v/a :: SoleSides Greatest Bumps
Label: Quannum Projects
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
There must be something in the air in California. Few states in
the entire union can claim to have such an eclecticly diverse selection
of hip-hop artists; each doing different styles but all "keeping it
real" by being true to their own vision. Daz sounds
nothing like Aceyalone, who sounds nothing like Too $hort, who
sounds nothing like Blackalicious from the SoleSides
crew - yet they're all dope.
Wait, you've never heard of the SoleSides crew? Well
there's probably a good reason for that - they disbanded.
Broke up. Finito. It went with a whimper, not a bang. Hold
up though! SoleSides is not really finished at all.
These hip-hop legends reformed and regrouped as the
Quannum Spectrum and
continue to carry the torch forward into the 21st century
with old favorites and brand new artists. This album on
the Quannum Projects label shows that they haven't forgotten
their past at all. In fact, they want to celebrate it and
showcase it both for their fans and for the people who
slept and didn't recognize the skills.
This compilation is an ideal harmony between those two
groups. The fans won't be mad at the songs that they already
own - they're just as fat as presented here - and will be
pleased by the inclusion of hard to find vinyl mixes and
studio session happy accidents. The neophytes who have
never heard of rappers like Gift of Gab, Lateef and Lyrics Born
get the perfect introduction to why so many people think
they're light years ahead of their time - and hopefully
may go out and hunt down a few of their albums to add
to the collection after hearing this double
disc of dopeness.
Yes, I said double disc - and unlike so many of the
two plastic piece sets you've probably bought, the $14.99
you'll shell out on this one is really worth the
money. There's one hundred minutes of incredible shit.
The far out computer beats and hard guitar licks of
"Say That," the pro-women anthem "Lady Don't Tek No,"
the lushly lavish "Deep in the Jungle" and the funky
shit like "Hardcore (Instrumental) Hip-Hop" - the latter
a DJ Shadow cut previously unreleased on CD.
Damn, you never heard of DJ Shadow either? There's probably
not enough space in this one review to delve into the
full history of each SoleSides member's contributions
to the world of music, but rest assured they're not small.
Listening to this album should give you a sense of that.
In fact, if a list of the most profound hip-hop raps of
all time was made Gift of Gab's lyrics on
"Swan Lake" and Lyrics Born's solo joint "Balcony Beach" would
probably rank number one and number two. The latter is a journey
of self-discovery rarely seen on wax - instead of travelling
to magnificent galaxies, Lyrics Born travels deep into himself.
"See, this is beyond my threshold
I'm accustomed to just a conventional struggle
With two opponents
Only here the tussle's between you and the truth
So ultimately I'm gonna lose
Actually I gain though
I gotta be honest with myself, or else
I impede my personal progress
I think it's better to be depressed for a minute
Admit it, and get re-oriented
Instead of being a bitter cynic isn't it?"
Don't presume on the basis of these lyrics that everything
the SoleSides crew did was serious. In fact, the greatest
thing about this album is that it preserves the zany and
humerous braggadocio and stylings of the whole fan-damily
on cuts like "Freestyle Rapping" recorded live at Barony
Place. The dopest though may be "Lateef's Freestyle" where
he gets incredibly hyped up and irate over the Goodie Mob
"Cell Therapy" beat - a moment of brilliance now preserved
for all time. There's so much dopeness it's hard to
comprehend it all in one sitting but by the time you
reach the unreleased SoleSides cut "Blue Flames" at the
near end of disc two (there's a bonus track)
you'll realize you've been on an incredible
musical journey. Andre Benjamin said recently on the
song "Humble Mumble" that he made a reporter shit her drawers
because she thought hip-hop was only guns and alcohol.
Said reporter would need an EXTRA HEAVY DUTY pair
of Pampers after checking out the "Greatest Bumps" of
the SoleSides crew - they'll shake the cobwebs of your
out of place and let the Cali sun shine right on in!
Music Vibes: 9 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 9 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 9 of 10
Originally posted: March 13, 2001