Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Lost City of K-Solo

Four years after his last album, K-Solo had fans amped for a comeback after an ill guest verse on former comrade Redman's Muddy Waters album. He followed that up with a verse on one of Stezo's indie singles the next year and finally, in 1998, he came out with his own independent release. It was a two-song 12" titled City of Shaft, that came out in two different pressings (but more on that later).

Now, on first glance, you might be put off by his producers... Golden Child and Figure 4 Music? You would've thought PMD was a given (unless he was able to land a big-shot beat from someone like Pete Rock or Large Professor); but who the heck are these guys? But don't worry about it, because they manage to lay down to perfectly rugged, bumping tracks with wailing horns and relentless basslines that really exceed any of the predictable funk-sampled tunes P or even E would've thrown his way.

Solo kicks nothing but hardcore battle rhymes and lays down his law:

"My era dates back when Harlem was all black,
And the Apollo was packed with folks who knew how to act.
There was one man to fight on, back then,
Before you threw your fists in the air we'd all scream 'right on!'
Shaft was happening back then;
The legacy of all that is mine. I'm back again!"

...and the music's more gruff and street than anything on his albums for Atlantic. It's a perfect example of underground, indie 12" scene that ruled the 90's for everyone who was in the know.

Now, the other pressing (not shown) seems to be a bit more sought after - at least, it usually goes for more loot - possibly because it came first (though I'm not sure... I believe Solo put them both out himself the same year). It certainly has a prettier label with genuinely useful track information and production credits. But I went with this one because it has an additional mix for each of the songs, not featured on the green labeled 12". For "Excalibur," it has a radio edit, which I could really give a fuck about, but the B-side, "System," features an acapella, which is pretty sweet. So the white label's the version I'd recommend... plus this way you'll save a few bucks. ;)

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