Bathgate, Breed, Brycon & Equal, Chester Copperpot, DJ Midas & Two B, Fat Hed,
Handsome Boy Modeling School, Mike Burna, Modill, Non Prophets, The Odd Couple, That Handsome Devil ::
The Singles File Volume 029

EDITOR'S NOTE: All of the reviews found in 'The Singles File' 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 have any questions about this format, please e-mail the editor for more information.

Artist: Bathgate
Title:  Everything's a Go (The Flow) 12"
Label:  Supreme Clientele Records
Writer: Pedro 'DJ Complejo' Hernandez

Three years ago Billy Bathgate made a splash with the infectious "Fuck That," a single best described as gangsta-pop. It was an enjoyable track that seemed destined to propel Bathgate to the same status fellow mixtape phenom Fabolous had achieved. But even with the approval of DJ Clue, a strong street buzz, and a major record deal Bathgate never managed to make an impact on the commercial radar. Hoping to regain some of that status and possibly garner industry buzz, Bathgate returns with a new single, "Everything's a Go (The Flow)."

The beat on "Everything's a Go" is an up-tempo track, reminiscent of the popish bounce on "Fuck That", but it doesn't quite capture the energy of his previous single. The high pitch synths do the job adequately, but the track almost sounds like a forced attempt at a commercial hit. Bathgate's flow, as always, is on point but his lyrical content suffers from lack of any real depth. He spits an occasional clever line, such as "I get sick wid it like E-4-0," but overall he spends his time bragging about himself, minus any wit or cleverness. The B-Side is "Bad Side," a vocal-sample driven track with a murky bass line that finds Bathgate addressing the hardships of his life. While a better track than "Everything's a Go," Bathgate still fails to be on top of his game. Bathgate's return to the rap game isn't as stellar as it could be. While he is the same cat who tore up the mixtape circuit a few years back, the current single fails to capture that talent.

Artist: Breed
Title:  The Rap Game 12"
Label:  Urban Media Zone Entertainment
Writer: Tom Doggett

Breed (Formerly MC Breed) has been around for a while. 2004 marks his fourteenth year in the "Rap Game," which is the title of his lead single for "The New Prescription." A funky, though slightly mechanized beat from E. Breed and S Man drives the track, and offbeat soul singing on the hook provides the perfect edge for the final product. Breed's smoked-out, club friendly vocals are the focus of the single, and he injects plenty of flair into his verses. When it all comes together, the result is a light, entertaining return to the game. Don't hate the player, and definitely don't hate the "Rap Game." Breed's been around for over a decade, but he's still making heads nod.

Artist: Brycon & Equal
Title:  Vagrant's Vacation 12"
Label:  Topshelf Music
Writer: Steve 'Flash' Juon

DJ Equal provides all the cuts. Brycon handles the production and wrecks the mic. So what you say? Indeed. Indie hip-hop duos are a dime a dozen, but this tandem out the Carolinas goes out of their way to distinguish themselves from the mediocre masses. The three tracks found on the A-Side of this list are taken from "World's Deadliest Assassin Part 2" and if they're any indication, Brycon & Equal may be among the most heavily slept on in rap. While "Experts" is pleasantly reminiscent of Tame One's bugged out drug raps, "Samurai Code" featuring Breez Evahflowin epitomizes the GZA motto that beats and rhymes should be as sharp as liquid swords. Complete with instrumentals on the flip and two bonus acapella tracks, DJ's will be hard-pressed to get tired of spinning this platter. Brycon & Equal are like Thanksgiving dinner - all that with extra biscuits on the side. They won't be taking "Greyhounds to the beach" forever.

