Bas-1, DJ Hype, DJ Shadow, DutchMassive, E-Dub, Longshot, The One JP, Richy Pitch, Ultramaddness ::
The Singles File Volume 021

as reviewed by Matt Jost, Steve 'Flash' Juon, LOS

EDITOR'S NOTE: As with the last edition of 'The Singles File' is trying something a little different. All of the reviews are being presented WITHOUT scores. You are left to interpret the dopeness/wackness of the single on the words of the writer alone. If you like this new format, please contact the editor and we'll continue to use it in the future!

Artist: Bas-1
Title:  Instant Rap Star CD-5
Label:  Bomb Hip-Hop Records
Writer: Matt Jost

If "Instant Rap Star" is any indication, Oakland rapper Bas-1 should be one any minute. Or maybe he prefers working behind the scenes, the way he runs down the making of an instant rap star: "Your record ain't even out yet, look, you're on the playlist / (...) / it's all networkin', baby / you do TRL, we know Carson Daly / you'll schmooze and talk about paying your dues / drama sells, so we'll put you in the news / yeah, got a concealed weapon in the club / (no, he beat down paparazzis in the pub) / yeah, that one always works, you'll go far / an instant rap star." The parody wouldn't be complete if Bas-1 wouldn't trace the fall after the rise, when the label is about to slaughter their little cash cow for good: "You're nothing but a joke / we'll leave you like we found you, broke / so don't start actin' crazy, loc, stop callin' / you shoulda been savin' them advancements instead of actin' like you was ballin'." On "The Master (Redux)," Paul 'Definition of' Nice expertedly handles the groovy tune, constructing the bridge with so many dope quotes that rapper Stimulus (one half of the NY duo Lyracane) can only look good on this one. An excellent single from Bomb Hip-Hop Records.

Artist: DJ Hype f/ Masta Ace, Killa Kela
Title:  Metro Attitude 12"
Label:  Masters on Broadway
Writer: LOS

Who pissed Masta Ace off? Straight out the gate, he is throwing bows left and right at wack MC's: "If I shoved my hand up ya ass, I wouldn't feel ya shit," "I'm like a loaded gun in a nursery, nothing to play with," and the best of all "I'm known for eatin' spoiled meat, and spittin' maggots; you starred in _Crouching Homo, Hidden Faggot_!" Hard hitting like catching a head nod from Evander; vicious like Mike biting ya whole family. While he hasn't achieved serious attention since "Sittin' On Chrome," this seasoned vet certainly brings the ruckus. DJ Hype doesn't hold back either -- the opening juggle consist of earlier Ace gems leading into the well snatched sample of Erick Sermon as the main sample for the jam. The B-Side is all about beat boxing. Is it here to stay or is it just the latest serving on the hip-hop platter? Killa Kela is getting some business these days, that's for sure. His work here with DJ Hype is probably the simplest kick, snare, and spit that I've heard from him; although hhe adds a few bars of dancehall at the end. Ushered in by a Lord Finesse vocal, Kela pushes out three and a half minutes of drum beat. While that doesn't look like a lot of time, you sit down and make fart noises out of your mouth for that long and stay on point! There are other parts of this side consisting of a remix for "Known to be the Masta" and an instrumental for "You Can't Affect." The Masta Ace remix is on some ol' slow it down ish. It doesn't really work with the jabs Masta Ace is throwing and only makes you want to flip it over to the original. If you listen to all of this single you will no doubt go for the several repeats of "Known to be the Master," but the other stuff is like a hold over.

Artist: DJ Shadow
Title:  You Can't Go Home Again! CD-5
Label:  Universal/MCA Records
Writer: Steve 'Flash' Juon

Most readers of this review are probably already familiar with DJ Shadow's ambient hip-hop funk instrumentals and melodies, but if you're not the budget priced "You Can't Go Home Again!" single would be an excellent place to start. This radio edit of a song from "The Private Press" is not that short at all - it's four minutes and thirty seconds of a breezy uptempo track that fluidly shifts from one soundscape to the next without your having noticed. Listening to it you get the somewhat unnerving feeling you're playing Jet Grind Radio or Phantasy Star Online on your Dreamcast - it would blend perfectly with the surreality of either game. "Disavowed" was not included on his latest album, but curiously features drumming and production by Zack de la Rocha, formerly of Rage Against the Machine. This song slows things down a bit from the prior cut, but still provides an audible soundscape that you could clearly walk around in. "Treach Battle Beat" may be the easiest song for average hip-hop heads to relate to, as Shadow laces it with verbal samples and juggling tricks familiar to any turntablist or fan of their work. Overall, it's a thirteen minute trip through Shadow's funked out world which only has one downside - it's not enough.

Artist: DutchMassive
Title:  Evaporate 12"
Label:  Gameplan Records
Writer: Steve 'Flash' Juon

Linking up with the Demigodz would make any MC sharper, and linking up with Celph Titled would make any MC's beats hotter. Dutchmassive obviously got the superpick in a hip-hop numbers game, because both of these factors can be felt on the excellent "Evaporate." Even heads who might dismiss Dutch as just another punchline MC will be compelled to listen by Celph's layered production that's both jazzy and snazzy. If that's not enough, peep the J. Rawls gem "Soul Searchin'" featuring Pack-FM or the Demigodz all-star track "The Hook" on the flipside. Dutch's nasal flow will be found on underground radio and indie mixes all summer long, thanks to his comedic raps and a crew second to none.

