Helllooo Saturday! Okay first off I know what you are saying. What happened to days 38 and 39? Where did go Andy? Well, first off thank you for your concern. I really appreciate it. I welcome the love and it feels good. But give me a chance to explain. Thursday and Friday were some very busy days for me, as far as work goes. It was rough but I had to get down and focus on the work at hand. I got it done yes, but I didn’t have the time to write any entry into my blog. But you know I went like 37 days straight without missing a day. Not bad. I am going to try to not miss any more days but I can’t promise anything. As far as today goes, well I got up and cleaned up my place and then I had the honor of being a guest on a podcast that is hosted by a friend of mine. It is a podcast that is for guys, and focuses on topics men like to talk about. Todays topic was technology and music. I was asked to speak on the topic and share my passion that I have for both of those and how tech and music helped shape who I am today. It was a good discussion and when it is posted, I encourage anyone reading this to check it out. INCOMING PLUG!!
Now with that out of the way, let us return to our regularly scheduled program of THE GOLDEN YEARS OF HIP HOP 1994. That’s right, we already covered 1993 and we have 2 more years to go. Same format as before, I am going to name my favorite 3 albums of 1993, sample some of my favorite lyrics from those albums and try to break it down as much as I can. Before I jump into 1994, let me give some context on myself and what was happening for me this year. In 94 I was a junior in high school and I was playing varsity soccer, and the I was on had just won the division 1 men’s CIF championship here in Southern California. So in 1994 we came into the season ranked number one in the state, and a lot of pressure was on us to win it all again. Pressure from the school, parents, sports writers, and of course the potential of college scouts coming in and recruiting us. Now that is a lot of pressure for a high school kid. I was just trying to get good grades, do my DJ thing and make my parents proud. Gangs were pretty think in the school and in the after school scene which meant lots of fighting, and tough guys everywhere looking to start something. What I am trying to say is that you had to trust your friends, you had to watch your back and not say anything stupid. Easy enough right? Well for me, the music helped me get through 1994, and with the following albums, I was able to navigate my through this year as I entered my final year of high school in 1995. So, with that said here we go…
The Notorious BIG – Ready to Die. Easy choice right? Let me explain. This album, had the potential and firepower to change EVERYTHING. And little did we know how much Bad Boy Records was going to do to the music industry. Christopher Wallace aka Notorious BIG aka Biggie Smalls emerged on the rap scene outta no where. He was passionate about his freestyle flow and his lyrics were, well they where as real as one can get. BIG was grimy, street, a hustler, a ladies man, wealthy, literally a “nothing to something” success story. And the man behind him making all this possible was none other than the infamous Sean “Puffy” Combs. Puff was a marketing genius. He had a strong mind for promoting hip hop artists, a brilliant ear for the music, and he was building a empire that was going to rival the kings of hip hop which were at the time Dr Dre and Death Row Records. 1994 could easily be said to be the eve of the whole “East coast vs West coast” hip hop war that popped off in the coming years. But in 1994, everything was beautiful in music. And this album was a master piece of pure art in the truest musical form. BIG’s debut album had 17 tracks on it and he wrote every single song on the album. Darnell Scott and Puffy produced just about every track along with Easy Mo Bee who is unknown at this time but will soon become famous and known for the man who put those long lost 80’s songs and turned them into hip hop monster hits for Bad Boy Records. “Juicy” was the first single off this record and it was basically BIG rapping over a sample of “Juicy Fruit”, which was a 1983 song by Mtume. Easy Mo just added some more bass and higher claps in it but nothing much else as Puffy wanted the song to show that BIG can flow over some old samples and make it hot again. Yes this was a gamble, but Puffy knew he had a winner with BIG. BIG had a flow that was just unmatched. He can battle other rappers, rap over a fast party song, or lay down a slow flow over a real grimy NYC type beat. This album was a comeback for the east coast. They finally had an artist they can get behind and support. They had spent 4 years of the 90s watching the west coast dominate the hip hop market and now, they had one of their own on top. It was a good time to be a hip hop fan. You could be fan of either coast or be a fan of both. For me I loved it. Bad Boy, Death Row, and other random songs! I was in heaven as a DJ. So much good music to choose from and this album was easily the album of the year in 1994.
