by Cadence
this is part two of a three part series. view part one here

09. H2O Blend - Hard 2 Obtain, Fong Sai U, Black Thought, Saukrates, Phaorahe Monch
Hard 2 Obtain's 1994 album Ism and Blues, released by Atlantic Records, is one of those albums that gets retroactive praise from a lot of people nowadays. It wasn't an obscure album - they had videos on MTV and BET, but it wasn't a classic either. Produced almost entirely by the SD50's and featuring a guest appearance from the Artifacts, it was one of many major label albums that came and went at the time. The beats were pretty dope though - especially the non-album cut "Hip Hop Lifestyle" which I used here as the backdrop for a few lesser known acapellas.
First up is Fong Sai U's "I Own This Microphone." Does anyone know this record? On a trip to DC, I was shopping at the now defunct 12" Dance Records - yes, that was the name of the store - where I was having a good day finding some hard to find hip hop 12"s. Since I'm not in DC all that often, I was buying a pretty big stack of records - prompting the guy in line behind me to ask if I was a DJ. I spelled out the Raw Pro connection and we got to talking and he told me that his crew - from DC - had just pressed up a 12" on their own. As we left the store, he motioned me over to his man's car and - as clichéd as it may sound - handed me his record from-out-the-trunk. Imagine my surprise when I saw that it featured Black Thought from the Roots. I don't hear people talk about this record much, which leads me to believe that not many people have it.
After the break comes Pharoahe and Saukrates, trading rhymes from the acapella of 2 Rudes "Innovation" a 12" released during the height of Monch's post O.K. slew of guest appearances. Not the rarest record in the world, but one I don't hear people talk about too often either.
10. Punks Jump Up To Get Beat Down [Remix] - Brand Nubian feat. Diamond D
One of those "remixes" that's really a whole new song. If you bought 12"s back when this dropped, you have this. It's not on there for the rarity, it's on there for the dopeness. Beatnuts fans will recognize the Sadat X line later used as the cut for "Reign Of The Tec" and DAMN if this isn't vintage Diamond D on the beats and the rhymes. I like it.
11. Stakes Is High [DJ Spinna Remix] - De La Soul
Unlike the easier to find "Stakes Is High" remix on the "Itsoweezee" 12" (which features new lyrics and guest verses from Mos Def and Truth Enola), this is one of two remixes that feature De La's original vocals. Another not-too-obscure remix, but a dope one nonetheless. This must have been a nice resume boost for Spinna too. It SOUNDS like Spinna. You know what I'm saying? A nice change in vibe form the original version, that holds up very well.
12. Stressed Out [Vinyl ReAnimators Remix] - A Tribe Called Quest feat. Consequence
For a time in the mid 90's the Vinyl ReAnimators were intent on correcting the errors the majors were making. When labels watered down a song by a hip hop legend, the Vinyl ReAnimators scooped up the promo 12", remixed the acapella into something real hip hop fans could enjoy and pressed up in limited quantities hoping not to get sued. This is one of the many remixes they put out there, removing the annoying singing form the original and replacing it with a scratch chorus. Maybe not as heralded as some of the
other Vinyl ReAnimators remixes from the time, but in my book it gets points for making one of my least favorite tribe songs (and that's coming from a BIG Tribe fan) listenable.
13. Battle Show - Crazy Wisdom Masters [a.k.a. JBeez]
Frist off, I MUST point out that the Jbeez "Done By The Forces of Nature" is unquestionably one of the best hip hop albums of all time. Now, before you read on - take a moment to say "You're GODDAMN right!" out loud. I'm glad we agree on this. For their next Warner Brothers album, the Jbeez were working with Bill Laswell among others on Crazy Wisdom Masters, and equally ambitious project. But the material was deemed too experimental by the label, and the album was eventually reshaped into "Jbeez Wit The Remedy," released in 1993. Along the way, some of the original reels disappeared, and songs by "The Crazy Wisdom Masters" have appeared in various mysterious forms - most notably on 10" 45RPM vinyl released through Black Hoodz/Word Sound (WordSound also released Prince Paul's "Psychoanalysis"). This track is in line with some of the more out-there stuff from "Jbeez Wit The Remedy" and gives us a little taste of what might have been had the Jbeez been given a chance to follow their own vision a little more closely. It may not be radio friendly, but DAMN if it didn't sound distinctive.
14. Hazardous - Godfather Don
I remember reading an interview once where Godfather Don told the story of meeting Kool Keith when both were trying to convince security at the New Music Seminar in 1991 that they were signed recording artists who should be allowed into the conference. They didn't get in, but they ended up collaborating on some great records. So I guess it's all good.
Ultra fans know Keith was already a legend by then, but not everyone knows that Don had released a self-produced album in 1991 on Select Records. I suspect that the back cover of the album - a picture of Don walking down the street carrying a guitar case, probably conjured up a lot of associations with Me Phi Me, or Justin Warfield, and didn't really clue people into the fact the album was actually jam packed with real hip hop. "Hazardous," the title track for the album, is my favorite song on there - Don shows off the lyrical versatility that was the center piece of the album. And the beat is dope. The album wasn't brilliant - a lot of hooks that don't quite work, and sometimes the changes of style come off as gimmicky. But it's no accident that Don was able to come back in the 90's and develop a strong fan base. The man had skills - as he displays all over this song. Back when this album dropped, I had a section of my wall devoted to the ugliest promo posters I could find. "The Hazardous" poster would have been the centerpiece had it not been for my poster of Kid N' Play etched into Mount Rushmore. Fortunately, the album was better than the poster. This definitely belongs in the "overlooked" category.
15. Fine Tune Da Mic - Maestro Fresh Wes feat. Showbiz
Maestro Fresh Wes was one of the first Canadian Mcs to gain attention in the US. In part due to production form the 45 King and K-Cut of Main Source (a fellow Canadian of course). On his "Naaah Dis Kid Can't Be From Canada" album Showbiz was behind the boards for a few tracks, including "Fine Tune Da Mic" where he even picked up the mic. This is some classic DITC production right here and if you like Showbiz's style on the mic, you get a good dose of it on this song. Although some of his material found it's way to the states though Polydor (seek out the "Mic Mechanism" 12" if you can), he saw his widest release in Canada through LMR/Attic. This is from the 12" on LMR released in '93. The song also got the "Special limited re-release - collector's Edition" treatment on Maestro Records in 1997, with "Bring It On" yet another Showbiz track on the b-side. I'm not sure which version is harder to find.
read part one featuring tracks by Common Sense, KRS-One, Showbiz & A.G., Organized Konfusion, Resident Alien and many more.
read part three featuring tracks by Kwest Tha Madd Lad, Edo.G, Encore, Kool Keith, Pete Rock & CL Smooth and many more.
DJ Cade Money aka Cadence of Raw Produce "Built For The 90's - rare, remixed and overlooked joints from hip hop's second best decade" is now available on Domination Recordings and at all good stores. so make sure to get your copy.
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