1989-1998 is a pretty long span, and on this record, it's split by sides. In other words, side A consists of all songs the 1989 era, and side B has songs from 1997-1998. For me, side A is more exciting. 1989 means these date all the way back before his involvement with Ultramagnetic. I mean, I don't know exactly when these tracks are from. The label doesn't specify, and I've seen it written many places online that all the tracks on side A are from 1989. But in the first song, "Rhymes From the Market," he references his Hazardous album, which came out in 1991; so it must be at least after that, right? So the exact years are up in the air, but in general, the A side is the older stuff, and the B side is late 90s.
The first two joints are some really hype, freestyle demos. The only downside is they sound like demos, sourced from a cassette. I'm sure it's the best these songs could possibly sound, but these don't sound like the perfectly mastered songs we're used to from Chopped Herring's EPs. They have that second generation tape quality, but it does kinda fit the low budget feel of the songs themselves. They're fast paced races through light-hearted freestyle rhymes over two def tracks.
The third, and the last of the earlier side A songs, is called "Imitation of Life." You'll recognize the instrumental right away, it's the same loop as Kool G Rap's "Edge Of Sanity." Don even uses it the same way, to kick a narrative rap crime story. G Rap's had extra live instrumentation added to it, some very west coast sounding stuff that indicates Sir Jinx's hand, so this is a little more stripped down. But the use of the same loop combined with the same style of rhyme makes me think there's a story here: one of these guys heard it and bothered it from the other one. With no specific dates for the Don tracks, though, it's impossible to say which came first.
Flip this record over and the feel is totally different, with Don kicking his much denser, deliberate rhyme style and the sound quality sounding cleaner and better mastered. These last two tracks definitely come from his Hydra error. In fact, the second song, "Talk the Talk," uses the phrase "diabolique" as the bulk of the hook (backed by a nice Pete Rock vocal sample from "Fakin' Jax"), so perhaps it was an early pass as the title track to that album? It's a totally different instrumental and collection of verses, though, so it isn't some lost premix; it's a totally unique song.
Overall, this is a great EP that Don fans will love even all of the tracks don't sound professionally mastered. It's five killer tracks we've never heard before, and they're better than some of the stuff we have, like say the Donnie Brasco album. As usual, this is limited to 350 copies, with 75 on white (white), green and red mixed vinyl, 75 on a mix of gold, clear (clear) and red, and the remaining 200 on standard black. And as you can see, it comes in a sticker cover with an illustration by
And by the way, if you're a fan of Don's (and if you've read this far, I assume you are), you should also check out his recent 7" with producer Soulicit. It's a brand new song and it's really great - Soulicit has made a track perfectly suited for Don, with some nice scratching by none other than Mista Sinista of the X-Men. There's a Mighty V.I.C. remix on the B-side and instrumentals for both. It comes in a picture cover and green and white (white) colored vinyl from KicDrum Products. Usually, I tend to pass over 7"s, but I strongly recommend this one. But if he keeps making dope music like this, he's going to wind up creating more hot unreleased music, and Chopped Herring will have to make a Final Unreleased Project 2015-2051!