3rd Degree, Equilibrium, Kombo, Micranots, Mos Def, Pharoahe Monch, Royce the 5-9, Writer's Block ::
The Singles File Volume 013

as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

Triskadecaphobics need not fear - this thirteenth edition of the "Singles File" falls on the 12th this month. There's a lot of ground to cover this month, so borrow those running shoe from Forrest Gump - and for your stinky feet and the occasional stinky single here's a NICE BIG Dr. Scholl's.

Artist: 3rd Degree
Title:  Hi Energy
Label:  Up Above Records

Creating a sonic explosion with his debut twelve inch, 3rd Degree proves he can flex behind the boards AND on the mic. The lead track has an up-tempo bouncing bass and snappy rhymes like "Drill it like rehearsal conceal it so cover up/I'm the thief in the dice game stealin your double up." Degree's commanding voice and energetic rhyme attack are the keys to unlock his success. "What Could Happen" and "Conversation Peace" round out this release nicely and make it a must-have for DJ's and underground rap heads. You may not know 3rd Degree now but he WILL leave a burn.

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

Artist: Equilibrium
Title:  Do That b/w Hold Something
Label:  Atomik Recordings

I had to spend ten minutes bending this record back into shape (don't ask why) so there's NO chance I wasn't going to review it; ESPECIALLY given it's the latest release to feature hip-hop's hardest working man, Celph Titled. As one half of the crew also featuring DutchMassive, this dynamic hip-hop duo have followed up their impressive debut "Farenheit 813 b/w Windows '98" with this smooth flowing new single. Dutch is a funny motherfucker who flips the script and says "Lately I'm not a player, I just cry a lot" about his female woes. Celph is a bit more aggressive on the mic - always a rugged rhymer - so he goes straight for the jugular on chickenheads and wack MC's with "I pack enough heat to blow the Mercury out the thermometer" and "I know I'm fly, jumpin out the sky without a bungee cord." The beatchange flipside "Hold Something" is sure to be a favorite on college radio mixshows, but the whole thing's a sure-shot winner.

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

Artist: Kombo
Title:  Time 4 a New Horizon
Label:  Up Above Records

Somebody should tell Kombo that when it comes to rhyme schemes, "I'm like Andre, causin I'm Rison" is a played concept. Despite the guest production and vocals by Grap Luva, plus "Beat Junkie" J-Rocc scratching a hook from "Dwyck", this backpacker rap falls flat. When thinking of Kombo, picture the kid standing outside a De La show yelling "Who wanna cypher? Let's battle." Two minutes after hearing him rap you realize why he's outside on the sidewalk and De La was $20 a head INSIDE. Keep this one only for the instrumentals, including "The Bulletin" by Mums the Word.

Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 4 of 10 TOTAL: 5.5 of 10

Artist: Micranots
Title:  Culture b/w Illegal Busyness
Label:  Subverse Music

This is one of those hip-hop singles you never would have seen coming. The beat on "Culture" is bugged to say the least. It will remind you of Jeru the Damaja's "D. Original" or YAGGFU Front's "Busted Loop" if you've heard either one - if you haven't, let's just say it's right for all the wrong reasons. Not to worry, if you're familiar with the Micranots from "Pitch Black Art" you won't be mad at the rap flows or the Method Man sample for the hook. On the flipside of "Illegal Busyness" the beat is a little more standard, and in terms of bass a LOT more heavy. In fact, this is clearly a case of Chuck D's old axiom that the "B-Side Wins Again" as the Micranots rip into the global drug trade and how government and politicians pump it up. "Mr. Ollie North says nothing's wrong" is immediately followed with "Notorious, crooks for money drug operation" - they haven't forgotten and obviously they feel nothing's changed and the CIA is still at war with the hood. Don't front, they're including caffeine and sugar. Peep the verbals, it WILL get yout hinking.

Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL: 7.5 of 10

Artist: Mos Def f/ Ghostface Killah
Title:  Ms. Fat Booty 2
Label:  Rawkus Records

Taking off with the same basic beat that the original made hot, Ms. Fat Booty 2 injects a heavier bassline, new lyrics and a guest appearance from Ghostface Killah of all people. Even though it doesn't seem like a natural match to put Wu-Tang with Rawkus, it works well when Ghostface spits rhymes like "You like Millie Jackson in the new 'Mack' flick, carrying heat/or say Oprah with a makeover/ Billie Jean slash Dairy Queen/fantasy is can I eat you on the swings til you're bleedin all over my bed?" Damn, can't fault Ghostface for getting descriptive! With a bumping Big Noyd track called "The Grimy Way" featuring Prodigy on the flipside, this one's clearly a winner.

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

Artist: Pharoahe Monch f/ Xzibit
Title:  The Light/Right Here (Remix)/Livin' it Up
Label:  Rawkus Records

Possibly one of the hottest beats Diamond D ever laced is the surreal and smooth Pharoahe Monch track "The Light". Even if you're not a fan of one of hip-hop's most highly regarded lyricists, take this one home and put your needle on side A, groove 3. Feel your entire spine relax and your head and neck bob like you were in a trance. Ahhhh, bliss. Then skip back to groove 1 for Pharoahe's lyrics, an ode to Love Supreme that even John Coltrane could dig. This twelve inch includes the ALMOST slept on "Livin' it Up" (pronounce LIVE-in) from the Next Friday soundtrack and a "Right Here" remix on the flipside featuring Mr. X to the Z. The high-octane DJ Scratch track is the same but Xzibit jumps in the mix with lyrics like "Remote with Tash and Ras Kass/ Don't provoke me to revoke your visitor's pass." Pharoahe, Diamond D, Xzibit, and DJ Scratch? Soak in this for MONTHS.

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

Artist: Royce the 5-9
Title:  Boom b/w Soldier's Story
Label:  Game Records

Royce doesn't sit on his laurels for long. Having dropped the "Scary Movies" twelve inch with Eminem (and a sequel for the Wayans brothers film) as well as the acclaimed "I'm the King" single, Royce is back again and this time DJ Premier and Reef are packing twin milli's on production. Royce is angry on the "Boom" A-side, and Primo's strings samples and scratches set it off lovely as Royce growls, "My advice, quit talkin, it's over, I was knockin niggaz out while you was knockin sticks off of they shoulders." The flipside isn't quite as nice (competing against Premier? BIG SURPRISE) but Royce kicks ballstics again with fierce raps: "If you ever see my guns out they probably bustin, while you niggaz Rydin or Dyin, I'll be truckin." Is that a dig at DMX? It doesn't matter, you'll want to hear this Detroit kingpin spit on wax even if you're a fan of rap's OTHER big dog.

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

Artist: Writer's Block
Title:  Poetry Explains
Label:  Up Above Records

Writer's Block rappers Zen and Dannu do not suffer from the affliction they are named after. They have plenty to say on this three track mini-EP; produced in turn by Key-Kool, OD, and Mums the Word. The only thing these rappers seem to be lacking in is distinctive personalities. Run and D.M.C., Erick and Parrish, Dr. Dre and Eminem, Chuck D and Flav - you always know who is who. With Writer's Block it's more like, "Who's the one that sounds like Guru meets Mr. Eon, and who was the other guy?" The songs are nice but the rappers could use an injection of ego in their psyche. Definitely check for the lyrics on "Poetry Explains" though.

Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL: 7.5 of 10

Originally posted: September 12, 2000
source: www.RapReviews.com