Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sharper Than Your Kitchen Shit

You know a label is rugged when they misspell their own name on their record label. Well today we've got Stratus (or Sratus, depending where on the label you look) bringing us the raw with a dope, indie NYC 12" from the 90's. This is the first and I believe only release by Strippoker (and indeed the only release on Stratus), titled "Reign Supreme." To be honest, I hadn't heard of it until I stumbled across it being sold cheap online. It features Craig G, so I figured worst case scenario, I'd be padding out my Juice Crew collection a little more. But no, turns out this is hot.

It's a three-song 12", and all three are produced by Art Well Smart, a name I've never heard of and that does not inspire confidence. But whoever he is, he's provided three simple but solid street-level beats. The A-side, "Reign Supreme," features Craig G, DV Shines, and DJ Sinista - possibly Mista Sinista from The X-Men? Anyway, it comes in three versions: Street, Radio and Instrumental, and it's a winner. The beat features your standard hard drums and bass with a cool Spanish guitar loop, some atmospheric samples, and killer, creative scratches on the hook. All three MCs come nice, but Craig G steals the show with some surprisingly tough lyrics:

"My words are sharper than your kitchen shit.
I'm a Mac-11, fifty shot clip in it,
Hollow point rhymes blazed down your block -
Nobody witnessed it!"

The first B-side is "QB To CO" [I believe that's referring to Corona in Queens NY, not Colorado], which also comes in Street, Radio and Instrumental versions. It's not quite as good as "Reign Supreme" - it's short a killer verse from Craig and without the nice cuts from Sinista, the track isn't quite as compelling - but it comes close. It's got a dope piano loop which reminds me of some early Jedi Mind Tricks material, but with a nice scratchy old sax sample on the hook. The label doesn't credit anybody, but there's a second MC on this song as well (maybe DV Shines again?). Whoever he is, he and Strippoker actually comes a little tighter on this track than the last one, I think:

"I be where the crooks and the thieves rest,
Crackin' St. Thug and puffin' on mad bless.
If you got beef, we be comin' to your address,
Runnin' in ya crib with the gats, 'causin' madness."

The last song is a little bit lighter, and only comes in one version: "Black James Bond." In the tradition of classic songs like "I Go To Work" and "I'm Large," this is another hip-hop track that incorporates James Bond theme music into a hip-hop beat. Lyrically, he's mostly just busting more ill freestyle rhymes ("I wet niggas up like girls' drinks") rather than any crazy "The Mission"-type Bond stories, but it's a fun track regardless.

It's a shame this 12" seems to be so slept on, 'cause it's a definite winner. So it's a real disappointment there was no follow-up. But considering most people (myself included) didn't even know this one existed, I guess we should just add this nice sticker cover to our crates and be happy. :)

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