40th Dimension, Apathy, Big Scoob, Chubb Rock, Clokworx, Juice, L.I.U. Khalfani, M'stro, Nance Nickels, Scram Jones :: The Singles File Volume 017
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

There's something about the fall season that causes wax to hit needles like trees shedding leaves onto the pavement. Maybe it's that the college students are back and local radio shows are buzzing. Maybe it's that mix tape DJ's are warming up their hottest combos to heat the cold streets. Or maybe the record industry is trying to get a bunch of tax writes offs before the end of the year. Regardless, it's that time again to bring you "The Singles File" and see which records are ill and which will just MAKE you ill.

Artist: 40th Dimension
Title:  Super Scandalous 12"
Label:  Karma Response Unit Records

With the intriguing Philly duo of a BIME (Black Italian Male Emcee) and a SWMP (Stuggling White Male Producer) the rap group 40th Dimension brings a fresh sound to hip-hop straight from the streets of Philadelphia. Scandal's gruff delivery is finely polished with verbals that echo the humor of Chino XL and flow of Celph Titled. HappG's beats are uptempo and energetic, and he also displays a pleasantly tight mic grip on the song "I Don't Care." The crispy production really makes the difference for 40th Dimension, because even if you tune out the rhymes the head nodding beats of "Super Scandalous" and "Tiddy-Itty" are never dull. Obviously this group has been paying dues for a while so sleep not - 40d is now ready to cash in.

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

Artist: 40th Dimension
Title:  Zip It 12"
Label:  Karma Response Unit Records

The latest single from Philly group 40th Dimension is a brutally beautiful verbal beatdown of wack MC's. While some might argue that this an oft-used and tired topic for indie rap artists, the humerous guest verses by Starvin Marvin and Greedy Gretch combine with group member Scandal to "take the loop from your track and smack you back with it" for failing to represent. The simple synthesizer beat and pounding drums make the track a raw nerve strike you'll either love or hate; while "Lets Get it On" is a much more melodic groove of smooth piano chords and a slower tempo. Scandal reserves his best snaps for this track with quips like "You couldn't stop me with the Hoover Dam" and "You'll be going back to cop this shit in 10 years like a pair of old Jordan's." With the bonus track "Spitsbergen 2" and instrumentals for all three cuts, this 12" continues to raise 40d's profile higher through quality music.

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

Artist: Apathy
Title:  That Ol' Boom Bap 12"
Label:  Bronx Science Recordings

Apathy's decision to put himself on the cover of this single is questionable; especially given the photographer forgot to do a white balance on his shoes. The music on the other hand is never a mistake when it comes to Ap; especially when the lead track is a remix by super-producer extrordinaire Celph Titled. "That Ol' Boom Bap" does a phrase KRS-One made legendary proud; while the flipside "Earth Girls Are Easy" is a surprisingly tight self-produced Apathy cut with sex brag so raunchy even AMG would blush. Don't be surprised to hear either side of this single booming in a jeep near you soon.

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

Artist: Big Scoob
Title:  U Got It 12"
Label:  Fully Blown Recordings

When you read that this single is played out, you're probably going to think it's an understatement: Rest assured though, even in the late-80's this twelve inch would have been a joke. Eric B. & Rakim had the one and only definitive usage of "I Know You Got Soul" in a rap song; and reusing this simple rap loop makes as much sense as casting Dolly Parton as the lead in "Porgy and Bess." To say Big Scoob is an unimpressive New York braggart doesn't scratch the surface - although the phrase "four minutes of your life flushed down the drain" comes close. Unoffensive only because of it's banality, this single is only recommended for checking the wax in your ears. Once you clean them and realize it's not Rakim you're hearing you'll toss this record out faster than moldy fried chicken.

Music Vibes: 3 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 4 of 10 TOTAL: 3.5 of 10

Artist: Chubb Rock
Title:  Me 12"
Label:  Fully Blown Recordingss

Not many MC's can claim to have dropped new ish in three different decades, but the Chubbster is back again to prove the naysayers wrong who thought his career was over. Unfortunately, an unknown newcomer who goes by the laughable name Mr. Blu takes up valuable mic time when the venerable Chubb could Rock. Aside from that, a simplistic beat doesn't really do justice to a man whose strong deep voice would be better served by DJ Premier or Trackmasters. Long time fans will want a copy, but neophytes to his raps would be better served by a re-issue of "Ya Bad Chubbs" instead.