Artist: Chester Copperpot
Title:  Take'N'Over b/w Moneygrip 12"
Label:  Ev Productions
Writer: Steve 'Flash' Juon

Been around the world and I-I-I-I, ran up a huge credit card debt. That's Chester Copperpot's story on why he filed for bankruptcy protection, and he's sticking to it. At least his trevails inspired an album titled "Chapter 7" and a bunch of well-produced songs, two of which are featured here. "Take'N'Over" bounces along on an almost childlike melody, but by melding it with a hard beat and Edo.G's hard raps it becomes a certified banger. The flipside "Moneygrip" features London native Braintax spitting indictments of rap mediocrity: "Your shit's contrived, a lot of cats mimic Jay-Z but don't come close; five years ago they all did RZA and Ghost." Copperpot may not be on DJ Premier's level yet, but unlike Primo he doesn't seem to be picking mediocre NY gangsta rappers to flow on his beats. That's reason enough to cop this surprisingly nice 12".

Artist: DJ Midas & Two B
Title:  Goldencuts With a Cherry on Top 12"
Label:  Goldenballz Records
Writer: Steve 'Flash' Juon

It's not exactly easy to figure out the history of this team, let alone when it was I received this record. I have to assume 2004 since it was on my "in pile" but there's no copyright date on any of this shit - the jacket, the record label, et cetera. No one sheet or press bio came with it, and the only reference to this duo I can find is a message board post pointing to the non-existant (or inactive) website Long and short of it is that it may be hella hard for you to find and cop this single, but there's no reason not to try. Midas & Two B are on some smooth West coast neo-Pharcyde shit, with Two B rapping like a drugged up cross between Money B and Guru while DJ Midas provides some intoxicatingly smooth grooves and cuts, particularly on the flipside track "With a Cherry on Top." It's one of those seriously mellow jams you'll want to spin again and again when in a good mood, whether you flip the lyrical version or "Da Cherry Bomb" instrumental. I wish I could pimp Midas & Two B more than this, but hopefully you'll have better luck finding out the 411 about them than I did.

Artist: Fat Hed
Title:  What Do We Need Today b/w Need Some More 12"
Label:  Dope Discs
Writer: Steve 'Flash' Juon

If it's produced by Kutmasta Kurt and features Motion Man, what's the point of called "What Do We Need Today" a Fat Hed track? And what the fuck is up with Fat Hed anyway? Rap has had some quirky voices in it's history, but Hed is the result of a genetics experiment gone wrong that crossbred Kermit the Frog, Fat Lip, and Thirstin Howl III. Somehow despite all that, the flipside "Need Some More" is actually kind of dope. Nocturnal Ron provides a methadonically slow beat while Hed lambasts unfashionable b-boys who all buy their clothes at the same store. Fat Hed is clearly not for everyone, but there are some people who might really dig a ride on his "Night Train to Babble On." Since this one will probably be in cutout bins sooner rather than later, you must just want to take a risk on it, even if only for laughs.

Artist: Handsome Boy Modeling School
Title:  The World's Gone Mad 12"
Label:  Atlantic Records
Writer: Tom Doggett

After an extensive layover, Prince Paul and Dan the Automator are back with the lead single from the forthcoming "White People." An eclectic guest list boasts Del, Barrington Levy, and Alex Kapranos, and Levy's mellow singing sets the tone for this laid-back first glance at what's to come. As expected, the Handsome Boy Modeling School engineers a groovy beat for the guests to wade through. As a first single, "The World's Gone Mad" is probably a bit subtle for most, but anyone who dug "So How's Your Girl" will certainly be feeling this.

Artist: Mike Burna
Title:  Chillin' Chillin' 12"
Label:  Dvisione Entertainment
Writer: Nin Chan

Oh dear. After having reviewed D.One's reasonable solo effort, I am now confronted with this utterly toothless and haplessly sterilised stab at a summer banger. Perhaps it's the fact that Toronto is becoming a dreary tundra as winter encroaches, maybe I'm just hating, but this record is absolute tripe. The hook is horrific: "Sunshine in my eyeeessss, I'm chillin' chillin'/ Got two by my side, I'm really really." It would help if the hook made sense to begin with- two of what? What are you really really up to? It's a decrepit lyrical performance by Mike Burna and a tepid, terribly disappointing guest shot by D.One. The corny Latin guitar strums only serve to emphasize and consolidate the impenetrable layers of cheese on this single. Even LFO sounded less contrived than this.

