Thursday, April 16, 2015

It's Broaden Your Horizons Day!

Remember Cheese Steez? It was a mixCD of hip-hop from the Netherlands I reviewed a couple years ago by Chris the Wiz and DJ Fozx. It was a fun mix of stuff most of the world wouldn't have been familiar with, and a nice upbeat education. Well, they did a sequel in 2013, called Cheesesteez Vol. 2, and anyone who appreciated that one should be just as happy with this one. This one, which also goes in chronological order, encompasses a shorter period of time: 1988-1993, which gives the disc a more consistent tone.

This volume is also free of skits and has zero Dutch language songs (the last mix had 1), so there's even less reason for English listeners to feel left out. Admittedly, there was a song or two where I had to listen pretty closely before I realized they were rapping in English, because the cadence was so un-American. But yeah, it's 100% English friendly.

Another interesting aspect of this mix is that they've broadened the scope of music they've included from Dutch hip-hop released on vinyl to include rare cassette and demo tracks. So this time even the most plugged-in Dutch listeners won't have heard it all before. Speaking for myself, I'm sure I wouldn't have recognized anything they might've included unless it was "Holiday Rap." And no, this time Miker G and Urban Dance Squad aren't on hand, so they're pretty much all unknown acts (in the USA) this time around. But even having never heard of any of these guys, I'm sure you'll find a lot of familiar elements here, with the artists often rhyming over familiar beats, like D.C.O. using the same base sample as Partners In Kryme's "Undercover" (though they laid a little extra music on top of it), DJ Knowhow and Rudeboy Remmington freaking Kool G Rap's "Talk Like Sex" break, the Pleasure Posse rocking the classic "It Takes Two" loop, or Next of Kin spitting over the bassline to "Groove Is In the Heart."  Plus, as you may've noticed from that last sentence, some of the acts are recurring from the first Cheese Steez mix.

I'm not sure how many of the records spun here will actually inspire you to run out and track them down for your crates, but to hear as a part of a mix full of interesting songs you've probably never heard before, they're consistently compelling. There's less silly stuff this time around, like the last CD's song about pizza, although the Zombi Squad's ainti-Nazi song will probably sound over the top to audiences where neo-Nazis never achieved any traction or credibility. Maybe the strongest selling point is all the nice scratching on hand. Couple that with some high energy deliveries and hype tracks, it's a really dope mix even if rappers aren't quite up to your favorite MCs. Seriously, even if you're like, "ah, I don't give a crap about Dutch rap," I recommend giving it a listen - I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Like the first volume, this CD is a limited edition. But you can still cop it, as they're selling brand new copies directly through its discogs listing. And if you have any interest in Dutch hip-hop at all, you should check out their site, as it's a pretty great database, including bios, photos and songs from the Netherlands' old school hip-hop scene.

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