Project Definitive Rhyme Legends
label: beat bros
includes: atmosphere, murs, el-p, mr. life, the grouch, scarub, soul position, brother ali, aceyalone, aesop rock, cannibal ox, others.
year of release: 2004
The idea seems obvious enough: take the momentarily hottest crews and use their music for a sort of best of mixtape. Good idea, right? And it's exactly what DJ Fran'tik did. But who did he pick? Well, there's Project Blowed, there's Definitive Jux, there's the Rhyme Sayers and there's the Living Legends.
What leads us to the next thought: As much vinyl they all have released, as little that still is. Or better: not everything they've done also came out on vinyl (especially in the case of the Legends). Not a problem today if you're willing to mix with CDs. But Fran'tik doesn't seem to like to do that. Instead he opts for songs that were released on vinyl, what reduced the number of songs he could have picked dramatically and led to some interesting omissions. Notably the fact, that Scarub's incredible "Savvy Traveler" only appears in one of the many skits and interludes (namely "Introducing The Legends"). And speaking of those: they were not done with two turntables and a mixer (as opposed to the C-Rayz juggling of "Battle Me" or the clumbsy turnable trickery of "Everafter (JuggleMix - DJ Fran'tik"), as they are also using excerpts form documentaries, interviews, etc. Thus they offer a good quick window into what is to come.
But let's start where this record starts: Project Blowed. You get the whole crew with "Heavyweights Round 4", i.e. part four of the posse cut series. Fran'tik lets it run for several minutes, really showing the sever lyrical power this crew possesses. Apart from this, there's only five more songs, with the Rhettmatic remix of Busdriver's "Get On The Bus" offering an interesting (and quite possibly rare) selection.
As Definitive Jux has more vinyl out, there's more songs Fran'tik can put on here. He starts with Aesop Rock's "Daylight", continues with a non Def Jux release "Cosmos" by Cannibal Ox feat. Rob Swift (off the Tableturns release "State Of The World" compilation), goes back a couple of years and visits Y@k Ballz' "Reign". Paving the way for El-P's incredible "Deepspace 9mm", he takes the beat and puts Digital Underground's "Doowutchyalike" lyrics over it. This idea is obviously in respect to "Risky Business" by Murs and Shock G, which also appears. Then there's also Mr. Lif's "Front On This" and "Gangsta" by S.A. Smash.
What gets us to the Rhymesayers part. Here we get Eyedea & Abilities featuring Brother Ali doing "Rhymesayin' Over Beats" (over an Atmosphere beat), Soul Position find "No Excuse For Lovin'", Brother Ali returns with "Room With A View" and even Mr. Dibbs gets an appearance, credited as "a track taken from Table Noise Vol. 1". With the latter giving you a not so obvious selection among more obvious selections, like "God's Bathroom Floor", a great song off the "Overcast" vinyl EP. Then there's also "Flow Forever Like Today (DJ Fran'tik)", a pairing of Atmosphere with Rakim.
And finally, the Living Legends make an appearance. The funniest moment appears with "Just Died To Night And Day", as Fran'tik exposes the cheesy Cutting Crew sample Eligh used. Additionally to that, there's The Grouch & Eligh's "Everafter", the Living Legends' "Forces Of Nature" and "Gotta Question For Ya", Scarub's "Wishful Thinking", luckyiam.PSC's "Come Along" and Sunspot Jonz "Ghostworld", to mention about two thirds of all the songs.
In total, this mix goes through 49 skippable entities. So you do get a whole lot in not that much of time. Maybe a little too much to truly represent the four crews. A series of two records with two crews each would have served the purpose much better. But then maybe there would not have been enough songs. After all Fran'tik ops for "Dry Bones (Remix)" by the Oddjobs feat. Aesop Rock, Kimani and Vast, notably in the Rhymesayers section, even though the record came out on Third Earth Music. Sure a member of the Oddjobs toured with Slug, but considering the featuring, you wonder why this didn't appear in the Def Jux part.
But hey, when the reviewer starts to nag about minimal details like that, it must mean that otherwise the record is actually quite satisfactory. And it certainly is that. It did intend to do too much in a too limited amount of space, but Fran'tik still pulled it off.
review: tadah
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