Artist: Modill
Title:  Change Form 12"
Label:  Ev Productions
Writer: Steve 'Flash' Juon

Their names are K-Kruz and Racecar. Really? Damn. My first reaction to that is that they sound like a really bad WWE tag team based on NASCAR, something akin to Bob 'Sparky Plugg' Holly teaming with 'Rockabilly' Billy Gunn. Thankfully it's nowhere near as painful. In fact the "Change Form" beat is some of the freshest shit I've heard this year - layer upon layer of pianos, horns, and jazzy breaks that pile up non-stop. As K-Kruz and Racecar flip verbals seamlessly like 2004's new Ryu and Takbir (Styles of Beyond if you need a late pass), your ultimate opinion of Modill is that their beats and rhymes are more fluid than Mobil. That's not to say they should get gassed, cause it's hard to make a name for yourself in an already overcrowded hip-hop market, but K-Kruz and Racecar might just find themselves sneaking up on the comp and sitting pole position while everybody else is sucking fumes in the pits.

Artist: Non Prophets
Title:  Damage 12"
Label:  Lex Records
Writer: Steve 'Flash' Juon

Culled from their 2003 release "Hope," this Non Prophets single starts out nicely with a radio edit of their Jedi Mind Tricks-esque heavy track "Damage," then flips it into an even heavier underground "Doomage" mix featuring well-known Rhymesayers verbalist Brother Ali and his good friend Slug. I would suspect MF Doom mixed it based on the title, but this single came in a flimsy self-jacket with no labels and no liner notes. I'm not even sure if you can cop this one via normal outlets like Sandbox Automatic since my copy says "for promotional use only - not for resale." It would be a damn shame if you couldn't though, since it comes with a bonus Joe Beats track "My Girl Was a Groupie" and instrumentals for both "Damage" and "Doomage." If you can't find this one write to Lex Records and give them some hell. Consider this one essential for your crates.

Artist: The Odd Couple
Title:  Wreckyalife b/w Between Your Legs 12"
Label:  Brick Records
Writer: Steve 'Flash' Juon

Louis Logic and Jay Love had nothing better to do, so they decided to become hip-hop's answer to Felix and Oscar. And why not? "Wreckyalife" is some fun throwback shit that will have you nodding your head and wondering if you left your wallet in El Segundo. "Between Your Legs" is pretty much what you'd expect from Louis Logic: "What makes you think I wanna share a kiss with ZZ Top? I need a clean cut woman with me." You can fill in the blanks. His partner in rhyme Jay Love is no less crass: "Hit the mustache and sniff the snatch, get a landing strip or a Brazilian wax." I think they could have called this song "Cut the Grass" and it would have worked just as well. Thanks to some smooth production (with assistance by J.J. Brown) this hip-hop Odd Couple is some whimsical shit you wouldn't mind catching late night reruns of.

Artist: That Handsome Devil
Title:  Dating Tips b/w How to Get Money 12"
Label:  Art and Craft Music
Writer: Steve 'Flash' Juon

He might look like an extra from the Sopranos, but That Handsome Devil won't be lost in the crowd at the Bada Bing. He's on some J-Zone shit lyrically - a little nutty but good at flipping the verbals in a story. Germ hooks him up with a suave beat on "Dating Tips" as T.H.D. relates hilarious and inappropriate ways to land a dimepiece. On the B-Side "How to Get Money" he lopes around in a stream-of-consciousness fashion, so you could almost miss the fact he's hustling like Shawn Carter all while "trying not to shoot nobody." With instrumentals and the bonus track "Don't Go" all included, this Boston native will be macking girls from L.A. to New Jersey with rhymes even Frankie and Big Pussy would have to bust caps in the air for.

Originally posted: November 30, 2004