Artist: E-Dub
Title:  Gangsta, Gangsta CD-5
Label:  MCA Records
Writer: Steve 'Flash' Juon

Billed on the cover of this single as "An Official Source Magazine 2001 First Round Draft Pick & Blaze Battle Champion," E-Dub has a lot of high expectations to live up to. My first piece of advice to the aspiring MC would be to CHANGE YOUR NAME, because apparently it's in vogue to ignore hip-hop history and use the rap handles of already established MC's like Erick Sermon. My second piece of advice to the "Official Source Magazine" whatever whatever would be to come up with a concept more original than "Gangsta, Gangsta." With references to Belle Isle and 7 Mile, I can only assume the rapper is from the Detroit area; but he's no Kon Artis or Proof. A cheesy sung hook by Frankie B Nice about how E-Dub's imprint label Hundred Grand is "heatin up yo' spot" is the icing on the cake. The Scott Storch produced "Who Dat Iz" improves on matters somewhat, but he spends the whole time bragging about the battles he already won and his appearances on HBO -- that is, when he's not bragging about how he "look(s) like a diamond district." Bottom line? Don't confuse this rapper with the Green Eyed Bandit. He may have a buzz but that's only because no real MC has swatted this insignificant fly.

Artist: Longshot
Title:  Happiness is Hard to Find 12"
Label:  TOCDIM Productions
Writer: Steve 'Flash' Juon

With an apt name for success in the rap game, Chicago's own Longshot fires cannons across the bow of hip-hop with "Happiness is Hard to Find." Anomaly's production on the A-Side hits that nirvana point between spooky and head-nodding, which gives Longshot better than 10-1 odds his song will be remebered when you hear it. "Final Number" is a pleasant groove as with ill snaps like "I'll rip your fuckin ear off your face and scream my name," that suddenly find Longshot a 5-2 contender for the Preakness. Indie rap has a lot of MC's competing for a few slots, but this Longshot has the potential to finish ahead of the pack.

Artist: The One JP
Title:  Mississippi Mud CD-5
Label:  Missinglink Records
Writer: Matt Jost

If you're not the type to drink Coca-Cola products or "obey your thirst" with a can of Sprite then Jackson, MS native The One JP has some "Mississippi Mud" for yo' ass. He's promoting his preferred beer brand over a smooth track that goes down rather well. With another song called "Cooking Wit Gas" you would think this is some Nappy Roots type flavor, but apparently JP looks to distance himself from the current flood of southern rap music: "You thought the Dirty South was just gon' bounce and keep y'all bored?" No, I thought the Dirty South was just gon' bounce and keep us +entertained+, cuz that's what they been doing all along; and that's what JP achieves as well.

Artist: Richy Pitch f/ J-Live, Asheru
Title:  The Lyricist b/w The Time is Right 12"
Label:  Seven Heads Records
Writer: LOS

Adding even more flavor to the J-Live movement comes a Richy Pitch production where two A-List MC's get down with some funky production. J-Live is laced with the tic-tack sounds of a manual typewriter, a jazzy boom bip, and some nifty flute playing. Dropping verses like he won't take another breath until every bar has been properly delivered, J-Live is out there hitting all the right places with this joint. Using sound bites from "Finding Forrester" was taking it over the top; having Sean Connery jump in on a cut makes one laugh and nod the head even harder to the music. The B-Side is also funky like a ham hock in your cereal. First off, you should be familiar with Unspoken Heard (Asheru and Blue Black) but if not, here's your introduction. Asheru punches sucka MC's dead in their grill, like BLOW! Asheru goes through the various mediums in which one can make a positive contribution to the hip-hop community (no guns and/or bling bling of shit you don't own). Richy freaks one of those Humpty Digital type bass lines with the funky worm tickling the keys to make sure you are feeling right. Making a special appearance is hip-hop's busiest DJ, Mr. Thing. The tricks he provides aren't mind blowing, but very complimentary. With Richy Pitch haling from Europe and Asheru from the East coast, you'd wonder where they got the funk from - but who cares?! If you get this single, it'll be on your table for a long time.

Artist: Ultramaddness
Title:  Knocked Up CD-5
Label:  Ultramaddness
Writer: Matt Jost

Dubbing himself the Hate Teacher, Detroit resident Ultramaddness comes with a club banger that's guaranteed to fill the floors -- or maybe not. "Knocked Up" is a bouncing sequencer and synthesizer frenzy, with Ultramaddness bellowing vocals that express his discontent with contemporary club dancing: "You got your ass on the floor and you dance like you fuck / and that's the reason why you always knocked up / I wanna try to talk, maybe conversate / but you always got your booty cheeks in my face." Hmm, there's some truth in that. Ironically he isn't trying to conversate either, repeating his findings ad infinitum. Club hits are often bizarre, so maybe this will blow up -- who knows?

Originally posted: July 16, 2002