Saturday, August 13, 2011

The First Name In Milwaukee Hip-Hop Returns

When I covered the catalog of Jamille Records, I honestly wasn't sure if they had already run their course in 2010, but I'm happy to report that they have not. They have returned in 2011 with two new 7" singles, definitely on par with their past releases, and even a documentary DVD.

The 7"s are one of each - one's a repress of an obscure, hard to find indie release, and in the case of the other, this music is being released for the first time ever. The repress is by The Ill Chief Rockers, taking two, and presumably the best, songs from their only 1986 single (that 12" also had two other songs, not present here). The Chief Rockers are two guys you'll remember from past Jamille releases: MC Kid Crab, and Strickey Luv, who was one of the guests on the MC Richie Rich & Scratch single, along with Rock La Flow. By 1986 standards, this is as hard as hip-hop got. It's pressed on clear, yellow (yellow) vinyl; and is limited to 100 copies (mine is #74).

Then the next single is two more unreleased joints by Two-Tone. It's my understanding that they'd never put any recordings out back in the day, so these singles singles from Jamille are the first time any of us are getting to hear their stuff. Both songs here are fun, but the B-side wins with its liberal use of The Average White Band's "Pick Up the Pieces" as its instrumental bed. And once again, their wicked DJ Mike T steals the show - his cuts are so clean! This one's produced on clear (clear) vinyl - my scanner makes it look a lot grayer than it really is - and is also limited to 100 copies (mine is #73).

And now the DVD. Red Beans and Rice is a cool little documentary, clocking in at about an hour long, looking at record digging from the collector's perspective. This isn't about the big-name producers like Diamond or Large Professor, like in Beat Diggin' or Deep Crates 1 and 2. This is more just about the regular heads, from places like Milwaukee, Arizona, Chicago... There are some names you might recognize if you're really plugged in, like DJentrification; but essentially this is just a documentary looking at the "you and me"s of the scene.

You probably have to be a major vinyl lover to appreciate this - I could see your average viewer taking the stance, "what do I care what this guy's favorite record is when I don't even know who he is?" But you know what this is? It's record porn. This is an excuse to ogle peoples' huge private collections and get glimpses into record stores that, unless you there, you'd probably never otherwise get to check out. There are some fun stories: one guy who pulled records especially made for a news network's broadcast out of the rubble of a demolished TV station, and another guy who has two copies of the WaxPoetics poster - one kept nice in a frame, and one with covered in X's as he marks off each record he gets from it like a hit list. One guy has his house so full of records that he's got crate shelves in his bathroom now, because he's run out of room.

It's not strictly about hip-hop digging - heads here are just as happy to talk about The Beach Boys or The Beatles - but there's definitely a lot of hip-hop love throughout. This is obviously targetted at a small market, but I think from my description you can probably decide if this is for you. I'm not sure what the plans are for this film - I was just hooked up with a DVD -maybe it'll start popping up for sale soon... But keep an eye out for Red Beans and Rice if it sounds like your thing. It's a nice little doc, and like everything put out by Jamille Records, made with an earnest sincerity.

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