Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rock La Flow Is Back!

Rock La Flow is back - in spades! You may remember me gushing about the virtually unknown Milwaukee MC back in January, when Dope Folks Records put out his killer EP, The Flowgram Pt. 1. Well, I opened my front door today to find awaiting me Pt 2 - it's here! And that's not the half. A full-length Rock la Flow LP, The Ultimate, dropped the same day.

Flowgram Pt. 2 finishes up the collection of songs he recorded in '94 and '95 with his producer (who definitely deserves 50% of the credit for how great La Flow's material is) Tory Tee. I don't think I like it quite as much as the first volume, but it's definitely a worthy follow-up. There's a remix of a cut from the original EP ("Partytime") which is just as good, if not better, than the original. And the track that easily stands out as my favorite, "Illwaukee," which showcases a couple of his local brethren, Spoon and Kerse One along with Flow, and they all kill it over a nice beat perfect for passing the mic. Fans of the first entry will definitely be happy with this one, too.

But still... I'm not 100% sure of the story behind these EPs, but they sort of feel like large chunks of a not quite finished album. A kick-ass album, mind you, but still sort of incomplete in how the pieces would've all assembled together.

That's not the case at all with The Ultimate, which actually pre-dates the Flowgram EPs. These songs were recorded in 1992-93, and again are entirely produced by Tory Tee. This album was recently discovered by Dope Folks and feels like a finished album. More importantly, Rock La Flow is amazing on this, and the beats are hype. Sometimes you'll hear familiar loops or breakbeats, but they're all flipped differently or merged with other samples and turned into something fresh you've never heard before.

Man, heads would have loved this album if it came out back when it was recorded! This is one of those albums where, I've got the record spinning while I'm typing up work on the computer, and I just have to stop what I'm doing to pay close attention to the perfect blend of beats and rhymes coming from across the room. These releases are just the perfect match of an MC and producer who were each completely on top of their game at the same time. You know, one of those pairings that artists seem to manage to hit for one brief period and then spend the rest of their careers trying to recapture, like - to re-use an apt comparison - Nas when he made Illmatic.

Getting these right on the heels of Natural Elements' EP on Chopped Herring is a bit of a mind-blower. If anyone was thinking the limited game was winding down, think again. It should be pointed out, though, that Dope Folks' records don't cost the infamous "limited" prices. They're $20 each, which, for full-length LPs, is right in-line with the cost of standard new releases.

Oh, and The Ultimate comes with a phat, glossy art piece as a little bonus. I won't post a scan, so it can still be a surprise when your copies arrive in the mail. They're both limited to 300 as usual, so don't sleep.


  1. Nice review Werner! Love reading it.. One mistake it's not The Unheard but the Ultimate :)

  2. My cousin is a humble giant of hip hop.the passion he had for this craft was so natural He and I would argue who was best he says sugar hill I say grand master flash and the furious 5. He was memorizing his lyrics before other rappers.Too me my cousin Mr. Howard is a living legend of underground Hip Hop ldray madism Howard. One Jah