - even if the clave clacks on the beat may give you Junior M.A.F.I.A. flashbacks. Eon and Cage are interesting together but both seem to work a little better on the solo tip. Best lines? Eon's "Rhyme with more attitude than B.A. Baracus" and "Your shit ain't working like Slick Rick's right eye."

Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL: 7 of 10

Originally posted: March 23, 2000