Friday, May 27, 2011

The Imaginarium of Nick Wiz

You may remember me blogging about a great compilation of rare and unreleased recordings by underrated producer Nick Wiz a couple years ago called, Cellar Sounds volume one 1992-1998. It was just too bad, in this industry, we'd probably never live to see a volume 2, right? Well, thankfully No Sleep Records has proved us wrong - Cellar Sounds volume 2: 1992-1998 is here! And in many ways, it's even better than the first one!
Like the last volume, this one is a double disc set, giving us a whopping total of 41 full-length songs all produced, as the title would suggest, by Nick Wiz from 1992-1998. Well, except for one song, which was produced in 2000... but it's by Ra-fuckin'-kim, so I think it's safe to say we'll forgive him that. ;)

Now, you may remember in my write-up of the first volume that I was somewhat disappointed to see some previously released, and not necessarily all that rare, songs mixed in with all the treats, taking away space that could've been used for even more unreleased jewels. Granted, songs from Ecko's legendary Underground Airplay tapes are so rare, they're practically unreleased and earn a pass, but records like Main One's "Main Event" weren't remotely rare, much less unreleased. ...Well, volume 2 does away with all that jazz - you won't be rebuying a bunch of songs you already have this time - this collection does feature a handful more from those Ecko tapes (and frankly, I'm happy to see them get a proper, quality CD release), but otherwise it's essentially all 100% unreleased material this time around.

The collection of artists is pretty solid... there's a lot of Ran Reed a.k.a. Hitman, and a lot of Shabaam Sahdeeq and his associate crews: Shadowz In da Dark, Sinister Voicez, and an even earlier group he was in that you've probably never heard of called Mad House. I'm surprised there's no Chino XL (come on, we know there's more O.G. Poison Pen tracks sitting in those vaults!), and there's not as much Cella Dwellas or Pudgee material as you might expect... though there are a couple songs from UG's scrapped solo album and a track that was left off of Pudgee's unreleased King of New York, which is crazy, because it's better than most of the songs that were on there. There's one or two more by Milkbone, N-Tyce, plus some neat surprises by totally unknown, unsigned groups that Nick's worked with.

And, once again, there's a killer vintage Lord Have Mercy song at the end of disc 1 that's in the vein of the classic Cella Dwellas material. Are there more songs like this? Is he just going to slowly eek them out to us one song at a time... ahh! Driving me crazy! lol

Also, like the last volume, the insert opens up to brief notes by Nick on every single song, for example, "The Native Assassins were Black Sun and another MC named Fatal. This was before Shadowz In da Dark. We worked on a few records for this group before the Shadowz thing evolved." First class release all the way. It's just too bad none of this is on vinyl...

Oh wait! No Sleep also released a double LP called Cellar Selections 1. It's comprised more of songs from Cellar Sounds volume 1 than 2 (though there are a couple from 2 as well), and thankfully it focuses exclusively on the songs that haven't already been released on vinyl. So, no Ran Reed "Enough"s but plenty of Darc Mind "We In This"s. And best of all, it has an exclusive unreleased song by Pudgee called "Get Down." The 2xLP is limited to 250 copies, so you may have to work a little to find a copy, but believe me, it's worth it.

The music is great; the sound quality is great; the releases are top-notch all around... Let's just hope there are Cellar Sounds volume 3 and Cellar Selections 2 pending!

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