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

Artist: Clokworx
Title:  Preservatives 12"
Label:  Cybertek Records

Let's cut the bullshit and get right to the point - the lead track is one of the most pleasant "take a trip down hip-hop's memory lane" ever imprinted onto wax. With a smooth Celph Titled beat that shifts from Krush Groove to Kool G. Rap to Slick Rick in mere seconds, the smile any old school fan will have is like a sugar rush from two pounds of M&M's. Lack of information about the MC's renders their names M. Benoit and M. Nault for all the good that does -- but suffice it to say they don't embarass themselves. Unfortunately the other tracks just don't stand up - "Robots" is average, and "Who's That" is slightly underwhelming for a Celph Titled production. With high points for the A-Side and yawns for most of the B-Side, this uneven 12" only serves one purpose - revealing the capabilities of Celph Titled when he's got his A game in effect.

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

Artist: Juice
Title:  In the Trenches 12"
Label:  Bronx Science Recordings

If the back of your single promises an album "available exclusively at Rebirthmag.com" you should check whether their online store works - Rebirth's has been down for months. This is mildly annoying though compared to the beat His-Panik of Molemen Productions serves Juice on "In the Trenches." While Juice has earned the reputation of an ill cypher MC and battler over the years, this monotonous track adds nothing to his legend. While DJ Vadim's beat on the "For My Writers" flipside is sonically better, it still has the A-Side's same flaw - a simple loop repeated ad infinitum. This 12" doesn't do Juice justice and will leave most fans scratching their heads.

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

Artist: L.I.U. Khalfani
Title:  The 64 Squares 12"
Label:  64 Squares Records

L.I.U. Khalfani is a pleasantly surprising newcomer who offers a refreshing twelve inch featuring the songs "64 Squares", "? (Your Name Here)" and "Who is the L-I-U." The horny horns of the lead track allow the laidback L to quip "I'm coming in your dreams like a nocturnal emission" and "I've got quadraplegic lyrics - you only feel me from the neck up." The mixdown throughout doesn't drown out the lyrics or over-emphasize the bass, but could use just the slightest amount of refinement to crystalize his dope into hard rocks. This single is likely to turn heads when played, as the self-professed "lyricist of the utmost" has the mic presence to catch ears nationally.

Music Vibes: 5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL: 6.5 of 10

Artist: M'stro
Title:  I Love My Women 12"
Label:  Strictly Rhythm Records

M'stro presents a spicy latin flavored track on "I Love My Women" as he professes his ode to the better half. The lyrics are mostly unremarkable, but the music itself could give RZA's "La Rhumba" a run for the money as a dance track. Producer KyngArthur strikes a nice chord again on the spooky strings of the flipside "Come See Me" but M'stro kicks corny rhymes such as "univeral like Microsoft Word" that should have been left on the notepad. A perplexing single all around, M'stro's single shows lots of potential but scores higher marks for audio than for linguistics.

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

Artist: Nance Nickels
Title:  Fuck N.Y. 12"
Label:  ABB Records

Considering this single arrived in my mailbox on Sept. 12th, the irony of it's title was a little hard to swallow. It's hard for me to even write a review called "Fuck N.Y." when I picture the World Trade Center laying in a pile of rubble and thousands dead. Nevertheless, Nance had set these wheels in motion long before the tragedy occurred, and it can be said his self-produced single has better than average beats and flows. Side B's "Spit Back" is a little easier to swallow thanks to it's battle lyrics and guest appearances by Superstar Quamalah and Young Topic. Whenever I look at the New York license plate stamped on the front though, I'll always think of September 11th, 2001.

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

Artist: Scram Jones
Title:  Jackson Jacker 12"
Label:  Jacking Off Entertainment

While the ominous title may make you think of a knife wielding teenage joyrider, the "Jackson" referenced is actually he of the track "You Rock My World" currently burning up the charts. Built on a "Billie Jean" loop and slyly referencing Michael's greatest hits and best selling albums while managing to be self-deprecating and humerous and ends abruptly with the words "I spit harder than it is to clear this fucking sample." True, sample clearance may make this release a one-off for radio DJ's only, but Scram Jones showcases the potential of a witty rhymer in the tradition of Ras Kass with a vocal tone one step removed from needing cough syrup. Get to sizziping, and laugh your ass off to this comedic cut.

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

Originally posted: October 2, 2001
source: www.RapReviews.com