Buc Fifty, Celph Titled, K-Skills, Lord Digga, Louis Logic, Mike Control, PackFM, Shabaam Sahdeeq :: The Singles File Volume 019
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

The obligatory intro. A vain search for something meaningful to say to introduce a series of 12" singles which have only the fact they are ostensibly products of hip-hop culture to tie them together. Well fuck the bullshit then, let's just get right down to the point - here's some more vinyl to read about. Whether you add them to your crates is ultimately up to you.

Artist: Buc Fifty
Title:  Bad Man 12"
Label:  Battle Axe Records

This single caught my eye because it was in the half-off bargain bin, and it featured a famous pose from the Al Pacino movie "Scarface" that we all know and love. The problem here is that Pacino would shit all over his performance. He's on a hot underground label, he's got production by Ralph M and Alchemist, but his voice conveys no fear. He's more like Alvin and the Chipmunks than Tony Montana, and every time he says "yeah yeah yeah yeah" I want to rip the record off the needle and snap it in half. I'll keep this single for the cover art and the Alchemist instrumental on the B-Side, but both of them should have been given to a much more worthy MC.

Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 3 of 10 TOTAL: 5 of 10

Artist: Celph Titled
Title:  Right Now 12"
Label:  Bronx Science Records

Celph Titled occasionally provides witty guest raps for indie tracks, but he is best known for his impeccably tight beats. This time the roles are reversed though - 45 King provides the uptempo beat and jazzy guitars while the rapping Celph steps firmly into the spotlight. Rapid-fire punches like, "The only way you'd represent the streets is if you got poured into the cement mix" guarantee a lot of work for repair shops fixing jammed rewind buttons. Paired with self-produced tracks "It Ain't" and "Rootbeers in Your Fridge" featuring Apathy, this single guarantees Celph will receive continued success whether blessing mics OR beats.

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

Artist: K-Skills
Title:  Who's Fuckin' Around 12"
Label:  Bronx Science Records

Obviously, the name is meant to imply he's a gifted rhymer, but exactly what kind of skills are K-Skills? Is that K as in Killing, K as in Knowledge, or K as in Krazy to think that he's all that? Well, K does have Skills, but he's your average New York punchline rapper; meaning he's not wack but his place in the underground is secure because he won't be cashing Will Smith chips anytime soon. The skills K displays are helped IMMENSELY by Celph Titled's production, and a memorable rhyme cameo by him on the A-Side, but there's really nothing else to say. On "Bottom Line" he raps that he's "not your run of the mill, MC K-Skills" but the truth is exactly the opposite.

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

Artist: Lord Digga
Title:  K.I.M. 12"
Label:  Bronx Science Records

For underground hip-hop fans, the name Lord Digga already rings bells. Besides his work with Masta Ace, he dropped a surprisingly fresh indie rap hit by sampling "The Price is Right" and reworking it into the song "My Flows is Tight." Unfortunately, innovation seems to have taken a 180 U-Turn and gone in the opposite direction. Smif-N-Wessun dropped a better version of the same song over half a decade ago: both stand for "Keep It Movin'" and use the phrase in the chorus. Did he assume no one would notice? The beat by "Blackie" Gleason (ha ha ha) is a-ight, but the flipside "Rug" is no more impressive. If you already guessed that the hook is "You a rug, nigga lay down" then you understand how predictable and boring this otherwise well-produced single is. Digga fans may buy it, but the rest will skip the blase blah.

Music Vibes: 6 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 3 of 10 TOTAL: 4.5 of 10

Artist: Louis Logic
Title:  Guilty as Charged 12"
Label:  Bronx Science Records

Despite a somewhat scientific sounding name, comedy is really the forte' of Louis Logic's game. Producer J.J. Brown helps polish Logic's delivery with easy-grooving mid-tempo beats that don't underwhelm the ears or overwhelm the beats. The B-Side "Logic and Reason" featuring R-Son is the perfect example. R-Son raps like "the black Isaac Asimov" with "sci-fi imagination so sick, you need vaccination" but Logic crowns him with the line, "You need to be more like Ms. Markie and get the fuck out the Biz!" Forget the analytical thinking here, and just enjoy a fresh plate of calorie laden lyrical humor.

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

Artist: Mike Control
Title:  The Naturals 12"
Label:  Bang the Drum Records

Allegedly the next big sensation out of Brooklyn, Mike Control's triumverate of JonnyBro, The Grey Ghost and DJ Shaffer are trying hard to reach for indie gold. The B-Side "Brooklyn Ill Spitters" does partially succeed with guest appearances like El Gant, a rhyme battle champion from MTV's Direct Effect. The in-house production has the right amount of bass bump but suffers from loops that don't deviate for even one bar from start to finish. Those who remember their underground hit "Mics I Grab" will expect more; those who don't will simply wonder what all the fuss is about.

Music Vibes: 4 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6 of 10 TOTAL: 5 of 10

Artist: PackFM
Title:  Freestyle Marathon 12"
Label:  Bronx Science Records

I was at Fat Beats buying vinyl before the '99 Online Hip-Hop Awards, and this crazy MC was spitting rhymes in the store while a live DJ was spinning shit for him. With a gold "FM" chain around his neck, he was cracking me up with lines like "My rhymes be Master P because they got No Limit." Three years of getting underground props and paying dues later, here he is rapping to the beats of Celph Titled, hip-hop's hardest working producer. Nothing has changed since that ill day I first saw him rhyme, except that his punchlines might be even better. With snaps like, "Your styles are senseless like kids with no arms and shoulders rockin tanktops and vests," herb battle rhymers should duck for cover. Ironically the only thing holding FM back is that Celph Titled's beats on the A-Side are subpar compared to his normal work, and the self-produced "Relay Remix" featuring Wordsworth and Rise is at least as nice as Celph's work. This record is clearly for fans of lyrical pugilism, because headnod factor plays second fiddle to the laughs.

Music Vibes: 5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 9 of 10 TOTAL: 7 of 10

Artist: Shabaam Sahdeeq
Title:  No Surrender 12"
Label:  Buds Distribution

This latest release from a slightly underrated hip-hop MC is slightly better than most. "This Side" features a brassy Celph Titled mix, and "That Side" features a more symphonic and ominous mix by Alchemist. Sha's improved flow is a genetic mixture of Phife Dawg and Sadat X, and having radio edits plus instrumentals on both "Sides" won't hurt him with the DJ's. A lot of people may only be copping this record for G. Rap's guest appearances, but all things considered it's still impressive enough to spin on any indie mix-tape or college radio show.

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

Originally posted: January 22, 2002
source: www.RapReviews.com