Saturday, January 19, 2013
a site about diabetes now (odd name choice for that!); but back in the late 90's, it was a key outlet for the best indie hip-hop, especially from the west coast. Yeah, you had the big guys like Sandbox and HipHopSite locking down the indie vinyl scene and the NY artists; but for those amazing four-track tape releases... it was pretty much Atak and Foolblown. Foolblown was based out of Texas and got everything straight from the artists, on consignment. So if you wanted, say, all 200 of 2Mex's super obscure tour CDs, you had to cop it from there or catch 2Mex on the road.
I miss that site like crazy, but with the advances in technology (meaning: mp3s), those days are over now. But Foolblown's legacy will far outlast its operational time on our internet thanks to an one terrific album: Inside Out, on Blown! Recordings.
Yes, Blown! Recordings was Foolblown's move into becoming a little label, and it featured pretty much all the major players that they carried as a store. I'm pretty sure all the artists did it for free (though, to be clear, the CD wasn't free)... it was essentially a sampler. But it featured a lot of their best work, and almost all of it remains exclusive to this day.
Who's represented here? Project Blowed, Afterlife, Anticon, Atoms' Family, Shape Shifters... Yeah, that means it's a lot of "experimental" and artsy stuff that many heads will balk at. But if you appreciate challenging, creative hip-hop of this style; Inside Out presents some of the best the scene ever had to offer. And this was just at the cusp of these guys taking off. This was Cannibal Ox and Aesop Rock, for example, before Def Jux existed. In fact, if you look at Aesop's debut on Def Jux, there's a song called "Tugboat Complex part 3." "Part Two" was on his rare, self-made indie CD, Appleseed. And where's the original from? Right here! And it's still one of his best songs in my opinion.
Anticon fans should consider "I Love Art!" a minor classic. It's essentially a cLOUDEAD song - though I guess technically you'd call it an Object Beings song, since it has a tiny cameo appearance by The Pedestrian mid-song. But it's Dose and Why? at their most avant-garde, over a terrific, constantly shifting, soundscape by Odd Nosdam that stands up as one of his best tracks.
Braille is here, again with one of his best songs, in the style of his first album. SixToo has a nice song about a twenty-something midlife crisis. Representing Project Blowed, you've songs from Ellay Khule and CVE. Really, like, everybody's on here: Illogic, RadioInactive & Subtitle, Greenhouse Effect, OddJobs, even the elusive Dragons of Edin.Vixin even has one of her only solo songs on here (Vixin's one of those femme MCs like Lioness or Penny, who had a lot of people fiending for their music based on a handful of nice guest verses, but for whatever reason, never capitalized on it by releasing a project of their own).
A couple of those songs have later turned up on mixtapes or "rarities"-type collections, but a lot of it is still unique to this album, and at the time, I think pretty much everything was except the Atmosphere song ("The Abusing of the Rib" was included on Seven the same year... it's still one of their best songs, too, though).
So, if you look at the spine of this CD, it doesn't just say Inside Out, but Inside Out Vol. 1. Yeah, Foolblown had big plans... not only a second volume of this series, but another series of compilations called Leaving Tracks, plus a Blockhead album, featuring Slug & Percee-P! A lot of songs were collected for those projects, but sadly, they never came to be. I don't know the exact behind-the-scenes story (though I bet the short version is "pirate mp3s killed the dream"), but apparently Foolblown stopped paying the artists, who I can still remember openly complaining about it on forums... Greenhouse and Atoms' Fam even rapped about it in a song called "Friction" (check it out... it's on their Life Sentences album). But, back in the days, I ordered many times from them and they always came correct. And, of course, I love their album.