Saturday, August 7, 2010

Battle Rhymes Unearthed

If hip-hop had a preservation society (and it should), this is the kind of release they could bring us: LIB003 1/2. This is the third and apparently final release from Solid 'N' Mind, who you may remember I covered last year with their limited "Centre Stage" 12". That one was a limited release of two of their unreleased tracks from 1991. We thought that was going to be their last release at the time, since that 12" included both of their only unreleased recordings. But a recent find has given us one last entry into their saga.

Whirlwind D, the MC of the duo, recently discovered an old tape of an instrumental their DJ/producer, Johnny F, created for another song they often performed but never recorded, along with a scrap of paper containing all the lyrics. So, all these years later, they finally constructed the song from its long-lost elements and just dropped their "Battle Tipped Rhyme" 12", of course once again on their Liberty Grooves label.

"Battle Tipped Rhyme" has the same quality I raved about on their last release: a mix of originality and the tried and true, by brilliantly combining several known break-beats and samples but turning them into something new, fresh and exciting. As the title suggests, this is a fast-paced battle rap (just like we like 'em), taking the killer drums and rolling bassline from Joeski Love's "Rock Wit Joeski." Well, that's where I recognize it from, anyway. What, you didn't know Joeski had some nice material in his catalog? Quick stabs of the horns used in Phase & Rhythm's "Hyperactive" and then another familiar horn sample (I think the ones Kool Moe Dee used on "Death Blow?") but sped up to almost double time. Anyway, all that plus some furious scratching on the hook makes for a hype, kinetic 90's battle record:

"Chained to the wall as you ponder your fate;
Step to the mic, you're lost in the quake.
Buildings crash and ground swallows whole;
Thought you were ready but D's on a roll.
Johnny F cuts with blaze of fury;
Your fate is sealed by the glare of the jewelery.
Uzis, AKs, what shall I choose?
Maybe just a rhyme that's guaranteed to bruise."

So of course, this 12" contains just the one song. But it comes fully loaded with the Vocal, Instrumental and Acapella versions. As an added bonus, they even include the OG, un-remastered instrumental from that original tape. This 12" is limited to 250 hand-numbered copies, and as you can see in the photo above, comes in a cool picture cover, along with a glossy 12" insert on the history of the Liberty Grooves label, and a press sheet. Pre-orders of this sold out just a couple of days after they were announced, but apparently a few copies will be available at vinylism and one or two other places. So you may need to do a little hunting, but if you're a fan of UK hip-hop at all, it's well worth it.

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