Tag Archives: 1993

SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT 1993

Please shut the fuck up about 1993. I just went through some TDK C90 tape compilations I made 17 years ago. Everyone claims that rap’s downfall is the preoccupation with material objects. Try telling that to Busy Bee in ‘Wild Style’. You’re the problem. Not Soulja Boy, not Kanye West—you.  Boom-bap pensioners keep trying to tell me that rap pretty much rolled over and ceased to be in 1995. It was—according to the paunchy souls in faded tracksuits—better, because it had drums, samples and other such things, and rappers would say things like, “banging more heads than Metallica“. The truth is, that from 1991 onwards, style biting was rife. If you gave up at the turn of the decade, I’m not mad at you.

But that hallowed year that is 1993 sounds a bit murky, Ah yes, that golden year of letdowns like Hoodratz’s ‘Sneeke Muthafukaz’, Das EFX’s ‘Straight Up Sewaside’ and Red Fox’s ‘As a Matter of Fox’…wow. Happy days. Admittedly there were plenty of classics that year (‘…36 Chambers’ being a standout —’Enta Da Stage’ hasn’t aged as well) but there were also more Pete Rock and DJ Muggs imitations, more cash-in blunt talk, grimee bald bullshit and a whole lot of nonsense. Atlantic and Universal are unlikely to take punts on people chatting about “stunts” and “the bozack” nowadays—is that a bad thing? Assuming that an album’s tracklist should still put a ‘Z’ on skills, require distortive bass and wacky one-liners is naïve. Like I said, pre-’91, I appreciate the preoccupation, but hip-hop never died off. At all. Please don’t fire a list of albums of the era my way to prove me wrong either—I don’t care.

Revisionist 1992 history will tell you that Roughhouse Survivors, Zhigge and School of Hard Knocks albums are classics. This is incorrect—they only had decent singles. The same altered history pushes some mediocre LPs from 1993 to similar status. For instance,  Da Youngsta’s ‘The Aftermath’ was far superior than Mobb Deep’s ‘Juvenile Hell’ yet it frequently gets overlooked. The majority of left coast releases that year have aged better—Spice 1’s ‘187 He Wrote’, Snoop’s ‘Doggystyle’ and Too Short’s ‘Get In Where You Fit In’ really stand out. But going back through the tapes, the majority just has the same bitten basslines, semi-speedy flows and some jazz horns. Again and again and again.

Admittedly, I miss the days of memorising tape shout-outs but I appreciate that they were just a moment-in-time. Your favourite rappers were being jerked back in ’93 too. I know Kool G Rap was. MySpace solved nearly every milk carton missing rapper case a few years back, but honestly, I don’t feel too many artists who had potential for longevity fell through the gaps Anvil-style. Some passed away, some were incarcerated, but many just fell the fuck off, or rode a gimmick that swiftly derailed. Listen to those unreleased full albums (K.M.D. is a near-isolated example)—much of it was shelved for a reason. My buddies at Diggers With Gratitude have the truffle-pig nose for finding gems, but much that costs plenty of yen on limited edition vinyl that unlocks the vaults doesn’t justify the outlay.

Stop the talk of everything being about guns and clothes. You sound like your own mothers. Lyrically, the very best acts are still out there doing what they do best. The fact of the matter my friends, is that you ceased to dig for gems (made all the easier thanks to the internet). Your chosen sounds are very much alive. Your defeatist, regressive approach kept your favourite artists poor. If rap fans were as loyal as metal fans, the Beatnuts and Mash Out Posse would have Slayer and Iron Maiden style followings, buying each release and filling every gig. But they’re not. They either move on or walk away and pretend the ’00s never happened and that’s a tragedy. If you expect a grimier more uncompromising sound to still be on a major label’s radar, then you’re dumb, but it’s out there elsewhere.

In fact, material’s been out there all along on smaller labels, or self-pressed—harder to find, but If you gave as much of a shit as the effort of the screwface you administer to any contemporary rap, you would’ve made the effort. Chances are that indie street album would’ve put more coffers in your favourite rapper’s pocket than if it had been on RAL. You whiners were given an album from Roc Marciano that’s a classic, but chances are you bigged it up yet right-click-saved it. You’re your own worst enemies. How is it that Killa Sha probably passed without mad money in the bank? Because you spent more time moaning than investigating. At least Rick Ross put Kool G on, Jay’s working with Pete Rock, Just Blaze was shouting out Spoonie Gee on Twitter, Malice from Clipse paid tribute to ‘Love’s Gonna Get’cha’ and Kanye’s working with the godfather, Gil Scott-Heron—because you bleating nostalgia fetishists aren’t helping anyone out.

Me? I got the same goosebumps raised when I first saw Redman’s ‘Time 4 Sum Aksion’ video when I saw the Waka Flocka Flame’ video above. Odd, possibly misunderstood interpretations of Coen Brother flicks? Eyes on bullets? A dancing diamond-encrusted Fozzie Bear? It’s one of the best matches of sound and visuals in years. After all, everyone knows that the four elements of hip-hop are face tattoos, Worldstar Hip Hop, robbing Yung Berg and Tweet-beef. As long as hip-hop baffles, infuriates, alienates and befuddles an older generation, it’s in safe hands. Now you can go off and sulk to the medicore sounds of Rumpletilskinz’ ‘What Is a Rumpletilskinz?’ on your battered Walkman.

SHOULD HAVE BEEN HUGE: PHAT MAGAZINE

The year’s 1993 – hip-hop is horn-led, R&B choruses are frowned-upon, shorts are big, athletic footwear is rugged, with outdoor courts in mind, and if they’re too much for you, the boom in plain retrospective suede models is in full swing. In the following year, the resurrection of the earlier Jordan models will slowly but surely infect sneaker releases, arguably to the industry’s detriment. But that’s enough of the scene-setting (and bitter digressions) – if you didn’t get into the big smoke much in the early ’90s, a magazine like ‘Phat’ was a glossy-papered oasis of subcultural information and a break from then-waning publications like ‘i-D’ and ‘The Face’ who were too busy covering Courtney Love and ‘The Crying Game’ to focus too much on street fashion, giving us our very own British take on the then-great ‘Big Brother’. ‘Sassy’ spinoff (via Andy Jenkins, Mark Lewman and Spike Jonze) ‘Dirt’ also achieved cultdom Stateside, with a similar gung-ho, irreverent spirit before cancellation, but over here, and available in your local WH Smiths? We had a lot less to go on. ‘Phat’ was a mine of information.

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