Outkast – southernplayalisticadillacmuzik – Okay, forgive me if I geek out on this one. I LOVED THIS ALBUM. I mean, I really loved it. It had so many great songs, rappers we never heard of yet, and the beats were bangers. Seriously, the songs were so tight that it could not be ignored. Also, this was the first rap group out of Atlanta that received love from not only radio stations but from fans all over the country. Outkast put Atlanta on the map, there is no argument what they did, no matter what kind of identity issue they had at the time. What do I mean? Let me explain. Big Boi and Andre 3000 were the 2 rappers that made up Outkast. Back in 1994, gangsta rap was dominating the airwaves and the market was showing that fan were really into that type of music. Even Notorious BIG had a gangster music feeling to his album. Outkast was no different. Andre and Big Boi were rapping about shooting people, robbing people, and other gangster related activities. In some of the tracks you can hear a gun being loaded at the start of “Ain’t No Thang” and in some lyrics you can hear the group talking about shooting people like gangsters do. Yea, like I said they had a bit of a identity problem because the Outkast we know of today is no where near like that. But in this album they did what they had to do to be accepted. But the album stood out by itself. The albums self titled track “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik” is one of the most popular tracks ever made by this duo. “Player’s Ball” was also a banger and of course one of the most famous tracks is “Hootie Hoo”. Yea for years you would hear other people yell outloud “Hootie Hoooooo!”. And why? When ever you were at a party, and lets say the cops showed up or the party was getting broken up, whoever hosted the party, all they had to do was yell out “Hootie Hoo!” and that was the signal to let everyone know that the party has been busted up. This was a call of the wild that every hip hop head knew whats up when they heard it. In fact, it makes me smile even today knowing that this ever existed.
Nas – Illmatic – Okay…where to begin with this one. Let me just say, arguably, this could be the greatest hip hop album ever made. No argument. And that is still relevant today. And for many reasons, but one that stands out for me the most is simply because of one man. And that person is not Nas. It is DJ Premier. Premier, Large Professor, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, and DJ Marley Marl together produced the tracks on this album. This is unheard of in hip hop. Some of the greatest NYC DJ’s that hip hop has to offer all got together and created this masterpiece. Every track was like a “Oh shit” moment. “New York State of Mind” is clearly an anthem for NYC then, now, and forever. “The World Is Yours”…instant classic. “One Love” is one of my favorite tracks. “Represent” is an instant get-up-and-dance type of song. And “It Ain’t Hard To Tell” is another anthem for NYC. Top to bottom this album was just to good to ignore. As a fan, I loved that all these DJ’s/producers got together to create this album. This sort of thing would never happen today. And that makes me a bit sad. But let me talk about Nas for a moment. Nas was a DJ back in the day as a young kid. He was friends with Large Professor and Nas started rapping as a teenager back in the early 90’s. But Nas was a long way from getting a record contract and creating his own album. How did he get there? Sometimes it’s who you know, not what you know. Remember the hip hop group 3rd Bass from the 80’s? I loved 3rd Bass. Their music was so good and MC Search was a member of 3rd Bass. A great lyricist already, when Search put Nas as a guest rapper on one of his songs on Search’s solo album, it was obvious that Nas had a bright future ahead of him as a rapper. But Nas didn’t have a record deal. Search made this happen. He put the wheels in motion and got Nas introduced to the record label and it just went from there, the rest is history. Because Search was such a well respected MC in the rap game, it was easy for him to get a line up of all star producers to hook it up for Nas album. And again, Search made it happen. When Nas started recording the album, there was a lot of pressure on him to deliver since the lineup of producers was so great that the label was afraid they would outshine Nas. But as soon as Nas started rapping, that was all put to rest. Nas had a voice and a type of flow that was just amazing. It was NYC style, and he could flow over a track so effortlessly that you couldn’t help but give him the respect he deserved. Nas was seen as more of a urban poet than a “from the streets rapper”. His lyrics helped shape many artists and albums to come. Since he was from the projects, Nas had a lot of stories to tell. And the fans wanted to hear them all. Thank goodness I was alive during this time. What a pleasure it was to own this album. Pure art.
