You're probably saying to yourself, "What happened to the monthly Singles File?" Or maybe you couldn't give a shit. If you do, we're sorry about the delay - archiving OHHLA's old "Singles File" columns and launching this new website diverted energies used to do new vinyl reviews; but we're back with purpose and MORE than a megabye of mathematics. So peep as we get deep and eight new twelves flip the script!
Title: Compatible b/w The Smackdown
Label: Demigodz/Bronx Science
Taking cybernautic rhyming to levels even Canibus hasn't websurfed; Apathy downloads his rhymes into a Neuromancesque journey where he "fights Matrix agents" and his raps are "speaking to your Pentium beyond the new millenium." Not to be outdone, Celph Titled does a Quantum Leap and then gets extra clever with Dirty South references: "I make Master P-ieces, with enough Silkk the Shock shit, you can C-Murder No Limit-ations when my glock spit." Word to the Rubix Cuban on the niceness; as he flips a second guest appearance on the B-Side "The Smackdown" along with Rise and up-and-comer C-Rayz Walz. Production duties? Yo, that's Celph Titled again - with a futuristic beat on the Alpha and a slowed-down "let's get funky" on the Beta. Celph could win snaps of the year with lines like "You couldn't drop knowledge if you threw an encyclopedia off a cliff." DAMN! It's hard to go wrong on this joint's all around solid material!
Music Vibes: 9 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 10 of 10 TOTAL: 9.5 of 10
Title: Grounded EP
Label: 4M Records
No one can dispute that Proven is a clever rapper when he breaks down the "Multiple Connotations" of the word MC or that DJ/producer E. Moss brings the funk with tracks like "Blinds Pulled" and the instrumental solo "Beatitude" so the underground credentials are 100% solid. That said, this New York City duo is about a couple steps short of perfection. Proven's vocals seem undermixed on this vinyl (crank up your volume to follow along) and the engineer either took the kick out of E. Moss' bass or forgot to add it back in. There's nothing WACK about this EP - it just needs a little more spice to give it more flavor. For four tracks it holds things down more than credibly and finishes nicely with the conceptually abstract "4 by 4" where elements of hip-hop to equal 4 seasons in nature; and it also has the EP's best vocal mixdown for a grand finale!
Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL: 7 of 10
Artist: Big L
Title: Flamboyant b/w On the Mic
Gone but not forgotten the notorious Big L spits some wicked rhymes on this single that are truly unbelievable. If you didn't already miss L (or were just sleeping) then you need to check "Flamboyant", his fledgling record label's theme song and proof solid his time was cut too short. "Forever poppin the chrome always droppin a poem - I can write it or recite off the top of the dome." Don't sleep on picking this one up - "On the Mic" is not on his new full-length album and Roc Raida provides a simple heavy beat for L to flow and get his mic shine on. The irony of this flipside is that L raps "Peace to Biggie and 'Pac, cause they really were hot." So were you L, so were you. Instrumentals round out the package and make this twelve inch a total winner. Rest in peace to Lamont Coleman.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 9 of 10 TOTAL: 8.5 of 10
Artist: Big Scoob
Label: Fully Blown Recordings
Big Scoob borrows heavily from Superman both musically and thematically to big up his home borough of Brooklyn and mostly succeeds. This twelve inch features some decent wordplay - a personal favorite is the Slick Rick bite "Damn it feels good to see haters up on it" - but will not win a Dopest Rhyme of the Month award. This songs works on the same level as Cam'Ron's NFL influenced "Let Me Know" did a while back. The sample will have heads smiling and the heavy bass will no doubt get people bouncing in the clubs. On a twelve inch like this the instrumental isn't just a bonus - it's a must have. It's inclusion keeps this joint in rotation and may even find it's way into the background when some of Bobbito's guests freestyle.
Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5 of 10 TOTAL: 6 of 10
Artist: Chris Lowe & Parrish Smith
Title: CT to LI Buckwhylin' b/w One Liners
Label: Bronx Science
It's nice to see PMD isn't biding his time waiting for the next EPMD album. In fact, on this Chris Lowe produced (and Pete Rock sounding) 12" Parrish's flow seems to have improved since he and Erick went "Out of Business." "So raw, like cocaine you want to sniff me" raps P, but the verse seems far too short - it's practically a cameo. Representing for Hartford, Connecticut guest rapper Tall T challenges Lowe for "One Liners" on the flipside. I'm tempter to say the track's best feature is the clever Craig Mack hook though, because T's "put letters together better than Pat Sajak" and "flip like John Woo" rhymes couldn't hang with Mad Skillz on an off day. That's not to say that he doesn't have a nice voice and good flow but he can't even fuck Lowe up and he's a producer FIRST. He says "I'll understand if you don't give me that pound" and is eeriely apt. Lowe's beats hold this single together.
Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6 of 10 TOTAL: 6.5 of 10
Artist: Louis Logic
Title: Loud Mouth b/w Secret Agent
Label: Superegular Recordings/Bronx Science
There are plenty of people who spit how bad they are, but Louis Logic is one of the few I've heard in a minute who is actually deranged enough to hang on Eminem's level. First he says he needs a "face full of breasts" then he says his "warped mind will find a joke in eulogies"; then he threatens to "trample your sampler and leave your DAT in bandages." Not only that, he's beating up street teams "in each state for they free tapes" and flashing the peace sign "when I'm guilty like Richard M. Nixon." Logic is one COLD fuck, and the piano riffs and bass of producer J.J. Brown make this a SERIOUS head-nodder. Even Tangent's vocal DJ-ing (think Rahzel) is superb; but if that wasn't enough the ubiquitous Celph Titled shows up to produce the flipside "Secret Agent" so Louis can hook up more witty raps. Guaranteed to make your crew bust smiles and to offend the parents of teenagers, Louis Logic scores nicely here!
Music Vibes: 9 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 9 of 10 TOTAL: 9 of 10
Artist: Maylay Sparks
Title: What's Up Wit Da Maylay?
Label: Bronx Science
With inspiration ostensibly from Kool Keith, Rahsheed (whom you may know from Rahsheed and Ill Advised) has taken on the moniker of "Maylay Sparks" and recorded a three-deep 12" of alter-ego cuts. "Jungle Book" and "Skool Dayz" are both produced by DJ Jazz, and the flipside "The Elixer" was laced by storm. Chief Kamachi makes a guest appearance on the opener, which has a bassline that breathes in and out of various fill-in samples and horns. The track and raps are both about average for East coast hip-hop - good enough to make a mixtape but not definitively memorable in the long term; while "Skool Dayz" and "The Elixer" do little to change that. It's all quality but it's just not going to bust your head open like, "DAMN THAT'S DOPE!"
Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL: 7 of 10
Artist: Tak & 4-Zone
Title: Let it Bump/Rhyminphixion/Move
Label: Landspeed Records
Two things will be instantly familiar when you put the needle to this groove: the beat from Pace Won's "The Rah Rah" and Takbir, one half of the rap group Styles of Beyond. Depending on your point of view it's either an inspired choice or an insipid bite - but they do flip it at a different speed and Takbir's raps give it extra energy. In fact the production throughout is excellent but it's Takbir's smooth flowing linguistics that pours out like a 40 on the curb all over the vinyl, especially on the Tak's wonderama "Rhyminphixion". 4-Zone's solo rap "Move" is solid but not quite as entertaining as Tak, even though the low-key instrumental (sounds like pipes of some kind) and up-tempo beat keep it moving. The entire project ends up having the feel of unreleased b-sides from the SOB's full-length "2000 Fold" which is definitely to their advantage on this offering.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL: 8 of 10
Originally posted: August 4, 2000