Tuesday, August 7, 2007

C'mon, Get In the Car, Guys. We're Moving To Japan

Look what just came out in Japan only! A full album of lost, never before released tracks from a ton of the best rappers recorded in 1988. What's the deal with this? I'll just let the album's notes speak for themselves:

"Introduction: 17 years ago a small recording studio, TOP SHELF, located in the basement of a brownstone in the East Village section of New York, was looted during the Thompkins Square riots of 1988, displacing the recordings of many soon-to-be Hip Hop stars. The studio had been the meeting place for many rappers, neighborhood kids, and producers that would later be responsible for the greatest period of the Hip Hop age, "The Golden Era." A search commenced soon after the recordings were lost, but nothing was ever found. So sought after were the tapes, they soon acheived Holy Grail status amongst Hip Hop circles. Despite years of searching, and dozens of hopeless crusades, the tapes remained lost. No one was quite sure who took them or where they were... until now.
After an extensive investigation and search that lasted two years, the recordings have finally been recovered by Fab 5 Freddy and myself (Benjy Grinberg). They were found dozenss of miles from the site of TOP SHELF in an abandoned strage faciilty in North Jersey [woot! Jersey represent!]. ...We sought after the lost recordings of TOP SHELF because they were rumored to be among the hottest songs from that era, and we thought it was a tragedy that the world never got to hear them. It turns out that these two-inch tapes are truly a treasure chest--a time capsule of the energy and excitement of 1988 Hip Hop."

And this really is the wet dream it sounds like - everybody comes tight on this. It starts off (well, after a brief mic check intro by Fab Five Freddy) with Black Sheep kicking a short, fast rap track, which is tight... and believe me, I've never been a huge Black Sheep fan. Special Ed's song is just the perfect raps over the perfect beat... it could easily have appeared on his first or second album. Big Daddy Kane kills it, Biz Markie's song is just great fun, and Melle Mel and Grandmaster Caz duet showing impressive skills considering even '88 would generally be considered well past their prime. MC Lyte rocks the same loop her rhyming partner Positive K did on his classic "The Nightshift," only with faster drums for more of a freestyle/battle rhyme-type flow. There's no production credits on this album besides the phrase "Anonymous Top Shelf producers,", which is a shame, because I'd love to know who did what on this. There's a crapload of nice scratching on Chubb Rock's song. The Jungle Brothers' is nice, though their rhyme style gets a little redundant. The only kinda disappointing song is Smooth B's solo venture, "I Want My Money Back" (he needs to give that hook back to Mixmaster Spade, who knew how to use it), and even this number's not bad. But Craig G (here spelt Graig G... heh) Doug E Fresh (using the same "Go Stetsa" vocal sample Groove B. Chill would go on to make a hit out of a couple years later), Grand Puba and Just-Ice all come with dope songs. It all ends with a serious track from Master Ace, "Revolution's 'Bout To Start," which is a great narrative and uses the type of scratched up speeches on the hook like I haven't heard since "Black Is Back" or "Dirty Cop Named Harry."

100% must-have. Manhattan Records, the Japanese label that put this album out, has a site at: store.mmagg.com, and yes, they have a myspace page, too. Go get it.

Update 09/15/07: So, any of you who've joined me in any of the many message board or blog discussions of the legitimacy of this album will have already determined that it is quite definitely a hoax. But, surprisingly, The New York Times has actually picked up the story and gotten some real answers - read the whole thing here (brought to my attention by Jaz, who runs the Cold Rock da Spot blog, on the DWG forums). Still, it does leave a few questions unanswered... like who actually produced each track, and when can we get a volume two?


  1. 'k

  2. have you successfully ordered from that site?  I couldn't get past the language barrier, and the email at the top of the page comes up with that "mailer-daemon" thing

    I'll either wait for it on ebay or albumbase

  3. I use babelfish.altavista.com (or similar) to order from foreign sites... fortunately, almost all sites have similar shopping cart set-ups, even if the language is different...  Once you've done it once or twice, it gets to be second nature.  ;)
    I've never tried albumbase... may have to check that out.