Now…time for some lyrics.
The Notorious BIG – Big Poppa “Who rock grooves and moves with all the mamis? The back of the club, sippin’ Moet is where you’ll find me. The back of the club, mackin’ hoes, my crew’s behind me. Mad question askin’, blunt passin’, music blastin’, but I just can’t quit, because one of these honeys Biggie got to creep with.” Back in the day, if you were chillin with your friends at a night club, if you were VIP then you were in the back some place. BIG is rapping about how much of the man he really is. He is in the back of the club doing his thing trying to creep with a nice young lady. Creeping was a word used back in the 90s when a guy or girl was trying to hook up with someone they liked. We would say creep because you had to do it on the low, real smooth like. Nothing obvious and nothing disrespectful. BIG was a overweight dude. He was tall and large. But yet he still pulled the young ladies because he had very high self confidence. This trait allowed his fans which could of been other big men, to say “yeah I am overweight but I can still get with ladies just like BIG does. If he can do it so can I” The level of self esteem that BIG passed into his fan base was uncharted. Many people of other races and colors saw themselves in BIG in a lot of ways. BIG wasn’t good looking but he had a beautiful soul. Seeing that this man can say these things and show that they were true, opened up a whole new world for his fans that looked or felt like they looked like him. All this from just being a great rapper.
Outkast – Player’s Ball: “It goes, give me ten, and I’ll serve you then, now we bend The corner in my Cadillac. My heart does not go pitty-pat for no rat. I’m leaning back, my elbow’s out the window, Coke, rum and indo fills my body, where’s the party?” I love this song, and I love this lyric. Andre 3000 is rapping about how he has a Cadillac which at the time the main car to have if you want to be a famous rapper. Andre then goes into saying that he doesn’t care for anyone he knows that snitches on to the cops and as he is saying this he describes that he is driving around in his Cadillac, high, drunk, and he is looking for a party to go too. And I know he says Coke, but he means coca-cola and he is mixing that with rum and at the same time smoking weed. He does this to show that he is drinking and not doing cocaine. But the again, who doesn’t love some Coke and Rum?
Nas – It Ain’t Hard to Tell: “The buddha monk’s in your trunk, turn the bass up
Not stories by Aesop, place your loot up, parties I shoot up
Nas, I analyze, drop a jew-el, inhale from the L
School a fool well, you feel it like braille
It ain’t hard to tell, I kick a skill like Shaquille holds a pill
Vocabulary spills I’m Ill
plus Matic, I freak beats slam it like Iron Sheik
Jam like a TEC with correct techniques
So analyze me, surprise me, but can’t magmatize me
Scannin’ while you’re plannin’ ways to sabotage me
I leave em froze like her-on in your nose
Nas’ll rock well, it ain’t hard to tell”
At the start of the rhyme, Nas refers to himself as the “Buddha Monk” because he of his love for smoking weed. When he says to turn the bass up, he is referring to the fact this song has some heavy bass to it and you should ride around in your car blasting this track. Aesop is a series of books that teach the reader valuable moral lessons. Nas chooses to tell his stories like Aesop but for the greater good. In a positive way. I feel Nas rhymes can go very deep and heavy. And, you, as a fan can’t stop thinking about what he said well after you hear it. Love this so much.
That does it for 1994. Great times, and even greater music. If you have a chance to listen to any of these songs, do so with an open mind and try to see their world through their eyes and may you enter the music and come out…changed.