Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Best Of the Best Of the E-Rocks

Dope Folks Records dipped deep into the Texas underground scene to retrieve their latest release, MC E-Rock's One the Hard Way. E-Rock's put out a grip of respected but virtually unknown outside of Texas albums throughout the 90s... Killfhanger in 1996, Southern Eclipse in 1998, and all the way back to his debut (I believe) single in 1990, "Elliot Ness."

For an outsider looking in, it can get confusing because there's a glut of artists calling themselves E-Rock. One of those Grape Tree Christian Rappers calls himself E-Roc now, to avoid confusion, but released his 1991 debut Listen To the G.O.D. album (which is actually not bad) under his original spelling, E-Rock. There's at least one rock band and club producer putting out records under the name E Rock. ...I don't know jack about them, but put the phrase "E Rock" into Youtube or discogs and see for yourself. And anyway, then there's probably the most confusing of all... one of Rap-A-Lot's infamous 5th Ward Boys, of course also from Texas, is named E-Rock, and he went on to put out solo and side projects... and coincidentally now also represents the Christian rap ethos.

So that's a lot of E-Rocks; but this particular artist is quite compelling, so it pays to keep track of who's who. While he's from Texas, and you can definitely here it in the way his voice and pronunciation; he's definitely on some raw, pure hip-hop vibe. Well, his later stuff is heavily g-funk influenced; but not this material from the early 90's; it's all tough NY-influenced beats and a hardcore, lyrical flow. His records - especially the ones from the era Dope Folks is repressing - is definitely on some classic "random rap" steez, not at all what you'd consider your typical Southern local rap. In fact, it was probably the fact that Peanut Butter Wolf picked a cut from One the Hard Way for one of his mix CD releases that put E-Rock into the ear of modern collectors and Dope Folks themselves.

So, the original One the Hard Way was a four-song EP on Serious Records from 1991. And it's a killer: the beats, the rhymes, the samples. It's the whole package, a great EP. But Dope Folks have gone one better, and added two more tracks from his extra-rare "Designed To Make U Swing" 12"! "Literary Freak" is this wild track that starts out using the same loop as Brand Nubian's "Slow Down," but the beat is surprising and totally flips. They're not quite as hard, but both songs are a showcase of awesome samples. Only a very small run was pressed, because it was originally meant to be a promo for his upcoming third album, Vitamin E. When that ultimately never got released, those two songs wound up becoming very rare. But not anymore, because Dope Folks threw them on here as well.  :)

The original One the Hard Way was a phat picture cover, so it's a little sad to see it get downgraded to a sticker cover here (the sticker's the same image as the picture cover); but the fact that you can now get the original EP and the 1993 12" for just $20 brand new more than makes up for that. I highly recommend this one... just check out the audio clips and hear for yourself.

And I mentioned E-Rock's still doing it, right? He's got a facebook and a new album in the works. And there's even more exciting news if you trawl through his twitter... he's got the Vitamin E reels and is finally putting that lost album out! So don't get let crazy number of E-Rocks overwhelm you, this is the best material by the best of the artists named E-Rock, and it's your loss if you sleep.

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