Oahkayyyyyyyyyyyyyy, we're RELOADED!! Like that perennial hemarrhoidal Pain In Da Ass, the always irascible Singles File is back for our TENTH edition. Is it an anniversary? Hell nah. 10 is insignificant, except to anybody answering questions on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Anyway, LET'S PLAY!
Artist: Mike Control
Title: Mics I Grab/Rhyme for Rhyme
Label: Bang the Drum Records
Despite the group's handle, an appropriate name for this duo could easily be BEAT Control. The lyrics are borderline ("Purple Haze has me feel like Hendrix/rockin with both hands call me ambidexterous") but the strong handclap beat, dark bassline, and piano riffs make it a very enjoyable track. If according to their bio this is an example of what "Macintosh pro tools" on a PC can do, I want to hear more! The followup is even more appealing, featuring an improved selection of lyricism and a beat that would make Prince Paul proud. Jonny Bro and The Grey Ghost could use a primer in flow (the rhyme scheme is a bit stiff) but could definitely wreck the house on an MF Doom or J-Live remix!
Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6 of 10 TOTAL: 7 of 10
Artist: Dilated Peoples
Title: The Platform (12")
Label: Capitol Records
Few groups in the lore of backpackers, underground rap heads, and true school b-boys have as much respect these days as the Dilated. Iriscience, Evidence, and DJ Babu (from the World Famous Beat Junkies) build on the credentials of songs like "Triple Optics" and "Work the Angles" with this three song sampler from their new album of the same name. All three of these new track are produced by The Alchemist, and the strongest is "Annihilation" - so chunky you could spread it on a PB&J sam'mich. The "Platform Remix" is co-produced by Evidence and sounds like Swan Lake from Hell. Don't forget to focus on their mic flippign ability though; as Evidence in particular is a strangely appealing deep-throated metaphoric mic wrecker. "I bring flows more rare than black hockey cats," espouses Ev. Say WORD!
Music Vibes: 10 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL: 9 of 10
Title: What's Up Fatlip?
Label: Delicious Vinyl
This may go down as the year's weirdest hip-hop single. If you don't remember Fatlip from Cali's underrated foursome The Pharcyde, you're probably better off - he sounds nothing like he did back in the day. In fact, he's trying to sound bad on PURPOSE. In the title track, he practically brags about being a nerd, a loser, and having lost all his flow and mic control. He even says, "Yeah I'm a brother but sometimes I don't feel black." Damn Fatlip, get a grip! Still, you end up liking this track thanks to Edy's bouncy track and Fatlip's self-deprecating anti-machismo - it's right for all the wrong reasons. The J Swift produced "Goldmine" almost entirely flips the script, as 'Lip raps about the junk in a girl's trunk - sort of a Y2K update of "Baby Got Back." Unfortunately, Fatlip seems to have forgotten to improve his flow - he's still in his "I lost my touch" mode with the fucked up voice and you can hear him gargling when he inhales for breath (it's like a thinner version of Big Punisher). The single has comedy value and a kitschy appeal, but beyond that where is Fatlip REALLY going these days? Nowhere fast.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5 of 10 TOTAL: 6.5 of 10
Title: Things I've Seen
Label: Antra Records
Somebody resurrected the ghost of the Fugees - because these Spooks are about to seriously haunt the halls of hip-hop. Don't be fooled by the four track listing if you see this on CD, because the other two tracks are snippets and essentially worthless. This lead single from "Once in the Life" is both haunting and spiritual at the same time; an ode both to life's darkness and the triumph of the human spirit. I'd like to tell you who produced this excellent track, but the blue on black print of the liner notes is this single's only real flaw. Even if Spooks turn out to be a flash in the pan, you'll have a hard time forgetting the singer's "peaceful and serene" voice or the second rappers Sadat X mannerisms. "I've seen and experience things/that'll put the average to the edge and swan dive to death/I'm two guys, multiplied by 93 guys/evenly balanced seein evil equally in each eye now." Can you dig it?
Music Vibes: 9 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 9 of 10 TOTAL: 9 of 10
Title: Shake It b/w Throwin Spears
Label: Urban Spear Chuckas Recordings
Don't be fooled by the label that Jugg is signed to, this music is in no way tribal (unless you're considering the extensive West African tradition of oral storytelling). While Jugganot has good vocal tone and mic control, the simplistic (albiet decent) track of "Shake It" really offers the kid nothing to work with. "Throwing Spears" has much more boom and pound and keeps it more versatile with the guest appearance of an MC known as Top Notch who sounds like he's battling in a Blaze MC Battle. Aside from the bad Madd Rapper imitator constantly rasping "UrbanSpearChuckas.com" at every interlude, it's a tight track. This new label and it's latest single may never challenge Rawkus for their domination of indie rap, but they show a lot of promise!
Music Vibes: 6 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6 of 10 TOTAL: 6 of 10
Artist: Planet Asia
Title: Callin the Shots b/w Speak the Truth
Label: Certified Records
If you weren't already familiar with the steelo of Asia, now's the time to stop sleeping. The Architect laces Planet with beats and he rolls all over it crazy nice. "My legacy shall be timeless/I transform from demo tapes to whole albums generating cash on consignment," spits the left coast Guru. The flipside is even sharper, as Asia "sneaks in for the audition" and stabs it up like a psycho with a toothbrush shank. Architect's scratching on the chorus give it a true school b-boy appeal and will no doubt have all the heads nodding along. Although more boom and pound would have pushed this twelve inch higher, it's hard to front on the charisma of Asia's rhymes.
Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL: 7 of 10
Originally posted: April 27, 2000